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Old 04-30-08, 07:26 AM   #1
stevage
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Just how bad is a bottom of the range MTB?

Hi all,
This might be an offensive question, but basically, I'm vaguely toying with the idea of buying a really cheap dual suspension mtb for occasionally taking to the not-so-local MTB course. I have a tricross sport as my main bike, and an older rigid fork mtb in bad shape, but I thought something with dual suspension might be a bit of fun for a couple of little jumps and the like. I'm thinking of going maybe 2-3 times a year, probably not much more, unless for some reason I got really into it. The alternative would be hiring something decent, but that would be more expensive pretty quickly.

So...can I have any fun on a department store cheapie? Will I break it the first time I stack it? Clearly I'm not concerned about performance, or accurate shifting, etc. Just something for some fun, to break out of the normal routine of riding to work, touring etc.

Steve
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Old 04-30-08, 08:15 AM   #2
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So...can I have any fun on a department store cheapie?
You could... but probably less fun than on an decent used bike.

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Will I break it the first time I stack it?
Very likely. If not the first then the 2nd or 3rd.

This topic comes up almost every other day. In summary, your idea is ill advised. You are much better off with a solid used hardtail for a little more money than a cheapie dept store bike. When deciding cost versus safety you should weigh the latter more heavily.
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Old 04-30-08, 08:35 AM   #3
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You are much better off with a solid used hardtail for a little more money than a cheapie dept store bike. When deciding cost versus safety you should weigh the latter more heavily.
I agree... I see decent used hardtails come up on my local craigslist for the same price as most x-mart cheap bikes are new. For example, I paid a whopping $200 for my Kona last year, and all it needed was a new bottom bracket.

Deals like that are a bit of an exception, but I personally would feel a lot more comfortable on even a used entry-level LBS hardtail than I would on an x-mart bike. After all, some of the dept. store bikes I've seen even have warnings on them that they are not intended for off-road use...
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Old 04-30-08, 09:35 AM   #4
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I'm at a point where I want to replace my '97 Specialized FRS full suspension. It's the only mtn bike I've owned so I don't know yet (haven't test ridden anything new) what a hard tail will feel like. But, based on the kind of riding I do I probably don't need the full suspension.

One thing I've come upon in doing some research is that any FS bikes that go for less than about $1k msrp are probably full of low end parts and old designs. A FS bike is a complex, complicated thing to build. Corners have to be cut to sell one for less than a grand. An $800 hard tail will probably have a better and lighter frame, fork and parts than that $1k FS ride and be a better bike in the long run. I know this is a bit of a generalization but looking at the specs of bikes on websites it seems to hold true.

So now if you're thinking of a wally-mart price of bike, definitely try and find a used hard tail from a real manufacturer (Fisher, Trek, Specialized, Marin, Cannondale, Kona, Jamis, etc. etc.) Four year old parts and frame on what was originally a mid/entry level bike will probably still kick ***** over what you'd get on a new cheap bike.
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Old 04-30-08, 10:05 AM   #5
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Hi all,
This might be an offensive question, but basically, I'm vaguely toying with the idea of buying a really cheap dual suspension mtb for occasionally taking to the not-so-local MTB course. I have a tricross sport as my main bike, and an older rigid fork mtb in bad shape, but I thought something with dual suspension might be a bit of fun for a couple of little jumps and the like. I'm thinking of going maybe 2-3 times a year, probably not much more, unless for some reason I got really into it. The alternative would be hiring something decent, but that would be more expensive pretty quickly.

So...can I have any fun on a department store cheapie? Will I break it the first time I stack it? Clearly I'm not concerned about performance, or accurate shifting, etc. Just something for some fun, to break out of the normal routine of riding to work, touring etc.

Steve
There have been reviews in the past of people actually trail riding the cheap department store full suspension mountain bikes.

How many pieces do you want to come back with?
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Old 04-30-08, 10:19 AM   #6
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Plus xmart bike will weigh a ridiculous amount and the crappy - bottom out followed by top out followed by you getting thrown off - suspension performance coupled with that weight = money better spent on a good hooker :0

Then again, can you get a good hooker for that kind of cash?
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Old 04-30-08, 10:31 AM   #7
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There have been reviews in the past of people actually trail riding the cheap department store full suspension mountain bikes.

