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  1. #1
    Senior Member mattm0805's Avatar
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    Better MTB Frames?? Better Performance??

    I currently own a Trek 4300 MTB bike. Yes, I know its quite the entry level bike, but its not bad. I'm really into trail riding and I plan on getting into xc racing a little. My two thoughts are should I just upgrade all the components on my 4300 (front shock, disc brakes, etc) to a pro bike level or should I just spring for a new higher end hardtail?

    Will I see better performance out of a higher end frame (trek 8500) or is the performance in all of the nicer components??

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    what's wrong with your entry-level bike now? Are you having problem with braking performance? (probably not) are you having trouble with your fork? (seems more likely) Are your shifters and derailers working properly? If not, an upgrade could be nice. If they're alright, i'd just give 'em a fresh chain and a tune-up.

    if you want a better bike, there's many avenues to take. I personally seem to put a higher priority on good components than on a nice frame, but i'm pretty sure i'm in the minority on that one. If you're just starting out riding trails, you might want to keep your trek as-is while you get a better feel for your own preferences.

    hth
    -rob

  3. #3
    Senior Member mattm0805's Avatar
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    Hey Rob,

    I think I lean towards your thinking as well, higher priority on good components than on a nice frame. Everything is working fairly well. My braking is fine, unless the trails are wet/muddy, I think would like disc brakes. As for the shock its not a very nice one, occasionally it will bottom out and I can adjust the preload on it. Also, there are times that my chain will jump off the center sprocket on my crank to the smaller sprocket....which that might be fixed with some simple adjustment (which I intend on doing this week).

    So, I think I just might upgrade the brakes and shocks.... I might be happy with my rig after that.

  4. #4
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    I've had several bikes over the years. One stands out: My Favorite. A GT Xizang titanium-framed mountain bike I bought new back in 1995. I love this bike more each day! So here's my two cents' worth: Go ahead and hock the house, the car and the dog. Buy yourself the very best you can find. As the years pass, you won't be sorry. In fact, if you don't let her get stolen, you will only be more proud and pleased as the years go by.

    You can always remove and upgrade the components. You'll do that anyway as improved models come out in the future.

    That's just my own experience speaking.
    Last edited by xizangstan; 10-24-10 at 09:02 PM.
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  5. #5
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    I tend to keep the bikes that "feel" the best.

    That being said, I'm in the camp that says a frame is the heart and soul of a bicycle. The better frame you can find the better. You can always upgrade components later yeah?

    Although my original point still stands. If it's a high end frame with a bad feeling, just ride what you want to ride.
    1993 Cannondale T700 - 1994 Specialized Rockhopper - Actionbent T1 (Electrification in progress!)

  6. #6
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm0805 View Post
    Hey Rob,

    I think I lean towards your thinking as well, higher priority on good components than on a nice frame. Everything is working fairly well. My braking is fine, unless the trails are wet/muddy, I think would like disc brakes. As for the shock its not a very nice one, occasionally it will bottom out and I can adjust the preload on it. Also, there are times that my chain will jump off the center sprocket on my crank to the smaller sprocket....which that might be fixed with some simple adjustment (which I intend on doing this week).

    So, I think I just might upgrade the brakes and shocks.... I might be happy with my rig after that.
    Again, i'm in the minority, but i don't much like disc brakes. Yes, the performance is improved in mud/muck. But, i'm of the belief that responsible trailriders don't ride in the wet, as this tears up the trails we love so dearly. Now, whenever i cross the occasional perpetually muddy spot, i have to live with squishiness/squeakiness/poor performance, but i just kinda take it easy and squeeze my brakes a lot til it clears up. either way, everyone else in the free world is running discs these days? My advice? Hydros are very nice, but maintenance requires patience. Also, some (shimano, magura) run mineral oil; the rest use various number designations of DOT brake fluid. The DOT stuff is not environmentally friendly, and potentially dangerous. Mineral oil is better for the earth/you, but can be less stable in extreme temperatures. Mechanical discs are cheapest, easiest to deal with longterm (but, often more finicky short-term), and pretty much safe/clean/stable. if you get them, i endorse avid bb7s, as does most everyone else willing to discuss mech discs. Also, spend the extra couple bucks on the bb7s over the bb5s; the added adjustability is worth it.

