Best Budget Mountain Bikes | Top 6 Great Picks! (2022)

(Last updated on September 23rd, 2022)

Cycling is a lot of fun. It gets you out into nature, helps you build up your fitness, and even can help you make lots of new friends. There’s a misconception that cycling has to be expensive and many people think you need to spend thousands of dollars to take up the sport when actually you don’t. I have ridden many bikes in the past ten years and the budget bikes have been the most fun. For years I rode a Carrera Vulcan I still own to this day.

Mountain bikes are one of the most popular choices when it comes to bikes. They can go off-road or on the road and are very comfortable. What’s also great about mountain bikes is that you can get some incredible bikes for not a lot of money.

In this article, we’ll tell you what we look for in a good budget mountain bike, then about some incredible value-for-money bikes on the market, and finally, a buyers guide to help you choose the right bike for you.

Man on a bike in the woods
Man on a bike in the woods

What Do We Look for When Sourcing Mountain Bikes?

Mountain bikes don’t have to cost much money to be good. It actually comes down to a few different aspects before price. A bike can have the best components and be from the best brand but is it designed for the task you want it for? We look for this when sourcing the best mountain bikes on the market.

Brand

Brands do matter, and when you go for a named brand, typically, you get a much better product. Bigger brands generally work with better components and have much better warranties and customer service compared to smaller unheard-of brands.

User Ratings

It’s vital to understand the experiences of others using the bikes before buying one yourself. We review lots of user feedback on bikes before considering them for our lists. User reviews give us other people’s feedback which helps confirm things we might see as issues and also tell us things we might not know.

Is It Built for Its Purpose?

Although bikes can have amazing components, are they fit for the job the bike is designed to do? When we look at bikes, we think about the purpose they are designed for and then look at the bike in detail to understand if it’s fit for that purpose.

Can It Perform?

It’s vital that if you’re going to be spending your hard-earned money on a bike, it will have the ability to perform. A good mountain bike will be able to take you confidently down a technical trail and give you confidence when you need it. We only recommend bikes that we know have good ability.

Components

A bike is made of many different parts and breaking a bike down to see all of its components shows us everything about it. It lets us see if corners have been cut anywhere and if there’s something you might want to upgrade in the future.

Looks and Design

We feel it’s important that a bike doesn’t just have a good design but also looks good. You need to enjoy the way your bike looks as it goes a long way in motivating you to ride it sometimes. You want to be proud of what you’re riding and look like a proper mountain biker.

Best Budget Mountain Bikes: At a Glance

BikePriceWheel SizeBrakesGearing
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1$59927.5”Hydraulic Disc3 x 7 (21 Speed)
Diamondback Line 27.5$90027.5”Hydraulic Disc1 x 9 (9 Speed)
Marin Palisades Trail 2$59927.5”Hydraulic Disc2 x 9 (18 Speed)
Breezer Midtown 1.7$49527.5”Mechanical Disc1 x 8 (8 Speed)
Schwinn S29 Dual$63929”Mechanical Disc3 x 7 (21 Speed)
Mongoose Colton$47927.5”Mechanical Disc1 x 7 (7 Speed)

Best Value for Money

1. Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1

Co op Cycles DRT 1 1 1

Our Rating

9.5/10

$599

PROS

Lightweight aluminum frame
Hydraulic disc brakes stop fast
Suntour suspension

CONS

The gearing, although good, is basic

KEY SPECS

Lightweight Aluminum Frame
Suntour SR Fork 100mm Travel
Shimano Tourney Gearing
Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brakes
27.5” Wheelset

The Co-op Cycles DRT 1.1 is one of the market’s most popular budget mountain bikes. It has a lightweight aluminum frame and features a very cool sloped top tube to keep the weight down and assist in the control of the bike. This is paired with the very reliable Suntour SR fork that offers 100mm travel and is perfect for light trails and quickly getting over tree roots.

