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Old 01-26-09, 12:09 AM   #1
DC8
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Which One is Right? (Picking my First "Good" Mtn Bike)

Couple weeks back, I bought a (fortunately) cheap ($100) slightly used Schwinn Ridge AL Mountain Bike off Craig's List.

Fairly quickly, I realized I needed a better ride, and set about better educating myself about Mountain Bikes.

After Lots of reading (several bike books, lots of internet manufacturers info, and here too, etc) plus visiting several (7) local bike shops and Craig's List bikes, I believe I'm becoming better informed.

Typically, I like to ride asphalt (roads and paths,) but also some dirt paths and single track, yet nothing particularly extreme (so far.)

So, I'm looking for a Hard-Tail Mountain Bike; my budget is around $400 to $700.

At that price-point, I can't expect great components, but would like decent crank/cogs, derailleurs, fork, and disc-brakes (or I could always add Discs later.)

These are some of the Bikes I have most strongly considered:

Make...............Models

Felt:...............Q520
Trek:..............4300 Disc, 3900 Disc, 820
Gary Fisher:....Tarpon, Wahoo Disc, Marlin Disc
Kona:..............Fire Mountain, Lana'i
Haro:..............Escape, Flightline Comp, Sport or 2DX
Specialized:.....Hardrock Sport Disc, Rockhopper
Giant:..............Yukon, Boulder

Need your Advice on which one(s) would be good or better choices, and which to avoid/weaknesses, etc.

Appreciate your help.

Thanks Much.
DC

P.S.: I also looked at KHS ALite 500

Last edited by DC8; 01-26-09 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 01-26-09, 12:16 AM   #2
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Well i vote for kona i love mine. but then again it depends on preferences. i mostly ride on asphalts and a lil bit of dirt.

goodluck!
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Old 01-26-09, 12:19 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. So, which (model) Kona do you ride?
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Old 01-26-09, 05:36 AM   #4
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You have compiled a good list for your price range. They are going to be similar in component quality, but of the brands listed I like Kona and GF. If you find a great deal on a used one it will make your decision easier. If you are looking to buy new, get the one the feels the best. Good luck.
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Old 01-26-09, 07:01 AM   #5
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i was just looking in this market myself, but i really wanted the hydraulic discs, i did find a gf priana on closeout for just over 700, but that was out of my budget.

i ended up looking at used stuff, picked up a 2007 rockhopper comp disc and a set of juicy 3's all for under 50 bucks. only thing i might have to worry is i think the rear derailor is a little laggy, but i think its a cable issue. other then that, its not new, but a decent bike for a good price!
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Old 01-26-09, 07:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dc8 View Post
felt:...............q520
trek:..............4300 disc, 3900 disc, 820
gary fisher:....tarpon, wahoo disc, marlin disc

kona:..............fire mountain, lana'i
specialized:.....hardrock sport disc, rockhopper
haro:..............escape, flightline comp, sport or 2dx
giant:..............yukon, boulder
0.02

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Old 01-26-09, 10:31 AM   #7
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Try and spend the very upper end of your price range, since this will be your only bike purchase for a long time. There tends to be a huge jump in frame material and shock quality as well as compenentry when you move from the 400-500 range into the 700-800 range. It sounds like you aren't interested in upgrading that much so take that into consideration when you purchase, and this could be your mountain bike for the next 10-20years.

As for the models go with the one the feels, looks, and rides the best to you. Basically the sexiest one of them all. All these bikes come from 1 or 2 factories in china anyways

I would adamantly recommend staying away from disc brakes at this level. They are very heavy where it counts, incredibly annoying to adjust, and in nearly all cases that I have seen, provide less stopping power then v brakes. Plus they tend to eat up a large percentage of the bike cost.

This is the speel I give my customers, but I am biased - I just purchased a 3k lynskey and had them put custom brake bosses on it so I could run XTR V-brakes.

-grammar, clarity edit-
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Old 01-26-09, 02:36 PM   #8
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Thanks for the great replies. Appreciate the advice.
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Old 01-26-09, 02:49 PM   #9
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I would adamantly recommend staying away from disc brakes at this level. They are very heavy where it counts, incredibly annoying to adjust, and in nearly all cases that I have seen, provide less stopping power then v brakes. Plus they tend to eat up a large percentage of the bike cost.

This is the speel I give my customers, but I am biased - I just purchased a 3k lynskey and had them put custom brake bosses on it so I could run XTR V-brakes.

