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Old 07-02-14, 09:05 PM   #1
msx
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First Time Buyer, Suggestions / Tips

Hey there! Been wanting a mountain bike to hit the trails with since living in Oregon a couple years back but now that I have a couple bucks to spare, I'm in Michigan (of course there are still trails here, just not as easy access). But in looking for one now, I have no clue what best suits my needs. I know I need to get out there and try some out, but work is crazy all summer so I have limited availability and would like to head right for what's up my alley. Originally, I was solely looking at mountain bikes though currently, my bike will get the most use riding to/from work a couple miles.

That said, I absolutely do not want a road bike, or even one with those handlebars (ach! ). I've been looking through some of the local bike shops websites and such, as well as other posts on here, and am thinking Specialized or Giant. Beyond that, I'm lost! I imagine being 6'3" with fairly long legs/arms, I'll need a large bike, and a bit of a pitfall is I'm trying to keep the budget down to around $400-500.

Open to any and all thoughts! Especially any trail suggestions near-ish Detroit!! Thanks

Last edited by msx; 07-02-14 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 07-03-14, 10:07 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forums.

My first bike after getting back into cycling was a Giant Sedona, and it served me well, and some of the variations are within your price range. If I was buying today, I would also consider the Cypress, because of a slight personal preference for 700c wheels.

Both of these are good for moderate length road rides/commutes, and are leaning toward the MTB direction, so would probably do fine for some easy off road riding.

I am sure that Specialized has similar bikes, I just don't know their model line-ups.

Unless you are really interested in serious mountain biking, you could also consider a bike without front suspension (even mountain bikes in the old days didn't have suspension) since I hear that many entry level bikes don't have very good quality suspension components. My Sedona was modified to non-suspension after about 3 or 4 years by installing a suspension corrected rigid fork, and I like it better... not quite as nice a ride as my Trek 7.3 FX, but close. So, my preference currently leans toward the Trek FX line (or similar bikes from other brands).

Your frame size would probably be XL... but that is just a guess. Do some test riding, and figure out what works for you. Also use that opportunity to get a feel for how well you like the shops, and if all else is similar, buy from the shop you think will support you the best.
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Old 07-03-14, 12:52 PM   #3
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The Giant Escape series, seem to be a little longer in the top tube than others.
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Old 07-04-14, 09:52 AM   #4
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The Giant Escape looks a little too flimsy to do much off-roading, but I do like the Roam and Revel series.

For Trek, I looked at the FX and DS series, both of which are lovely. I absolutely want one with the finish of the 8.6 DS, but of course the affordable models won't have that. Currently leaning towards the 8.2 DS.

And Specialized, I actually quite like the Ariel but apparently it has women's fitness geometry? Whatever that means lol. Liking the Sirrus Sport and maybe the Hardrock.

So in other words, plenty to try out unless anyone has feedback regarding these! And another question, how much do bikes readily disassemble these days? ie- popping the front tire off with a flip of a lever. Most of these bike shops aren't exactly close (especially the Giant dealer!), and I just have my car sans-bike rack. Would one fit in an average size car with only whatever simple disassembly is available?

Thanks for the replies

Last edited by msx; 07-04-14 at 10:15 AM.
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Old 07-04-14, 10:19 AM   #5
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First shop for the Dealer you will buy the bike through.
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Old 07-04-14, 10:25 AM   #6
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If that's really your budget and you're somewhat mechanically inclined, check out online stores. They'll generally sell you a similar or identical bike for a good bit less. Nashbar and BikesDirect are good options to start (even though the cycling elitist/snobs will scorn you for buying from BikesDirect.)

Just remember to compare apples to apples & not get all caught up in any brand any LBS is pushing. Be patient when shopping.
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Old 07-04-14, 11:20 AM   #7
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If you're only riding a couple miles to work and wanting to do full on MTB stuff, IMO, a full on mtb isnt going to slow you down in any real noticeable way. Though if you get into longer paved rides it sure will.

