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  1. #1
    TCR
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    I'm so confused now. I need help on purchasing my first MTB.

    The past two days I've been riding an '07 Specialized Epic Expert, a $3000 rig. The first day I pretty much hated it. Couldn't get the thing to go. It felt slow, sluggish, and hard to handle. So after the first day I was thinking definitely buying a hardtail. But then I made some minor fit adjustments and got used to the shocks, the handling, and did much better on it. Still wasn't as fast as I'd like to be on some of the uphills and flats but I think some clip-in pedals will make a noticeable difference. I was very thankful for the suspension too on a couple somewhat scary downhills. So after the second day I'm not sure if I really want a hardtail now. Not sure how I would have handled those steep downhills with the rocks, dips, and ruts without the rear suspension.

    However, my real dilemma is price! I simply can't afford a $3000 MTB!! Plus, although the Epic was fun and I know the components are good, there's just no way that bike is worth $3000. And I don't want a $3000 MTB after what I put it through today. At one point we came to a dead end on this "squirrel" trail and there was nowhere to go except over a 6' across, 12' deep ravine or backtracking 5 miles. Well, we ended up having to literally throw our bikes across the ravine! Yikes, I would certainly not do that to a $3000 MTB if it were actually mine.

    So, long story short, I no longer know what to buy. Hardtail? Full suspension XC? Full suspension all mountain? I'm tempted to buy a cheap hardtail from Performance for $350 and just beat the heck out of it. I'm so confused now.

  2. #2
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    Okay, how much do you want to spend? I think for about half of what you were looking at, you would get a really sweet hardtail or a decent full-suspension. I don't remember if you were looking for XC riding or some hucking. If you're looking at XC you can look at the Kona FS bikes. There are several and I don't remember the price-points vs. variants but you should check them out at http://konaworld.com
    First Class Jerk

  3. #3
    Queen of France Indolent58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCR

    At one point we came to a dead end on this "squirrel" trail and there was nowhere to go except over a 6' across, 12' deep ravine or backtracking 5 miles. Well, we ended up having to literally throw our bikes across the ravine! Yikes, I would certainly not do that to a $3000 MTB if it were actually mine.

    So you threw someone else's $3000 bike across a ravine... Hmmm, I don't think I want you borrowing my stuff

  4. #4
    TCR
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    Quote Originally Posted by santiago
    Okay, how much do you want to spend?
    As little as possible. If I absolutely have to put a price point my limit would be $1000. I'd much rather find something for half that so I wouldn't have to worry about beating it up.

    Quote Originally Posted by santiago
    I don't remember if you were looking for XC riding or some hucking.
    That's just it, I don't really know. First off, I'm not even sure what hucking is. But on today's ride we did a little bit of everything, I think. There was singletrack, doubltrack, fireroads, tough grueling climbs, scary descents, woops, ruts, rocks, and even no trails at times. To me this sounds like an all mountain bike but an all mountain bike is gonna be heavier than the XC I was riding today. I certainly don't want something heavier. I was having a hard enough time cranking the XC up the hills. On the other hand, I really enjoyed being able to bomb down some rougher steeper hills and letting the suspension do the work of keeping me on the bike.

    I just don't know. I loved the hydraulic rear brake and Fox F100 RL front fork seemd to work good. And what's the deal with hydraulic front brakes? Seems like way overkill and unnecessary weight. I just don't know how much I'd miss the "Specialized Fox Brain Fade rear shock" on the downhills. I certainly wouldn't miss the added weight or the flexy power loss from it on the climbs.

    I'm thinking I need a light hardtail frame with a rear hydraulic brake and a decent front fork with some cheap front breaks.

    Is there a huge difference between hardtails frames? For example, Specialized has a complete bike Hardrock XC for a measly $330. But then they have an S-Works M5 HT, frame only, for $1100. And then again, they have a Stumpjumper Hardtail, complete bike, for $1400. Those are 3 different hardtail frames, all the same frame material I think but yet there's huge differences in price. Why not just buy a GT Avalanche hardtail for $300? How much worse could the ride be on this $300 GT than the $3000 Epic XC I've been riding?


    * GT Triple Triangle Design aluminum frame for increased pedaling efficiency and less road vibration
    * 75mm of smooth, plush, front suspension for added control and comfort on the trail
    * Dependable Shimano components
    * Tektro Disc brakes provide low maintenance, all-weather stopping power

  5. #5
    TCR
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indolent58
    So you threw someone else's $3000 bike across a ravine... Hmmm, I don't think I want you borrowing my stuff
    Shhhh.

