Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. How we test gear.

The Best Cheap Mountain Bikes for Beginners

A top-of-the-line mountain bike can cost as much as some vehicles (yes, really), but there are plenty of solid entry-level bikes out there. Here are eight of the best cheap mountain bikes on the market.

best affordable mountain bikes
Staff, Courtesy of Mongoose

It’s easy to get way into the weeds while bike shopping, but a mountain bike doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of entry-level models out there to fit all budgets, and even though they’re priced lower, they’ll still last most riders at least a few seasons on moderate trails and gravel roads. We don’t recommend taking these deep into technical terrain, but these bikes are beginner friendly, readily available, and perfect for families, commuters, or mountain bikers just getting into the sport.

Best Cheap Mountain Bikes

What to Consider

Hardtail Versus Full-Suspension: These are your main two categories of mountain bike. A hardtail has suspension in the front but not the back, while a full-suspension bike will have both front and rear suspension. If you’re shopping by price, you’ll be able to get a slightly nicer hardtail for the same price as a lower-end full-suspension. But if you think you’ll be riding on more rugged trails, you might prefer a bike with both front and rear suspension.

Disc Brakes Versus Rim Brakes: Again, we’re talking budget here, so you’ll have to decide what matters to you. Disc brakes run at a higher price point, but they’re more responsive and will last longer. Rim brakes will take more pressure to slow down, but you’ll find them on the less expensive bikes. We’ll typically list bikes with disc brakes, but if you’re looking elsewhere, be sure to check the brake type as you shop.

Wheel Size: Most of what you’ll see will be 26-, 27.5-, or 29-inch wheels. Kids’ bikes will have smaller wheels, usually around 24 inches. A larger wheel has more travel per pedal stroke and more clearance for rolling over rocks and roots, but the smaller wheels can be easier to maneuver and will often be more budget-friendly.

Frame Size: This one is pretty straightforward. Many models of bikes come in basic frame sizes (small, medium, large). We recommend testing a bike out at the store, and if you’re unable to try it in person, measure yourself in correlation with the size chart to ensure you’re getting the right size.

The handlebar height and seat height is adjustable on most bikes, but if the frame is too small, you’ll feel scrunched and unable to get the most power while pedaling. Too big and you’ll be reaching for the handlebars and stretching in uncomfortable ways—a good way to get major shoulder cramps.

How We Selected

We’ve ridden bikes from a range of brands, price-points, and styles, so we used that as our baseline. From there, we sifted through the readily available offerings within our price range of $200-$600. Once we narrowed this down, we considered features, components, and what compromises we weren’t willing to make in the name of a good deal. We wanted these bikes to be budget-friendly but also worth the purchase, which means they need to last.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Best Overall Pick
Co-op Cycles DRT 1.0 Mountain Bike

REI’s line of bikes continues to impress us. They use similar components to bikes many times more expensive, but by branding under the REI name, you avoid paying a premium. 

This bike has a Shimano 3 x7 drivetrain, which means 21 reliable gears for everything from cross-country riding to steep climbs. You’ll get 100mm of travel with the front suspension, and trustworthy hydraulic disc brakes for hard stops on a variety of terrain. 

This is a hardtail model, and some sizes are occasionally out of stock.

  • Durable, reliable derailleur
  • Same components as more expensive bikes
  • Lightweight aluminum frame

  • 26-inch wheels cover less ground
Most Versatile
Schwinn High Timber

The Schwinn High Timber is perfect for everyone from beginner riders looking to take on some moderate singletrack to the commuter who wants the option of riding in-town trails to work or class. 

The steel frame is heavier than aluminum, but will last season after season. This hardtail bike comes with disc brakes and 21 gears, operated with twist shifters on the handlebars. 

The seat has a quick-lever release for easy adjustments, and it has the standard 26-inch wheels.