The Shimano Tourney groupset has a huge range on it with its classic triple front crank, and you’re not going to struggle getting up those hills no matter what your ability on the bike. It has a 27.5” wheelset making the bike feel very agile and really exciting to ride. It comes with Kenda Kadre 2.1” tires for epic grip and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes for maximum stopping power.

OUR VERDICT

The Co-op cycle is an excellent budget mountain bike. It will be a lot of fun to ride and give you loads of confidence on the trails. The only thing it’s missing is more modern gearing.

Best All Rounder

2. Diamondback Line 27.5”

Diamondback Line 27.5

Our Rating

9.5/10

$900

PROS

Lightweight aluminum frame
Looks great in the matt lime
Suntour XCR suspension
1x gearing system

CONS

Price is a little higher than others on this list

KEY SPECS

Lightweight Aluminum Frame
Suntour XCR Fork 120mm Travel
Shimano Tourney Gearing
Shimano Hydraulic Disc Brakes
27.5” Wheelset

Diamondback is known for making some pretty rad mountain bikes, and the line is a model they have been running for many years. The Line comes in a matt lime color, and the frame is made from lightweight aluminum. It is an excellent-looking bike and paired with the Suntour XCM forks giving 120mm travel, it will perform pretty well too.

The Shimano Acera groupset is a modern 1X and even comes with a tensioner to stop the chain from falling off on sketchy landings. Not only do you have Shimano gearing but hydraulic disc brakes as well, which have the ability to stop you on a pin. The 27.5” wheelset is Diamondback’s own, and it comes with Vee Rubber Crown Gem tires in 2.35” to help on those rough sections.

OUR VERDICT

The Diamondback Line is an excellent bike. Although it costs a little more than the others on this list, the value for money is definitely there.

Best Climbing MTB

3. Marin Palisades Trail 2 27.5”

Marin Palisades Trail 2 27 5

Our Rating

9.5/10

$599

PROS

Series 2 aluminum frame is great to ride
Altus 2X9 groupset is modern with lots of gear options
Hydraulic disc brakes from Tektro
Double walled aluminum rims

CONS

Not the lightest of bikes on this list

KEY SPECS

Lightweight Aluminum Frame
RockShox Judy Silver 100mm Travel
Shimano Altus Gearing
Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brakes
27.5” Wheelset

The Marin Palisades Trail 2 is a great example of a quality budget bike that Marin makes. It’s a great XC bike that is going to be fun on trails and a great bike for cyclists who want to improve their skills. It’s classic hardtail geometry, putting you in the best place to control the bike well and be comfortable. The RockShox Judy fork it uses is one of the most popular XC forks on the market. Not only is it lightweight, but it has great rebound on bumps.

It comes with the Shimano Altus gearing, which is a 2X9 giving you 18 gears to choose from and smooth shifting. They have gone with the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, which will stop you well and require next to no maintenance. The wheels are my favorite bit about this bike. They are double-walled for extra strength and come with WTB Trailboss Comp 2.25” tires. An excellent budget set up for a great handling bike.

OUR VERDICT

The Marin Palisades is a great bike, and for cross-country riding, it’s ideal. It is built to be very strong and last but is heavier than other budget MTBs

Best Budget

4. Breezer Midtown 1.7

Breezer Midtown 1 7

Our Rating

9/10

$495

PROS

Aluminum frame is great to ride
Price is amazing
Lightweight
WTB rims and huge 2.4″ tires

CONS

The rigid fork isn’t the most comfortable
I would have liked hydraulic disc brakes
Gearing is limited

KEY SPECS

Lightweight Aluminum Frame
Rigid forks
Shimano Altus Gearing
Tektro Mechanical Disc Brakes
27.5” Wheelset

The Breezer Midtown is a basic bike. They say simplicity is key and have nailed it with this mountain bike. The lightweight aluminum frame with its oversized dark red tubing does scream class. It’s built to be strong and comfortable, but unlike any other bike on this list, it is paired with rigid forks, so you don’t have suspension here, but it does make it much lighter.

