What We Considered

Demand for mountain bikes has increased over time due to the real advantages this style of bike offers. While mountain bikes of any price aren't designed to be fast, the trade-off is greater durability and a more comfortable riding position. Riders sit higher and more upright on a mountain bike than on a road bike, making it often a better option for people with back problems.  

We Looked At

Suspension is one of the features that sets a mountain bike apart from other types of bikes. The suspension makes riding on rough terrain smoother and more comfortable by absorbing some of the shock. Reviews warn, however, that the low-quality suspension on some budget models doesn't sufficiently protect the body against painful jolts and jarring. Our research shows that you don't have to spend big bucks to buy a mountain bike with adequate suspension.

Bikes with front-only suspension, also called hardtails, are extremely common and especially prevalent on the budget end of the market. Most of the mountain bikes on our list, including the top-choice Specialized Rockhopper 29 and Diamondback Overdrive 27.5, are front-suspension mountain bikes that users value for their smooth ride. The Rockhopper and Nashbar AT29, along with the women's Trek Skye S, also feature hydraulic lockout on their forks, which means suspension can be turned off when riding on pavement or in other situations, like climbing, where a rigid ride would be more efficient.

Dual- or full-suspension mountain bikes, which feature shock absorbers for both the front and back wheels, are also becoming more common but are for the most part reserved for the mid-range to high end. Here, especially, heed the experts who say that cheap suspension can actually make a bike's performance worse, due to added weight and other issues. While the dual suspension on the ultra-budget 26" Genesis V2100 seems to be a plus, for instance, one enthusiast who has generally positive things to say about the bike on Amazon mentions that the recoil from the rear shock can actually throw the rider from the seat.

If you're on a budget but full suspension is a must-have feature, take a look at the Diamondback Recoil 29 (starting around $600), one of the best full-suspension mountain bikes under $1,000. In addition to dual suspension, the bike features 29-inch wheels and mechanical disc brakes. In reviews on Amazon, users comment that this is an excellent full-suspension bike for riders just beginning to get more serious about mountain biking. It provides a comfortable ride, and at only about 30 pounds, it's lighter than many others in the category. A couple of more seasoned riders suggest that the coil shock in the rear could be upgraded, but it should serve the average rider well.

A final note on suspension: Pay attention to the brand name on the suspension forks, the part that has the greatest effect on the quality of the ride. A fork that doesn't provide proper travel or that doesn't have enough compression damping means a rough ride. Forks from sought-after brands like Fox and RockShox can cost more than $1,000 alone. On the budget end, the most common respected brand is Suntour. If a bike's specs don't list a fork manufacturer, it's usually a sign that corners have been cut and the quality of this component might be in question. This is the case with both bikes on our list that sell for less than $200, the Genesis V2100 and the Titan Pioneer. Although the Genesis has enough positives to make it a great value overall, the front fork is one of the first things buyers talk about switching out.

While there are many variations of mountain bike brakes, most budget models come equipped with one of two options: rim brakes or disc brakes. V-brakes, a type of rim brakes (also called direct-pull or linear-pull brakes), are most common, especially on cheap mountain bikes. They work by pulling on a cable that presses padded calipers on the rim of the bike wheel. These mountain bike brakes are cheaper and lighter weight than disc brakes and less prone to locking up a tire if applied suddenly, but they're also less reliable, especially in wet or muddy conditions. Not surprisingly, the Titan Pioneer and the kids' Diamondback Octane have V-brakes. The inexpensive Genesis V2100 features a rather odd combination of rear V-brakes and front disc brakes.

Disc brakes work much like those on your car; that is, calipers press against a rotor (disc) attached to the hub of the wheel to slow the bike. According to Cycling Weekly, they're heavier than V-brakes but gaining ground with riders for their superior technology, which allows for greater modulation and more powerful braking.

Disc brakes are becoming increasingly common on budget mountain bikes, and most of our top picks have them. There are two types: mechanical and hydraulic. The Specialized Rockhopper 29 has mechanical disc brakes from highly esteemed parts manufacturer Shimano, while the others carry Tektro brakes, which are also considered among the best mechanical disc brakes for mountain bikes. The Promax front disc brakes on the Genesis V2100 are about the quality to be expected on a basic bike.

