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 at least £350.
What to look for with a circa-£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 five favourite best entry level mountain bikes. Click links to head over to the full review of the bike. Please note: due to effect of Covid and Brexit the prices of these bikes may have crept up since publication.
‘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.
Vitus Nucleus VR
Year-in year-our winner
Pros: Ride quality and build kit belie its price tag
Cons: Still no clutch mech to help keep the chain on
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-£750 class of our Hardtail of the Year test. Sadly, as is the case with so many bikes in 2021, the price has gone up and availability is scarce. However, if you see the Nucleus come into stock, don’t hesitate to snap it up, even at £599, as it’s still a bargain and by far the best hardtail mountain bike at this price.
Really nice-feeling ride
Pros: Lightweight triple-butted frame with great handling
Cons: Needs bigger tyres with bigger knobs to bolster traction
Sadly price rises owing to Brexit and COVID have raised the price of the Pinnacle Kapur just above our £500 threshold, but it’s still a bike well worth investing that little bit extra in. One of the best £500 hardtails out there, 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.
Classic entry-level MTB
Pros: 120mm travel suspension fork from Suntour
Cons: Handlebar is narrow and quirky
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 with less chatter and vibration.
Puts a smile on your face
Pros: Ride quality of the frame. Impressive kit list. Price.
Cons: Hard rubber compound tyres. Occasional front derailleur rub.
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 £500 the Bantu is a hell of a bike, although keep an eye out for deals, as it’s occasionally discounted.
Voodoo Braag Limited Edition
Essentially the Bantu with new paint
Pros: Cheap thrills thanks to great parts and geometry
Cons: Again, those tyres are sketchy and the front mech is noisy off-road
Costing £500, the Voodoo promises the same Bantu bang for the same buck. It shares the frame geometry and 7005 aluminium tubing, Up front, it gets a basic but supple coil-sprung Suntour suspension fork with 120mm of travel. There’s no air pressure to tinker with, which could be good or bad, depending on how technically proficient you are. You get a short stem and wide handlebar set-up that makes the handling so intuitive and enjoyable. All in all: proven Voodoo geometry, quality components and decent attention to detail.
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!