    As for the fork, well, i can imagine the fork your bike came from is a total turd, as is almost universally the case with entry-level hardtails. As a butt-scratchin' luddite, i run a rigid fork. I can't imagine a modern person such as yourself would consider going rigid, so i won't try to convert you. All i'll say is, research your suspensions fork purchase VERY carefully. Gotta get the right travel, of course, but you'll want to know what you're getting into in terms of maintenance and reliability.

    Someone recommended that you spend whatever it takes to get the hottest bike. On the one hand, I can get behind that; i'm currently shopping/researching custom frames when i should be typing a research paper for grad school. But, while i thoroughly enjoy spending as much as i can on cycling, i'd argue that one ought not do that when he's brand new to trail-ridin'. Better, imho, to get your bearings in terms of your preferences and requirements, before you blow your hard-earned cash on a hott bike that doesn't suit your needs.

    -rob

  7. #7
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    I'm still rather new to mountain biking, but the following are my priorities for a bike (in no particular order):

    - Weight
    - Fork
    - Tires
    - Proper fit

    Right now I have an old Specialized Stumpjumper single speed and a really heavy Marin geared MTB. Even though the Specialized has like 45mm of suspension travel, it's so much easier on my body because there's less weight being thrown at me. 10 pounds makes a huge difference. The fork I put on my Marin (Rock Shox Judy J1) is a cheap pile of junk with no damping. Sure it has twice the travel, but it's way too bouncy and it weighs twice as much! If you upgrade your fork, shop carefully and get a good one. I think tires are really important too. I always get the widest tire possible for my mountain bikes. Ask what other people are running before you buy the tire that looks cool in the store.

    To answer your original question, I don't think frames are a huge deal. As long as it's not super heavy, and "feels" good to you, it's fine. I think a good fork would make a big improvement on that bike.

  8. #8
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    mattm805, Looking at Trek's mountain bike line up, that frame is used on some higher end models so you're fine there. Most likely a good fork and tires matched to the terrain will make the best performance difference.

    Brad

  9. #9
    Senior Member mattm0805's Avatar
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    I didn't know trek used some of the same frames on multiple models...interesting. I do really like the feel of this bike and I'm very comfortable/confident on it. The 4300 is light and solid. I was at my LBS to other day and they have a nice used Trek 8000. Its a really sweet bike but it seems like it weights twice as much as my 4300. I definitely don't want to add a bunch of weight to my ride.

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    This is pretty much standard industry practice. Take one frameset, and sell it as several different models with increasingly-better "bits" attached. Saves production costs....
    You might go to your local library and check to see if they subscribe to any of several mountain-bike publications. If so, you can search through back issues for articles on fork comparisons, tire comparisons, etc.
    As well, the "Mountain Bike Review" webpage has user reviews of components, whole bikes, etc. Some of the reviews are pretty poor... Like "Wow, this bike rocks!" Which doesn't tell you much. Others are well-written by fairly knowledgeable riders. Worth a look.

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    OEM volume purchases, means what you pay retail for a Suspension fork
    Is almost as much as you will, getting a whole bike with the fork in it.

    Because most of it is shipping intra-business on Taiwan,
    where there are several layers of importers and distributors
    not involved yet.

  12. #12
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    OEM volume purchases, means what you pay retail for a Suspension fork
    Is almost as much as you will, getting a whole bike with the fork in it.

    Because most of it is shipping intra-business on Taiwan,
    where there are several layers of importers and distributors
    not involved yet.
    Yup. Just buy a new one a level or two higher. A Trek 6000 is only $990. You'd spend nearly that just for the fork and the brakes (+wheels).
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  13. #13
    Senior Member mattm0805's Avatar
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    "Wow, this bike rocks!" ... those are my favorite reviews! I know that all of the upgrades would cost me a chunk of change. How do you guys feel about a "lighty used" fork/parts off of ebay? good idea or bad?

