Why would someone spend several hundred dollars on a cheap mountain bike versus less than $200 from their local department store? Well the answer is simple to bike enthusiasts, but maybe not as clear for the average consumer shopping for cheap mountain bikes. Hopefully the reasoning below will persuade you to buy a bike from your local bike shop and not the big chain department store. After you’re convinced to purchase a quality mountain bike, several of the top 5 cheap mountain bikes will be listed below as a guide to aide in your decision making process.
You Get What You Pay For
There are countless horror stories of accidents that have happened because someone was riding a cheap department store mountain bike. These accidents and consistent frustrations are caused by two main reasons. First, a cheap department store bike is going to use the cheapest possible aluminum and metal. Under stress, this super cheap metal causes the products to bend and break after very little use. Once these parts begin to break or not function properly, you will be forced to take the bike to your local bike shop and pay for repairs. These repairs will NOT be cheap if you purchased the bike from a department store and didn’t purchase the bike from them. Also, most local bicycle shops offer free tune-ups and repairs for a quite a long time if a bike is purchased from them. A great perk when tune-ups and repairs typically range from $75-$150!
The second significant reason a cheap mountain bike from a department store is a terrible idea, are the “mechanics” that build these cheap mountain bikes. The word mechanic is used very loosely in this sense considering most of these people have not been properly trained or went to school for bicycle maintenance. The department store employees are typically paid by the amount of bikes built, so you can imagine how well they are put together. At your local bike shop there is a far greater chance you will get an employee that truly cares and is not concerned with building the most number of bikes possible in a given amount of time.
Top 5 Cheap Mountain Bikes
This made our Top 5 Cheap Mountain Bikes list because it is a lightweight aluminum 29er, that is stiff, lightweight, and capable of anything. This bike is outfitted with a combination of Shimano XT and Deore. It is 10-speed, and has a 100mm front fork. This mountain bike’s geometry is best suited for cross-country, marathon riding because it is a hard tail making it extremely efficient climbing and nimble enough to handle technical descents.
This is an aluminum 29er cross-country mountain bike and is “specially designed to roll over obstacles with greater ease and float up over obstructions without much effort to the rider”. The frames cables are internally routed, not a common addition to find with a lower priced mountain bike. This bike has Shimano Deore 20 Speed, a common group of components on this level of a mountain bike. It has an 11-36 cassette, meaning it can make climbing hills easy and still have an enough to push you on the flats. This is a great mountain bike for a rider looking to get into mountain biking and potentially do a couple local races to test the waters.
This 27.5 full suspension mountain bike is built for playing and having fun with your buddies. This bike has 120mm of front suspension and an adjustable rebound rear air shock. This bike is decked out with Deore components, disk brakes, and wide handlebars for more technical descending.
Price: $1,080-ish depending upon build.
This is one of the most common cheap mountain bikes purchased, it is a hardtail 29er has a 3×9 drivetrain and Tektro hydraulic disk brakes. The 100mm Suntour front fork has a lockout option and preload adjuster. This bike is equipped with Maxxis tires and a KMC chain. This bike is ideal for the rider looking to ride more gentle trails and just begin to explore the world of mountain biking.
How could we leave off a more affordable fat bike? Fat bikes are growing very popular, especially in places that have harsh winters. This rigid fat bike is a great starter bike. It is an aluminum frame and 1×10 Deore drivetrain. It has mechanical disk brakes and alloy 80mm rims, greater for people just beginning to experiment with fat mountain biking.