Hydraulic brakes are much pricier, because they operate on a different system altogether. With this sealed fluid system braking is easier to modulate and has a better feel and more power. The downside to this system is price, and it's much more difficult even for fairly knowledgeable riders to maintain and fix hydraulic brakes themselves. There aren't many cheap mountain bikes with hydraulic disc brakes. One affordable model we would recommend is the GT Verb Comp (starting around $1,080). With upscale parts, including proprietary All Terra shocks (the rear shock is air sprung, making it lighter and more easily adjustable than the cheaper coil shock on the inexpensive Diamondback Recoil 29), the GT Verb Comp is considered one of the best cheap full-suspension mountain bikes out there. User reviews are all quite positive, with one buyer on retailer Performance Bicycle's website saying simply, "Perfect. It doesn't get any better."

Speeds refer to the different combinations bicycle riders can achieve with the gears on the rear wheel hub (the cassette) and the gears (chainrings) on the crankset, where the pedals are located. With multiple speeds, riders can easily adjust the amount of power needed to move the bike forward, providing a more efficient and more comfortable ride. There's no one right speed for everyone in a given situation, so finding the gear combination that's comfortable for each individual rider takes some trial and error. This is especially important when it comes to mountain bikes, because pedaling up and down hills and across varying terrain requires many different gear ratios. More speeds allow more control.

All our adult-size top picks feature 21 to 24 speeds, or gear combinations (although in practice only about two-thirds get used). The Titan Pioneer offers a lackluster 12 speeds. Again, this is a moment to pay attention to brand names, as the manufacturer of the derailleurs can make all the difference between effortless transition among speeds and gear shifting that's a constant struggle. Shimano is among the industry leaders (alongside SRAM and Campagnolo) and all our top picks make use of the brand for both front shifting between chainrings and the all-important rear derailleur charged with lifting the chain and moving it to the appropriate cog. Again, the Titan Pioneer is an outlier.

Our Top Pick

Rockhopper 29
Our Picks
Rockhopper 29

The Specialized Rockhopper 29 comes from a well-known, well-respected brand that makes mostly high-end bikes. This lower-priced model doesn't sacrifice quality parts. Users praise this hardtail bike for its responsiveness on even the toughest rides. While it's currently a smidge over the $500 mark, reviews suggest it's worth the price.

  • 29-inch wheels for greater traction and a less bumpy ride.

  • Shimano mechanical disc brakes.

  • Front suspension fork with hydraulic lockout to conserve energy on flat surfaces.

  • Light and nimble, users say.

  • Smooth shifting among 24 speeds and quick acceleration.

  • Tackles most rough trails and is very responsive.

  • At the very top of Cheapism's $500 budget.

  • Typically found only in local bike shops or online to ship to a bike shop.

Diamondback Overdrive

The Diamondback Overdrive is easy to find -- which is unusual for the category. It's available on Amazon and at REI, as well as big-box stores and smaller local bike shops. With a smooth ride and nice features for the price, this budget hardtail comes highly recommended by users and experts alike.

  • Mechanical disc brakes.

  • More widely available than many other brands -- can even be purchased online.

  • Users report smooth braking and gear shifting, with 24 speeds.

  • Handles rugged terrain with ease.

  • Experts are especially impressed with the traction on the 27.5" tires and the doublewall rims (relatively rare in the price range), which make the wheels even sturdier.

  • Several gripes about an uncomfortable seat.

Trek Skye S

For consumers seeking a mountain bike specifically made for women, the Trek Skye S garners few complaints, and glowing reviews abound. Many users say the comfortable saddle and suspension on this hardtail bike have them riding more than ever. The price tag may seem a bit steep, but the bike feels like it's made for a lifetime. Consumers who want to save a few bucks can check out the Trek Skye for about $50 less -- but expect rim brakes instead of mechanical disc brakes and a few other downgrades.

  • Mechanical disc brakes.

  • Choice of 27.5- or 29-inch wheels.

  • Front suspension fork with hydraulic lockout to conserve energy on flat surfaces.

  • Durable structure, sturdy frame, and quality craftsmanship for which the Trek brand is known.

  • Highly rated by users, who say it provides a smooth ride over rocky trails or on flat pavement, no matter the weather.

  • Saddle is said to be comfortable for long rides.

  • Available only from approved Trek retailers.

  • Price approaching $500.

