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  1. #1
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    (not so) Frustrated (anymore) noob in search of advice

    Hi everyone. I'm a student who's new to cycling and am looking into getting a first bike. I'm planning on using it for going to class, exercise and some light trail riding for now, though I want to move to more serious stuff when I'm back in shape.

    The problem is that i only $350ish to spend and there aren't a lot of opportunities for getting a good deal around here (and I drive a 20 year old car with almost 300k miles on it; so no 4+ hour road trips to buy a bike...). I've been looking on craigslist and everything within a 2 hour drive is either too expensive or someone asking msrp for a bike that's several years old (they always say "NEVER RIDDEN. ONLY 10 MILES OR SO" or some crap like it). The few bike shops around are also expensive. As for <$500ish stuff, I think my LBS only has a Raleigh Mojave 2.0 and Mojave 3.0. He wants msrp for both. I assume cycling is like anything else in that the price rises with quality then at a certain threshold the quality evens out and performance becomes the main focus. I just want something that's around that threshold (something that is going to work as intended and not break all the time).

    I'm stumped. I thought about trying to piece together something with used components but I don't really know where to look. Am I just out of luck for my area and price range? Should I get the Mojave 3.0 (for $359) and upgrade it later with decent harware? Are there any websites that are likely to have good deals? I've read some on the forums but there's so much info and I'm not sure where to look next.

    P.S. sorry for the book.
    Last edited by FluidParadigms; 08-17-09 at 06:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member helmut's Avatar
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    A good way to find a bike on Craigslist is to advertise that you're looking for one. Say something like "Want to buy a late model mountain bike, Trek, Giant, Specialized, Cannondale etc. Entry level with suspension fork. $400 or less". This Trek isn't bad.

    My buddy did that and got a sweet Gary Fisher for next to nothing. I found my bike this way. Give it a try. Otherwise, you can probably pick up a Giant Boulder SE for about $350. I wouldn't recommend trying to upgrade this bike down the track. Buy it, learn to ride the trails, and then sell it if you want something better.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the tip about craigslist. I've checked on the Trek 820 you mentioned and it was already sold.

  4. #4
    Senior Member helmut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FluidParadigms View Post
    Thanks for the tip about craigslist. I've checked on the Trek 820 you mentioned and it was already sold.
    Don't sweat it, that bike isn't anything worth losing sleep over. I nearly got my hands on a 1 year old Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo for $350. The MSRP was $1400 one year ago. I literally missed it by minutes.

  5. #5
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    update:

    So, a friend of mine gave me this bike:

    1996 Novara Ponderosa
    http://bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeS...rosa&Type=bike

    It's stock except for some pretty new shimano v brakes and some Serfas Drifter tires. After a few minor tune-up things (replaced a tube, adjust the brakes a tad), it's in great shape... except for the fork. The dampers are completely dead (I opened it up and the (I assume) elastomers looked like crap). My LBS doesn't do anything with dampers unfortunately (they don't even sell forks...). How much am I looking at for the entry-level forks that the mtb FAQ mentioned? I've read some things about adding springs and such to the fork that's on it now (Answer Manitou Mach 5 Comp XC). Any ideas? I'm a competent machinist (for a student) and have a full machine shop at school; it might be fun to make some custom parts to spruce it up a bit.

    Also, I wouldn't mind getting rid of those grip shifters at some point and the rapid-fire levers look like they'd be nice. Where can I find info about compatibility with the STX-RC stuff that's on it now?

    I haven't ridden a bike since I was a kid and riding it only a little today even with a blown, ghetto-rigged fork made me remember how much I used to love riding. It makes me wish I'd have gotten a nice bike in high school and stayed out there!

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