-grammar, clarity edit-

I'm glad I'm not one of your customers. You're a weighty weenie so everyone else should be also? I've seen lots of 500 to 700 dollar bikes with BB5s and BB7s on them. They stop fine and are easy to adjust.
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Old 01-26-09, 02:53 PM   #10
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I'm glad I'm not one of your customers. You're a weighty weenie so everyone else should be also? I've seen lots of 500 to 700 dollar bikes with BB5s and BB7s on them. They stop fine and are easy to adjust.
He's just a weenie.
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Old 01-26-09, 04:32 PM   #11
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How about a Jamis Dragon Comp? I see one for $849 close-out (2007.)

Would that be a good buy at that price?

Would it likely fit my riding (asphalt with some paved-and-dirt-trails/some light singletrack?)



The '07 Dragon Comp is a quick and agile XC race bike that is constructed with smooth riding Reynolds 631 steel making this a responsive bike that is fund to ride.

* Reynolds 631 seamless air-hardened chromoly main tubes, reinforced head tube collars, double-butted cromo stays, Jamis lost wax dropouts
* Manitou Relic Super, TPC damping, 30mm alloy stanchions, lockout, external preload & rebound adjustors, 100mm travel
* Shimano Deore XT (high-normal) rear, Deore LX 28.6mm top pull front derailleurs
* Shimano Deore LX Rapidfire Plus-SL, 27-speed shifters
* SRAM Powerglide 950 9-speed cassette, 11-34
* Shimano M442 Octalink crankset, 170mm (13-15"), 175mm (17-21")
* Shimano M505 clipless pedals
* Hayes Sole hydraulic disc brakes, V6 rotors
* Easton EA30 XC flat bar, 3D sweep x 580mm wide
* Easton EA30, 6D x 90mm (13-15"), 105mm (17") 120mm (19-21")
* Easton EA30 seatpost micro-adjust, 350mm x 27.2mm with alloy clamp
* WTB Rocket V Comp saddle with SL top and steel rails
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Old 01-26-09, 07:30 PM   #12
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Jamis sux
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Old 01-26-09, 08:45 PM   #13
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i'm glad i'm not one of your customers. You're a weighty weenie so everyone else should be also? I've seen lots of 500 to 700 dollar bikes with bb5s and bb7s on them. They stop fine and are easy to adjust.
+1
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Old 01-26-09, 08:54 PM   #14
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I'm usually pretty supportive of Jamis, but that one kinda sucks for that price. I'd say it's b/c they're too proud of the "steel".
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Old 01-26-09, 09:01 PM   #15
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Try and spend the very upper end of your price range...
+1 If I could do it all over again, I would buy my bikes with the best components within my price range. I tend to buy the cheapest and always end up upgrading to better spec parts and ending up paying so much more than if I bought the better spec'd bike in the first place. Hardly no one makes a bad frame these days...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtnbiker66
I've seen lots of 500 to 700 dollar bikes with BB5s and BB7s on them. They stop fine and are easy to adjust.
+1 Mechanical disc brakes have come a long way and are no longer expensive... most especially the Avids (which were the best mech disc brakes since the early days anyway). You can easily upgrade them to hydraulics later on if required because you already have the hubs (converting a wheel to disc hubs is so expensive). Also, should you want to upgrade your fork in the future, many new MTB performance forks don't even come with V-brake mounts anymore... and this trend will only increase.


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Old 01-26-09, 09:56 PM   #16
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i was almost in the same situation i looked went through cheaper bikes and looked at trek 4300 and the haro flightline i chose the flight line for the deal that i got it compared to the trek now after riding i wish i would have spent more and got the comp or expert models instead of sport i didnt know riding would be so addictive
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Old 01-27-09, 12:06 AM   #17
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Wow!!! Appreciate all the insights, info, etc. Glad I asked.

About the Jamis, the reason I was interested, was that it seemed like a bargain, to get a $1,200 or $1,500 bike (higher-end components) for $850.

Oddly, I even sort of liked the old-school C/M tubing aspect (in some respects.) Still, your advice and warnings makes sense.

Curious...What specifics about the Kona makes it a good/better choice from my original list (versus the others?)
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Old 01-27-09, 12:16 AM   #18
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The economy sucks, gas is cheap, and it's a new year so it's time to buy new stuff and get rid of the old stuff. Hence, plenty of people are dumping their "so last year" bikes on eBay. Don't neglect ebay!