The Shimano Altus gearing gives you eight single gears, and it’s enough for riding up general hills and taking on tough terrain, but if you’re looking to be riding to extremes, it might not be enough. Also, with the brakes, you have mechanical instead of hydraulic. Although good, they are not as strong as hydraulic, which is noticeable. This bike has an amazing wheelset to compensate for its shortfalls. The WTB SX19 rims and massive Kenda Kwick Seven5 2.4” tires give this bike some serious trail ability and help it perform well against its suspension friends.

OUR VERDICT

The Breezer Midtown is the most basic bike on this list. It does have some quality components and will still be a lot of fun to ride, but it is limited in comfort and ability.

Best Suspension Setup

5. Schwinn S29

Schwinn S29

Our Rating

9/10

$639

PROS

Dual suspension makes off-road easier
Schwinn quality frame
29” Wheels
Price

CONS

Basic gearing
Brakes are mechanical
Heavy bike

KEY SPECS

Lightweight Aluminum Frame
Dual Suspension
21 Speed Drive Train
Mechanical Disc Brakes
29” Wheelset

If you have been looking for bikes or been interested in cycling, you probably would have come across Schwinn before. They are an excellent budget bike brand with a huge variety of bikes. The S29 is a full-suspension aluminum mountain bike that comes at only $639. It’s an incredible price. Having a rear shock is going to really help on those technical trails and when you’re being chased down a tough segment.

The components on this bike are fairly basic. You have a triple chainset and 21 speed gearing, which is going to give you plenty of range but is much heavier compared to a modern 1X. The gearing is a mechanical disc brake system, and it is ok but hydraulic would have been preferred again. The wheelset is a 29” and paired with the dual suspension, makes this a very fun, capable off-road bike.

OUR VERDICT

A full suspension bike at this price is amazing and has excellent ability. It comes with basic components, which is expected at this price.

Best Design

6. Mongoose Colton

Mongoose Colton

Our Rating

9/10

$479

PROS

Mongoose aluminum frame is great to ride
It looks incredible with its gray and yellow detailing

CONS

Unbranded components
Mechanical disc brakes

KEY SPECS

Low Slung Light Aluminum Frame
Suspension Fork
Unbranded Gearing
Mechanical Disc Brakes
27.5” Wheelset

If you have ever ridden a Mongoose, you will know they are excellent bikes. The Colton has a low slung frame, making it an excellent bike when it comes to handling. With its small frame triangles, it will be a bike you can throw around on a trail confidently. It comes with a basic suspension fork that will only give you about 100mm of travel, but it will be enough for mixed off-roading.

The Mongoose Colton comes with 7 speed on a 1X drivetrain. It offers a limited range, but you will be able to move around the gearing very quickly and efficiently. It’s unbranded, but this can be easily upgraded if it doesn’t satisfy your riding. The mechanical brakes are pretty good and will stop you, but hydraulics would have been more efficient. As far as the wheelset goes, you have a 27.5” wheelset here, but it’s equipped with a monster set of 2.6” tires which are going to give you incredible grip.

OUR VERDICT

The Mongoose Colton is an excellent bike. It may have basic unbranded components, but it’s a great bike to start with and upgrade.

Read more:

9 Best Beginner Mountain Bikes
Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000
Best Mountain Bikes Under $500

Your Guide to Buying a Mountain Bike

bike in a field
Bike in a field

In this list, we have told you about some excellent budget mountain bikes, which we highly recommend. How do you pick the right bike for you though? In this next part, we’ll tell you everything you need to think about when picking that new mountain bike for you. The best way to do this is to break the bike down and tell you what to look for.

Disciplines

Like other cycling disciplines, mountain biking comes in a few different shapes and sizes, and you use different bikes depending on the discipline and the bike’s specifications.

XC (Cross Country)

This is where you have light off-road terrain, super fast races, and typically will have a lightweight hardtail mountain bike with about 100mm travel on the suspension.