Diamondback Octane 24

The Diamondback Octane 24 is a good-looking, reputable bike that's easy to put together and use. For kids who are a little more serious about mountain biking, this is a starter bike that will hold up better than the average disposable model from a big-box or department store. There's also a 20-inch version for smaller riders (starting around $245).

  • Easy for young riders to operate, most buyers say, with 24-inch tires and an aluminum frame sized for kids about 8 to 11.

  • Provides a smooth, quiet ride and handles light trails and bumps without a problem.

  • Available at many retail outlets.

  • Easy to assemble.

  • On the pricey side for a youth bike.

  • Cheaper V-brakes, although they're easier for kids to control than disc brakes.

  • Reports of gears and knobs sticking.

Giant ATX 2

A solid choice for a starter mountain bike from a brand known for both high-end excellence and affordable value, the Giant ATX 2 has entry-level parts that work well together to provide a smooth ride and quality feel. With regular maintenance, this budget mountain bike will not disappoint.

  • Mechanical disc brakes.

  • Lightweight aluminum frame stands out as being very good for the price and comes in a wide range of sizes, starting at 12.5" XXS.

  • Brakes and gears have a "superior" feel, according to reviews.

  • Users say this is an excellent hardtail bike for beginners that can provide a great ride on tough terrain or paved roads.

  • A few mentions of the gear chain sticking.

  • Several users assert that regular maintenance is especially important with this model.

Nashbar AT29

The Nashbar AT29 is considered a reliable workhorse. It's easy to assemble and use, even on bumpy trails, and strong enough to attach a hitch for carting the kids (or any other kit) around. Despite entry-level parts and a few issues with the brakes, most users find this a solid 29er that's much cheaper than similar models from big-name brands.

  • 29-inch wheels.

  • Mechanical disc brakes.

  • Front suspension fork with hydraulic lockout to conserve energy on flat surfaces.

  • Very inexpensive given the impressive specs.

  • Covers gravel paths and uneven trails very well and handles rocks and tree roots with ease, users say.

  • Some appreciate the understated "stealth" look of the relatively sticker-free -- and sturdy -- aluminum frame.

  • A few users report that the brakes require a lot of force.

  • The suspension may not suit riders over 200 pounds.

  • Hard to find online in any size other than medium.

Genesis V2100

Many experts warn against buying a full-suspension bike under $1,000, because it will most likely be heavy and made of poor-quality parts, but the Genesis V2100 seems to buck that trend. Many frugal mountain biking enthusiasts say this bike performs surprisingly well for the price and provides a good base for upgrades. (If this super-cheap model is sold out at Walmart, consider the Kent Thruster KZ2600, which comes from the same manufacturer and has nearly identical specs. Priced at $200, it's a best-seller on Amazon, and available from retailers like Target, Kohl's, and Sears.)

  • Incredibly cheap price.

  • Mechanical disc brakes in front.

  • Users appreciate having the rear shock.

  • Good basic bike for those looking to add their own improvements.

  • Comes in only one size: 19 inches.

  • Some reviewers say the seat isn't very comfortable, but that's easy and cheap to fix.

  • A few reports of the rear brakes slipping and needing an inexpensive adjustment.

Titan Pioneer 26"

Titan Pioneer 26" Review

While the Titan Pioneer might seem like a great deal, reviews suggest it's a cheap bike with poor quality parts that will likely need to be fixed within months or, in some cases, completely replaced. There are much better options for those willing to dig a little deeper.

  • The most widely available budget mountain bike we researched.

  • Heavy steel frame.

  • Comes in only one size: 18 inches.

  • Poor overall quality, according to reviews.

  • Gears are hard (and loud) to shift, and some users report issues with gears shifting on their own.

  • Brakes are said to squeak.

  • Parts like the pedals break easily.

Other Products We Reviewed

diamondback sorrento 2013

Diamondback Sorrento 2013 Review

This is a classy cheap mountain bike that earns praise in Diamondback Adult Sorrento reviews at Amazon, where riders say the bike provides a smooth, fast ride from the get go. An expert review at Extreme Sports Magazine concurs, noting that the minimal at-home assembly requirements are easy and, unusual for the DIY mountain bike category, minimal to no tweaking is needed before heading out. When assessing the actual ride, Diamondback reviews are strong. In comments posted at Dick's Sporting Goods, riders say this model handles clean trails, rough off-trail terrain, and city roads with ease; one says this model is adept at dodging through traffic. Although one review gripes that the suspension doesn't adequately cushion the ride for his hefty build, a few other big guys insist the comfort and handling are just fine. The seat on this model, however, is a lost cause; numerous mountain bike reviews stress the need for a substitute saddle or a gel cover.