  6. #6
    Senior Member wheelhot's Avatar
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    erm, if you are planning to spend around $1000, why do you tested a 3k Specialized Epic then? just wondering

  7. #7
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    Okay, let's talk about drops. How high were your drops? 2' and under, and you're still in XC territory. If you're dropping off of boulders then you are getting into All-mountain territory. What was the rear travel for the bike you rode? Was it 4", 5" or 6"? I'm not familiar with the Specialized line so you'll have to tell me.

    However, if your budget is $1000 you are looking at a new hardtail. You can get a decent used full suspension for the same money but let's figure out what kind of riding you intend to do. You mentioned fireroads and climbing so I think you're leaning towards XC.

    Don't get hung up on the brakes. For a good entry level price you can use mechanical Avid BB7 brakes that will be fine. Btw, you want the stronger brakes on the front otherwise you're likely skidding and that's a no-no.

    As for the Specialized hardtails you referenced. S-works is the race machine. It likely is Scadium. The Hard Rock is a decent entry all-purpose bike (a little urban, a little trail riding, etc.) and is probably regular 7005 aluminum. The Stumpjumper from what I remember is a higher-spec'ed dedicated XC bike.
    First Class Jerk

  8. #8
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    Well, I wouldn't worry about throwing your bike over a ravine every day. $3k is a ton of coin though. Buying on Craigslist could probably yield you the same or very similar bike to the Epic for half or less. They just don't hold their value due to the fact that they are mtn bikes. Nobody knows what they've been through. But probably 90% of the people that buy them ride them on the road, maybe even pulling a kiddie trailer!

    I have both a hardtail and a full sus. I'm thinking of giving away my hardtail.

  9. #9
    TCR
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelhot
    erm, if you are planning to spend around $1000, why do you tested a 3k Specialized Epic then? just wondering
    That was their only demo bike and at first I thought for sure I wanted full suspension.

  10. #10
    Senior Member wheelhot's Avatar
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    aww, I see. Kay gotcha, hmm check MTBR for some full sussers at your price range and see what people say bout it

  11. #11
    TCR
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    Quote Originally Posted by santiago
    Okay, let's talk about drops. How high were your drops? 2' and under, and you're still in XC territory. If you're dropping off of boulders then you are getting into All-mountain territory. What was the rear travel for the bike you rode? Was it 4", 5" or 6"? I'm not familiar with the Specialized line so you'll have to tell me.
    OK, no drops. I certainly don't plan on playing around on boulders and dropping of cliffs. Guess all mountain isn't necessary. The Epic has a unique little 4" suspension thing going on. Pic below.

    Quote Originally Posted by santiago
    However, if your budget is $1000 you are looking at a new hardtail. You can get a decent used full suspension for the same money but let's figure out what kind of riding you intend to do. You mentioned fireroads and climbing so I think you're leaning towards XC.
    Yea, I think so too. I just don't want to eat shiite on some fast rutted downhill because I have no rear suspension. I just don't know how much different a hardtail would feel on the downhills I did today.

    Quote Originally Posted by santiago
    Btw, you want the stronger brakes on the front otherwise you're likely skidding and that's a no-no.
    I don't understand this part. The ONLY time I was using the front brake all day was playing around in the parking lot practicing my endos. Those hydraulic disk brakes grab and hold like crazy. That was awesome for the back but pretty much useless for the front.

    Quote Originally Posted by santiago
    As for the Specialized hardtails you referenced. S-works is the race machine. It likely is Scadium. The Hard Rock is a decent entry all-purpose bike (a little urban, a little trail riding, etc.) and is probably regular 7005 aluminum. The Stumpjumper from what I remember is a higher-spec'ed dedicated XC bike.
    Well, from a road bike background, Scandium is nothing more than hype. 7005-Al and 105 components are just fine. Also, the MTB I buy is pretty much only going to get used in the winter for cross training and when I get bored of riding my roadie.



  12. #12
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCR
    OK, no drops. I certainly don't plan on playing around on boulders and dropping of cliffs. Guess all mountain isn't necessary. The Epic has a unique little 4" suspension thing going on. Pic below.
    Congratulations, you're a XC rider. A 4" travel bike will suit you well.

