Mountain bikes are ideal for all sorts of different conditions. While a road bike is best for cruising down long stretches, the best entry level mountain bike can be used to get through rough and rocky terrain that many types of bicycle just couldn’t handle.
You'll often find some type of suspension system in a mountain bike, along with thicker tires that aren't as inflated as road bikes, a straight handlebar, and other features that make them the most effective and durable for off-road conditions.
They aren’t only meant for riding in the mountains, of course. While they’re a bit heavier and slower than a road bike, for the average rider it’s not going to make a huge difference, and they’re an easier bike to ride.
This is a practical choice if you’re deciding between different types of bicycles, and we’ve put together this guide to help you find the best mountain bicycle for the money in order to help you make the perfect decision.
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Last Updated: January 22, 2021
By Max Shumpert: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate and best information regarding trail bikes available for those who are interested in off road cycling. The top 7 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best beginner mountain bike currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
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ROYCE UNION RHT LIGHTWEIGHT ALUMINUM MEN'S MOUNTAIN BIKE
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MONGOOSE 2019 DOLOMITE MEN'S FAT TIRE BIKE
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GRAVITY FSX 1.0
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SCHWINN HIGH TIMBER YOUNG/ADULT MOUNTAIN BIKE
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Best Entry Level Mountain Bikes
High-end mountain bicycle can sometimes cost as high as $10k. While these include some of the very best in the world, you can still get a lot for the money if your budget goes up to the $2k mark. These are the two best options.
#1 Merax FT323 Mountain Bike
- Front suspension design smooths bumps while biking and increases control for fluid riding
- Fitted Shimano 24-speed derailleurs and shifters for reliable and smooth gear shifting
- Dual disc brakes provide enhanced stopping power
This Merax FT 323 bike is a great looking mountain bike that you can keep at your home, out in the mud, or at a country park ride.
The bike is not equipped with high features but is definitely designed in such a way that many users would like to push them a bit further.
The bike's suspension is as full as MTB but is not a hybrid or a new model. With this bike, you get enough gears, grip, and suspension from wide tires. The bike offers a 21-speed gear system with shifters that are reliable for those who like to have more competitive cycling.
You have Shimano derailleurs that offer very smooth gear shifting. the bike has linear-pull brakes for enhanced and quick stopping power.
The tires are designed thick and great for peace of mind. You get a dual suspension system with high shock absorption quality that pleases many users.
The bike is a light aluminum frame with a strong weight holding capacity to handle all kinds of riding expectations with ease. The bike can hold up to 330 lbs of user weight.
The bike is designed with detail finishing at a very affordable price.
best Mountain Bikes Under $1000 Budget
You don’t have to empty your savings to purchase a higher-end model that offers a more professional feel on the trail.
If you’re willing to go as high as $1000, you’ll find a surprising amount of bikes that look and ride similar to competitive bikes. Here are our favorite two.
Co-op Cycles DRT 2.2 Bike
co-op cycles drt 2.2 bike
If you are searching for a bike with quick speed choices, Co-op Cycles DRT 2,2 Bike is the best option.
The DRT 2.2 is equipped with one of the most popular Shimano Altus gear systems along with a front derailleur from Altus.
The bike is equipped with a 36-22t crankset with matching 9-speed gear at the back cassette. The bike has 18 gears overall to handle all kinds of terrains.
The brakes are built with Tektro's hydraulic disc brakes and a powerful lever for amazing stopping power in extreme conditions.
The bike is an advanced hardtail bike and is designed for high expectations riders.
DRT 2.2 offers a good grip and long suspension travels.
The bike has impressive ascending and descending climbing power.
It is a great purchase for those who are looking for a brave ride and who do not step back from challenging trails.
The bike is equipped with RockShox Recon RL for high performance. The bike also includes a dropper post, which means you can go loose on downhills and continue to pedal harder again.
The bike can easily hold up to 300 lbs in total, including the gears carried on the bike. You may also check out easy and plenty of best bike trails within the U.S.
Royce Union RHT Lightweight Aluminum Men's Mountain Bike
- Frame: Lightweight aluminum hardtail frame; alloy handlebar and stem; WTB Trail II grips and WTB Volt saddle provide excellent comfort even on...
