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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. Learn more about mountain bikes with our MTB guide here.

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 mountain bikes under £500 for XC and recreational cycling.

GT Aggressor Expert 27.5" / 29" 2020

GT Aggressor Sport 27.5 2020 mountain bike


Quick look

Frame  6061-T6 aluminium alloy

Suspension  Suntour 80mm travel

Drivetrain  Shimano 3x7 speed

Brakes  Hydraulic disc


A classic hardtail MTB the GT Aggressor now features blended 27.5" and 29" wheels for a balance in performance . 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 hydraulic 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.

Popular Models

Giant ATX 2 27.5" 2020

Giant ATX 2 mountain bike 2020 model


Quick look

Frame  ALUXX-Grade Aluminium

Suspension  SR Suntour XCE 100mm travel

Drivetrain  Shimano 3x8 speed

Brakes  Tektro hydraulic disc


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.

Popular Models

Cube Aim Pro 29er 2020

Cube Aim Pro 29er


Quick look

Frame  Aluminium Lite with formed tubes

Suspension  SR Suntour XCT 100mm travel

Drivetrain  Shimano 3x8 speed

Brakes  Tektro hydraulic discs


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, while the 27.5" bikes are best for smaller riders. If you fit a medium sized bike then you can choose between the two.

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

Popular Models

Specialized Pitch Sport 27.5" 2020

Specialized Pitch Sport 27.5 2020


Quick look

Frame  Butted and formed A1 Premium aluminium

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

Drivetrain  Shimano 2x8 speed

Brakes  Shimano hydraulic discs


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

Popular Models

Merida Big Seven 40D 27.5" 2020

Merida Big Seven 40D


Quick look

Frame  6061 double-butted & technoformed aluminium

Suspension  SR Suntour XCM 100mm

Drivetrain  Shimano 3x9 speed

Brakes Shimano hydraulic discs


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 Aim, a 29er version of this bike, the Big Nine 40D, 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

Popular Models

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