All Mountain

With all-mountain, you are on more technical terrains and need a more capable bike. This will either be a hardtail or full suspension bike with a 130mm travel minimum.

Enduro

Enduro racing is very technical terrain racing with lots of ups and downs. This will generally be done on a full suspension bike with travel on the front and rear of 150mm to 170mm and uprated brakes.

Downhill

Downhill is exactly what it says in the name, going downhill fast. This will require a capable full suspension bike with larger brakes and around 200mm of travel at the front and rear.

Frame

When looking at mountain bikes, the best place to start is the frame, as there’s a lot to think about regarding this component. The first thing to mention is material. Typically budget mountain bikes will either come in aluminum or steel. Aluminum is stiff, lightweight, and perfect if you want a light bike and plan on going fast or possibly racing. Steel is heavier but, due to its flexibility, is much more comfortable. Steel is perfect if you are not worried about going fast and value comfort over speed.

Then you have geometry. The geometry is the design of a bike and the position it puts the rider in. Typically cyclists refer to a bike as aggressive or relaxed when it comes to geometry. A bike with an aggressive geometry will put you in a less comfortable position, but it will be very aerodynamic and, best for power output and speed, ideal for racing. Then you have relaxed geometry. This is where you will be more upright and in a much more comfortable position, great for long-distance riding.

Suspension

The suspension is one of the main characteristics that make a mountain bike. A bike can get over anything easily and comfortably with the right suspension. Mountain bikes generally come in two different styles. You have full suspension or hardtail.

Full Suspension

A full suspension bike is where you will have a suspension fork on the front to roll over obstacles and a shock on the rear of the frame to stop the rear rebounding. Full suspension bikes are used in all the disciplines of mountain biking, but in Enduro and Downhill, they are all you will see.

Hardtail

Hardtail mountain bikes only have suspension on the front fork. They are typically used in cross country racing, and the maximum travel you get on that front fork is generally 130mm.

Travel

Rider biking in the forest
Rider biking in the forest

Suspension comes in the form of either a rear shock or a front fork. The travel of the fork or shock is the maximum amount that it can move when hitting a bump or obstacle. On cross-country bikes, it will be around 100mm, and on downhill bikes, up to 200mm. The more travel it has, the better its technical ability, but more travel means the fork is heavier.

Gearing

Gearing is also a very vital part of the bike when it comes to mountain bikes. They will often be referred to as the groupset. On cheaper mountain bikes, you will get very basic gearing which will work but won’t be as smooth and will add weight to the bike. On high-end mountain bikes, you can have electronic systems.

The only thing to look out for when looking at gearing is first to try and go with a reputable brand such as Shimano or SRAM. The next thing you need to consider is having enough low gears, so you are looking for a large cassette on the rear or a triple chainset on the front. All mountain bikes generally come with very low gearing for steep hills and rough terrain.

Wheelsets

Three bikers on a hill
Three bikers on a hill

Modern mountain bikes typically come with two different size wheels. You either get a 29” wheelset or a 27.5” wheelset.

The 27.5” wheelset will be fitted with larger tires. It is much more agile and better for handling and acceleration. It is much more suited to very technical terrain.

The 29” wheelset will have smaller tires, and because of the larger diameter of the wheel, it is better for going over obstacles and much more efficient at higher speeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth buying a cheap mountain bike?

Yes, budget mountain bikes are a great way to get into the sport and learn how to ride ready for a high-end bike.

What entry-level mountain bike is best?

They are all good for different reasons. It comes down to personal preference more than anything.

Can I get a decent mountain bike for $500?

Of course, it will be basic, but it will get you out on the trails learning and having fun.

How do I choose my first mountain bike?

Our guide above will help you with what to look for. If that doesn’t help, checking some YouTube videos will explain it further.

What bike do I need for my height?

We recommend using the sizing guide on the website where you buy it from or the bike manufacturer’s website.

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