How many pieces do you want to come back with?
you have any links to these reviews? I am curious to read up on the carnage.
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Old 04-30-08, 11:09 AM   #8
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Department store bikes provide a lot of fun. Especially the youtube videos of guys eating it when their department store bike snaps in half. I always laugh at those.
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Old 05-02-08, 09:55 PM   #9
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Dammit, I suspected that would be the answer. Yeah, hardtail would be the more sensible choice. But I'm still pining for something *fun*, and as different as possible from my tricross. I hired a dual suspension bike in france once (weirdly enough, it was like their standard bike, even though we were using it for light touring), and it was *fun*.

Hmm. Guess I'll hire a DS for a one day stint on the local XC course and see if it's something I want to spend money on.

Steve
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Old 05-02-08, 10:55 PM   #10
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my x-mart fs worked, but much more crappy than my hardtail. nothing broke perse, but by the end of about 6-8 months out of n intial 24 gears i could get about 10 to shift to. and the bottoming out thing happens alot... pretty bad. a FS with a 63mm front shock doesn't make much sense... but all in all it was ok, but i have to agree that a used hardtail (my friend has a 8-10 year old trek 820 which can be found for <150 and felt alot better than my $150 x-mart mongoose) will work better. i really wouldn't worry about breaking the frame unless you do somehting stupid, but all the parts will break.

plus the bike weighed about 40 lbs
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Old 05-03-08, 07:00 AM   #11
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Hi all,
  • unless for some reason I got really into it.
  • Clearly I'm not concerned about performance, or accurate shifting, etc. Just something for some fun

Steve
  • You will
  • Those are part of the fun

Whats not fun is trying to ride a 40lb tank on an XC course with crap suspension and even crappier gears. Save yourself the hassle, go to an LBS.
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Old 05-03-08, 10:46 AM   #12
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when I went shopping for a FS bike, I ended up pretty much discovering that something like an $1800 Trek Fuel EX 6.5 was the lowest bike worth considering for what I wanted. I ended up with a Fuel 9.5 that I bought used for not much more than what the 6.5 cost new. That being said, I also agree with the above. Better off just buying a better (used?) hardtail instead of a cheap FS bike.
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Old 05-04-08, 12:53 PM   #13
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Reminds me of when I bought my first mountain bike at K-Mart and the brakes disintegrated on the first ride on the way down hill. Needless to say I returned it and went to a real bike store.
Moral of the story is don't buy a bike from a store that also sells toys, because you'll get a toy.
For new full suspension, don't waste your money unless you have at least $1000, if not more.
You will get a bike that will sap your energy on uphills and handle and brake unpredictably and unsafely.
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Old 05-04-08, 01:05 PM   #14
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truth. I was told $1200 for entry level.
that's how much you want before you start to consider a FS bike.
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Old 05-07-08, 08:04 AM   #15
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If you hadn't done any off-road riding at all before, and just wanted to try some singletrack - then a department store FS would have been great for that kind of use.

But you HAVE ridden a MTB before, and you want a bike to take to a course....
If you're lucky the only thing to break on the first outing is the bike.

Another forum refers to department store bikes as BLOs (Bicycle Looking Objects). It may look like a bike, it may even ride like a bike down the road. But if you start jumping it it'll show its true colors pretty much immediately on impact.
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Old 05-07-08, 08:29 AM   #16
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my x-mart fs worked, but much more crappy than my hardtail. nothing broke perse, but by the end of about 6-8 months out of n intial 24 gears i could get about 10 to shift to. and the bottoming out thing happens alot... pretty bad. a FS with a 63mm front shock doesn't make much sense... but all in all it was ok, but i have to agree that a used hardtail (my friend has a 8-10 year old trek 820 which can be found for <150 and felt alot better than my $150 x-mart mongoose) will work better. i really wouldn't worry about breaking the frame unless you do somehting stupid, but all the parts will break.

plus the bike weighed about 40 lbs
If you want something REALLY fun, you would ride a fully rigid bike. There is no suspension there to absorb the bumps. That's your job, and overcoming a challenge is what makes things FUN.
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