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    Forks are notoriously prone to damage, especially blown seals or blown damper units. Repairing these items can be costly as well. I would not be in a hurry to buy a used one.....

  15. #15
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    The cheapest way to upgrade is ALWAYS to just sell what you have and buy the more upscale bike. And if you want to actually get into racing the bike then you need to get both components and a frame that will be up to the job. Even if you are only going to do this for fun you'll hate yourself if the bike isn't up to the job to at least make you feel good about your efforts after crossing the finish line. Plus just the fact that you're looking at wanting to race suggests that you tend to be more aggresive on the trails even for a fun day's outing. Again that suggests that you want a bike that is more tuned with parts and geometry to suit this manner of riding.

    As you've said the 4300 is pretty basic. Not only that but it's got a compromise geometry. If you're racing you want a bike that is set up more agressively with a longer top tube and a cockpit that encourages you to lean forward in a more racy crouch than a sit up Sunday trail tour position that the 4300 comes with. And by the time you upgrade all the things that need it you'll easily be into this bike for the cost of the better bike that you should get. But you'll still have a frame with a "Sunday casual ride" sort of geometry.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  16. #16
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm0805 View Post
    How do you guys feel about a "lighty used" fork/parts off of ebay? good idea or bad?
    Ehhhh... The problem with buying a used fork is that you won't know if it's junk until you've mounted it on your bike. I'd be very leery.

  17. #17
    Senior Member mattm0805's Avatar
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    anybody know which Trek frames are better than others? I know I have an Alpha SL Aluminum...I've also seen ZR 9000 aluminum frames and some others. Can anyone list the frames from entry level to best for the hardtails?

  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattm0805 View Post
    anybody know which Trek frames are better than others? I know I have an Alpha SL Aluminum...I've also seen ZR 9000 aluminum frames and some others. Can anyone list the frames from entry level to best for the hardtails?
    Look here for frame details. The 6700, 6500 and 4300 all share the same frame. The components that hang on the frame are different. The 4300 will be the heaviest because of the amount of Alvio that is on it.

    The 8000 has a lighter frame and lighter components. The added benefit is that your wallet is significantly lighter too All that filthy money is heavy
    Last edited by cyccommute; 10-26-10 at 05:19 PM.
    Stuart Black
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  19. #19
    Senior Member mattm0805's Avatar
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    haha! Thanks for the info. I looked at the used 8000 thats at my LBS again today...I want it, bad!

  20. #20
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    The 6700, 6500 and 4300 all share the same frame.
    While outwardly they look the same, this is not the case.

    Each of Trek's numbered series bikes share the same frame within the series, meaning the "Four Series" 4300, 4300 Disc and 4500 all utilize the same frame. The "Six Series" frame shared by the 6000, 6500 and 6700 is a much more sophisticated frame with more internal butting and shaping, shaving a good deal of weight over the 4x series. Generally speaking the higher the number, the better the tubing and more sophisticated the engineering. This is even true with the Madone series (i.e.: The 5.1, 5.2, 5.5 and 5.9 all share the same frame, differing only in component selection). The one winger is the 820 which is not an "Eight Series" at all, but a standalone product.

    There are some outward differences with the 4 and 6 series that are easier to see: the 4's seatstay wishbone consists of two stays, a flat bridge wedge and a separate connection tube to the seattube. The 6 consists of two seatstays that are joined directly to the seattube. There are other details that are tougher to see, but as far as I can tell, every tube is different except the seattube, the headtube and perhaps the chainstays, but even those could differ internally with butting or internal machining.
    Last edited by Wordbiker; 10-26-10 at 06:35 PM.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Cost it out.

    How many parts are you planning to upgrade? A new fork, for example, is a fairly big hit. Add a few more high ticket items and you'll be real close to the cost of a whole new bike. If you don't upgrade very many parts, you're going to wind up with an old bike that has a few new, upgraded parts.

    A new bike, on the other hand, comes with all brand new parts. Every part was also designed to work with every other part so it's likely to perform a little better. A new bike also comes with a new bike warranty.

    Cost it out before you start because, once you start buying new parts, every dollar that you spend makes it that much harder to walk away from what has become an expensive old bike.

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