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  1. #1
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    New Here - Looking for Advice On Bike Purchase

    Hi All!

    Sorry to post what is almost certainly asked too often, but I'm looking to finally step up and buy a mountain bike.

    I'm very green to what I need to look for/avoid on my purchase and would love some links to sites/threads which spell out what variables there are in a mountain bike purchase, and what the pros and cons of each are.

    A little about me that may help:
    - I'm 6'3", more legs than torso.
    - I'll likely do both city paved trail riding and offroad trail riding. I doubt I'll be featured on any rockhopping videos. I'm very athletic, but really looking at this purchase for 70% exercise riding, and 30% trail fun.
    - I'm the type who can't leave well enough alone. Bought a C5 vette last year thinking I could leave it alone...dropped $15k into it and am still fiddling. On the other hand, I really don't want to go overboard on some high-end bike since I'm just picking up the hobby here (have always loaned friends' bikes in the past to ride) and I doubt that my tail end would really discern a $5000 bike from a $200 one. But just to be safe, a bike that's easy to modify may not be a bad idea considering my history.

    Anyone out there who can help me?

    Thanks In Advance,
    Brody

  2. #2
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    After some more reading, it looks like a bike with a lockable rear suspension would be best for me since it looks like this would adapt best as both a hard and soft tail bike.

    I guess the frame is the nuts and bolts of it all. What frames on affordable bikes are good, but also easy to upgrade should i feel the need?

  3. #3
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    O.k., need a bit more detail regarding your riding style. When you ride, is it mostly singletrack trails with climbing, descending, through trees, over roots, with only small jumps? That's what I call XC.

    Freeride is mostly downhill, climbing JUST to get to the top and if possible via the road to make it easier. Trails usually have man-made elevated sections with a +/- 4' drop on the end, log rides, earthen or man-made jumps, drops, gaps...etc. Very Aggressive riding.

    Dirt Jumping is just that, earthen jumps in a series to get some flow. Jumps are very steep so you get MEGA air.

    Downhill is usually shuttle runs or chair lifts to the top, and going down the mountain as fast as possible, throw in rock gardens, jumps, drops, bermed turn...etc.

    Urban is kinda like Freeriding in the city with a bit of Trials thrown in for good measure. Riding curbs, hoping benches, balancing on stunts, gapping stairs...etc.

    My guess is probably what 90% of us do and that's XC. I call mine Aggro XC, because I like to jump as much as I can and usually will pick the most challanging lines. I only do small stunts and my biggest drops are ONLY about 4'. More than that and I poop my pants! Or, break my bike (and me!). I'm a big guy, (250 lbs), so I'm tough on equipment.

    Since you own a C5, I'm guessing money is available. I would budget about $1,200 to 1,500 and get yourself a "trailbike". A "Trailbike" is full suspension, and has about 5" inches of suspension travel front and rear. Usually has disc brakes and will weigh about 30 lbs. It's an all-purpose type bike that you can ride all day. It's a compromise of everything combined.

    A good bike to look at would be something like this: http://www.k2bike.com/04products/full/lithium4.asp

    Don't know MSRP, but the 3.0 is about $1250 and the 5.0 is $2500, so the 4.0 should be in the middle.

    Good bike, decent spec, great bike.

    There are a ton others, but that's just an example. Specialized Enduro's are nice (I have the Enduro SX with a custom build kit).

    L8R
    "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

  4. #4
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    a2psyklnut, thanks for taking the time to write all that for me. It's appreciated.

    The 30% I describe is definitely XC, no Freeride, Downhill, or Dirt Jumping. If I run over a park bench it isn't on purpose. My biggest jumps are in the 3 maybe 4 foot high range, at most. The other 70% will be paved city trails.

    I'm 6'3" (as above) and about 195lbs.

    I'm a little torn on what to budget. I don't mind dropping the big $$$ on a bike if it's the 'right' bike. Problem is, I went and rode several bikes today (Trek 4100, Trek Fuel 100 (i believe), Cannondale F600 SL, Giant VT..some black special edition and Giant XTC (i believe)). These bikes were all over the price radar, and I really couldn't discern the major differences between them (liked them all). I'd just not 'dilaed in' as to what I need for my riding, and I don't think my tail end would appreciate the big $$$ bikes as a first bike.