Ariel is the women's version of the crosstrail like I have. Check those out. I was also looking at roam, Fuji traverse, trek 8.3, diamondback trace with discs or motobecane elite adventure from bikes direct. The motobecane has several level higher components in places than any of my other contenders and only $400 but I was nervous buying a bike via internet/ups and it looked "boring" to me without hydroformed tubes or a recognizable brand name.

Taking front wheel off with mech discs like my crosstrail has is the simplest thing in the world. Just take the wheel off or put it on, nothing more to it. Hydraulic discs you gotta put a shim in the caliper while wheel is off. V brakes you have to disconnect and remember to reconnect. I put my crosstrail or mtb into the trunk of my grand prix (same car as impala/lacrosse) seats folded down, front wheel off all the time. Saw a suggestion here yesterday to take back wheel off too and you don't have to fold down seats and the crims can't see it through your window.

Last edited by John Redcorn; 07-04-14 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 07-04-14, 11:37 AM   #8
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And Specialized, I actually quite like the Ariel but apparently it has women's fitness geometry? Whatever that means lol. Liking the Sirrus Sport and maybe the Hardrock.
The Ariel is the women's (mostly an excuse to charge a little more in exchange for promoting it as a weight-loss device) version of the Crosstrail. Have you checked out that one?

My hybrid is a Specialized Vita Sport, basically a Sirrus Sport. It is definitely very far to the road-ish side of hybrid, a so-called "flat bar road bike". It is okay for rough pavement but I would not want to take it off-road. I guess you could swap out for tires with deeper treads, but it really sounds like a Crosstrail would be more your style if you want to stay with one bike. (I have a dedicated MTB as well).

IIRC the Trek FX is a rough equivalent to the Sirrus/Vita, and the DS is more akin to the Crosstrail/Ariel.

The wheels are quick release, so yes, pop a lever and pull. I'm lazy and picked up a really nice car rack off Craigslist for very little. Around here, even in the land that bikes forgot, they also show up at garage sales/moving sales with great frequency. So that might be something to check into.

Last edited by elephino; 07-04-14 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 07-04-14, 11:52 AM   #9
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The Giant Roam would probably serve you very well. (Lockout the fork when you're on the road & you kinda' get the best of both worlds)

Just be aware of sizing in the Giant line. Giant's XL is usually everybody else's XXL (aka "Jumbo"). Be sure to try "L" and "XL" to make sure you give the Giant a fair chance.
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Old 07-04-14, 01:11 PM   #10
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Old 07-04-14, 06:27 PM   #11
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I'm 6' 2" and 230 lbs and found the Escape 0 in XL just right. The Escape does have a longer top tube than many others with a little shorter stand over measurement. As a general rule, Giant says the XL size fits most riders 6'3" to 6'6".
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Old 07-05-14, 06:30 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the great replies! I wouldn't have a problem buying online, but I too am a sucker for the brand name and yes, the frame on the motobecane does look pretty plain.

I do like the crosstrail over the sirrus sport (looked at it before, but my budget has apparently increased without my noticing haha). Still pretty interested in the 8.2 DS and Roam 3 as well. I would prefer the Specialized or Trek, but Giant is in the lead based on price.

Regarding the suspension forks, most have mentioned that the quality is low in these entry-level models. If I got one with lockout, how upgradable are they for down the line? Or would I be better off forking over more money now for better equipment? And where is that line where the suspension starts getting decent for the bikes mentioned, the specification lists are greek to me..

One other question: how flexible are bikeshops on price, in general? Do they just have specific sales, special deals per customer, or should I expect to pay the same price listed on the manufacturers site?

Last edited by msx; 07-06-14 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 07-07-14, 12:56 AM   #13
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Based on what you've posted, I recommend you get a 29er hard tail mountain bike and put slicks on it for commuting. It seems like the only reason you are considering a hybrid is the commute, but you are attracted to mountain bikes (definitely don't want a road bike, drawn to the Specialized Hardrock, suspension forks).

