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Best Mountain Bike Recommendations for £500

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Hey guys, 

Since we've been stuck in lockdown I thought this would be a great chance to get out and see my own county, Bucks. There's a lot of mountain bike trails where I live. Aston Hill being one of them.

I was looking to get a good entry mountain bike for around £500 and under. I won't be riding anything extreme yet, but want something that can handle steep trails and a bit of abuse. 

I've been looking at the Carrera Kraken or Calibre Rake as potentials.

Any other recommendations?

Cheers, 

Alex

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 oldbloke 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

Your budget for a new bike doesn't really fit that well with your aim of handling steep trails and taking a bit of abuse.  If that's the budget, you'll be better off hunting for second hand and sticking with either a hardtail or 26" wheeled full suspension (bargaintastic because 26" out of fashion).

By browsing classified ads and so on I built up a couple of really solid full suspension 26" bikes for <£500 each for the kids that they have been hammering for the last 3 years.

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 steve_gibbs 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

It was in the news last week that almost the entire UK stock of new bikes under £1,000 has been sold, with no new stock available until the autumn/winter. I didn't believe it at first, until looked at bikes on Evans/Halfords. Every one I clicked on stated stock available from 11/20, or 03/21, for example. Even used bikes on Gumtree and Ebay have shot up in price! I crappy used Apollo that used to go for £30 seems to be advertised at nearer £70 now! I hope you find something, but might not be easy. And get a damn good lock too, as the increased demand will no doubt fuel increased theft!

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 girlymonkey 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

I would look at the Decathlon ones, they tend to come out really well in reviews. Maybe see if you can pick one up on Gumtree or Facebook marketplace, you will get more bike for your money that way.

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In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

Go second hand. My brother bought an ex-hire Trek hardtail from the Coed y Brenin bike shop a couple of years ago. Well serviced and solid, has done hundreds, nay, thousands of miles on it, blasting round CyB several times a week and it hasn't missed a beat. Within your budget from what I remember.

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 abr1966 22 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

Vitus Nucleus is great value at that price....top of the reviews also, some good reviews on youtube...

Getting hold of one is another matter though!!

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 ChrisJD 23 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

https://www.mbr.co.uk/reviews/hardtail/best-hardtail-mountain-bike

Finding one will be the hard thing

Get in touch with https://www.facebook.com/TheOnlineCycleShop/

Post edited at 16:03
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In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

Get a Vitus Nucleus 27VR if you can. Its got an air fork, decent brakes and good tyres on it. And you can easily ride any red trail on it no problems, provided you're not too ham-fisted!

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 neuromancer 23 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

I tried to help a relative complete the same goal recently. The conclusion was that one should just try and either spend about £800 - getting the best decathlon or halfords bike that was actually available to order - or to go onto pinkbike and spend between 5 and 800 on a secondhand 27.5/29er with mid-range kit from a year or two ago.

The genuinely £500 from the shop hardtails are really moer trouble than they're worth.

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 David55 24 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

I have been riding  £500 hardtails  for decades, and  have never  had a  problem. 

Giant produce excellent  bikes in this price range, and the Decathlon bikes look good.

All the mags  and  websites suggest you  have to  spend lots of money, but  don't believe them, their funding depends on  us buying overpriced stuff.

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 ChrisJD 26 Jun 2020
In reply to David55:

It really will depend on the type & volume of riding you do.

I've bought a few hardtails with cheaper kit on in the past and either destroyed/worn-out(quickly) the components or reached their performance limit (e.g. brakes) and ending up having to replace nearly everything.  Also seen the same happen on many friends bikes.

I now only buy frames and build up to a tried/tested spec.  

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 StuPoo2 26 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

Think you might be in trouble ... half the world may have beaten you to it in the last couple of months. 

Going to agree with a couple of others and suggest squeaking out a higher price point.  £1000 hard tail and you're into some really quite well spec'd bikes.  MBR hardtail reviews well worth reading through.

Go for a 1-by chain set.  That's where its at for all new MTB's.  (less moving parts, less things to break, less things to pay for the first place)

Dropper seat post will blow your mind.

ill suggest also to buy something from previous years rather than this years model - technology isn't moving that fast at £500 price point.  

Support your local bike shop - obviously!  But watch out if Evans restart their trade in again ... there is easy cash off if you hand in a bike in *any* condition ... doesn't need to be ridable .. no issue if its a kids bike.  Just hand in a bike and they'll take cash off your new bike for you.  Currently not running.

https://www.evanscycles.com/trade-in

Good luck!  Come back and tell us what you bought in the end!