Last November I hunted around for about 6 weeks before finding an absolutely killer bike for $300 on ebay. Solid frame, XTR shifters/cassette/derailler, BB7 disc brakes, a nice Marzocchi fork and rear shock, and race face carbon cranks. I passed up plenty of similar or better deals that ended up going for $400-$600, because I am a cheap ass. Also I consider eBay to be kind of a sport

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Old 01-27-09, 01:53 PM   #19
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Hence, plenty of people are dumping their "so last year" bikes...
My brother in law bought a brand new $1200 Giant hardtail with disc brakes, and decent forks and spec - for $700 because it was last years model. The LBS was getting rid of old stock to make room for the in-coming 2009 models at the time. A one-of deal as the store owner was in the mood, right place at the right time kinda thing... it happens.

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Old 01-27-09, 02:25 PM   #20
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You can get a decent bike for your price range at Bikes Direct, including 29ers. See their MTB page:
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mountain_bikes.htm

Some people on this forum (all 5 of them) will scoff at the mere mention of this company, but I and many others on the forums here have good experiences with them.

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Old 01-27-09, 03:57 PM   #21
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re: mechanical discs- the squirrely guy who is a v-brake holdout (i like v-brakes myself, and i don't understand ppl who isnist on running discs on a SS, when EBB's and sliding drops s*ck and trying to line up calipers with track ends isn't worth the headache, but i digress) has a good point. Has anyone here ever tried to tune a tektro io or aquila? or, cable-actuated hayes? ew. And, they aren't as strong as a well-tuned v-brake, either. That being said, bb7's are super cheap (as low as 440 on pricepoint). My fiancee has bb5's on her bike, and they aren't very tunable. But, whatever. For $100 beans you can upgrade to bb7's with avid levers. For $180 beans you can upgrade to juicy 5s. If figures like $100 or $180 frighten you, you really ought not worry about components at all. Just buy a cheap bike and shrug when it brakes.

As far as that Jamis goes, at $850, you're getting a steel hardtail with nice components (except the fork). Any bike that retails new for $700 or even $850 would not come close to the thing, what with the hydros and xt rd and actual shimano crankset. Unfortunately, the paint is hideous and the thing isn't really all 631 and it's a bit heavy, but so what? If I could've got a bike like that for $850 when i was a neophyte, I'd have done well.

As for bikesdirect, a coworker got the windsor cliff with the ghastly tektro discs and a cheapcheapcheap truvativ crank/dart fork for some crazy low price. Brakes aside, it's been fine for her. The crank looks like a thing I'd break within a week, but it works for her. And, once i upgrade the brakes on my fiancee's whip, my coworker'll probably have bb5's. Point is, I'd say that bikesdirect is a good way to go, if you don't mind neglecting the lbs. (I could care less about the lbs. the lbs seems to exist mostly to sheist newcomers to the hobby til they buy some tools and discover the internet.) The bike arrives 90% complete, and in need of only a little tuning. While full assembly might seem daunting to a total neophyte, it's actually a pretty good way to get acquainted with the mechanics of your bike.

Regardless, the best thing to do is get a decent bike, learn to ride/tune it, and upgrade as needed. don't buy a new component without asking advice on bikeforums and the other site, the one that rhymes with phlegm-bee-tea-tar. Reviews are helpful, once you learn to translate the BS. I'd be inclined to get the cheapest spesh rockhopper, and upgrade parts as you go, but everyone has a different budget, so that might niot work for you, although i see it as a worthy frame with decent bikes, bought with a "payment" plan that allows you to ride as you save.
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Old 01-27-09, 06:46 PM   #22
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I would avoid giant, I have problems with my bike and they wont help.

Terrible customer service.


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Old 01-27-09, 11:06 PM   #23
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That Jamis is a pretty good deal, actually.
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Old 01-28-09, 04:35 PM   #24
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You cant go wrong with the Gary Fisher Wahoo. Had a 07 model, beat the living **** out of it!!! " I am over 250lbs if that tells you the kind of abuse it took. Still ended up selling it for 300 used so I could upgrade to the next level. Another friend of mine just bought one 6 months ago, also a big guy. He loves that bike.
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Old 01-28-09, 05:10 PM   #25
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That Jamis is a pretty good deal, actually.


-good frame
-total crap fork
-good rear derailleur
-decent shifters
-meh...cassette
-craptastic crankset
-bottom end pedals
-meh brakes
-meh bars
-stem and post are meh as well
-decent saddle
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