Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 20 of 53 Posts

·
membership renounced
Joined
·
1,759 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The short of it: Looking for opinions on the best $500 bike out there.

The long: I'm a rider with almost 30 years experience, and while doing some maintenance on my bike this week, I got to wondering about why I even bother anymore when I could just buy a new $500 bike every year or two and sell/donate the old one. My preference at this point in my life is for a rigid frame/fork, and at least 8 speeds. Don't care about full suspension, hard-tails, "modern" geometry, etc. I rode rigid bikes before suspension existed, then a rigid with flex-stem, then a hard-tail, then full suspension, and now back to rigid with a modern flex stem.

It seems most $500 bikes come with some sort of suspension fork, so maybe that's just something you have to live with?

Probably 50% of my riding is single-track, with dirt roads and pavement getting to and from rounding out the mix. I've seen some inexpensive "gravel bikes" that sort of fit the bill, but I question their ability on single-track, and I tend to lean towards more of BMX feel in the bikes I ride.

.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,807 Posts
My preference at this point in my life is for a rigid frame/fork, and at least 8 speeds.[/U] Don't care about full suspension, hard-tails, "modern" geometry, etc.
With those parameters I don't know if it really matters which brand. It's going to be pre-owned, so find one that's not broken. Steel would be nice as long as it's not bent or rusty. I would normally say go 29er but you said something about enjoying a bmx feel.

A new $500 bike isn't going to be the most trail-worthy. Sure, you'll be able to ride it for awhile but then it'll break (but then again your plan is to keep buying cheap bikes every year). Personally, I'd rather spend $2000 and have a decent bike for four years than buy a $500 bike every year for four years.
 

·
Out spokin'
In cog? Neato!
Joined
·
16,548 Posts
I suppose if one never experiences the sublimity of a truly superior machine, then any machine will do. Pick the color you like as there is little else to appreciate aboard an overweight, dead feeling shopping cart.
=sParty
 

·
g=9.764m/s2
Joined
·
808 Posts

·
membership renounced
Joined
·
1,759 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Check out Chain Reaction Cycles...they still have a few Marin Rock Spring on clearance for 540 and their Vitus Nucleus VR at 600 is out of stock again since it remains the best value bike. The Vitus Nucleus VRS is back in stock at 700.

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/mobile/us/en/mountain-bikes?sort=pricelow
Great info, thanks!

-------------------------------------------

In response to other posts.....I'm not racing anyone, I enjoy mountain biking as more of a two wheeled hiking kind of thing. If I want to go fast and ride gnarly stuff, I ride my dirt bike. No way no how am I going to throw motorcycle money at a mountain bike again.....I did before I got into riding dirt bikes.

Used bike? Kind of missing the point, it's the maintenance I'm tired of dealing with. At some price point, I'm thinking I may be happier with a "throw away" bike, and right now, that price point is probably about $500.00. I'm old enough that even modern $500 bikes are probably better than the best bikes of days past, but I've never ridden a $500 bike, so I don't really know, but I can have fun on a 70 year old cruiser bike, so I'm thinking it would be fine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,807 Posts
You don't want to do any maintenance? The only maintenance I've had to do on my 15 and 13 year-old hardtails has been pumping up the tires and lubing the chain.

Throwing a bike away every year seems kind of wasteful, TBH.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,025 Posts
Maintenance free bicycle, kinda an oxymoron.

Your best bet is some single speed.


To ride bikes you either have to become a mechanic or be willing to pay for service. All those commuters and beater bicycles kids and cheap people use are no different, constant repairs, maintenance and tinkering is done every so often, by them or someone else.



p.s.

Getting a nicer bike is probably a better idea. I got a Surly crosscheck 5 years ago for $900 which was kinda expensive for me, I have only invested about $150 on it for tires and small repairs. 5 years later and works the same, I can see it working for 20+ years. Imagine, that would be like 50 per year, totally worth it.

Get a quality steel bike and fork and you should be golden for many years.
 