- Drivetrain: Shimano SLX 2x11 shifter paired with Shimano SLX 11-speed index provide 22 speeds in comfortable gearing for any riding environment;...
- Fork: Suntour XCT suspension fork with 100mm travel keeps the front wheel planted and absorbs bumps, keeping you in control
This bike is designed with a lightweight aluminum hardtail frame that offers amazing handling ina great value package.
The bike is very light and is paired with a Suntour XCT suspension fork for an amazing and smooth ride. The bikes offer great control on rough mountain trails and hard terrains. It gives you the confidence to push your limits.
The bike is built with a full Shimano SLX 22-speed Drivetrain and alloy 3-piece crankset to offer a reliable power system and transfer system with a comfortable gearing system.
It is a perfect choice for beginners and advanced riders alike.
The bike has a Kends small block 8 tires for low rolling resistance. The wide tires are built with high-quality and have excellent grip on rough terrains.
The dual hydraulic disc brakes offer to provide reliable stopping power.
Entry level best Mountain Bikes Under $500 Budget
The under $500 category represents the lowest budget level in our guide, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for something that is barely above a department store level. If you are looking to buy best budget mountain bike, we are going to show you the quality options.
The three bikes below are all some of the best mountain bikes in this price category.
GRAVITY FSX 1.0 BEGINNER MTB
We’re not really sure how Gravity managed to cram this many features and solid components into it for such a low price , but we’re definitely okay with it.
This is not one of those cheaply-made full-suspension bikes you see at big box stores.
The Gravity FSX 1.0 is a legitimate full-suspension bike that is capable of taking on some intense singletrack trails, and even some slight downhill paths as well.
Brand name components, an acceptable weight, and a smart design and aesthetic make the FSX 1.0 one of the best bike values, regardless of type.
The bike’s hydroformed aluminum frame has flawless welding points, and provides reinforcement and strength in all the right areas. The bike hovers around he 26 lb mark, which isn’t overly impressive, but definitely serviceable for the price.
Suspension is comprised of Suntour shocks that are adjustable in both the front and rear. The travel amounts are suitable for trail and all-mountain riding, while also offering the right amount of rigidness for more efficient pedaling and precise steering.
The FSX 1.0’s seatpost is made from the same aluminum alloy as the frame, and supports a surprisingly comfortable saddle that makes casual riding and flatter trail sections much more enjoyable.
The bike’s gear system is comprised of Shimano parts, including the Shimano EFT shifters that are feather-light, and very reliable in between tuneups. All of the gear components work together to create a 24-speed system that features impressive ratios and coverage.
The tires on the FSX 1.0 are lacking a bit in the traction area, but still have ample coverage and an added amount of durability to withstand small punctures and pinch flats. A tire upgrade brings the performance of the FSX 1.0 up to even higher levels.
As if all these components aren’t enough already for a bike that hovers around the $500 mark, the FSX 1,0 also comes with Tektro Novela disc brakes.
Overall, it’s practically impossible to think of any other bikes that come close to delivering this much quality on a full-suspension bike for this low of a price. The FSX 1.0 is the definitive entry-level full suspension mountain bicycle.
The full suspension, 24-speed system and many other features are covered in our Gravity FSX 1.0 In-Depth Review.
VILANO BLACKJACK 3.0 MOUNTAIN BIKE
The frame is hand-built and butted using 6061 alloy, with seamless welds as well.
The bike’s seatpost is made from the same material, and supports a contoured, slightly-padded saddle that is serviceable for most, although heavier mountain bikers may want something a little better.
The Blackjack 3.0’s front suspension fork isn't the greatest, but that’s to be expected with this price range. There is one major advantage with it however, as the shock provides a quick lockout feature for this who need more stability and pedal efficiency.
The gear system is made up of Shimano components, with the gear shifters being integrated into the brake levers, just like their popular road bikes. You get 24 speeds total with the Blackjack 3.0, which is perfectly fine for most moderate trail riding scenarios.
We aren’t exactly sure who makes the wheels, but the 29-inch design holds up, and functions in the same way as any other bike with larger wheels and tires. You can clear obstacles easier, and attain higher speeds with less effort. The Blackjack 3.0’s tires are made by Kenda, and have adequate traction for dirt paths.