Like other budget mountain bikes, the Diamondback Adult Sorrento (starting at $259.99, Amazon) features a front suspension, V-brakes, aluminum frame, 26-inch wheels, and 21 speeds.

This mountain bike claims serial buyers who value its flexibility as a commuting, fitness, and/or recreational vehicle. This is an entry-level ride and is relatively easy to assemble if you choose the DIY path. Riders like the quality build and solid performance given the budget price point, which together make it a top pick.

lg trek 3 series 3500 lg

Trek 3 Series 3500 Review

The cheapest of the Trek mountain bikes, the 3 Series 3500 Disc (starting at $399) doesn't skimp on components. Several Trek 3 Series 3500 Disc reviews at Metro Bicycle Stores point to the disc brakes, the gears, and the hardtail suspension as quality parts, and the black and mint-green color scheme as a stand-out look. This budget mountain bike likewise impresses riders who posted comments on the Trek website, where mountain bike reviews also laud the build quality and performance. Riders report the bike handles well in city and country settings -- for commuting, for fun, and for fitness. One boasts of beating out bikers on pricier models during uphill climbs, another writes of completing small jumps and wheelies, still another asserts the bike is very stable even at low speeds. A 20-mile-a-day commuter admits to taking the long way around just to keep riding, and yet another Trek 3 Series review notes that this model easily reaches 35 mph on smooth roads. Experts at Bike Radar like the gearing ratios for riding on paved surfaces and down hills, but say trail riding would be better if the gear range were a bit lower.

Par for the course, some Trek 3 Series 3500 Disc reviews are mildly critical. One self-described skinny rider grouses about feeling the bumps, another says riding uphill is tough, and a few gripe about an uncomfortable saddle.

The Trek 3 Series 3500 Disc boasts components often found on high-end mountain bikes, notably the disc brakes. It features a 21-speed Shimano drive train, a lightweight aluminum frame, a Suntour front suspension, and 26-inch wheels.

For the price, you can't do much better than the Trek 3 Series 3500 Disc. This is a versatile mountain bike for newbie riders who are serious about their riding. The handling and quality parts make the Trek 3500 Disc an excellent value. If you're looking to ramp up your ride but stay within the Cheapism price niche, this is the bike for you.

schwinn ridge al womens mountain bike sm

Schwinn Ridge AL Review

Schwinn Ridge AL Women's reviews convincingly nominate this model as the best cheap mountain bike for women. Of the reviews at Amazon, more than three-quarters award it at least four (out of five) stars. Reviewers cite factors such as value pricing, smooth braking, light weight, good shock absorption, and an overall sense of stability; one reviewer crows about all the compliments she's received while commuting to and fro. Mountain bike reviews also like the sizing of the frame and generally report that assembly isn't particularly challenging, although many say that a professional fine-tuning is a good investment. This model wins over experts at the Best Mountain Bike Reviews site with its low-rise frame, cushioned seat, and seat height and handlebar geometry that suits women's physique.

On the down side, the handlebar height can't be adjusted and riders themselves complain about the feel and shape of the seat; adding a gel pad or buying a replacement are suggested fixes. A few Schwinn Ridge AL Women's reviews grumble about sticky and noisy gears, but most are quite pleased with the bike's performance. Just stick to paved surfaces and relatively smooth trails to get the most from this budget mountain bike.

The Schwinn Ridge AL Women's (starting at $225, Amazon) boasts the usual array of features. It has an aluminum frame, 21 speeds, V-brakes, front suspension, a quick-release seat, and 26-inch wheels.

Many women's mountain bikes get slammed with negative reviews. The Schwinn Ridge AL Women's model avoids this fate. Despite some minor flaws, riders (including some teenage girls) appreciate the pricing and the performance.