As for upgrading the suspension forks on a hybrid, if you are already thinking of upgrading that component, then you are looking at the wrong bike. Suspension forks in hybrids are considered "low" quality because they are heavy relative to the plushness in ride they provide. They use coils to provide the suspension, and don't provide much "travel" (how big a bump the fork will actually absorb). What are considered high quality forks are air forks (use air instead of steel coils) because they are lighter, and will have more "travel" (i.e. can take bigger bumps/go over larger rocks), and will even be adjustable for your weight. Upgrading a fork is very expensive (for a good air fork, probably $200 - $300), so again you might be better served getting an actual mountain bike with the suspension fork you want.

Also, depending on where you ride, a hybrid may not give you the trail riding experience you want. As for commuting with a mountain bike, I have both a 29er Trek Cali SL mountain bike and a Trek 7.3FX hybrid, and did a 5 mile flat loop around the local lake. I was 3 minutes faster on the 7.3 (though I am a slow rider). So for a long commute, the 7.3 wins. But I would never take it on the trails I take my Cali. It would do it, but it would not be fun for me.

Its easy to see why folks have more than one bike. Good luck with your search!
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Old 07-07-14, 07:38 AM   #14
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...[snip]

One other question: how flexible are bikeshops on price, in general? Do they just have specific sales, special deals per customer, or should I expect to pay the same price listed on the manufacturers site?
My LBS will knock some dollars off the price tag ...if you ask. Paying cash is always a plus. Usually only the owner will make that decision so go when he/she is there. All in all he always beats or meets online pricing on larger purchases. On knick knacks there isn't much room for maneuvering. The thing is his expertise is worth a lot more than any money I'd save buying online.
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Old 07-07-14, 12:33 PM   #15
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My LBS will knock some dollars off the price tag ...if you ask. Paying cash is always a plus. Usually only the owner will make that decision so go when he/she is there. All in all he always beats or meets online pricing on larger purchases. On knick knacks there isn't much room for maneuvering. The thing is his expertise is worth a lot more than any money I'd save buying online.
Bikes come out with new model years (generally), so like with a car, you can get a better deal on last year's model. The longer you wait, the better the deal, but you run the risk of your size not being available. There will be better discounts on high-end bikes, too.

You could always negogiate for free accessories (i.e. pump, pedals, gloves, grips) if the bike shop can't lower the price. I got $600 off of my mountain bike because I bought last year's model, and I asked for pedals which they gave me. For a relatively inexpensive hybrid, you are likely only going to see $50-$150 off last year's model because the margins are lower.
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Old 07-12-14, 08:03 AM   #16
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Free / discounted accessories would be nice, too! Finally going in today to check some out, but I'm still completely on the fence between the Trek 8.3 DS, Specialized Crosstrail Disc (no lockout, though :/), or the Giant Roam 2 (with hydraulic brakes)! Naturally, all at different bike shops and the Giant dealer being a good 45 minutes away. Hmph!

Any last minute suggestions, or things to take into consideration when trying them out?


EDIT: Sorry to drag this post out so long, but it's gonna take a little longer yet! Stopped in to the Specialized dealer first, and headed straight for the Crosstrail. Did not look at all how I imagined it, even from the pictures! Ended up not even test-riding it as both salesmen and my own impressions showed that it is definitely not a true hybrid, and not a good choice for anything more than the very spare dirt trail (he also mentioned I'd likely need an XXL for that bike!).

I did however ride one of the fancier Hardrock 29er's. Took it for a reasonable cruise down the neighboring subdivision and aside from the seat and awkwardness of riding for the first time in ages, I'm for sure looking for an actual mountain bike now. However, according to them the 2014's are all but sold out, and a shipment of 10,000 2015's is coming sometime next week. Thus, I skipped Trek for now as I'm sure they're in a similar boat. Now to restart my search, finally enlightened!

Thanks for everyone's help and advice!

Last edited by msx; 07-15-14 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 07-12-14, 12:29 PM   #17
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I have the Marin Muirwoods 29er. I wanted an all-around steel rig and the price was good too on it. It lets me ride in both the city and the country so its the best of both worlds.
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