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  1. #1
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    bike suggestions for a noob

    While I have been bike commuting for a couple of years, and take my commuter for bike path jaunts, this summer is my first taste of anthing more complicated than gravel driveways ;-)

    A friend and I started biking some green/novice trails (and patches of intermediate trails) at the US National White Water Center using rental bikes (Giant single speed hardtails.) I actually anticipated these trails as just being dirt paths...I wasn't actually expecting roots, rocks, ditches, etc (silly me.... I really thought novice would be very flat.) What suprised me is how much I'm enjoying these rides (I realize these are pretty wussy, but as a noob, better to learn a little at a time.)

    I never imagined I'd be interested in getting a mountain bike, but renting is getting costly and I'm having so much fun that I don't want to stop. I don't want to put a large cash outlay out for a bike at this point, so are there bikes that you'd recommend for someone that isn't really looking to become a great mountain biker, who just wants to enjoy easier trails and spend the next couple of years doing occasional rides (couple times a month) on easier trails? At this point, if I keep riding every other weekend, I will spend at least $600 in rentals.

    I tried a GT Avalanche, and wasn't comfortable (maybe a fitting issue, I have long legs and short torso, felt really compacted on the bike.) I am heading to a trek store tomorrow. I went to a Giant/Specialized/Redline retailer today, and a Giant Revel was suggested, but they didn't have my size. I think the Trek store will recommend a Skye (based on the recommendations my roommate got.) I have a budget of $600 (but can increase that a bit if it makes good sense.)
    Last edited by sunstorm; 07-13-11 at 09:28 PM. Reason: clarification

  2. #2
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    Try to stretch that budget to $700 and get a Wahoo or Marlin. Sadly, even $700 won't buy a lot of bike these days, but those should be decent for your needs at present.

  3. #3
    all-weather commuter
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    Windsor Cliff

    If you are okay doing some final assembly yourself, you could get this for under $400.

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cliff29_1.htm

  4. #4
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    Bikesdirect Gravity 29.3.

    I just ordered a 29.4 after researching and researching. I wanted something to keep up with my 13 yo son, but not a POS. It seemed to me that BD had some good deals as compared to what I saw from the major retails (Trek, Specialized, Giant). I started to look at some very nice quality frames (Vassago, Niner) but realized I'd be spending $1,500 - $2,000 to build it up nicely. I figure this is a first investment and if I really take to mtn biking, in time I'll upgrade to a nicer bike and this will become a beater.

    Full Disclosure - I don't have the bike yet and haven't riden it, so this is all from what I have found on various forums
    1965 Moulton Speed 4, 1974 Fuji 12 speed, 1987 DB Ascent EX, 2006 Dahon Speed TR, 2009 Salsa Fargo, 2011 Gravity 29.4, 2011 Salsa Casseroll, 2012 Surly Moonlander

  5. #5
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    I wouldn't recommend BikesDirect to anyone that isn't comfortable with basic bicycle mechanics. They do have good deals, but you may get lemon parts from time to time. You don't want to have to spend the money to take a new problem bike to a bike shop--at that point, it would have been cheaper to just buy from a shop in the first place.

    However, if you work on bikes and you don't mind some possible challenges, go for it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueRaleigh View Post
    I wouldn't recommend BikesDirect to anyone that isn't comfortable with basic bicycle mechanics. They do have good deals, but you may get lemon parts from time to time. You don't want to have to spend the money to take a new problem bike to a bike shop--at that point, it would have been cheaper to just buy from a shop in the first place.

    However, if you work on bikes and you don't mind some possible challenges, go for it.
    Most of the major components are well known brands (Shimano, Sram, Avid, Rock Shoc), but I guess anything mechanical could have an issue.

    You are correct about knowing how to wrench on a bike, which is something I do all the time. I expect the bike's from BD are assembled just like those I've received from Nashbar and Jenson, which is to say you need to install the front wheels, pedals, and handlebar, attach the brakes and adjust, check the derailleurs and perhaps adjust.

    I kind of forget that point, since to me its not a consideration. But yes, if you order most any bike thru online, you're going to have to assemble it or take it to the local shop and pay them. If that's the case, the value vs buying local decreases.
    1965 Moulton Speed 4, 1974 Fuji 12 speed, 1987 DB Ascent EX, 2006 Dahon Speed TR, 2009 Salsa Fargo, 2011 Gravity 29.4, 2011 Salsa Casseroll, 2012 Surly Moonlander

  7. #7
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    I wasn't just considering assembly, but also bad parts such as warped rotors, out-of-true wheels, etc. There are reviews online that report those exact problems from BikesDirect.

    One of my mountain bikes is a Motobecane, but I was able to buy it 2nd hand in person so that took some of the risk out of it. Its a great bike.

  8. #8
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    I will openly admit that I do not have the experience level yet to build a bike. I have joined a co-op, and am learning bit-by-bit about repairs, but I'm a long ways off from feeling competent and I'd rather have some place that I can take the bike into and at least know what is wrong quickly. Plus, during the school year, I really do not have the spare time to deal with my own screw ups (med schools aren't very forgiving in terms of time), so establishing a relationship with an LBS is valuable.

    So, I played again this weekend on another rental. The rentals I've been getting are Giant Yukons and Giant Revels. The LBS Giant distributor recomended the Giant Revel 1.0 (reason given was something do do with oil shocks vs spring?....I'm new enough that I don't necessarily appreciate what that means.) The Trek shop most strongly recommends the Skye, but also suggested the Wahoo WSD and the Mamba WSD (vs the Marlin, though at a higher price point), and the Specialized shop started out with a Myca HT (which didn't feel right) and a Rockhopper.

    I don't really understand the differences, and when I ask in the stores, I am either not able to keep up with the technical info or I am told 'oh, there really isn't a difference (in this case, of a skye vs a mamba.....ummmmm I see at least a different in tires).' I think some of the latter response is just being female (even though this weekend I came in still mud splattered from our morning ride) since they seem determined to sell my husband a bike and can hardly be bothered to talk to me.

    Advice on how to sort this out? I think the myca is out because the feel is off to me. The Rockhopper I haven't gotten to try in an appropriate size (I need a lower top tube, I think, in a mountain bike.) The Trek's don't feel that different to me (though the Marlin is a bit too long for me.) Also, I've only been on 26's on the trail, so I'm not sure I have any idea of the differences between a 26 and 29 (though everyone I'm riding with is on 26's: mycas, 3500's, and other bikes way out of my price range.) I'm learning a bit more....I'm interested in single track but not extreme stuff. I'm not looking for technical or gravity rides. I also don't have a need for this bike to do anything other than go on trails (I have a hybrid commuter for my road rides/greenways)

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