Best Mountain Bikes Under 500 Dollars – 2016 Edition (UPDATED)

You want the best mountain bike for your money, but you need to know where quality and price strike a balance. The answer to that question lies here. Research shows that good mountain bikes need not cost a lot. This article compares three of the best mountain bikes under 500 dollars.

First, you need to ask yourself where you plan to ride your bike. How steep are the hills? Which accessories take priority? Which size of bike is best for you? The following three bikes, all modestly priced, offer a range of accoutrements to satisfy your mountain biking needs.

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Which Bike Has the Smoothest Ride?

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One of the first things you should consider when purchasing a mountain bike is the suspension. A full-suspension bike sports a two-piece frame with a front and rear triangle and a shock absorber controlling the rate of movement.

A hardtail has a solid frame with a suspension fork in the front. Full suspension bikes boast a smoother ride, as opposed to the classic hardtail, but hardtails are faster over smooth surfaces.

1. The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

It reduces the jarring of a bumpy trail with its dual suspension. The front and rear shocks on this bike make it perfect for downhill racers. The smooth ride of the dual suspension increases speed on the rough declines.

2. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike

It boasts an 80 mm travel front suspension fork for good control and ease of ride. Some riders find the front shock absorber needs more rigidity, and upgrade to an adjustable long travel shock with lockout.

The front suspension on this bike provides a smooth ride and the lack of dual suspension means greater control. The Merax is one of the best mountain bikes under 500 dollars for use on rugged tracks.

3. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike

Fitted with a front suspension fork and aluminum mechanical lock out, the Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike delivers a comfortable and efficient ride on every surface.

When biking down smooth stretches of road, there is no need for your bike’s suspension. Without a lock out, wasted energy is funnelled into the shocks instead of the pedals and cranks. Use of the lock out allows you to disable the suspension until it’s needed. Efficient use of energy means you can bike faster and longer.

The Best Brakes for Safety and Control

Rim brakes, or v-brakes, are the lightest of brake types found on mountain bikes. The wheels on a bike must be true for these brakes to work well. Wear is a problem with v-brakes because mud and sand get trapped between the brake pad and the wheel, deteriorating the metal.

Disc brakes are self-contained and dissipate heat better than other brake types. Since only the disc attaches to the wheel, wheel changes are much easier than on a bike with v-brakes. One of the drawbacks of disc brakes is that they can potentially pull the wheel out of the fork.

1. The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

Front disc brakes on the Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike guarantee good stopping power, control, and safety.

Adjustment of the cables is easy and replacement cables are carried by any bike shop. This bike comes with a rear v-brake, but the rear swing arm does have a mount for a disc brake if you care to install one.

2. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike

The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike comes with dual disc brakes, which means better and more consistent brake performance than that found with bikes sporting traditional rim brakes.

Normally, disc brakes are found on higher-priced mountain bikes. To find dual disc brakes on a top rated mountain bike under 500 dollars is truly exciting.

3. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike

Front and rear disc brakes on the Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike provide reliable, and safer, control of your bike. The rear brake responds immediately and brings the bike to a screeching halt.

The front brake is purposefully made to be less responsive, so you don’t fly over your handlebars. The inclusion of dual disc brakes, alone, make this one of the best bikes under 500 dollars.

The Right Sized Mountain Bike

The main measurements you should consider when deciding which size mountain bike to purchase are seat tube length and top tube length. There should be a minimum clearance of 1” between you and the top tube.

Keep in mind, you can adjust your saddle, stem and handlebar to help make needed adjustments. It is also possible to alter the fit of the bike by changing some components such as the handlebars and stem, but these alterations may affect how the bike handles.

1. The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike stands approximately 42” off the ground and, with seat adjustment, comfortably fits individuals standing up to 5’ 9”.

The factory suspension supports riders up to 250 lbs, but performs better with riders weighing 200 lbs or less.

2. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike

For taller riders, the Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike has a 19” frame and 26” tires. With seat adjustment, people between 5’ 7” and 6’ 1” can ride comfortably. The front shock and tire seem a bit soft, but get the job done for anyone under 200 lbs.

3. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike

At an overall height of 45”, the Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike is designed to accommodate people over 5’ 7”, but if your height is in your torso and not your legs, you may find the bike a bit too big.

With seat adjustment, people averaging around 6’ find the size to be perfect. The suspension and front tire competently handle weights of up to 200 lbs, but you may need to make adjustments if you weigh much more than that.

The Best Mountain Bikes Under 500 Dollars for Durability

1. The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

The aluminum frame and alloy wheels of the Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike provide lightweight durability. Aluminum wheels handle the jumps and drops of rugged terrain better than their magnesium counterparts.

The solid construction of the bike, as a whole, holds up under the wear and tear of off-road riding. You may need to periodically tighten the spokes on the wheels, but just a quick turn of the tool and you will be back on the trail.

2. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike

With both an aluminum frame and aluminum wheels, the Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike makes a light and durable mountain bike.

The brakes get a bit squeaky with use, but a few adjustments take care of the problem. Overall, the solid construction of the Merax Finiss Aluminum bike more the meets the needs of the novice to intermediate mountain biker.

3. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike

The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bikeholds up to quite a bit of abuse, making it ideal for weekend riders.

The magnesium wheels are less durable than aluminum, but increased speed makes them perfect for racers. Over time, the chain and shocks succumb to wear, but they are easily replaced as maintenance items.

Look Good on the Road

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1. The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike

The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike looks sporty in red. Purchase the matching accessories and look spectacular as you navigate the bumps and hills of your off-road track.

2. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike

If you are looking for a less flashy, but very cool look, you want to consider the Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike. This bike comes in classic black, with red accents. It looks sharp, and includes a kickstand.

3. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike

For those wanting something different, the gray and green paint scheme of the Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike shows well with the sleek magnesium wheels. This bike looks good and so will you, as you are flying down hills.

Cost Comparison

The Schwinn Protocol 1.0 & Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed 

Coming in around 300 dollars, both the Schwinn Protocol 1.0 Men’s Dual-Suspension Mountain Bike and the Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike make an excellent choice for riders wanting one of the best mountain bikes under 500 dollars.

The Schwinn Protocol offers dual suspension for riders wanting a smoother ride and the Merax Finiss comes with dual disc brakes for greater control and reliability.

The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike

The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mg Alloy Wheel Mountain Bike comes standard with many of the optional upgrades available on other higher-priced models.

The dual disc brakes and mechanical lock out are just two examples of upgrade items that are included. Priced about 350 dollars, this bike can definitely be called one of best mountain bikes under 500 dollars.

Which Bike Qualifies as THE BEST Mountain Bike for Under $500?

  • Cross Country
  • Mountain/Enduro
  • Downhill
  • Freeride
  • Dirt Jump

Requirements for a good dirt jump bike differs from other types of mountain bike riding. Choose a bike with the least amount of suspension for dirt jumps. Only the rear brake will be used, so little consideration needs to be made concerning the front brake.

The frame and wheels should be made of aluminum or steel. The Merax® Finiss 26″ Aluminum 21 Speed Mountain Bike fits all these requirements.

Durability comes into play if you plan to make long drops or large jumps. Lightweight frames increase speed and ease uphill climbs. Fortunately, when weighing cost against performance, each of these bikes promises maximum return on your investment.

Choose one now and own one of the best mountain bikes under 500 dollars!

Want a high-price mountain bike? Click here Best Mountain Bikes Under 1000 Dollars.

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