    Quote Originally Posted by TCR
    Yea, I think so too. I just don't want to eat shiite on some fast rutted downhill because I have no rear suspension. I just don't know how much different a hardtail would feel on the downhills I did today.
    On a hardtail your legs are the rear suspension. You stand and absorb the choppiness with your legs. Riding a hardtail as a first mountain bike will also make you a better rider as you'll learn to pick your lines. That being said the hardtail is tougher on the lower back (my personal experience) for extended periods of time as your legs are taking the hits but sending everything up. Perhaps someone with a strong core (lower back, abs) would be fine. I find my hardtail to be fine for normal rides (30km) but I entered a 24-hour race (team of 5) and at the end of the race made the decision to get a full suspension.

    Quote Originally Posted by TCR
    I don't understand this part. The ONLY time I was using the front brake all day was playing around in the parking lot practicing my endos. Those hydraulic disk brakes grab and hold like crazy. That was awesome for the back but pretty much useless for the front.
    Don't know what to say. I have BB7 brakes so these are not as powerful as some higher-end hydraulics and have never had that problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by TCR
    Well, from a road bike background, Scandium is nothing more than hype. 7005-Al and 105 components are just fine. Also, the MTB I buy is pretty much only going to get used in the winter for cross training and when I get bored of riding my roadie.
    A given scandium frame is supposedly lighter than its equivalent made out of 7005. It's also going to cost more so definitely stay within the regular aluminum range.

    Okay, so you seem to only want to use this bike occasionally and you said you'd prefer spending half of $1000. My calculator tells me that's about $500. For what you're looking at, I think you should go try a hardtail like a Trek 4300, Gary Fisher Marlin, Kona Cinder Cone or Specialized Hard Rock. See if your budget can take include the Specialized Rockhopper hardtail as I think that may be a good fit for you. Find a LBS that carries these lines and try test rides so see how they feel.
    First Class Jerk

  13. #13
    OMG! i'm a DURT gurl!!!! caligurl's Avatar
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    have you been HERE looking for info? if not, i highly recommend it! there a LOT good info there! just dig in and start reading!

    as for your dilema..... i had/have the hardrock and had a BLAST on it.... however i just got the new stumpy FSR expert (i, personally didn't care for the epic).... i wanted the brain of the expert so chose that over the comp!

    you may just want to get the cheap $300 bike for now... put it through it's paces... enjoy it... not worry if you have to throw it! lol!

    then down the road if you think you want or need and FSR... then get one...

    HOWEVER.... knowing you have back problems... you'll probably benefit from the FSR... however you can't go too cheaply on an FSR... i wouldn't go lower than the comp (which is a VERY popular bike!)

    good luck on your search and check out MTBR, if you already haven't!

    p.s. just saw someone else recommended MTBR!

    also... i LOVE my BB7 hydraulics!!!?????? MUCH better than the V breaks, IMO!
    OCP and PROUD!
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    life's too short to ride a crummy bike..........

  14. #14
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Indolent58
    So you threw someone else's $3000 bike across a ravine... Hmmm, I don't think I want you borrowing my stuff
    Exactly what I thought. If I borrow gear, I take better care of it than I would my own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TCR
    Still wasn't as fast as I'd like to be on some of the uphills and flats but I think some clip-in pedals will make a noticeable difference. I was very thankful for the suspension too on a couple somewhat scary downhills. So after the second day I'm not sure if I really want a hardtail now. Not sure how I would have handled those steep downhills with the rocks, dips, and ruts without the rear suspension.

    However, my real dilemma is price! I simply can't afford a $3000 MTB!! Well, we ended up having to literally throw our bikes across the ravine! Yikes, I would certainly not do that to a $3000 MTB if it were actually mine.

    So, long story short, I no longer know what to buy. Hardtail? Full suspension XC? Full suspension all mountain? I'm tempted to buy a cheap hardtail from Performance for $350 and just beat the heck out of it. I'm so confused now.

    Buy a real cheap bike until you are able to backtrack those 5-miles. I'd never throw my bike no matter what.

    If you want speed, stay away from all-mountain bikes which generally weigh too much. Go to a XC bike. I saw a nice Specialized FSR type in a bike shop recently for about $1200. You can upgrade as parts wear out or as needed. My FSR started out as a $1600 list bike (bought for roughly $1300), but I've got a total of $2500 plus in it in three years. It weighs very close to 28 lbs and that's without super light tires.

    Hardtail or not, you should be off the seat on fast downhills. Hard tails do just fine except for the seated comfort factor and wheel-hop on technical climbs.