Huffy DS-7

Huffy DS-7 Review

Complaints from riders in Huffy DS-7 reviews about overall build quality and performance relegate this model to the bottom of our list. At Walmart, Huffy reviews gripe about parts that don't work properly or are easily damaged. Riders variously report that the aluminum frame is susceptible to dings, the front disc brake isn't aligned properly, and in general the components seem chintzy; a couple report that the unassembled mountain bike arrived with damaged parts and the brakes never felt right despite the attention of bike pros. Reviews posted at Amazon, including a few for the women's version, cut the bike a little more slack, saying the deep tire treads are a good match for trail surfaces. Still, several comment that the ride feels heavy and slow. DIY assembly is also challenging, a few mountain bike reviews note.

On paper the Huffy DS-7 (starting at $129, Amazon) looks like a worthy low-cost mountain bike. The price is hard to beat and it comes with full suspension, a disc brake on the front wheel and linear pull brake at the rear, an aluminum frame, 21 gears, and 26-inch tires.

But take some time to study this bike and consider the middling assessments. The appealing price and handful of decent reviews aside, you'd be better off taking a small step up in price to get better quality and performance.

Diamondback Octane Youth

Diamondback Octane Youth Review

Diamondback Octane Youth reviews indicate this is a solid mountain bike for youngsters getting into the swing of the sport. A handful of reviews on Dick's Sporting Goods and Amazon comment on the sturdy and durable build - it can take curb jumps and moderate off-road riding - and note that it's one of few kids' bikes with a lightweight aluminum (as opposed to a heavier steel) frame. As if to underscore its entry-level positioning, the tires seem more suited for roadways than hard-core trails, according to mountain bike reviews; one post at MTBR says knobbier tires would be better on rocks and gravel and long jumps need better suspension. Still, Diamondback reviews report that pre-tweens quickly get the hang of the brakes and the gears and easily keep up with the big people in their riding posse.

A few posts gripe about the responsiveness of the brakes, the DIY assembly requirements (not much to do but more than some expected), and flimsy packing when shipped from the factory. Taking the assembled bike to a shop for a final once-over is a good idea, the reviews say.

The Diamondback Octane Youth Mountain Bike (starting at $196 for 20" model; $222 for 24" model, Amazon) comes in boys and girls versions, both in 20- and 24-inch sizes. It's one of the only youth bikes that boast an aluminum frame. Both sizes feature a front suspension fork, linear pull brakes, and twist shifters; the 20-inch model has six speeds and the 24-inch model has seven.

Despite a few quibbles about build quality, this mountain bike is a good value for kids aged 7-13. It gives a comfortable ride, survives spills, and the gear range is sufficient without overwhelming less experienced riders. If you want to take the kids out on the trails without spending a fortune, this cheap mountain bike is the right choice.

Fuji Traverse 1.7

The Fuji Traverse 1.7 can get you to and from work during the week and also tackle trails on the weekends. With agile handling, impressive traction, smooth braking, and responsive wheels, it's hard to go wrong with this all-purpose mountain bike from a highly respected brand.

  • Designed to deliver optimal performance both on the road and off.

  • Mechanical disc brakes and 24 speeds.

  • Experts say the slightly wider 700 x 38c wheels are responsive and fast and provide good traction on any type of terrain.

  • Users say this hybrid bike is comfortable and durable and needs little maintenance.

  • At the very top of the budget price range.

Experts and owners agree that the GMC Yukon Fat Bike reigns among entry-level fat tire bikes. While some corners have been cut when it comes to components, users say this bike still delivers a fun ride on a variety of surfaces. Seasoned riders suggest that, with a few add-ons and adjustments, the lifespan and performance of this fatty can be even better.

  • Amazing performance in snow.

  • Disc brakes and gears that shift well.

  • Easy to assemble, with lots of YouTube videos to help.

  • Experts say it's worth every penny.

  • Users consider this a good base bike to build on.

  • Lower quality parts.

Diamondback Recoil 29

Equipped with dual suspension, 29-inch wheels, disc brakes, and 24 speeds, the Diamondback Recoil 29 has truly solid specs and mostly quality parts at a price that's surprisingly reasonable. Beginner and intermediate riders who are set on a full-suspension bike but don't have a lot to spend will find this the best bet under $1,000. Even serious enthusiasts are content with an upgrade or two.

  • Dual suspension.

  • Mechanical disc brakes.

  • 29-inch wheels.

  • Solid, lightweight, durable aluminum frame.

  • Users rave about the incredibly smooth ride, even on very rocky terrain.

  • Experts report that the rear suspension holds up well even for riders over 200 pounds.