  • Readily available in multiple sizes
  • Quick-release seat height adjustments
  • Disc brakes

  • Twist shifters are less precise
  • Steel frame is heavier
Best Budget-Friendly Full-Suspension
Mongoose Ledge Mountain Bike

For people looking for an inexpensive bike with both front and rear suspension, the Mongoose Ledge Mountain Bike is a safe bet. This is a relatively lightweight aluminum-framed bike with midrange 27.5-inch wheels in a beefy 2.6-inch width. 

For the price point, this is an excellent option that gives newer riders a sampling of the sizing and style you’ll find with much more expensive bikes. The bike only has seven gears, so you won’t get the same climbing abilities as bikes with a wider range, but for cross-country trail riding, this is an excellent option.

  • Disc brakes
  • Trigger shifters
  • 27.5-inch wheels

  • Only seven speeds
Best Kids’ Bike
Schwinn Sidewinder Mountain Bike

This easy-to-adjust kids’ hardtail mountain bike is a terrific first trail bike. The steel frame is durable and the seat adjusts without the need for any tools. 

The bike features 21 gears with smooth trigger shifters for the front and back, as well as reliable disc brakes to keep the kiddos safe. The 24-inch wheels are standard for a bike of this size, and fit kids between 56 and 66 inches tall. 

This bike comes with a limited lifetime warranty, plus the tires and other components are easy to repair and replace.

  • Tool-free seat adjustment
  • Disc brakes
  • Trigger shifters

  • Limited height range
Best Beginner-Friendly Bike
Mongoose Switchback

A great option for the beginner mountain biker and bike commuter, the Mongoose Switchback is a reliable hardtail for beginner to moderate trails, four-wheel-drive roads, and some singletrack. 

The spacious geometry means you can fit a triangle frame bag with ease, making this a good crossover for a commuter bike as well as a moderate mountain bike.

This bike has a 3 x 7 drivetrain for 21 gears, though some of the lower gears will have trouble staying in place. The bike comes with 27.5-inch wheels, ideal for adult riders with a wide height range.

  • Spacious geometry
  • 21 speeds
  • 27.5-inch wheels

  • Less durable components
  • Heavier frame
  • Not all gears reliable
Best Gear Ratio
Neffice 24-Speed 27.5” Mountain Bike

We love a bike that can tackle steep climbs and descents while not breaking the bank, and this offering from Neffice does the trick. Built with a tough, lightweight aluminum alloy frame that can handle up to 330 pounds, this model is equally comfortable for men and women. 

The bike has trigger shifters, multiple options for hand placement on the rubberized handlebars, and reliable disc brakes. 

The bike has 24 speeds so you can get into a granny gear and keep grinding up the steep stuff, along with 27.5” wheels for rolling over obstacles and covering more ground.

  • 24 gears for easier climbing
  • Lightweight, durable aluminum frame
  • Disc brakes

  • Saddle a bit tough for long rides
Best Inexpensive Women-Specific Bike
Hiland 26/27.5-Inch Mountain Bike

The women-specific upper tube and the smaller frame geometry make for easier mounting and dismounting, along with a more comfortable ride without feeling overextended to the handlebars. This hardtail mountain bike has 24 speeds for a variety of terrain types, along with disc brakes and basic trigger shifters. 

The bike has options for 26- or 27.5-inch wheels, and the front suspension locks out for more efficient movement during climbs and sustained smooth terrain.

  • Women-specific frame
  • Options for 26- or 27.5-inch wheels
  • 24 speeds
  • Disc brakes

  • Less reliable shifters
  • Lower-quality components
Best Budget-Friendly 29er
Schwinn S29

With 29-inch wheels, this aluminum full-suspension bike is an excellent all-around mountain bike for people looking for a bike that can handle more rugged singletrack. 

Larger wheels mean easier rolling over rocks and roots, plus more ground covered with each pedal stroke. The bike has 21 speeds and smooth shifting, along with front and back disc brakes for fast stopping. Trigger shifters mean simple movement for the shifting, and the bike comes in a wide size range for riders of all heights.

  • 2.1-inch tires
  • Disc brakes
  • Full suspension

  • Might need tuning after assembly
  • Less reliable components
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below