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  1. #1
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    Advise an old guy on what mountain bikes to consider ... here's my story

    Will turn 58 in the fall and am semi-retired. I like bikes for exercise and fun. Most of my years i didn't have time to sleep, much less recreation, but that's all changed now and I'm happy about it.

    I have an old Raleigh road bike that's 25 years old. Works good other than now needing new tires. I'd almost always leave it in 2cd or 3rd gear and rarely ever change gears. I'd ride a 7 mile paved bike trail and if i was going downhill i was coasting and i never got in a hurry ... so that's my speed. I just like to take my time.

    I now want a mountain bike for riding down logging roads and 4wd roads to the creeks inside the national forest. Some of these roads will be steep enough I'll have to walk in places. Some will be rock gardens, but for the most part, a jeep can with difficulty, get down them.

    True to my old habits, i doubt I'll make much use of gears, which makes me consider a single speed. I do like simplicity.

    I have a newer Walmart bike, a "Next" brand. It's single speed, but the gearing is too tall to suit me. Other than that, it has 2.1" wide tires and you can really tell a nice difference in cushioning with the wider tires on this little county road i live on. I also like the handle bars on this Walmart bike they are old style turn up and towards the rider instead of down and away from the rider. That's one of my biggest preferences.

    Should i forget the fixed gear and do with a conventional bike? It's not like I'm going to wear one out. I keep them indoors and that 25 year old Raleigh looks a few months old. Plus, if i go with a fixed gear, who's to say which gear / teeth i should get - that's questionable.

    I can afford any but I'm thrifty. I drove into the city to buy a new Giant XL Revel 2 and they had sold it the day before. Looks like that model isn't going to be made anymore and there's aren't any in my state.

    In summary, what mountain bikes would you recommend i consider, that have handlebars turned towards the rider, where i don't have to lean down like I'm racing And should i shy away from the fixed gear, even though, once i pick a gear, i probably will leave it in the same gear. Thanks for your advice.

  2. #2
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    How much do you want to spend?

    Singlespeeds are a lot of fun to ride and are good for your fitness. Plus they are cheaper :-)

    If you are going to do a majority of gravel grinding, you'll want something with a front shock (IMO).

  3. #3
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    Want to keep it under $1k ... thanks for your recommendations ... I'll think about that front shock - seems wise

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Just visit your favorite local Bike shop.. brands compete with similar bikes at various price points ..

    pick the Shop first.

    you should stick to Hardtails below $1K..

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mountain Mitch's Avatar
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    All the major brands have good (enough) hardtails in that price range and they will all do fine for you. I'm partial to Specialized but Giant, Scott, Cannondale etc. will all do fine. I agree that a front shock will make it a more pleasant experience for you. Gear doesn't make the rider but good stuff can sure help you enjoy it! Get the salesman to explain the differences and why you may find an upgrade of any appeal to you.

    I'm tempted to recommend second hand but a lot of second hand mountain bikes have been pretty beat up; so unless you know your stuff, I'd steer clear. Find a decent LBS and tell them you'd like to ride a couple of their bikes around the parking lot. Pick the one that feels best.

  6. #6
    a77impala a77impala's Avatar
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    Before you buy a mtn bike try a cross bike, might do what you want with a better ride and you can take it on the road if you want. I would stay away from suspension forks, just more weight without that much benefit, that's my opinion.
    Treks, 87-560, 90-930,92-970, 95-930, LeMonds, 2000 Zurich, 04 Tourmalet, 04 Arrivee, 05 Etape, 06-Versailles

  7. #7
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    A cyclo cross bike ain't gonna cut it on a fire road with any level of irregularity, rocks, etc. You need a hard tail mtn. bike with decent size tires. I have three road bikes, a CX bike, a hardtail mtn bike and a full suspension mtn. bike. I've been riding my hardtail on the road lately with semi-slick tires. It's just fine. With knobbier tires, it's been fine for everything off road. I ride my CX bike on the road and on gravel, but it sure wouldn't be my choice for a fire road.

