Just joined the forum... I'm trying to get some information on my first *real* mountain bike. I started bicycling back in 2008 when I moved to Tallahassee Florida for college, and I bought a Schwinn hybrid with a 27" wheel base off craigslist for $50... and it served its purpose. I rode about 6-15 miles/day on campus / streets.
However, now I live in Atlanta, and don't live close enough to bike to work. So I'm really interested in mountain biking... I took my hybrid to a 1.5 mile trail which connected to a 15 mile (round trip) paved trail... and I was scared to death on the "trail" part. I really want to get a *real* mountain bike... but being a recent grad, I am still on a bit of a budget.
Are 29ers really worth it? Being so new to this opportunity of actually having mountains to ride on, I'm lost. I am pretty set on wanting disc brakes... but as far as far as the other features... front fork lock out, number of gears, 26 vs 29, etc... I know on paper why it's better... but I'm looking for real world experiences. I have a price cap of about $600 on this bike.
I've also been looking on Craigslist for the past week or so, but haven't found anything which fit me, had the features I desire, and was in my price range.
(Honestly, being a recent grad, I just got a $700 paycheck from refereeing as a side job... which is where my bike money comes from... and it's really hard to drop the $600 +tax on a bike... but I don't want to get something I'll have to upgrade even within a couple years. I want one I'll be happy with for quite a while.)
Sorry this is probably way too long, but I appreciate any advice!
1. 29er are not worth it. They just have larger wheels, more weight and have no additional points.
2. If I was you, I would drop about $400-450 on a bike that would last me a long time, and spend another $100 of a helmet, air pump, toolkit and patchkit.
3. If you're not afraid of assembling your own bike, check youtube for tutorials, It's easy if your good with your hands, then if you can, you can save a good hunk of money vs. a bike shop.
The only problem about buying from bikesdirect is that the bikes they sell are the same or close to what Trek or other brands sell, but cheaper because they don't carry a big expensive name. The only problem with them is that they don't sell well used. So I would spend low and ride it into the ground before I would get rid of it.
It might be easier to find a 26-inch wheel mountain-bike to fit a $700 budget than to find a 29er in that price range.
I don't see the wheel size as a make or break item. I own both sizes, ride both sizes, and am unwilling to give up one size for the other. I tend to favor my 29er on rides involving long, easy stretches, in other words for just covering ground. (Other people will have different opinions, I'm sure).
If you are tall person, then my opinion changes somewhat, and you would be well-served to at least test-ride a 29er. Medium-sized people can go either way, but a tall person will find a better proportion in terms of wheel- versus frame-size.
Fork lockouts: Some swear by them. But they are way, way down on my list of items to consider on a mountain-bike. I do not ride locked out on the trail. I rarely use my lockouts, and happily trade them away for other features such as low- and high- speed compression damping. IMHO, lockout gets emphasized so much because it's cheap for the manufacturers to implement. However, they are nice when I ride several miles on pavement to reach the trailhead.
Number of gears: Do not worry about this one at all. However, avoid freewheels. Many seven-speed bikes come with freewheels (old style & weaker) versus cassette hubs (newer and stronger). I look askance at seven-speed bikes, because I service my own bikes and I hate working on freewheels.
Hope the above helps. Good luck on the bike shopping.
Thanks for the feedback! I really don't feel comfortable assembling a bike myself, so I went shopping today. I was eyeballing an X3 at Sports Authority today on sale for $400, then I went by Performance Bicycle, and ended up purchasing a 26" Avalanche GT. It was originally $750 marked down to $599, then 15% off for Memorial Day. Then I got 20% back in store credit when I bought a membership for $30... so essentially it cost me $450. (Bike was $510, $30 for the membership, then I get $101 in store credit.)
The selling point really was the fact that it has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. I can take it up to some trails, and if I don't like it, they will refund 100% of my price, considering I don't screw it up.
Now with my $100 in store credit... it's not available until tomorrow, so I have time to think what I need. I have a nice helmet, water bottle cage, car rack, and rack... so I was debating bicycle shoes/pedals. I'm going to do more research... but I got another coupon for 15% off pedals/shoes, so I could get that setup for right around my credit amount. The theory behind it sounds solid... but any real world experiences will be appreciated (i'm also going to search the forum).