·
U sayin' Bolt ?
Joined
·
1,364 Posts
Lets see a pic of your current ride. What type of maintenance is bugging you? I bet $500 worth of the right upgrades could make your bike, or another lightly used one, as close to maintenance free as possible.
 

·
Out spokin'
In cog? Neato!
Joined
·
16,548 Posts
Lets see a pic of your current ride. What type of maintenance is bugging you? I bet $500 worth of the right upgrades could make your bike, or another lightly used one, as close to maintenance free as possible.
Better yet, let's see a pic of your moto.
=sParty
 

·
mbtr member
Joined
·
6,503 Posts
I've never ridden a $500 bike, so I don't really know
We can tell. :D

It would definitely be possible, in theory, for a manufacturer to build a 500$ that fit your desires. Unfortunately, there's not many people who ride enough to have such a distilled vision of what they want for someone to streamline the production/sales process to hit your price point.

So instead, for 500$ you get beginner-only geometry, a suspension fork that cannot last, and a parts kit that was selected exclusively for features and price-point. They don't work well or last, but it doesn't matter because they probably won't see more than 1000 easy miles.

So that said, i own the bike you want, and it's mostly built of cast-off parts; albeit some of them are really quality kit. As you predict, it's a heap of fun to ride, and I haven't done more than inflate the tires for the 3500 miles i've put on it.

I'd consider doing something like that. A soma or a surly or whatever XC frameset, quality non-WW wheels, and a mid-level shimano gruppo.
 

·
Cycologist
Joined
·
10,342 Posts
Go buy a Karate Monkey or Kona Unit. Initial cost will be more than $500 but less than 3 years worth of $500 bikes (Monkey may be a little more). Any maintenance needed, take it to your LBS, should be well under $500 annual cost, probably less than $200. Good bike for less money overall. Plus either of these bikes will hold its value pretty well.

Edit: ok, those may be less than 8 speeds. HTFU :)
 

·
Wanna ride bikes?
Joined
·
9,828 Posts
Personally, I'd rather spend $2000 and have a decent bike for four years than buy a $500 bike every year for four years.
Totally.

$1,300-1,700 will get you a solid rigid bike with good components that A. won't fall apart, B. will be fun to ride, C. the drivetrain and brakes won't SUCK, etc.

I agree with knutso that $500 worth of repairs/upgrades to your current bike would likely make it quite reliable and "maintenance free" for a while. If you don't like doing it yourself just drop it off at your LBS and let them do it. I don't see why that's such a hassle?

If you're set on buying new check out the Kona Unit X or Surly Karate Monkey.

https://www.konaworld.com/unit_x.cfm

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/karate_monkey (the version with a rigid fork)

I honestly don't believe what you're asking for exists as a new bike. You'll have to buy something used to get a decent bike (that will require maintenance). $500 bikes come with **** bearings, **** brakes, crappy parts, low end everything, and usually a noodle fork that will fall apart in 500 miles. Pretty much the opposite of what you're asking for.
 

·
U sayin' Bolt ?
Joined
·
1,364 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
784 Posts
If you're going to donate the bike every year anyway, why don't you just drop it off at the bike shop once a year and have them tune it up for you?

For a rigid bike, I can't imagine that would be nearly $500 for the works and as you're basically asking to avoid all modern technological advances on bikes, it's not going to make too much of a difference if you don't have the latest and greatest $500 bike.

Someone suggested a Surly Karate Monkey. It's above your budget, but seems pretty much ideal for your desired use. Put XT level components on it and you should have a very low maintenance bike. Take it to the shop once a year and spend $100 making it as good as new.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
784 Posts
Also, I'd note that cheap bikes are often harder keep in tune than more expensive bikes, so you might actually have more trouble with brakes/derailleurs on your new $500 bike than a better quality bike. I also find that setting my bike up when it's new takes some time, so you need to factor that in as "maintenance" too.
 
1 - 20 of 53 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top