Mountain Biking - What to buy?
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11-26-12, 12:04 PM
Ive been road biking for a few years, but recently have been interested in getting into mountain biking. I knew the ins and outs of road bikes, but really limited knowledge when it comes to mtn bikes, and i was wondering if i could get some advice as to what would make a good first bike and what i should look for. Im looking to do rough terrain riding in the woods, but i dont want a full suspension as im trying to keep the price low for my first bike. Thanks for any help! -Andrew
borrow an extra bike from a friend, rent a bike from a local shop, or attend a demo day sponsored by a local shop. (the last one is the best, but they are few and far between.)
you need to get on the trails to see what you like and what you're willing to spend.
you need at least a rockshox recon fork. that is pretty much the cheapest fork which is trail-worthy. many inexpensive bikes come with RST, SunTour or Rockshox base-model forks which are total junk for singletrack use. they work fine on bike paths but have very little damping making them useless when it gets rough.
What budget did you have in mind? In my opinion trailworthy bikes start around $700 (discounted $900 bikes). The main things to get right are the frame geometry and the fork.
For frame geometry, you need to test the bike. Even a quick loop around the local bike shop will tell you something about how agile/nervous the steering feels and whether the stem and top tube length combination are in the right ballpark for you. You can cheat with the stem length to adjust to how tall you are, but it changes steering feel as well. Also try a bike with a riser bar and a flat bar. Makes a major difference in upper body position, I find a slight riser bar gives me much more downhill control.
As far as a fork is concerned, I'm with CollinL on this one. This is a very expensive component to replace so get a bike with the right fork on it from the start. I have a Rockshox XC32 Solo Air and I love it. I think this is actually cheaper than the Recon, but it's not as common. Probably the cheapest air fork.
I'm an amateur, mind you, my advice is more from the perspective of someone who recently had to answer the same questions for himself.
I actually forgot about the XC32. It isn't bad, but can the damper cartridge be upgraded like the Recon (which can take a Reba or even SID damper)?
The junk Rockshox is the Dart, and the Suntour XCR is crap too. Actually one of the RSTs isn't bad for very light riders, like women and kids, but it's way undersprung and underdamped for men.
11-29-12, 09:48 AM
I like the Craigslist and Ebay route for started bikes. Get Deore grade components as a minimum, LX, XT and XTR are big pluses. On a used bike (Craigslist) you should be able to get a 15 minute test ride. See how it feels and fits. If you notice any oil leaking after a test ride on the fork bail out immediately. Don't worry about Steel, CF or Titanium at this point. Just get a bike with solid components and a solid frame.
11-29-12, 11:44 AM
I can't tell where you live, but there may be some local MTB sites that have members selling bikes. (also you can meet up and ride) These people are a little more knowledgeable and trustworthy over random craigslisters.
11-30-12, 09:31 PM
I like the used route too, but keep it to late model bikes. While there have been some advances in road bikes over the last 10 years, mountain bike advances border on revolution over that time period, especially dual suspension bikes. I'd try to keep it to bikes that are not more than 6 or 7 years old, and has been said, try for higher level bikes with better components. Don't be alarmed by someone who has seriously upgraded a bike. MTBs tend to be upgraded more than road bikes.
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