Under £500 Mountain Bikes

Buy a Mountain Bike MTB Reviews

I’ve noticed a lot of people on various forums recently asking what bike is recommended in the up to £500 category. For non-UK riders, that’s about €564 or US$ 621. So, in this series of four reviews, starting with a Ghost Kato 2.9 Review (2019) let’s take a look at a few bikes and see how they fare after testing and price comparisons.

A couple of words of warning first . . . Watch out for Mountain Bike Shaped Objects (BSO). They look like the real deal but tests have shown that some of these may not lead to happy (or even safe) riding.

Four Brands

  • Ghost
  • GT
  • Fuji
  • Cube


Ghost was established in 1993 by Uwe Kalliwoda and Klaus Möhald, two friends from a small German town called Waldsassen, north-east of Nuremburg. Kalliwoda and Möhald started out a year earlier repairing bikes for college students from a garage.

In Their Own Words

“Behind every bike is not just a developer and engineer, but a character. This is reflected in all our bikes – from relaxed back country bikes to aggressive all-mountain bikes to uncompromising hardtrails. We don’t build the usual boring bikes; we build machines for people who value quality and great riding.”

Kato Models

Since starting out, Ghost have produced a number of versions of the Kato in 26, 27.5 and 29ers all are alloy framed and weigh in between 12 and 15 kilograms (26.4 to 35.2 lbs) fully loaded.

The Katos are designed as trail bikes so let’s take a look at the build components of their 2.9.

Make Model
GHOST Kato 2.9 – 2019
Type of Bike Price Range
Hardtail Under 500
Frame Kato AL Lightweight Aluminium
Fork SR Suntour SF19 XCT30, 100mm travel
Stem Ghost MTB, Diameter: 31.8mm
Handlebars Ghost Low Rizer MTB, Width: 720mm

Rise: 10mm

Diameter: 31.8mm

Rubber Grips

Brakes Shimano BR-MT200

2/2 piston, 160/160mm rotors

Gears Shifters

Shimano SL-M310

Front Derailleur

Shimano Tourney FD-TY700-TS6

  • Rear Derailleur
  • Shimano Acera RD-M360, 8-Speed
Crankset & Cassette
  • Cassette
  • Shimano CS-HG-200-8, 12-32T


Shimano FC-TY30, 24/34/42T

Wheels Rodi Excalibur XC
622x19mm, 32H (Front & Rear)


  • Front Shimano HB-TX505
  • Rear Shimano FH-TX505
Tires Michelin Country Race R, 29×2.10″
Saddle Saddle: Selle Italia X-Base

Seatpost: Ghost Light DC 1, Diameter: 31.6mm

The image colour is Night Black / Riot Green

Also available in Riot Red / Night Black

How do all these components perform on a trail? The Ghost Kato 2.9 pedals well and transmits the power you give it into good traction on trail and road. It performs well on average / starter trails but not so great when the going gets tough. It handles descents well and performance is safe and friendly. If you’re looking for an explosive trail slayer, this ride is probably not for you but it’s a great starting MTB for new riders. Compared to what I’m used to, the geometry and riding position felt high and elongated but, that might not be the case for you; we come in all shapes and sizes.

If you need a bike with a low budget, the Kato 2.9 is a great choice and if you can find a friendly Ghost retailer, see how you feel when sitting on one.


  • Good value for money
  • Excellent drivetrain and brakes
  • Great climber on average trails
  • Easy handling


  • Not the best on tough terrain

Final Words

The Ghost Kato 2.9 offers decent components and great value for money. It’s designed as unisex and my daughter has her eyes on one. I’m confident that this will be a good buy.

Chain Reaction Cycles currently have a sale on 100’s of bikes. CRC have been an industry leader since starting out as a family business in 1985 and have since merged with Wiggle to form “Wiggle CRC” but retained their own branding.

As an affiliate with CRC, I would earn a small commission from any purchases you make but you pay the same as prices advertised on their site.

Your Comments

Your thoughts and comments on what I present here are always valuable and will always receive a reply. If you have your own thoughts or reviews on the Kato 2.9, please leave them in the comments section so other readers can benefit from your experience.

Just Ride Hard, Ride Fair, Nobody Hurt

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14 thoughts on “Under £500 Mountain Bikes

  1. HelloSteve, I’m glad you can confirm that the Kato is unisex because I was just going to ask that question right now. Actually someone recommended that I buy this bike but I didn’t know so much about it, gladly you have done a good review and it is also quite cheap. Thanks for a well written and detailed review. I’ll grab one of those.

    1. Hi Henderson, Thanks for the very positive comments. Go for it, grab one of those, it’s a beautiful sport, great for health and a wonderful sense of freedom and buzz. Good luck, Steve

  2. A friend I know has used this bike before. It was a very good go for him and he really liked it because it was cheap and had good qualities too. I was also thinking of grabbing one myself and so maybe I really should go for it. I would also say you have to get it for your daughter like you said. It’s a good one i can confirm that.

    1. Thanks John, great info about the Kato. Not that I’m a biased MTB rider but . . . go for it, it’s a wonderful sport 🙂 Steve

  3. Wow!! Now this is what I call awesome because it is quite a great bike. I personally juwant to get a mountain bike for myself since I have been learning with my Hubby’s second bike. This kato 2.9 seems to be awesome and since it can work on quite some rough terrains, I would be more than thrilled to give a trial to it. I like the ddsigns and it looks great. Thanks

    1. Hi Ro, Thanks for your comment. Mountain biking is a beautiful bug and I hope you keep on learning. There are a couple of other Kato models designed with women in mind. If you would like to know about these, I would be happy to send you some review info and the techie stuff too 🙂 Happy Riding, Steve

  4. Biking has been a thing of fun for me and my husband and seeing these bikes makes me really happy, because i have been meaning to buy a new one but the prices have been chasing me away. Now looking wtbthese qualitues and ptices of these bikes is really appealing. Ill imform my husband about this oost so we can get for ourselves. Thanks for sharing

    1. Hi Chloe, Thanks for your comments and I’m glad the Kato review was useful for you. If you need more detail, don’t hesitate to leave a message, I’m always happy to help. Steve C

  5. What a great review! I haven’t ridden a MTB in quite sometime but your review of the Ghost Kato 2.9 has rekindled my interest. I will definitely give a look. 

    Because I haven’t been on one in several years it sounds like the MTB I need to get started again. I will also introduce my son to the sport. Thanks for a great review.

  6. I have always wanted to do some mountain biking but didnt know where to start. This is full of great information for beginners, thanks for taking the time to do the research, I look forward to your posts in the future!

    1. Thanks Zackery, I’m pleased the post helped. Relating to getting started, send as many questions as you like, I’m always happy to help. Steve

  7. Hi Steve, thank you for sharing a great review of mountain bikes.

    Your review could not have come at a better time as I want to get a new bike, however, I just could not decide and after reading your review it has helped me to make up my mind.

    As I am new to mountain biking I think the Kato Model sounds perfect for my needs.

    I am sure I will be a regular visitor to your site, you have so much helpful information…. keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you for those kind comments Moni. I’m sure the Kato is a great starting point and if you need to know more, please don’t hesitate to drop a message. Looking forward to more chat soon. Hope you have a great week ahead, Steve C

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