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Old 12-02-10, 07:11 PM   #1
FreeSpirit10
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Future MTB upgrade planning suggestions?

Hey everybody. It's been awhile since I was on here.

Anyway, I frequently use a local system of trails and bike paths for getting around on my bike. My main bike for the last 3 years has been one of those shunned "____-Mart" bikes. It's a Magna "Great Divide".

Before you all go urging me to upgrade asap, I have two points to make:
Firstly, my budget is extremely constrained. Although it is a major hobby of mine, I primarily bike for utility and just getting around cheaply.
Which brings me to my second point: This bike was the cheapest one on the store when I bought it a few years ago. I have had more expensive mountain bikes in the past, going up to about the $200 range. (Admittedly from a dept. store. It was a gift.)This one was $60 on clearance, and it's outlasted anything else I've ridden by a huge margin. (I'm definitely not nice to my bikes) I don't know if it's a fluke, but clearly something was done right the day I bought it. It rides nice, (as far as my standards go) and it has always been extremely reliable. I ride this bike alot.

That said, I am interested in upgrading my bike in the future if I can afford it. My strategy so far has been to replace parts "as needed" with superior quality replacements. Eventually, I'll have a better bike. (Right?)

*Note: So far, I've hardly had to replace anything, but I might decide to do so without waiting for stuff to break, depending on the responses I get.

The problem there is, the frame is still low-quality and (presumably) weak, even after all the components have been replaced. Is it worth it to take this approach? Perhaps if I were to replace the frame itself at some point with a good one, moving the components, wheels, etc over to the new one. Would there be any parts compatibility problems with doing this? (Assuming I get a typical frame for a $500 mountain bike)

Will this get me a decent bike in the end? I really can't see myself just buying a whole MTB at once in the $500-ish range, but I can probably do it a little bit at a time. (We're talking over a duration of maybe 3 years, here) Otherwise, I'll probably just keep riding the bike the way it is for a long time.

Frankly, the answer I'm hoping for is that I can upgrade it a little bit at a time and eventually get a better frame as well, and that this will make a good bike. (Or would it make sense to replace the frame first?)
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Old 12-02-10, 07:24 PM   #2
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No sense throwing good money after bad, right? Search your local ads for a deal(craigslist etc.) or save your money for three years, then get a low-to-mid level bikeshop bike. The whole 'one part at a time' thing gets horribly expensive in the end. Good luck!
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Old 12-02-10, 07:32 PM   #3
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I understand your need for ecomony and if your current bike gets from point to point OK, then ride the heck out of it.

As the poster above stated, save up for a good Craigslist bike. Look for a good frame and rims. Then upgrade that bike. Other than just maintaining your MAGNA, save the money. Upgrading it is like putting lipstick on a pig.
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Old 12-02-10, 07:49 PM   #4
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That was quick.
Thanks to both of you for your opinions/suggestions.

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Originally Posted by Daspydyr View Post
Upgrading it is like putting lipstick on a pig.
LOL, but I like my pig!

But seriously, you're probably right. The bike I have is good for what it is - reliability on a budget, and more miles than all the other bikes I've owned combined. (I'm embarrassed to admit that I've almost become sentimental over it ) I'm not the patient type, so I'll just need to talk myself into saving up to buy a better one all at once later on, keeping this one as a spare.

Again thanks for the input.
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Old 12-02-10, 07:56 PM   #5
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i'm going to agree and third what has already been said. save the money, get a decent bike on craigslist, garage sale, wherever you can find it, and go from there. it will be worth it.

as an aside, you prove something i've been telling people for years when they ask what is the "best bike." the "Best bike" is the one you ride all the time.
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Old 12-03-10, 07:20 AM   #6
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I understand your need for ecomony and if your current bike gets from point to point OK, then ride the heck out of it.

As the poster above stated, save up for a good Craigslist bike. Look for a good frame and rims. Then upgrade that bike. Other than just maintaining your MAGNA, save the money. Upgrading it is like putting lipstick on a pig.
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That was quick.
Thanks to both of you for your opinions/suggestions.



LOL, but I like my pig!

But seriously, you're probably right. The bike I have is good for what it is - reliability on a budget, and more miles than all the other bikes I've owned combined. (I'm embarrassed to admit that I've almost become sentimental over it ) I'm not the patient type, so I'll just need to talk myself into saving up to buy a better one all at once later on, keeping this one as a spare.

Again thanks for the input.
Scares me to think how MUCH you might like your pig...lol.