    On the other hand, as mentioned I DO like to fiddle with and improve/mod my toys, just as with the car. So what I'm thinking right now is that I would like a bike that is inexpensive, but has a good frame and has lots of upgrades available should I become a card-carrying USPS jersey wearing bike nut. If I go overboard on the sport I'll just scrap what I get and go for a top-end bike, but odds are I'll just ride what I have and do upgrades if they become necessary to me. I'm short on time (I'm an MD...I'm actually a resident with the group that removed Lance Armstrong's brain tumor), so I'd bet that I just won't hae the time for an obsession requiring a $2000+ bike.

    Other than a good frame with lots of easy to swap/upgrade parts, the other feature I did love was the suspension lockout feature on some of the bikes. Unfortunately, that only seems to come on the top models from what I've seen. Is there any way to get that on the lower-end bikes?

  5. #5
    Senior Member mindbogger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BQuicksilver
    and I doubt that my tail end would really discern a $5000 bike from a $200 one.
    Trust me, you can tell the difference between the two. Once you ride something high end, and go back to a $200 dollar bike, you will be astonished.

    As for my suggestion, I would go for a low end Specialized Stumpjumper FSR ($1500US) or the Specialized FSR XC PRO. Reasonable price with good components. If it turns out you like this sport, you can definetly start to drop the cash on this bike. Frame is totally upgradable.

    If your not into the sport, sell it and continue to upgrade your vette

    my 2 cent.
    00' Cannondale R1000
    01' Devinci Chilipepper

    When sh*t hits the fan, everything I'm not, made me everything I am.

  6. #6
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Hey BQuick,

    I fully understand. In that case, I would recommend a budget between $500 and $750. At the $750 range, you start getting into "raceable" bikes in their stock configurations. At this pricepoint, consider only new HARDTAILS(HT) or used full squish bikes. There are very few full suspension bikes I am comfortable recommending under the $1,000 price point. VERY FEW! Unless on closeout, but that's different.

    HT bikes in the $750 range will have butted and custom drawn/shaped tubes, lightweight components at Deore and some LX level components. The suspension forks will have some adjustability to tune the ride.

    I would avoid disc brakes. 90% of riders don't need them, they just look cool. If you buy a bike with discs, they've had to cut corners in other components to afford the discs. IMO, I'd rather have a better fork, or better shifters than cheap discs on my bike.

    Something like the Rockhopper Comp for $710 would be an example of a great bike!

    The key is to find a bike that fits you. To do this, you should visit your LBS and test ride as many different manuf.'s bikes as possible. Each manuf. uses what they feel is the "ideal" geometry for their bikes. Since none of us have "exactly" the same body dimensions, there is no "one bike fits all". You need to find a manufacturer whose bike geometries match your bodies' dimensions.

    For me, Specialized bikes always seem to "just feel right". Also, Gary Fisher's (decent bikes) just "feel WRONG!". So, I don't buy those!

    Good luck and the hunt is half the fun!

    L8R
    "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

  7. #7
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    The problem is, I rode both $300 and $4000 bikes today (on and off trails) and couldn't tell much difference. I'm not doubting that you guys can discern between them, but I simply cannot. That leads me to believe that a low-end starter bike would be best...something that could be scrapped, upgraded, or traded for a superbike as my hobby suits. I'm the all-or-none type, and I fear the $1200 bikes would overinvest me or make me wish that I had just went all-out in my purchase. Keep in mind this is my first mountain bike. I'm here because I like to make educated choices on any purchase. Right now I think I've got myself talked into the sub-$500 range, but I DO value expert opinions even if you try to sway me away from this range.

  8. #8
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Well, I think the sub-$500 will make you wish you spent $200 more. Especially if you like to tinker.

    I don't think you'd be happy with a $300 entry bike.

    $500 is the lower limit I would suggest, especially if you're active. As a resident, I'm guessing you're young. Plus, you're very health conscious, or you wouldn't be here.