    You may want to look at bikes with fat tires. Lot's of people really enjoy them. If you've got the big tires, you don't need front suspension. There are a whole lot on bikesdirect.com at your price point.
    "It could be anything. Scrap booking, high-stakes poker, or the Santa Fe lifestyle. Just pick a dead-end and chill out 'till you die."

  8. #8
    Squeaky Wheel woodway's Avatar
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    Agree that I would not look at a CX bike for a majority of gravel grinding. It will be a rough ride.

    If you want to go singlespeed, check out the Redline Monocog. It's simple to swap out the rear cog to get the gear ratio dialed in to what fits you.

  9. #9
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    If you were talking about riding gravel, a CX bike would make perfect sense (disagreeing with the previous poster), but it sounds like you are planning to ride rougher terrain. For under $1K, don't even think about a full suspension bike. A hardtail should be perfect for you intentions. I think a geared bike would work better than a single speed for the conditions you describe.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  10. #10
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    Wow - thanks guys - awesome community here - thanks again!

  11. #11
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    You mention "fixed", there is fixed gear and there is singlespeed. It's a rare individual who rides fixed off-road.

    If singlespeed is your cup of tea, consider a belt drive. The belt drive bikes on the market might be outside your budget, but there is no chain maintenance.
    High cool factor, too.

    Also, not sure what you mean about the handlebars. There are drop bars, like road racers use, flat bars which are almost straight, riser bars, which most of us use on our mountain bikes, and all manner of other shapes. The swept back design made for off road are called Mary bars.

  12. #12
    Tom... you are missed Pamestique's Avatar
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    I primarily mountain bike... I have been riding since mountain bikes since the 80's (road since the 60's) and bikes have signifcantly changed in that time. The older rigid bikes had long top tubes and riders were bent over more like riding a road bike

    The newer configuration of bikes is more upright (because of the fork - more travel more upright) particularly if you use a riser flat bar (which is what I use). Some bars also have a sweep back (slight but towards the rider). Not certain why anyone wants to ride ole skool with the handlebars turned backwards. I suggest you look for a bike with sweep back handlebar, angled towards the rider instead.

    And if you only want to spend alittle money (say $500 or less) just find something that fits you. Your choices are limited anyway. If you would like to consider a decent, downright fun trail bike, that can do alot save for big drops and gnarly trail, check out Competitive Cyclist - Santa Cruz 29er "D" kit now on sale 15% off (2014 models as 2015 are coming out). You get alot of trail bike for the money and frankly once you try full suspension, especially at our age (I'm way older 63) you won't go back to rigid. Plus the gearing is nice; you will use it and your knees will thank you. Also SC hardtail is also on sale... don't discount the fun factor of a 29er...

    Here is the High Ball infor... more than you want ot spend but well worth the extra money:

    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/sa...NZ000R-GLORD-L

    for just a little more - you get a great full suspension 29er ($3600 marked down to $2100 - I may have to pick one up!):

    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/sa...Z001G-GLOBLA-S
    Last edited by Pamestique; 07-17-14 at 12:06 PM.
    ______________________________________________________________

    Private docent led mountain bike rides through Limestone Canyon. Go to letsgooutside.org and register today! Also available: hikes, equestrian rides and family events as well as trail maintenance and science study.

  13. #13
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    So much to know - I'm just now discovering the difference between single speed and fixed. Single has it's alure - fixed (where the pedals must turn) sure not for me. I probably need the typical range of gears I've decided. And belt drives for single speed - who knew, belt drives, interesting though.

    @ Pamestique thanks for sharing your age, experience and bikes you like. I think something akin to that first link you gave is what i will end up with. I'm in Arkansas and selection may be less here than some places.

  14. #14
    Tom... you are missed Pamestique's Avatar
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    Arkansas actually has some great trails to ride... you would benefit from a fully geared mountain bike and while a hardtail is more in the price range, don't reject the notion of a full suspension bike... the ride is fantastic especially on a 29" platform...
    ______________________________________________________________

    Private docent led mountain bike rides through Limestone Canyon. Go to letsgooutside.org and register today! Also available: hikes, equestrian rides and family events as well as trail maintenance and science study.

