Mountain bikes for beginners

best mountain bikes under 500

Today, I’m going to look for mountain bikes for beginners, and the best mountain bike under 500, whether $dollars or £pounds.

This is a question I get every day, so today I’m going to give you the tools you need to find one, new or used, regardless of brand.

Firstly, we need to understand just what a beginner bike is?

If you’re a beginner and you have unlimited money then this discussion is over! Just go out and spend a bunch of money on a nice bike and you’re done.

But I suspect that most beginners are looking for the smallest financial commitment they can make, while still getting a decent mountain bike. 

I want you to pretend a Mountain bike is colorless with no logos on it.

How do we objectively determine that it’s trail-worthy just by examining it?

Derailleur Hanger.

Let’s start with the most important indicator of a good mountain bike: the Derailleur Hanger.

If a mountain bike is equipped with a rear derailleur.

it should be hung from the frame by a piece of metal, the hanger.

During a crash, the hanger is designed to break away to prevent damage to the frame.

It can then be realigned or replaced inexpensively.

That’s a lot better than throwing the whole bike in the garbage which is what you’ll need to do if you break part of your frame.

So when examining a bike, be wary of band-aid solutions like this, or worse yet a derailleur mounted directly to the frame.

Bikes like these could be one crash away from total destruction, and mountain biking is all about crashing.

So a derailleur hanger is a very first thing you should look for to determine if a bike is trail-worthy.

Even the most entry level bikes will have a precision cut, purposeful looking derailleur hanger right here. So your examination should start, and possibly end with that.

Threadless Stem

The next important part to look for is a threadless stem, which you can identify by the pinch bolts, and these are 4 bolts holding the handlebars on.

If instead, you see a fixed threaded stem, it’s usually bad news. To service or replace anything up front including the fork, you’ll be limited to unreliable parts or vintage mountain bike parts which are hard to find.

Good luck tracking down a brand new mid 90’s suspension fork to replace your old one.

A threadless stem is not only easier and less costly to service, but it’s also more rigid.

This is not something you want to compromise on.

Quick Release Levers

Moving on to the wheels, you need to make sure they have quick release levers.

These are common on entry level bikes, and they make it so you can remove or replace the wheels by hand without any tools.

More importantly, they’re an indicator of the bike’s intended use. When mountain biking flat tires are inevitable, so always carrying a 15mm wrench to remove these nuts are problematic.

Worse yet, mountain bikes with nuts on the axles are nearly impossible to upgrade the wheels on, and wheels are one of the things you’ll outgrow as you gain experience.

So on an entry-level mountain bike, you should look for quick release levers and if you see nuts, stay away.

Next up is the Crank and Chain-Ring assembly. It should be modular and bolted together, not riveted together as one big piece.

I’m sure you can see the problem with that. Break anything here, and you’re probably out the cost of your entire bike.

Sure you could drill out the rivets and fabricate something, so if that’s your thing then good on you.

Otherwise, look for something you can actually wrench on.

Bike Disc Brakes

The next thing you should look for is disc brakes on the front and rear.

Even cheap disc brakes are replaceable with better ones, which is important to note because your bike needs to have the mountings points for them from the start.

More importantly, disc brakes are dramatically more reliable than rim brakes, which is why the mountain bike industry switched to them quickly and decisively decades ago.

Because a good mountain bike should be low maintenance and upgrade-able, you should be very suspicious of one that does not include disc brakes.

Finally, you need to ensure that the bike is available in different sizes and that the manufacturer actually offers some guidance as to what size you need.

This is as easy as using Google, a lost art.

Anyway, if the manufacturer isn’t offering this information they probably don’t put much thought into their bikes.

Therefore you shouldn’t trust it to take you deep into the woods.

I realize this indicator is less objective than the others, but at the very least, you should get a bike that fits you.

Although there are many other indicators of a trail-worthy bike, they’re largely irrelevant if the bike in question doesn’t satisfy the requirements we just discussed.

So we’ll focus our attention now on what you can expect from an entry level bike like this, and some of the things you can do to upgrade it.

Hardtail Mountain Bike

First of all, it’s important to note that almost all entry level mountain bikes will be hard-tails or bikes without rear suspension.

The linkage required for the rear suspension is costly and heavy, so it’s generally not worth investing in until you start to breach the thousand dollar point.

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll limit this discussion to hardtails.

Hardtails are fun and fast, so they’re great to start out on anyway.

But sub $500 hard-tails are almost always XC or cross country bikes. XC bikes are optimized for pedaling and laying down the power.

They’re fast and easy to go long distances on.

But those advantages can hold you back when you start to dabble in free-ride.

This is not to say that you can’t do a little jumping on an XC bike.

It’s just that jumps, drops, rock rolls, or any kind of prolonged descent is best done on a trail bike.

Since you can’t convert an XC bike to a trail bike or the other way around, you need to be honest about what you intend on doing on your mountain bike before you buy one.

Budget

But if your budget is below $500, you’re getting an XC bike whether you like it or not.

So if you eventually take to jumping and throwing the bike around a bit more, you could feel limited.

So here’s what I did to enhance the capabilities of my budget XC bike.

The biggest thing you can do, hands down, is changing the tires.

When I threw these wider, knobbier tires on my Overdrive, it felt like a completely different bike.

I was able to run these tires at a lower pressure, making them more gripper and more forgiving.

But that’s not all I did. There was a rattling sound, and my chain was slapping around everywhere, and in fact, it came off entirely on several drops and jumps.