    If you want a decent bike for less, consider something along the Hardrock Comp level of bikes.http://www.specialized.com/SBCBkMode...4s6u5ol.j27007

    L8R
    "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

  9. #9
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    A couple more questions:

    - What are the big pitfalls of getting a used bike?

    - What are the pitfalls with getting a low-end bike? (weight isn't an issue for me...it's mainly an exercise-inspired purchase, not for competition)

    - Can you change out a full squish bike shocks so that they are lockable?

  10. #10
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Pitfall of buying used. If you don't know what you're looking at, you could get burned. Otherwise, I highly recommend this route.

    Buying lowend. If you are used to precision and accuracy, low end shifters will not shift as fast and as quick. They're heavier. Plus, with things like suspension forks, the more expensive, the more adjustments you'll be able to make. Instead of just preload, you'll be able to adjust the damping and you might get a lock-out on higher end stuff.

    Changing out rear shocks can be done, but it makes more economic sense to buy a bike with the features you want vs. trying to upgrade over time.

    L8R
    "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

  11. #11
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    a2psyklnut, thanks for the continued suggestions. I'm 28, and very health-conscious (at least by Indiana standards).

    Oh yes, I did like the Giant bikes ever-so-slightly more than the others, but I certainly wouldn't say I 'need' that brand.

    Exactly what will impair the 'tinkerability' of the low-price bikes?

    I'm not trying to sound like I will only consider a Kmart bike, I just need to know what I get for $200 vs $700 vs $1200 vs $4000. Right now I see these things through the eyes of a layperson, where the $200 and $1200 bikes both look like hardtails, and I know they will both be rideable. Understanding why the guys who know bikes put an extra $1000 down for the brand-name is what I hope to learn.

  12. #12
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    So you can't think of any lower-end bikes with lockout?

    Any other good used bike sources than here or EBay?

  13. #13
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BQuicksilver
    <snip>

    Exactly what will impair the 'tinkerability' of the low-price bikes?

    <snip>
    Largely the fact that you could have bought the bike equipped at that next level to begin with and saved a wad of cash due to the fact that the manufacturers can get parts a LOT cheaper than you can. That plus throwing $700 worth of parts on a $400 bike is just dumb. (unless you're MERTON in which case you'll do the illogical)
    Last edited by Raiyn; 06-04-04 at 12:25 PM.

  14. #14
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    I'm in no way implying you spend any extra.

    Do you golf?

    It's difference between a set of MacGregor's from K-Mart and a set of PINGs.

    Whatever you're into, and you've got the money, you (meaning "I") want the best.


    The biggest differences will be weight. A $400 bike will weigh about 29 to 31 lbs. A $1,500 bike will be closer to 24 to 25 lbs. A $4,500 can be as little as 19 lbs.

    Weight makes a big difference if you spend all day on your bike and a significant amount of time climbing.

    Besides that, it's the precision of the manufacturing tolerances. I've been involved in bikes for close to 20 years. I CAN tell the difference between a Deore shifter and an XT shifter. (If both adjusted correctly)

    The XT will shift quicker and with more "conviction", plus it'll require less muscle. It's instant! Click and you're there. With Deore or Acera level it's shift then cccccclllllllllluuuuunnnnnnnkkkkkkk and the shift is over.

    With suspension it's features like amount of adjustments, lock outs, travel settings and amount of travel. Some new forks like a Fox Terralogic, will automatically lock out when it senses a downward push (like from a rider's weight while sprinting) yet will remain fully functional when hitting a bump or a rock. That's pretty figgin cool, but $650 for a FORK alone is a pretty penny to spend.

    The irony, is that the top of the line components are actually more delicate and fragile than the second tier stuff. For example, the difference between XT and XTR is in most instances just weight. The "R" in XTR indicates "Racing". During a race, you want it as light as possible with the most precision. XT is about as good as most non racers really need.

    One Caveat, the XTR rear derailleur has a spring tension adjustment screw that the XT does NOT!