The bike’s disc brakes are superior to other bikes in the lower entry-level price range, and provide a great amount of stopping effort and control with little hand effort.
Simply put, the Vilano Blackjack 3.0 is an entry-level 29er you can buy, and feel totally confident about.
Fat Tire Bikes
Fat bikes are no longer a side niche, but a viable and increasingly-popular bike type that is still winning over mountain riders who need a better way to navigate surfaces like sand and snow when mountain biking.
Mongoose Argus and Argus ST
- Fat tire mountain bike for all-terrain adventures. Fits riders 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 2 inches tall
- 7-speed twist shifter makes it easy to adapt to your terrain
- Mechanical disc brakes supply quick, effective braking even in slippery conditions
Argus is the real fat bike from the brand Mongoose. The bike is built with fat tires for conquering all kinds of mountain terrains and adventures.
This is one of the easiest and affordable bikes to ride in the fat bike collection. Generally, the fat tire bikes are easy to ride, however, the Argus wins in the competition.
The bike is designed with a hardtail sturdy frame of steel that is stable and highly durable. The bike is responsive with precision due to the 7-speed and Shimano rear derailleur.
These 7-speed shifters allow you to adapt to all kinds of terrains and offer you a smooth ride. Moreover, the Fat tire of 26x4 inches is perfect for traction needs and balance on sand and snow.
Argus is a great choice for riders with heights. It is perfect for you whether you are 5 feet or 6 feet tall.
The bike is design is very versatile and is available in kids and youth sizes as well.
Another great feature you get with the bike is the amazing color range.
Mongoose 2019 Dolomite Men's Fat Tire Bike
- Designed with 26-inch wheels, this bike fits riders 5'4" to 6'2" in height.
- 7 speeds with twist shifters and Shimano rear derailleur for all types of riding
- Dual disc brakes provide all-condition braking.
Check out this amazing Super fat tire bike. The Dolomite has been on the market for some and time and has maintained a reputation with a good reason.
The bike is amazingly designed without compromising the performance and is available at a very affordable price range.
The Mongoose Dolomite is a lightweight mountain bicycle and is no less than a winner.
The bike offers off-road capabilities and riding performance for the ultimate experience in biking.
The 26x 4-inch tires offer you great stability and let you conquer all kinds of terrains. You have extra width handles for overcoming bumps and obstacles on the road.
Dual disc brakes are designed for safety and help you to stop precisely. The 7-speed rear derailleur is highly responsive.
Changing gear on Mongoose Dolomite is not a problem due to the derailleur and twist shifters.
The bike is built with a steel frame and has alloy wheels for durability. You get amazing stand out colors on the alloy rims of the tires.
The bike has a thread less headset for easy adjusting of the height.
Women's Budget Mountain Bikes
Women’s mountain bicycle have a few strategic tweaks to their size and design, allowing them to be a better match a woman’s body in most cases. These two models are our favorites for a wide range of reasons.
Schwinn High Timber Youth/Adult Mountain Bike
- Durable mountain bike designed for trails and neighborhood rides
- Alloy crank provides steady gearing and less maintenance
- Twist shifters with rear derailleur for quick gear changes on the trail
Buying an affordable beginner’s full suspension bike shouldn’t mean sacrificing quality.
Schwinn timber will give a smooth and stable ride when you are riding off roads.
Schwinn offers power-packed features with this bike that sets its apart from other option available in the market.
The bike is designed with a high-quality steel frame that is made to last for a long time. The bike has an excellent gear system. It has 21-speed available that are versatile enough to manage a variety of terrains.
The shifting gears are smooth enough and provide an amazing experience. The bike is designed with a standard wheel size that is good for every mountain bike.
The bike is designed with an ergonomic handlebar for the correct riding position. It has an excellent grip which makes it easy to hold the handles as you ride.
The suspensions absorb the forces from rough rides and offer you a smooth and stable ride throughout.
The alloy crank system offers steady gear changes and lets you have low maintenance. The twist shifters along with rear derailleur help you with quick changes of gear on extreme rides.
