Find the best mountain bikes under £500 for you. Be warned: all of these great value bikes will hook you into a new sport and a whole new way of life.
The very best mountain bikes under £500 always remind us that there’s nothing that should stop you getting out on the trails on a budget.
Capable bikes get cheaper all the time but for us the minimum budget is around £350. Sure you can pick up something called a ‘mountain bike’ in a supermarket for £50 but good luck paying the subsequent dental bills. A controllable bike that grips well and stops effectively currently costs £350.
What to look for with a sub-£500 MTB? A weight of 30-32lbs (13.6–14.5kg) or less. A modern, aluminium frame that fits you well. A decent, coil-sprung, budget fork or budget air-sprung fork with a lockout. The fork makes or breaks a budget bike. Hydraulic disc brakes. Larger volume tyres with knobs that bite into loose dirt and mud. A modern aluminium frame that fits you well. Kevlar beaded tyres.
The best mountain bikes under £500
Here our are current favourite best cheap mountain bikes. See the links to full reviews down the page.
- Carrera Vulcan, £350
- Norco Storm 4, £350
- Calibre Two Cubed, £449
- Voodoo Bantu, £450
- Vitus Nucleus VR, £499
- Pinnacle Kapur 2, £475
‘View Deal’ links
You will notice that beneath each of the best mountain bikes under £500 product summary is a ‘View Deal’ link. If you click on one of these links then mbr may receive a small amount of money from the retailer should you go to purchase the product from them. Don’t worry, this does not affect the amount you pay.
Leading the charge is a Suntour XCM fork with 120mm travel making it the biggest suspension fork here with 20mm more than most bikes at this price. That might not sound like much but it makes a huge difference to the ride comfort of the Vulcan, it covers the ground smoothly and without the chatter and vibration of some of the other bikes here.
Norco Storm 4
While the Carrera Vulcan’s standout feature was its spec level, to the detriment perhaps of the frame, on the Storm it’s the other way round. Canadian brand Norco has produced a sumptuous frame that, on pure sizing and fit, is the best on test, but poor spec choices drop it down the rankings.
Calibre Two Cubed
The Two Cubed has the distinct advantage of being heavily discounted. The Go Outdoors loyalty card slices the list price from £599 from £399, then a further introductory promotion brought the price down to £350. Impressive indeed, but it’s not simply about price. The Two Cubed frame has the best sizing and most modern geometry out there, making it easy and more fun to ride than its rivals. It’s still something of anomaly this this price though, but we suspect that the Calibre Two Cubed will be the rising tide that helps elevates all the bikes in this class.
Voodoo has once again developed a bike that is an absolute pleasure to ride and feels properly at home on proper off-road trails. The build kit is exemplary with the double chainset going someway to simplify the drivetrain – something we think is great for new riders. At £450 the Bantu is a hell of a bike but we’ve noticed that it’s currently priced at just £350, making it potentially the steal of the century.
Pinnacle Kapur 2
The £475 Pinnacle Kapur 2 hardtail takes its inspiration and features from its more expensive Iroko sibling. One of the best sub-£500 hardtails out there. New kid on the sub £500 block is the Kapur 2 and boy does it show. With progressive geometry and a great cockpit layout that sees a stubby 45mm stem and 760mm wide handlebar, it’s streets ahead of the similarly priced Specialized Pitch Sport and Diamondback Sync 3.0.
Vitus Nucleus VR
By bestowing the same level of detail on the Nucleus VR that most other brands reserve for their flagship models, Vitus has had amazing success with its entry-level hardtail. Every year without fail, Vitus has tweaked the Nucleus VR to ensure that it stays ahead of the competition. And by a couple of steps, it’s often superior to most of the bikes in the sub-£50 class of our Hardtail of the Year test.
That should be all the information you need to go and purchase your mountain bike with confidence.
Of course, you can spend more but you start to get into diminishing returns – the more you spend the less you get for your money. Making £500-£1,000 a focussed but varied spectrum for your first proper mountain bike.