    Al

  16. #16
    Senior Member wheelhot's Avatar
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    the one thing that im worried about XC bikes nowadays are the durability of the frame

  17. #17
    Official Website Waterboy born2bahick's Avatar
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    If you thought the Epic was flexy and power robbing on the climbs, you probably will want to stay with a hardtail

  18. #18
    TCR
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    Exactly what I thought. If I borrow gear, I take better care of it than I would my own.
    OK, I think I need to clarify a bit. There was a big bush on the other side of the ravine where the bikes landed quite softly. It sounds worse than it actually was. However, I don't think I would have thrown the bike if it were actually mine and I had paid $3000 for it. I probably would have backtracked and ended up passing out and dying with my $3000 bike.

    You also need to understand my mindset at the time of the ravine throw. I was 3 hours into a ride, completely exhausted from spending the last hour trying to climb out of this gully on a squirrel trail. And to top it off my chain had already broke earlier in the day. What's up with that crap? A $3000 bike and the chain snaps? Plus, before I even got out on the trail I had to realign the front disc brake because it was rubbing and howling like a banshee and the FD was all out of whack. The bike shop gave me a bike that obviously was in need of a tune up.

  19. #19
    Senior Member wheelhot's Avatar
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    erm, did you remove the wheel and put it back? And what kind of discs are you using?. Hmm, I know there is a rider in my group and her chain broke on the first day ride. Not her day though. And you got to test ride the 3k epic? I guess maybe the shop has lent it too many riders and dont bother to tune it up.

  20. #20
    TCR
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelhot
    erm, did you remove the wheel and put it back? And what kind of discs are you using?. Hmm, I know there is a rider in my group and her chain broke on the first day ride. Not her day though. And you got to test ride the 3k epic? I guess maybe the shop has lent it too many riders and dont bother to tune it up.
    The Epic has an Avid Juicy 7 hydraulic disc with 180mm rotor. Didn't need to remove the wheel. Just loosened up the caliper and slid it over a hair and retightened.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Curtis_Elwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caligurl
    also... i LOVE my BB7 hydraulics!!!?????? MUCH better than the V breaks, IMO!
    BB7's are not hydraulic brakes. They're mechanical.

    OP, if your budget weren't limited to $1,000, I'd say you're a perfect candidate for a Specialized Epic or FSR XC. The FSR XC is closer to your budget, though. Get yourself the best hardtail you can find for your budget. You won't be disappointed. If you go low-end, you'll end up spending a bunch of cash switching to a 9-speed drivetrain and nicer wheels, fork, and brakes. Might as well do it right the first time. If you can stretch your budget a bit, the Stumpjumper is a great value for a fast XC hardtail.
    2006 Marin Pine Mountain FX

  22. #22
    TCR
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curtis_Elwood
    If you can stretch your budget a bit, the Stumpjumper is a great value for a fast XC hardtail.
    I'm currently eying this one:


    It retails for $1400 but I can get it for a lot less.

  23. #23
    OMG! i'm a DURT gurl!!!! caligurl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curtis_Elwood
    BB7's are not hydraulic brakes. They're mechanical.

    OP, if your budget weren't limited to $1,000, I'd say you're a perfect candidate for a Specialized Epic or FSR XC. The FSR XC is closer to your budget, though. Get yourself the best hardtail you can find for your budget. You won't be disappointed. If you go low-end, you'll end up spending a bunch of cash switching to a 9-speed drivetrain and nicer wheels, fork, and brakes. Might as well do it right the first time. If you can stretch your budget a bit, the Stumpjumper is a great value for a fast XC hardtail.
    hmmmmmmm i guess specialized has a typo on their site then..... according to them my 2007 stumpy expert has jucy 7 hydrulics.... (i guess i called them BB and should have said avid?)

    FRONT BRAKE Avid Juicy 7, hydraulic disc, G2 Clean Sweep S/M: 185mm rotor, L/XL: 200mm rotor

    REAR BRAKE Avid Juicy 7, hydraulic disc, G2 Clean Sweep S/M: 160mm rotor, L/XL: 185mm rotor
    OCP and PROUD!
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    life's too short to ride a crummy bike..........

  24. #24
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caligurl
    hmmmmmmm i guess specialized has a typo on their site then..... according to them my 2007 stumpy expert has jucy 7 hydrulics.... (i guess i called them BB and should have said avid?)
    Avid BB7 are mechanical brakes.
    Avid Juicy 7 are hydraulic brakes.

    You have Juicy 7s so you have hydraulic brakes.
    First Class Jerk

  25. #25
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCR
    I'm currently eying this one:


    It retails for $1400 but I can get it for a lot less.
    Test ride it to see how you like it but it would be a good choice.
    First Class Jerk

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