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Best Mountain Bikes Under £500 for 2020 Model Year

Words by Cycles UK

on 15/11/2019 10:48:35


£400 to £500 is a really popular price point for mountain bikes. £500 will get you a really good quality bike that can be used for proper off-road riding and which can also double-up for commuting and general riding. We’ve taken a look at our favourite bikes for the 2020 model year in the £400 to £500 bracket.

2020 Trek Marlin 5 - £395


The Trek Marlin 5 has been the mountain bike to have in the £400 to £500 range for the last couple of years. It has been such a killer bike that other brands like Specialized and Cannondale have had to change their bikes to keep up.

The basis of the Marlin 5 is a really great quality aluminium frame with proper off-road geometry. The aggressive sloping top tube gives the bike a really low stand-over height so it’s easy to throw the bike around. Hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano gearing and a Suntour suspension fork make this a properly capable bike with reliable equipment. While the Marlin 5 is properly off-road capable it also comes with the fittings you need for a pannier rack and kickstand so it will double a great commuter.

The Marlin 5 uses a 27.5” wheel on the small and xsmall size bikes and a 29” wheel on the medium, large and xlarge. The Marlin 5 is available in both men’s and women’s versions.

2020 Cannondale Trail 7 - £449

2020 Cannondale Trail 7 Midnight

It has been a few years since Cannondale have made a bike for under £500. For 2020 they have three, the Trail 8 at £399, the Trail 7 at £449 and the Trail 6 at £499. The pick of the bunch is the Trail 7.

The Trail 7 comes in two colours, acid red or midnight blue and the blue is definitely our favourite. You can’t really see it in the pictures but it’s a really dark blue with glitter flake running through it so it really sparkles in the sunlight. On a more practical level the bike comes with proper off-road geometry for a bike that is stable at speed but also agile on tight and technical terrain. Cannondale have really thought about the bike and it comes with touches like a narrower tyre with different tread on the back for better grip.

It also comes with hydraulic brakes and a suspension fork with a lockout to make riding more efficient on road sections. Compared to the Marlin 5 it also has an extra 3 gears. If you are going to use the bike for commuting it has the mounts you need for a pannier rack at the back.

The Trail 7 uses a 27.5” wheel on the small and xsmall size bikes and a 29” wheel on the medium, large and xlarge. The women’s version of the Trail 7 is the Cannondale Trail Tango 5 which comes with basically the same equipment but uses a women’s specific frame.

2020 Specialized Pitch - £399

2020 Specialized Pitch Black

The Trek Marlin 5 has been the entry level mountain bike to have for the last couple of years so it was no surprise when Specialized came out with a bike to directly compete with it. Like the Marlin the Pitch comes with a lightweight aluminium frame, hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano gears and a Suntour suspension fork. Unlike the Marlin 5 all frame sizes come with 27.5” wheels and it comes in a gender neutral design and three different colours.

The smaller 27.5” wheels on the Pitch help to make the bike more stable and nimble when riding off-road. They don’t roll as fast the 29er wheels used on the Cannondale and Trek but they do make the bike better for smaller riders and make it easier to do wheelies. This makes the Pitch extremely popular with teenagers and those looking to do more twisty and technical off-road riding.

2020 Specialized Pitch Sport - £474

2020 Specialized Pitch Sport Rocket Red

The Pitch Sport takes the great value standard Pitch and upgrades it with a lockout fork, tyres with extra puncture protection and better quality 2x8 Shimano gearing. It also has size specific suspension so the handling is the same for different size riders. These upgrades make the bike more capable, the lockout makes the bike more efficient on the road while the gearing and size specific suspension make it handle better off-road. So if you can stretch to the extra £74 it makes a good upgrade.

Like the standard level Pitch the Pitch Sport is a gender neutral bike so there are no separate men’s and women’s versions.

2020 GT Avalanche Sport- £499

2020 GT Avalanche Sport

The Avalanche range of bikes goes up to £900 and they all use the same basic frame. So by buying the Avalanche Sport at £499 you are getting a great quality frame that can be upgraded and personalised as you get more into mountain biking.

The Avalanche is built around a 6061 aluminium triple triangle frame with floating seat stays which act as a subtle form of suspension to provide a more comfortable ride. The frame also comes with Boost 141mm rear spacing which makes the back of the bike more rigid and gives plenty of room for running larger tyres.

The Avalanche Sport comes with a Suntour suspension fork with lockout, Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and 9 speed Shimano gears. Everything you need for off-road riding.

The small and xsmall sizes on the Avalanche come with 27.5” wheels while the medium, large and xlarge sizes come with 29” wheels.