NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS!
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: From Sarasota, FL sitting in front of a computer spewing random thoughts!
Bikes: Intense Uzzi SL, Masi Speciale, Trek 3700 Nashbar Single Speed, Old Cilo Road frame
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Ditto, go to as many bike shops as you can. $500 is a good budget for a first bike. It'll be strong enough to handle the abuse of a new rider, and light enough to not kill you on the climbs. Spend more for a better frame, and less on the components. As you ride more and get better, you'll wear out (or break) the components. You can replace and upgrade as you go. You can spend a lot of money upgrading a bike over time, but if the frame is heavy or poorly made, it'll still be a crap bike!
My priorities when buying a new bike are as follows:
Best frame for the $$$. This is the core of the bike, if borderline between two models, get the one that has a lighter/stronger/whatever you want Frame.
Then the fork. A good fork will make your ride much better, the more you spend the more adjustments you can make. Longer travel isn't necessarily better. It takes a lot for me to bottom out my 80mm fork!
Wheels. Depending on whether you want to keep weight down or if strength is an issue. Rotating mass is critical to keep weight down, so a lightweight wheelset will make the bike "FEEL" lighter and faster. OR, a strong wheelset is critical for long term durability if jumping is what you enjoy.
Brakes. Slowing down is critical for control. Brakes that have good modulation and stop well will make the ride more enjoyable.
Shifters. I use XT, but even Alivio will shift, just the better components require less effort and do so in a smoother fashion.
Cranks/bottom bracket. A lot of weight can be taken off the bike in this area. Plus, you want cranks that are stiff and the chainrings shift smoothly.
Derailleurs- These are easily upgraded down the road, and the rear is subject to a lot of potential damage in rough trails. Heck, a lot of people claim an LX front is the best shifter available.
Stem/Handlebar. I usually switch to an aftermarket brand as soon as I buy a bike, so this is a non-issue regarding what comes stock. I like an aluminum riser bar like an Answer Alumilite. I wouldn't mind an Easton Monkey Lite Carbon (My next upgrade!)
Seat/Seatpost- Ditto. I'll only now use a Thomson Elite post! Seats don't really matter to me, I can get used to almost any, and they get beat up fast, so I'm constantly getting new ones anyhow.
Hope this helps.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
"Your Bike Sucks" - Sky Yaeger