Sometimes, on the www, you gotta be careful how you phrase things....
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Old 12-03-10, 07:55 AM   #7
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Save your wad. Grab a complete used...or build one from used parts.
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Old 12-03-10, 09:52 AM   #8
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Sometimes, on the www, you gotta be careful how you phrase things....
That's for sure. The interwebs have a twisted imagination at times, huh?
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Old 12-03-10, 10:04 AM   #9
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Building up a Magna is like building a house on sand. I couldn't afford much either when I first started biking but I did find a 2000 Gary Fisher Wahoo on craigslist for $60. It's lasted me well since I got it in March. After a while I got bit by the bike bug & just had to have a nicer bike. So I've been building up a full suspension bike. When I get done, it will still be cheaper than buying the complete bike, but certainly not cheaper than buying a used FS from craigslist. There's no arguing that buying complete used will almost always be cheaper than building a bike piece by piece.
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Old 12-03-10, 12:12 PM   #10
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Building up a Magna is like building a house on sand.
I should build one just to prove us all wrong.. Thought about going to WallyWorld and picking out a closeout "sale beast", flogging it on the regular rides, and seeing how it all goes down. I wonder if dis/reassembly with loctite and proper spoke tension would make it last longer than expected.
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Old 12-03-10, 01:03 PM   #11
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^^ Beat you to it. Well, almost. Started a little higher (not much) on the food chain: Mongoose MGX. It got: Dual-crown Judy XLC; Kore Lite 3 stem; Bontrager Crowbar XXX bars; Fox ALPS 5 shock; STX-RC hub/Rhynolite rim rear wheel; SRAM X-Ray gripshifters; STX-RC rear derailleur; STX-RC Mega-Range cassette; Kenda Kinetics 2.35s.



It was a mean downhilling machine

Amazingly, what survived: stock crankset (riveted chainrings); cheap square-taper BB; single-wall front rim and cheap Formula hub; generic V-brakes, loose-ball headset; and the whole frame.
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Old 12-03-10, 05:17 PM   #12
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Ironically, the frame will probably outlast the rest of the components. It's probably very heavy and overbuilt. Having said that, the cheapest decent crankset I can find new, with bottom bracket is about $100 after shipping and tax, so please don't put an LX crankset on a $60 bike because by that time, everything else could start to fail as well (wheel cones / bearings, derailleurs, cheap grip shifters, etc).

Ride on, those cheap stamped steel components can probably take a pretty good beating, and if they happen to bend, you can bend them back.

Just make sure you give your bike a good safety inspection prior to taking it out on a trail. I do that with all my bikes just before I take them out.

Ride on, my two-wheeled brother, ride on.
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Old 12-03-10, 07:48 PM   #13
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Ironically, the frame will probably outlast the rest of the components. It's probably very heavy and overbuilt.
Just out of curiosity, I weighed it just now. Fully assembled, components, wheels, and all (including my saddlebag mount that I added) is 41 pounds. So yeah, that's pretty heavy. It's better than walking for sure though. I guess that explains the comfortable ride on rough trails.

Drivetrain is Shimano, everything else is generic. Nothing's broken yet. (but I'm getting worried about the chain's condition.{stretched about 1/16" per 12 links now. Due for a replacement after this winter, I think.)

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Old 12-03-10, 09:13 PM   #14
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41 pounds.
goodness.....
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Old 12-03-10, 09:30 PM   #15
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goodness.....
Yeah. I never realized it was anywhere near that heavy. There's not many hills around here fortunately, but it is slow to get moving at first.

Now that I know it's actually that heavy, it's going to bother me constantly. That's annoying.

On the plus side, that increases the scrap value, LOL.
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Old 12-04-10, 08:50 PM   #16
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Almost sorry to spam with a "should I buy this bike?" type post, but for various reasons I'm thinking about getting a bike from my LBS. They mainly carry Cannondale and Scott bikes. I know nothing about the "Scott" brand name, but I like the looks of the Cannondale "Trail" series. Notably the Trail 6 and Trail 5 might be in my price range.

Are the Cannondales a good choice for my price range? (Compared only to other "New" bikes, not used. That's a different decision for me to make.) What can you tell me about Scott bicycles?
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Old 12-06-10, 11:55 AM   #17
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41 pounds
Not bad, considering the frame is steel.

My 2006 Giant Reign custom build with a mix of light/not-so-light components based around a 160mm, 6 pound, 20mm through axle fork weighs a whopping 39 pounds. That's with some XTR drivetrain stuff on it (FD, RD, Shifters).

I'm currently putting the bike on a diet, but I ride this rig up everything that I eventually go down on.

If you can ride up with a heavy bike, then feel good about it.
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