To remedy this I installed a chain guide, which virtually eliminated the problem.

This will cost you a lot less than upgrading your drive-train, which could easily run you as much as this bike.

Bike Pedals

If I were a beginner trying to progress as far as possible on this bike, I might upgrade the pedals as well, and maybe the fork to something like this.

Venturing beyond that would not necessarily be economical, and considering a decent trail-worthy bike can hold its value well, you’d be better off selling it and upgrading the whole thing.

Finally, if you already have a bike and find that it fails some of these tests, you can either modify or upgrade with some of these simple but effective alterations.

If your bike is currently working for you and you’re having fun on it, then keep shredding.

But If you feel like it’s holding you back, you now have the tools to find something a

little better.

Still, we haven’t spoken about assembly, maintenance, or all the other upgrades you can do…  Try this Link >>>

Here are a few of the best mountain bikes under 500

2018 Diamondback Sync 2.0 Hard Tail 27.5″ Wheel Mountain Bike

  • Gender: Unisex. Material: Aluminium 6061 Hydroformed. Wheel size: 27 inch Wheel. Stem: Diamondback Forged Aluminium. Handlebars: Alloy Riser , 720mm Wide, 12mm Rise, 6-Deg Bend. Grips: DB Trail Grip. Saddle: Diamondback MTB. Seatpost: Aluminium, 31.6x350mm. Seat Clamp: Alloy with QR.
  • Rear Derailleur Dropout: RMM255. Frame: Alloy Butted Hydrofomed Tubing, Integrated Headset, Forged Dropouts. Fork: Suntour XCT-HLO Suspension. Headset: 1-1/8″Semi-Integrated Threadless. Shift Levers: Shimano EF-51 Easyfire, 24 speed. Rear Derailleur: Shimano TX-800. Front Derailleur: Shimano TX-50 Tourney.
  • Front Brake: Tektro Mechanical Disc Brake. Rear Brake: Tektro Mechanical Disc Brake. Crankset: Shimano TY-301 24x34x42T, 175mm. Bottom Bracket: Semi Sealed Cartridge 122mm. Freewheel/Cassette: Sunrace 12-32T Cassette. Chain: KMC.
  • Pedals: Resin Composite Platform with moulded pins. Front Hub: Aluminium QR, 36H. Rear Hub: Aluminium Screw On, QR 36H. Rims: 27.5″ Aluminium Double Wall, Custom Decals. Spokes: 14G Black. Front Tyre: MTB 27.5 x 2.10. Rear Tyre: MTB 27.5 x 2.10. Inner Tubes: Presta Valve 27.5″.
  • Cycle Condition: New. All 2018 Raleigh bicycles are assembled and set up by a mechanic prior to dispatch. After the pre-delivery inspection the bicycle is re-packed in the original box for transportation. The repacked bicycle is 90% assembled. Refitting of pedals, stem, handlebars, front wheel, saddle and seat post are necessary.

Diamondback 2018 Sync 3.0 Hard Tail 27.5″ Wheel Mountain Bike Red

  • Gender: Unisex. Material: Aluminium 6061 Hydroformed. Wheel size: 27 inch Wheel. Stem: Diamondback Forged Aluminium. Handlebars: Alloy Riser , 720mm Wide, 12mm Rise, 6-Deg Bend. Grips: DB Trail Grip. Saddle: Diamondback MTB. Seatpost: Aluminium, 31.6x350mm. Seat Clamp: Alloy with QR.
  • Rear Derailleur Dropout: Replaceable. Frame: Alloy Butted Hydrofomed Tubing, Integrated Headset, Forged Dropouts. Fork: Suntour XCT-HLO Suspension. Headset: 1-1/8″Semi-Integrated Threadless. Shift Levers: Shimano Altus 24 Speed Rapid Fire. Rear Derailleur: Shimano Altus. Front Derailleur: Shimano Altus.
  • Front Brake: Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brake. Rear Brake: Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brake. Crankset: Shimano TX-801 42/32/22T. Bottom Bracket: Semi Sealed Cartridge 122mm. Freewheel/Cassette: Sunrace 12-32T Cassette. Chain: KMC. Pedals: Resin Composite Platform with moulded pins.
  • Front Hub: Aluminium QR, 36H. Rear Hub: Aluminium Cassette, QR 36H. Rims: 27.5″ Aluminium Double Wall, Custom Decals. Spokes: 14G Black. Front Tyre: Schwalbe Rapid Rob 27.5×2.1. Rear Tyre: Schwalbe Rapid Rob 27.5×2.1. Inner Tubes: Presta Valve 27.5″.
  • Cycle Condition: New. All 2018 Raleigh bicycles are assembled and set up by a mechanic prior to dispatch. After the pre-delivery inspection the bicycle is re-packed in the original box for transportation. The repacked bicycle is 90% assembled. Refitting of pedals, stem, handlebars, front wheel, saddle and seat post are necessary.
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mountain bike tips

What to look for when buying your very first Mountain Bike.

DIYBikeRepair

THESE BUTTONS WILL TAKE YOU TO A VARIETY OF PRODUCTS AT LOW PRICES TO UPGRADE OR REPAIR YOUR BIKE

Summary
product image
Author Rating
1star1star1star1star1star
Aggregate Rating
5 based on 1 votes
Brand Name
Diamondback Mountain Bike
Product Name
Diamondback Sync 2.0 Hard Tail
Price
GBP 400
Product Availability
Available in Stock