    L8R
    "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

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    (Laughing) You're talking to the guy with Ping irons who traded in his Taylor Made metalwoods for a set of generics. But I first pryed on the guys at the proshop until they noted the generics and Big Berthas were nearly the same. Sound familiar?

    Weight is of little concern to me, the extra lbs wil just give me better exercise.

    I'm not too worried about the shifter, some were better than others today, but all okay.

    I would like to have some say in my suspension.

    Am I just too far off in left field with those wishes?

  16. #16
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    Good point raiyn. I'm not sure I appreciate how much the aftermarket stuff runs.

  17. #17
    Xtreme Biker
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    Sorry to say this, but It seems 2 me that you're one of those guys that have more $$$ than brains.... Anyone can get in debt though.... My advice 2 U is to build your own bike from the frame up. That way if anythings wrong with it, you'll only have yourself to blame....

    Not to knock Vette's, but they're pretty widely known as "Money Pits"....

  18. #18
    l337 HaxX0r
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xtreme Biker
    Sorry to say this, but It seems 2 me that you're one of those guys that have more $$$ than brains.... Anyone can get in debt though.... My advice 2 U is to build your own bike from the frame up. That way if anythings wrong with it, you'll only have yourself to blame....

    Not to knock Vette's, but they're pretty widely known as "Money Pits"....

    I'll stay away from the 1st comment but some clarification on the 2nd would be nice. Vettes are relatively bullet proof. Upgrading them is really not that much more than any other V8 based car. I guess you could go through tires pretty quick if you wanted to. Bottom line I don't see how Vettes are any more "money pit" than any other sports cars.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ions
    I'll stay away from the 1st comment but some clarification on the 2nd would be nice. Vettes are relatively bullet proof. Upgrading them is really not that much more than any other V8 based car. I guess you could go through tires pretty quick if you wanted to. Bottom line I don't see how Vettes are any more "money pit" than any other sports cars.
    GM products tear-up all the time, as a rule of thumb.... Like Harley's used to.... and maybe still do. That's what I meant. As for my 1st comment, obviously this guy doesn't have a family nor any other adult obligations to speak of. He speaks of trying out a $200 bike & then a $4000 bike? What does that indicate, money no option? Hey, there's probably a $10,000 bike out there somewhere that you may enjoy more than the $4k one....

    Bikes don't make great biker's, believe me....

  20. #20
    l337 HaxX0r
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    GM products do have fairly low durability. The Vette though is tried and proven tech. That pushrod V8 has been around for a very long time and they have it's reliabilty down. There's a distinct difference between a Vette and a Cavalier in reliability, nevermind any other comparisons. Other than some rear end problems in the early 70s I'm not familiar with many serious Vette costs, but hey I could be wrong.

    It would appear to me that the poster is here trying to gather info before making a purchase. Not the usual behaviour of a more $ than brains type buyer. Exploring his options and has the $ to look into more expensive options if he so desires. Appears to be in Information gathering and needs assessment portion right now.

  21. #21
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    Well, I'll try not to turn this into a flame war despite the unprovoked inflammatory comments from 'xtreme biker'. Is this guy always like this? If I have said something that offended you, feel free to IM me, Otherwise, just drop the attitude...you won't get anywhere with me.

    Xtreme Biker,
    1) I know far plenty about C5's. Enough that you should listen.
    2) Keeping in mind #1. The C5 won the JD Power Quality Award for it's segment several times. It was voted co-winner of best engineered car of the 20th century with the MB S500 by The Society of Automotive Engineers....amongst other accolades.
    3) I've beaten on it hard (daily driver and SCCA solo 1 track car), with 37,000 miles and no major issues. All my $$$ has went into upgrades. So yes, it's a money pit. No, it doesn't break down.
    4) Other vettes myself and others have owned do have some issues, but the C5's are a different story.

    No, I don't have family (just a fiancee), but being an MD comes with plenty of responsibility and obligation...I assure you.

