Best Mountain Bikes Under $200 | Reviews
Top mountain bike models can cost a small fortune, but you can still get a very decent deal if you are shopping with a tight budget – providing you choose wisely.
Off-road cycling is a great hobby that can be practiced throughout the year and doesn’t take too much training. However, the price of equipment can sometimes prevent enthusiasts from enjoying this healthy and fun sport, with better bikes costing well in excess of $500. When you consider additional equipment (helmets, gloves, new tires etc.) the bill can balloon far beyond the reach of an average family. It is perfectly reasonable to strive for quality, but what to do when you simply can’t pay the price of the ideal bike for your ambitions as a recreational or even professional rider?
Don’t worry – it is possible to buy the best mountain bike under $200 if you are able to identify a model that offers good performance for its class. Sure, there are some shabby choices in this price range, but careful research will reveal a few underestimated gems that pack a lot of punch per dollar. You can take me for my word here, and I know from experience that a solid bike is all you need to get started and it can take you quite far. Once you get serious about competitive mountain bike racing, you can upgrade your equipment to match your peers, developing your skills in parallel.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are thinking about getting a mountain bike without putting a mortgage on your house. Let’s start with the overview of most value-driven options on the market:
5 best mountain bikes under $200
So, here are 5 of the best mountain bikes under $200. I have spent hours & hours to research while my effort to show the right examples of solid mountain bikes in this price range. Hope it’s going to help you.
18-inch Schwinn High Timber Man’s Mountain Bike
If you want a good-looking bike that’s going to last forever, this little daredevil could be the answer. It has simple and elegant construction that’s strong enough to take a few bumps and bruises, so you can ride it around the neighborhood or on the dust trail all the same. Despite its modest price tag, it comes equipped with top-range gear, including the 21-speed twist shifter produced by Shimano and high-quality forks made by Schwinn. Alloy V brakes will reliably stop the bike on any terrain, while the tires are rugged enough to endure anything you put them through.
Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Schwinn High Timber comes with a lifetime guarantee for the original owner – this bike is made to serve you for years without giving you much headache.
Diamondback 2015 Tess 24 Complete Hard Tail
Intended primarily for younger riders, this bike is a popular choice due to its safety and durability. It features the most basic Shimano groupset that will work just fine on flat roads and won’t really do well on rougher surfaces. With 24-inch wheels and a lightweight cross-country design, the bike is very practical and doesn’t put too much strain on the user. The suspension on the front fork has only 40 mm of travel, which is typical for youth bikes and doesn’t come close to what best-in-class bikes offer, which is another reason why this model has a limited range of applications.
Despite certain shortcomings, Tess 24 is still a viable option for non-demanding owners, and could be a great gift to a child with no prior cycling experience.
29-inch Kent Thruster T-29
With lightweight 29-inch wheels and aluminum frame, this product looks like a more affordable version of high-end all-terrain bikes that can be a perfect training utility. It is well equipped to withstand the hardships of intensive use while providing fantastic level of agility and precise control. Shimano-made gearing supports smooth adjustment to any road conditions, while high quality Alloy V brakes on both wheels make sudden stopping very safe even at high speeds. On top of its technical features, T-29 isn’t the worse you can do in terms of visual appeal.
Put it all together, and you have a well-rounded bike ready for multi-purpose duty. It’s a pretty good value deal that will allow you to start practicing this exciting sport without a major investment.
26-inch Genesis V2100 (Full Suspension)
As a full-suspension bike that performs reasonably well under a variety of scenarios, this is a great pickup for anyone eager to find a comfortable and multi-practical ride. Medium-sized wheels are ideal for city riding and nature trails, while serious off-road adventurers might consider upgrading this beauty with a new pair of tires. Braking system is made by Promax and includes both a front-wheel disc and rear lineal brakes, combining their effects for maximum grip.
Admittedly a better selection for owners who don’t push the envelope too far, Genesis V2100 represents a good opportunity to snatch a decent bike without committing significant resources.
26-inch Mongoose Ledge 2.2
This is another solid choice if you are looking to stretch your dollar a little further. It’s a nice little 21-speed bike that is capable of taking your where you need to be very comfortably and it won’t complain if you get off the concrete for a while, either. Built from aluminum and featuring a dual suspension system, this bike resembles the construction of professional mountain bikes – at a fraction of the price. The linear pull brakes can be trusted to do the job, while Shimano gear works just as you’d expect it to.
Again, the bike looks rather nice in the street, with simple and modern design and pretty impactful choice of colors. In my opinion, it would look even better with a coat of dust/mud on it.
Most importantly, budget bikes are typically made of sturdy materials like steel, and feature robust designs that increase safety and durability at the expense of speed. Heavier frames might annoy a professional racer trying to shave down his best time for another second, though for a casual bike lover they don’t cause any inconvenience. Beginners need stability and simple control of the vehicle, not maximum performance. Smartly chosen bike from the low-cost category can meet (and sometimes) exceed expectations in this regard.
Finally, it is better to invest in biking equipment gradually than to splash a bunch of cash on something you can’t fully utilize. There are myriad ways how to spend money on this hobby, from boosting your bike with new parts to travelling to exciting mountain bike locations, so saving a bit on your first ride is probably a smart idea.
What to look for when buying a mountain bike under $200?
First of all, you want to know what the bike is made of and how much wear and tear it can be expected to endure. What’s the point of saving money on your purchase if the product breaks down too soon? That’s why you need to inquire about the materials used to craft the frame and quality of other components such as the transmission system or suspension before you settle on a model.
Another key aspect to keep in mind is wheel size. Depending on the height of the intended user and the expected mode of utilization, you might want to consider a bigger or smaller mountain bike. As you’ve seen from the previews above, low-budget mountain bikes come in a wide variety of sizes, which must be factored in when weighing pros and cons of a particular choice.
Knowing how the bike will predominantly be used is very important, as well. Typically, cheaper bikes are less well-rounded and might be weak when taken out of their natural element, even if they perform perfectly fine when the conditions are right. Certain bikes could behave well on concrete but offer very little on a slippery surface, while others sacrifice some grace and/or speed while proving to be worthwhile on a difficult trail. Decide how you want to ride and you will clearly see which bike fits this profile the best.
Nobody is arguing that cheaper bikes are better, or even as good on average as higher priced models. The whole idea of this article is that the quality gap should be put into context, with buyer’s intentions for the bike and other relevant factors contributing to the perception of value. There is no reason to be ashamed of riding an affordable bike, or even worse to skip on this wonderful activity entirely just because you can’t afford top-class equipment, not when you have so many solid models of mountain bikes under $200 to choose from.