  • Seasoned riders recommend replacing the shocks, particularly the rear coil spring, with better quality parts.

GT Verb Comp

If you can get your hands on a GT Verb Comp (2017 or 2016 version), you won't be sorry. The hydraulic brakes and full suspension make it a real bargain for the price and an excellent full-featured bike for beginners, with 27.5-inch tires and 18 speeds. Experts praise its precise control, while users applaud its comfortable, smooth ride.

  • Hydraulic disc brakes are more accurate and responsive.

  • Testers have found the bike easy to control on steep terrain and at high speeds.

  • Full suspension with rear air shock, designed for efficient pedaling performance and easier climbing.

  • Limited availability.

X-Treme Trail Maker

The X-Treme Trail Maker is a good deal for the price (not many e-bikes come in under $1,000). Although assembly can be a challenge (head to YouTube for help) and the company doesn't get rave reviews for responsiveness, this is a solid, well-made bike that works well, according to owners -- many of whom use it daily for commuting.

  • Sturdy and generally reliable electric bike.

  • Disc brakes.

  • Experts consider the components high-quality.

  • Users find the bike quiet and easy to operate.

  • Three modes, including a fully powered option that requires no pedaling at all.

  • Hard to assemble.

  • Poor customer service ratings.

  • Some users say the battery life could be longer.

Buying Guide

Choosing a Mountain Bike

In the past, cheap mountain bikes featured few speeds and many parts borrowed from lighter, faster bikes intended to be ridden on pavement. They were also hard to find and primarily marketed to enthusiasts who couldn't afford even an entry-level model from a big name, many of which cost well into the thousands. But mountain bikes have become much more versatile, affordable, and accessible for consumers just learning to ride the trails, embarking on a fitness routine, or simply commuting to work or school. Our analysis of features and online reviews shows that riders who aren't ready to spend a fortune on a featherweight, carbon-fiber bike with state-of-the-art geometry can find a good mountain bike for $150 to $500. Experts warn against spending less than that, though, because at super-low prices, the parts aren't likely to hold up or provide much riding comfort.

One of the best entry-level mountain bikes on the market today is the Specialized Rockhopper 29 (starting around $525). Although it's a smidge over our price ceiling of $500, it appeals to more discerning riders with a widely respected brand name and a full array of top-notch components, including large, 29-inch wheels. For beginners looking for an inexpensive bike that's more readily available, another top choice is the Diamondback Overdrive (starting around $400). Its specs are quite similar -- although it sports smaller, 27.5-inch wheels -- and it earns raves from consumers and experts.

Two other highly praised discount mountain bikes are the Giant ATX 2 (starting around $415), with 27.5-inch wheels, and the Nashbar AT29 (starting around $400). Want to spend even less? Although the quality choices are slim, the 26" Genesis V2100 (starting around $149) can be found at Walmart stores and has made it to many lists of the best mountain bikes under $200. Its smaller, 26-inch wheels and a somewhat dubious claim of "full suspension" make it better suited for lighter recreational trail riding than more rugged off-roading, but users generally say it's a real value and a good base bike for add-ons and improvements.

One cheap mountain bike to steer away from is the Titan Pioneer 26" (starting around $169). While also widely available, it seems to have more than its share of quality issues. Reviews everywhere complain of broken parts (more than one cites pedals that actually broke off), and a generally poor build -- not to mention a meager 12 speeds and heavy steel body.

Mid-range mountain bikes run about $1,000 to $3,000, and the price for a truly top-of-the-line bike extends all the way to $10,000 and up. The bikes in these brackets sometimes boast components like powerful hydraulic brakes, full suspension (meaning that they have shock absorbers on the front and rear), and more gear ratios to help with pedaling uphill. Regardless whether they tout the full range of amenities, they tend to be lighter and more durable than lower-priced models and deliver better performance.

Women's Mountain Bikes.

Most of the top picks on our list, with the exception of the Genesis V2100, come in a range of frame sizes and could be considered unisex or non-gender-specific, but there are select women's bikes. The difference between men's and women's mountain bikes is subtle. Mountain bikes designed for women have a shorter top tube to accommodate a shorter torso. They also feature narrower handlebars and wider seats, but the critical features remain the same. Our top pick for a cheap women's mountain bike is the Trek Skye S (starting around $490). If that price is too high, look to the regular Trek Skye (starting around $440), which has rim brakes instead of mechanical disc brakes (see below).