Post edited at 13:39
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 compost 26 Jun 2020
In reply to StuPoo2:

I'd be really, really careful with Evans. Since they were taken over by Sports Direct they've really gone downhill. Lots of stories of people handing over cash or cyclescheme vouchers and then waiting weeks and weeks with no communication, being lied to by head office and just treated poorly.

Might be because they're busy and sold out, but might be a sign of bigger financial problems.

On that budget, I'd be looking at the Singletrack or Pinkbike classifieds.

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 ianstevens 26 Jun 2020
In reply to compost:

> I'd be really, really careful with Evans. Since they were taken over by Sports Direct they've really gone downhill. Lots of stories of people handing over cash or cyclescheme vouchers and then waiting weeks and weeks with no communication, being lied to by head office and just treated poorly.

> Might be because they're busy and sold out, but might be a sign of bigger financial problems.

> On that budget, I'd be looking at the Singletrack or Pinkbike classifieds.

On this note I popped into one the other week and some of the technical advice I saw handed out by the (presumably busy) workshop was woeful. Avoid and got to the LBS.

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 StuPoo2 27 Jun 2020
In reply to compost:

Don’t disagree at all ... very fair point.

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 Al Randall 27 Jun 2020
In reply to ianstevens:

Just to add some balance, my local Evans Cycle shop are very good.  Why shouldn't they be, they are the same people that were there previously.

To the OP: You very much get what you pay for with regard to bikes and you also need to define exactly what you mean by mountain biking. Pootling along forest trails and gentle byeways is a long way from hurling yourself down a steep, gnarly rocky single track with jumps and drops. They are both mountain biking but worlds apart.  The video below highlights some of the key differences between cheap and expensive bikes.  Even though it's oriented towards electric mountain bikes many of the principles of usability and appropriate components still apply.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzGqPkonsy4&

I bought on a budget last year never thinking for a moment that I would become obsessed with the hobby and very quickly outgrow the bike.  I am of course exaggerating but you get my drift.

Al

Post edited at 15:58
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 David55 27 Jun 2020
In reply to ChrisJD:

My current  hardtail  cost £700 and has now been ridden on 501 days ( yes, I am  obsessional). The drive train has been  replaced twice, and  tyres. It is now around 4 years old and going well.  I generally  run a £500 hardtail  for 2 years and  scrap  it. A £2000 bike would need to  run for 8 years  for equivalent  value. Oh and I  weigh 18stones so my bikes take a real hammering

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In reply to steve_gibbs:

You're right Steve. Halfords and even my like bike shops had naff all.

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 ChrisJD 27 Jun 2020
In reply to David55:

You would 'enjoy' yourself a more on a £2000+ bike no doubt ... unless you just are pootling along gravel double track.

The main advantages gained from better forks, better brakes, lighter wheels, better tyres.... and (usually) more refined bike geometry (which can/will make a huge difference).

I've seen this transformation with riding friends countless times when they go from a entry-level and/or old bike to something modern low/slack in mid range or above.  Their grins say it all.

The notion you alluded to that anything bar the cheapest kit is all a 'gimmick' is frankly bolx.  For sure, it may not be a linear cost to improvement graph and the cost of the top-top end stuff really does makes your eyes water (and the wallet bleed), but top end less one or two notches is often a good sweet spot. 

But if mountain biking is just a simple utility equation of number of riding days for minimum cost, then that's fine if that's what you want, but its not the way I look at things or want out of MTBing: fun per ride out with my mates is the key for me.

And sometimes, its just nice to have a bit a bling, especially if it's your main thing.  And there's is nothing wrong in that.

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In reply to StuPoo2:

Great advice Stu. I always try and shop locally, supporting our smaller independent shops. 

I don't really give a shit if it's this year's model or several years old. As long as it does the job and has the specs I'm looking for. 

I ended up getting a Carrera Kraken for £370 in the end. It should do the job for now as I'm just getting into the sport. Will upgrade in time. 

Thanks for your help again .

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In reply to Al Randall:

I agree Al. I was looking for a decent entry bike to introduce me to the hobby.

Another expensive hobby I could probably do without XD! 

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 ChrisJD 27 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

Great you've found a bike

> Another expensive hobby I could probably do without XD! 

If you get into it, get used to burning £20 notes, lol.

If you come up to the Dark Peak, feel free to get in touch and we can do some of the 'locals' trails.

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 Al Randall 27 Jun 2020
In reply to Alexander_Metcalfe:

Have you considered visiting a trail centre and hiring? Could be the cheapest solution and £500 would go someway towards a more serious bike if you decide you like it.

Al

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 ChrisJD 27 Jun 2020
In reply to Al Randall:

> Have you considered visiting a trail centre and hiring? Could be the cheapest solution and £500 would go someway towards a more serious bike if you decide you like it.

 Too late, he's bought a bike.

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