Originally Posted by exigentsky
I'm new here and I'm hoping to benefit from all your experience/expertise. I haven't been biking for long and I'm definitely in need of some advice.
I'm about to buy a new mountain bike (old $100 one broke) and have a price range up to $500 plus shipping. I'v been looking at performancebike.com and other places but can't quite decide. For example, both the 2005 GT Avalanche 3.0 Disc and the Iron Horse Maverick XC mountain bike seem very good and I'm not sure that the latter's larger price is justified. I hope you guys can give me some recommendations.
Thanks in advance!
First off, you are comparing a $500 bike to a $300 bike. Not really a fair comparison. The Iron Horse has much better stuff on it but it is also nearly double the price. You'd expect it to have better components. Not to rundown the less expensive bikes too much but the shock, derailer, drivetrain, wheels, etc are of much lower quality. The shock on the Iron Horse alone is worth the extra money.
But the real issue is: Why are you buying on-line? If you don't have a shop nearby (I mean within 50-60 miles) and you have experience building bikes, I can see buying the bike on-line. But you said you've only been riding for a little while so I'll assume you've never assembled a bike and that you don't really know which size you ride...perhaps I'm wrong but I'll assume it anyway. If you order the bike and start assembling it, do you know how to adjust the brakes? The front and rear derailer? Install the fork-cut it off to the proper length, put in the starfangled nut, prestress the headset bearing, tighten the stem, check for play, etc? Do you know how to finish stressing and tensioning the wheels if they need it? Have a truing stand, dishing gauge, tensometer and spoke wrench? Even know what those are?
And then, after it's all put together, what do you do if you have ordered the wrong size? You disassemble it, try to pack all the bits back in the box and pay $80 to send it back and another $80 to have a new one sent to you in another size.
I'm not saying it can't be done. I've owned many, many bikes (26 at last count). I've taken apart and put back together those bikes more times then I can count but I've only ever ordered 4, sight unseen, by mail-order. I've felt 'itchy' every time I've done it too. It turned out okay each time and I ended up with a great product but I worried the whole time that I had done something wrong and didn't get the right bike.
Unless you can say yes to the above, do yourself - and your wallet- a favor and go to a real bike shop and talk to them about the bikes they have in stock. Ride them and then buy the one that fits and is in your budget (and maybe a little over) and then go ride it. Once you've owned it for a while start doing your own mechanical work, ruin a few expensive parts, buy a few hundred dollars worth of tools and then- only then - buy an on-line super bike.