  15. #15
    rigamortis tortoise LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big john View Post
    You mention "fixed", there is fixed gear and there is singlespeed. It's a rare individual who rides fixed off-road.

    If singlespeed is your cup of tea, consider a belt drive. The belt drive bikes on the market might be outside your budget, but there is no chain maintenance.
    High cool factor, too.

    Also, not sure what you mean about the handlebars. There are drop bars, like road racers use, flat bars which are almost straight, riser bars, which most of us use on our mountain bikes, and all manner of other shapes. The swept back design made for off road are called Mary bars.
    I'm gonna guess the OP bike is the Next La Jolla. Coaster brake cruiser. They have a nice swept bar - modern cruiser bar, but heavy steel. The La Jolla frame is nice and light. Really terrible coaster hub. 1" fork so tough to get good suspension for it.

    As OP noted geared way too high for anything but flat trail riding.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 07-17-14 at 01:55 PM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  16. #16
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    My two cents is ride a twenty-niner before you commit. The difference is night and day, though you'll probably want to go a size or two down for the bike to feel tight. You can get a MTB 29er for well under $1000 on Bikesdirect. As far as signal speed, I would reserve the option to downshift for hills, mud, headwinds, days when my legs are spent. Each to their own.

  17. #17
    rigamortis tortoise LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I like SS myself but only on certain trails. If I was gonna get a new SS I'd likely go Kona Unit.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  18. #18
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pamestique View Post
    ... frankly once you try full suspension, especially at our age (I'm way older 63) you won't go back to rigid.
    Don't be so sure. I went back to hardtail and I'm loving it.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  19. #19
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I have a Specialized Rock Hopper (26") with front suspension and use for a variety of purposes, including non-technical mtn biking (i.e., not jumping from rock to rock with my bike and the like). To be honest, I lock out the front suspension and ride it as a full rigid mtn bike. About $600-700 and works for me. I am 74yo+. BTW, at 58, you are a young guy.

    Here is a video of a trail right near my house on this bike.

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

    Last edited by DnvrFox; 07-17-14 at 02:50 PM.

  20. #20
    Tom... you are missed Pamestique's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Don't be so sure. I went back to hardtail and I'm loving it.
    I have both (actually I have a bike for everything - way too many choices!)... I love my hardtail - on certain trails. No question the bike is really quick, responsive and fun to ride but only if the trail is smooth and flowy. Where I live we contend with lots of rocky, rutty, bumpy (water bars!), gnarly trails sometimes full of sand, and the full suspension bikes seems to do best. Depends on what a rider wants and needs... I'm old and need to protect my crippled up broken body as much as possible... so I prefer the fully when I know the trail is going to be rough... but I am hoping to add a 29 hard tail (current is a 26er) to my stable which maybe best of both worlds...
    ______________________________________________________________

    Private docent led mountain bike rides through Limestone Canyon. Go to letsgooutside.org and register today! Also available: hikes, equestrian rides and family events as well as trail maintenance and science study.

  21. #21
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    @ Lester ... you have that "Next" model pegged ... Next La Jolla Coaster brake cruiser ... except this one says Aluminum. Going to test it on a rough trail as soon as i get a new seat on it. I bungee corded a folded up egg crate foam cushion on it today. Looked odd, but felt better. This one has the white sidewalls, which I'm not fond of, and is a ugly orange color. I might paint the whole thing

    @ FrenchFit ... glad you brought up the 26 vs 29 ... i hadn't thought about that. Probably the 29. I'm 6'4" and 205 lbs ... or use to be, wife says I'm shrinking and she don't mean the lbs. Maybe an inch or 2 shorter.

    @ DnverFox ... you inspire me. Nice video and excellent attitude at 74 years of age. That's my goal. So far the Specialized Rockhopper and the Giant 29er Talon are my favs for when i upgrade.

    @
    Pamestique ... a different bike for different trails ... and why not. We do have some pretty trails and creeks, very nice along the Buffalo River and Mulberry River. We also sport the highest point between the Appalachians and the Rockies at Mount Magazine.

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