    As ion noted, I'm just trying to be a smart consumer gathering info. I don't bike as hard or frequently as most here, and this will be the first mountain bike I own. Yes, I have the luxury of being able to afford nice toys, but I was looking at both $200 and $4000 bikes because I wanted to learn what both ends of the spectrum felt like. If the $4000 bike wowed me, I'd grab it. If I couldn't discern between them, I'd grab a budget bike and have money for another one of my hobbies. I learned that they both felt similar 'to me', but I loved the dual suspension lockout bikes. So I want a bike with dual lockouts that isn't too high-end on other components.

  22. #22
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BQuicksilver
    Well, I'll try not to turn this into a flame war despite the unprovoked inflammatory comments from 'xtreme biker'. Is this guy always like this? If I have said something that offended you, feel free to IM me, Otherwise, just drop the attitude...you won't get anywhere with me.
    Don't worry about it, just ignore him. He is 8 years old with lots of attitude. Hes been dealt with a couple of times but keeps on coming. "in these here parts we call em trolls " Just read and ignore.

    I don't drive, never had a car, never wanted one and will probably never get one, so everything that has been said is over my head...so..how bout those flames

    Exactly what will impair the 'tinkerability' of the low-price bikes?
    to contribute. Sometimes low end parts offer several problems when upgrading. I don't know the specifics of the bike exactly but cheaper bikes come with 6 and 7 speed drive trains still. This cause problems when you find we can only buy 9 speed (8speed rarely). The width of your dropout may be narrower. Beyond that nightmare which happen rarely. Higher end stuff you can fix. Typically cheap stuff is meant to be tossed. If for example you destory a deore rear hub. Its cheaper to buy a new one than fix it.

    Those are two of many many examples. If you have the cash to invest it is always smarter to buy as high end as possible. PErsonally I had to start cheap and upgrade. Long term investment was high but I was able to start riding ASAP. To me the sacrifice was worth it, is it to you? I destroy parts and bikes...I learned the hard way to buy certain components very high end. For me personally, bottom brackets, hubs and forks take all of my money. Why, I downhill, freeride, dirtjump and do xc and weight more than the average person so I just wreck stuff. High end+smart buying = longevity of parts. (some high end parts aren't worth it as sometimes super high end sacrifices strenght for weight)

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    Thanks Maelstrom, it sounds like I have a LOT to learn. I can't see myself breaking much with my planned usage, and I'd hate to be in the situation where I have a bike that takes poorly to upgrades. I don't believe I'll need that much bike, but I don't want to need to scrap my bike if I become a more avid rider.

    Are there any name brands that tend to be tough to upgrade a la the cheaper bikes?

    Are there any brands that tend to have what I'm looking for? (great suspension and average (but swappable) components elsewhere)

  24. #24
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BQuicksilver
    Are there any name brands that tend to be tough to upgrade a la the cheaper bikes?

    Are there any brands that tend to have what I'm looking for? (great suspension and average (but swappable) components elsewhere)
    All of the brands have low end models that would be tougher / not worth upgrading. In my humble opinion Specialized and Giant are two of the better equipped bang-for-the-buck brands out there. I own two Specializeds I've worked at a Giant shop. Another brand to consider (at least in the hardtail segment) would be Fuji - componentwise they rock at the sub $1000 pricepoint.

  25. #25
    l337 HaxX0r
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    Maybe you could try going to a couple LBSs and telling them what you'd like to do. See if they'd be willing to spec down a higher model's components or spec up a lower model's suspension? I'm not sure how viable this would be but it may be worth a try.

    Your other option is to do a custom build but that will end up being more expensive than a comparably built bike 99% of the time - the other 1% is when you have an opportunity to get a rare deal.

    This is what I would do myself: Get an entry level bike in the $300-$400 range, a Devinci Coyote or whatever. Any decent entry level hardtail. Ride that for a year. Meet other riders, get some experience riding so you know what you really want when it's time to put the $ down on a more expensive bike - if you even find you have the need. After this 1 year you'll be far more equiped to know what you'll want to upgrade and what you don't need to bother with.

    At the end of this year if you do decide you need something more kickbutt you can sell off the 1st bike or keep it as a low worry commuter, an extra ride for a friend, whatever. The point is this small investment is not wasted even if you do go for a new bike at the end of the year.

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