Mountain Bikes for Kids.

Kids' bikes are built for young riders with smaller physiques and less experience. In this segment, we like the Diamondback Octane 24 (starting around $300). Despite a few quibbles about build quality, this mountain bike is a good value for kids about 8 to 11. It gives a comfortable ride, survives spills, and can take curb jumps and moderate off-road riding. For those who want to take the kids out on the trails without spending a fortune on a bike that's going to be quickly outgrown, this cheap mountain bike is a solid choice. There's also a smaller version, the Octane 20, that's suited for kids between about 7 to 9 years old (starting around $245).

Where to Buy Cheap Mountain Bikes. The Diamondback mountain bikes on our list are widely available at chains such as REI, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Walmart, but many mountain bike brands -- particularly from higher-end names -- are generally found in specialty bike shops rather than the general retailers and big-box stores that carry cheaper models. Also, since bike shops typically don't have the floor space to stock and display that many models, some bikes must be ordered from the manufacturer and shipped either directly to consumers or to local authorized bike dealers for pickup.

A few models can be found on Amazon or via other online bike merchants. Although online shopping widens the selection considerably, the downsides of an online purchase are the possibility of shipping damage -- a complaint that sometimes surfaces in mountain bike reviews -- and the DIY assembly. Regardless where you buy the bike and who puts it together, experts recommend a professional tuneup; minor tweaks will likely be necessary before you're ready to hit the road or trail.

Features Comparison

Sort by:
Review Score:
Product Title
Sizing
Suspension
Frame
Wheel Size
Speeds
Brakes
Component Brands
Product Title
Sizing
Suspension
Frame
Wheel Size
Speeds
Brakes
Component Brands

Specialized Rockhopper 29

$525
S (13”) - XXL (23”)
Front (with hydraulic lockout and multi-circuit damping)
Aluminum
29 in.
24
Disc
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: SR Suntour XCT Brakes: Shimano

Diamondback Overdrive

$400
S (16”) - XL (22”)
Front
Aluminum
27.5 in.
24
Disc
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: SR Suntour XCT Brakes: Tektro

Trek Skye S

$490
Women's S (13.5”) - XL (18.5”)
Front (with hydraulic lockout)
Aluminum
27.5 in. / 29 in.
21
Disc
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: SR Suntour XCT Brakes: Tektro

Diamondback Octane 24

$300
Kids' - 24”
Front
Aluminum
24 in.
21
V-brakes
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: HL Zoom Brakes: not listed

Giant ATX 2

$415
XXS (12.5”) - XL (22”)
Front
Aluminum
27.5 in.
21
Disc
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: SR Suntour XCT Brakes: Tektro

Nashbar AT29

$400
M (17”) - XL (21”)
Front (with hydraulic lockout)
Aluminum
29 in.
24
Disc
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: SR Suntour XCT Brakes: Tektro

26" Genesis V2100

$149
Men's 19”
Full
Aluminum
26 in.
21
Disc (front), V-brakes (rear)
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: not listed Brakes: Promax

Titan Pioneer 26"

$169
Men's 18”
Front
Steel
26 in.
12
V-brakes
Derailleurs: Power Fork: not listed Brakes: not listed

Fuji Traverse 1.7 Disc

$499
S (15”) - XXL (24”)
Front
Aluminum
700 x 38c
24
Disc
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: SR Suntour NEX Brakes: Tektro

26" GMC Yukon Fat Bike

$467
Men's 18”
Front
Aluminum
26 x 4 in.
21
Disc
Derailleurs: Shimano (rear) Fork: not listed Brakes: not listed

Diamondback Recoil 29

$600
S (16”) - L (20”)
Full
Aluminum
29 in.
24
Disc
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: SR Suntour XCT Rear Shock: Kindshock coil...

GT Verb Comp

$1080
XS (15.7”) - XL (20.5”)
Full
Aluminum
27.5 in.
18 (9-speed)
Hydraulic disc
Derailleurs: Shimano Fork: All Terra CH-595 Rear Shock: All Terra...

X-Treme Trail Maker

$849
Men's 18”
Front
Aluminum
26 in.
21
Disc
Derailleurs: Shimano (rear) Fork: RST Carve Brakes: not listed...