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Best Mountain Bikes Under £500

The best hardtail mountain bikes under £500 tend towards cross country (XC) and recreational riding. These bikes are designed to travel quickly and efficiently over reasonably smooth tracks while still being robust enough to tackle rougher trails.

Most mountain bikes now roll on 27.5” (650b) wheels as they combine the nimble handling characteristics of traditional 26” wheels with the fast rolling characteristics of larger wheels. 29ers, with their bigger wheels are faster rolling over rough ground so are well worth considering for XC riding although smaller riders may find them a little ungainly.

Disc brakes offer consistent stopping control in all-weather-conditions and you will find them on all the mountain bikes in this review. Hydraulic disc brakes are more powerful than mechanical ones as well as offering a better feel.

Of course, the heart of any bike is the frame. All the MTBs featured here have aluminium frames as they are both strong and lightweight. Butting is a process that removes material from low stress areas of the frame to reduce weight. Forming also tends to reduce weight as the tubes are shaped more efficiently.

Offering a stable upright riding position, for confident off-road handling, these hardtail MTBs are also suited to urban road riding as they offer extra visibility in traffic. In this review, we have picked five of the best hardtail MTBs for XC and recreational cycling.


Giant ATX 2 27.5" 2017

Giant ATX 2 27.5 2017
Giant

£349.00



Quick look

Frame  ALUXX-Grade Aluminium


Suspension  SR Suntour XCT 100mm travel


Drivetrain  Shimano 3x7 speed


Brakes  Tektro mechanical disc


Review

The Giant ATX is a versatile MTB for rapid riding over cross country trails and gravel tracks. With 27.5” wheels and low profile knobbly tyres the ATX is no slouch on the tarmac while still offering decent off-road grip.

The 6061 aluminium frame is butted to save weight and offers a stable riding position. The fork offers 100mm of suspension travel to smooth the trail. The mechanical disc brakes offer consistent performance in both wet and dry conditions so you can control your speed with confidence.




This rapid recreational hardtail offers exceptional value.


GT Aggressor Sport 27.5" 2017

GT Aggressor Sport 27.5 2017
GT

£379.99



Quick look

Frame  6061-T6 aluminium alloy


Suspension  All Terra 80mm travel


Drivetrain  Shimano 3x7 speed


Brakes  Mechanical disc


Review

A classic hardtail MTB the GT Aggressor now features 27.5” wheels for faster rolling both on and off road. 80mm of suspension travel up front will help to smooth out the bumps on the trail for rapid riding on gravel and single track trails.

The no-nonsense component spec includes the reliable Shimano 3x7 speed drivetrain and mechanical disc brakes. Low profile knobbly tyres are fast rolling on smooth surfaces while still offering off-road grip. The inclusion of GTs Slim Line flat pedal is a real bonus at this price point.




This reliable workhorse offers a stable ride on gravel tracks and trails.


Cube Aim Pro 29er 2017

Cube Aim Pro 29er
cube

£449.00



Quick look

Frame  Aluminium Lite with formed tubes


Suspension  SR Suntour XCT 100mm travel


Drivetrain  Shimano 2x8 speed


Brakes  Tektro hydraulic discs


Review

Cube take a different approach to wheel sizing than most manufacturers and the Aim Pro is offered with 27.5” wheels on 14”, 16” & 18” sizes with 29” wheels on 17”, 19”, 21” & 23”. This means that the 29” wheeled version shown here is aimed at medium and larger riders.

Whichever wheel size you choose the Cube Aim Pro is a great value recreational mountain bike. The tubes of the frame are formed to offer increased strength without adding any weight and feature internal cable routing for a cleaner look.

Hydraulic disc brakes offer reliable braking performance in all conditions with a great feel for more confident stopping. 100mm of suspension travel up front gives you more control on rough trails.




29” wheels for faster rolling performance over both rough and smooth tracks


Specialized Pitch Sport 27.5" 2017

Felt Verza Speed 40 2017
Specialized

£450.00



Quick look

Frame  Butted and formed A1 Premium aluminium


Suspension  SR Suntour XCM 100mm (80mm sizes S) travel


Drivetrain  Shimano 3x8 speed


Brakes  Shimano hydraulic discs


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Review

Aimed squarely at the budding trail rider the Specialized Pitch Sport 650b offers a little more off-road capability than the other MTBs in this top 5 review. The high quality, butted and formed, alloy frame features sport trail geometry for confident and efficient trail riding.

Offering 100mm of composed suspension performance on rough tracks the Sr Suntour fork features Multi-Circuit damping. This brings the performance much closer to premium forks found on bikes at twice the price.

With hydraulic disc brakes and aggressive knobbly tyres the Pitch is one of the most capable hardtails on rough, technical tracks at this price point.




Improved suspension performance for more confident off-roading


Merida Big Seven 40D 27.5" 2017

Specialized Crosstrail Disc 700c 2017
merida

£480.00



Quick look

Frame  6061 double-butted & technoformed aluminium


Suspension  SR Suntour XCM 100mm


Drivetrain  Shimano 3x9 speed


Brakes  Tektro MA hydraulic discs


Review

With its modern XC geometry the Merida Big Seven 40D combines a familiar cross-country riding position with improved stability on the descents alongside an assured climbing position. The 27.5” wheels offer the ideal compromise between rapid rolling and nimble handling but, much like the Cube Acid, a 29er version (Big Nine 40D) of this bike is available for taller riders.

The frame is built with double butted and technoformed tubes to keep the weight down and is great to see on a mountain bike at this price point. Hydraulic disc brakes and a 3x9 speed drivetrain also help the Merida Big Seven stand out among other similarly priced hardtail MTBs.




Lightweight frame for more efficient cross country trail riding