Older Options To Consider Buying Second-Hand
Schwinn Moab 3 Adult Mountain Bike
- The Schwinn Moab 3 is for the rider who wants to get serious about XC mountain biking
- Schwinn mountain-tuned N LITENED 2 aluminum frame and SR Suntour XCT30 DS 100mm fork provide a lightweight, responsive ride
- 24 speed drivetrain with SR Suntour XCE crank offers quick, precise gear shifts
Schwinn Moab 3 is a perfect bike for riders who are looking for serious mountain biking. If you are looking for a performance upgrade then this is a great bike choice.
The bike is designed with a lightweight aluminum frame that is highly durable and has a suspension fork, and hydraulic discs brakes for maximum comfort and smooth ride.
Schwinn Moab 3 is the perfect choice when you have to head off the road for a great ride. The bike is also a great fit for small frame fit riders of 53 to 57 inches in height.
The bike has mountain-tuned N LITENED 2 aluminum frames and Suntour XCT30 DS 100mm fork.
These features offer a lightweight and responsive ride.
With a 24-speed drivetrain and crankset, the bike offers a quick and precise shifting of the gears.
The hydraulic breaks offer amazing stop power in extreme conditions.
Merax 26" Mountain Bicycle - BEGINNER FRIENDLY
- 🚲 Front suspension forks design smooths bumps while biking and increases control for fluid riding
- 🚲 Fitted Shimano 24-speed derailleurs and shifters for reliable and smooth gear shifting
- 🚲 Dual disc brakes provide enhanced stopping power
The aluminum frame is nothing to get excited over, but it’s not a clunky, light frame like you’ll get with inferior bikes in its price range. It offers a responsive feel on the trail and doesn’t weigh too much either.
The Seatpost is adjustable with an easy-to-use clamp, and the saddle itself is noticeably comfortable, far better than saddles you’ll often find on bikes in higher price ranges.
The gear system is made up of various Shimano components that result in a smooth, quick, and precise 21 speeds that offer enough coverage to give you an ideal range of gears for everything from steep climbs to achieving higher speeds on long, flat surfaces.
The wheelset is another aspect of the merax that is worthy of some attention. Merax uses its own double-walled aluminum rims, which come with 26 inch Kenda tires that give the bike plenty of traction on off-road surfaces, including rocky terrain.
While the idea of linear-pull, disc brakes on lower-priced bikes is usually a bad idea, not so with the Merax. Shimano aluminum levers make controlling the mechanical disc brakes easy and smooth, without the need for excess pressure.
All in all, the Merax is easily one the best entry-level, low budget mountain bicycle that you can actually take out on a real singletrack trail.
Why You Should Choose Your Mountain Bike Carefully
Mountain bikes have evolved so much from when they were first developed that they now have a wide range of designs and uses that cater towards specific styles of riding, and certain terrains as well.
Choosing the wrong type of bike can result in a diminished riding experience in more than a few ways.
For instance, if you plan to only do some light cross country riding most of the time, and you purchase a downhill mountain bike, you'll be pretty miserable on the trail, as you're riding one that was designed for anything but flat and uneventful paths.
Careful choosing of a mountain bike also involves knowing the right size, and what components are most important to you when riding. This will help the bike to be more comfortable, perform better, and match your own riding style and preferences.
Follow all of these aspects, and you'll end up with the perfect mountain bike for you, while also getting the most for your money.
If you are looking for hardtails then we recommend no less than $1,500 and if you are looking for full suspension then go no less than $2,000 to $2,500.
They are just called entry or beginner bikes, they are true mountain bike that all riders can start with.
These bikes are performance-based and make your ride more enjoyable and easy.
Mountain biking trails have more sharp and steep turns and climb, while roads are more consistent grades. A road ride in the mountains is generally more difficult than an MTB ride on rail-road trails.
If you want a comfortable ride then a full-suspension bike is a great choice. It will soak up all the bumps and shocks that may affect your body while riding.
It also helps you to ride faster and for longer hours.
You can find mountain bikes in the range of $3,500 to $6,000.
You can have great bikes under $500 as well. All it takes good research.
We hope you’ve arrived to this point with a better understanding of what goes into shopping for a best entry level mountain bike, and how to start looking yourself.
Whichever bike you end up going with, always make sure that it has the key aspects you are looking for, size plays an important role, and also the right price tag. If you're looking for the best beginner mountain bike, this guide should help.
Have any bikes you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider reviewing it!
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