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Old 04-01-12, 08:48 AM   #1
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Tips for newbies? (Buying)

Looking at getting a mountain bike sometime. Trying to decide what would fit my needs most. This bike may be used in the city, though I do have my road bikes for that. I will be finding some trails and trying to hit them. I don't want to go very slow, so speed and control should be pretty high up on the priorities list.

I think maybe a hardtail would be best?

I also need to know what to look for and what to avoid, other than the common bicycle stuff.

Also, sizing. I am a 29" inseam, 5'6", so it may be hard to find a fit. What size would be good? Around 18"?

And, what brands should I avoid? I have been trying to avoid Magna, Mongoose, and other store brands.

Here are some bikes I have found on the local CL that I think would be good buys:
http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/bik/2933697407.html
http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/bik/2907197148.html
http://seattle.craigslist.org/sno/bik/2933764010.html
http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/bik/2903079424.html
http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/bik/2928098678.html

The last two - I am thinking - may be the best bets. But, again, I am coming here for your guys' opinions and help. These specific listings may not be what I can get (as they may be gone by the time I am ready), so they should only serve as examples (so don't look at the price).

Don't want to spend more than $100. Hoping to find something much lower though.

Thanks all!
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Old 04-01-12, 06:58 PM   #2
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My advice, Save up, spend more than $100.
I believe all of those, with the exception of the DB are department store bikes. If you take them on a hard, single track trail, they may break down and leave you stranded. The DB is a Dick's sporting goods store bike and certainly better quality than a Wally World bike, but the model you're looking at is a hybrid. I'd stay away from it and look for a pure mou'rentain bike. I think you're going to need more than $100 to reach your goal.
Just my $.02.
Edit: after looking at the Diamondback again, that's closer to a MTB than I thought. It might work, except the cost is $250. For that kind of money you should be able to buy a much better, pure mountain bike.
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Old 04-01-12, 07:03 PM   #3
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Thanks, Rocco. Much appreciated.

I will think about increasing the limit. But I'm not so sure, especially for something I am not sure will become a real hobby of mine. Maybe I will get a rigid and see if I want to go further with the sport.
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Old 04-01-12, 07:08 PM   #4
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I will think about increasing the limit. But I'm not so sure, especially for something I am not sure will become a real hobby of mine. Maybe I will get a rigid and see if I want to go further with the sport.
The problem is that if you don't increase the limit, you may end up with it not becoming a real hobby because you're on a crap bike. I'm not going to go all elitist on you and say you need to drop 3 grand on a bike to have fun, because that's not true at all. An entry level bike shop bike will do you just fine. But at some point, the bike will be junk and there's just more of a chance of you wondering how anyone can possibly like this sport.
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Old 04-01-12, 07:09 PM   #5
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Good point, Z.
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Old 04-04-12, 11:27 PM   #6
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Alright, guys and gals. Did a bit of research on types of MTBs, and it's looking like I need a dually.

What do I need to look for? Just pay attention to the Shimano hierarchy and aim as high as I can? Bumped my budget up a bit. Looking at some bikes from bikesdirect and bikeisland. The Gravity FSX (1.0, 2.0, 3.0) look pretty nice. But I cannot seem to find many reviews on them.

Have not looked on CL since upping the budget and deciding on dually.
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Old 04-05-12, 02:23 PM   #7
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First off actually know your size. I am 5'8" and am comfortable on a 17" - I think 17 - 18" might be big for you although I think the height limit for mediums are usually 5'6" - 5'10"

Next understand components - do your research. The internet is a wondrous thing! I ride both a hardtail and full suspension bikes... getting older I like the cush and control of the fully but there is nothing like the speed and skill set needed to ride a hardtail. If fast up or down is your thing, a hardtail is suitable. Especially since your price point is so low.

I would actually not consider anything other than a hardtail or rigid. Any full suspension bike you can afford is either going to be crap (Zephyr is correct) or so worned out it will cost a fortune to refurbish. Less moving parts less to worry about that needs replacement or can break. True story, a friend of mind bought a $180 Wally World full suspension bike and was riding some tough trails. The fork pistons actually pulled out of the sleeves and he had a horrific spectacular crash. It's been 4 months; hopefully he can ride again.

JUst make sure whatever you buy fits you and is mechanically sound. Hopefully if and when you get into the sport - you can upgrade.
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Old 04-05-12, 02:25 PM   #8
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Alright, guys and gals. Did a bit of research on types of MTBs, and it's looking like I need a dually.

What do I need to look for? Just pay attention to the Shimano hierarchy and aim as high as I can? Bumped my budget up a bit. Looking at some bikes from bikesdirect and bikeisland. The Gravity FSX (1.0, 2.0, 3.0) look pretty nice. But I cannot seem to find many reviews on them.

Have not looked on CL since upping the budget and deciding on dually.
Again cheap full suspension bikes are well cheap. I would not consider a fully unless you are willing to spend at least $500 - 600. To me entry level fully mountain bikes cost around $1300+
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Old 04-05-12, 03:11 PM   #9
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Hi Pamestique. Thank you for your tips and relation. Hope your buddy can get back on the saddle soon!

The bikes on bikeisland have scuffs and whatnot, so they are sold cheap. The Gravity 2.0 has midrange Shimano components. An article I read tested a dually and a ht against each other on 28 laps of varying terrain, all in-saddle and producing the same power. The results were that the dually produced the same power, with less effort, and faster times every time. This is what made me think I would want a dually. But, yes, I don't want a piecer...

Buying a used bike around $300+ would warrant me a good midrange dually, I would think. I found a Jamie nearby that had upper tier components and has great reviews. Year 2000 model. But not many like that, so it was a rare find, I think.
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Old 04-05-12, 04:17 PM   #10
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Jamis, I think is what you are referring to is a good name. Make sure that all the joints and connections are solid. Sounds like a good starter bike. If it fits and feels good, go work up a sweat. Post some pictures.
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Old 04-05-12, 07:51 PM   #11
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My phone must have autocorrected. >.<
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Old 04-05-12, 09:10 PM   #12
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One thing to keep in mind about getting a used bike is that if you get something that's actually a decent mountain bike, it shouldn't be hard to sell it & get your money back if you end up not liking the sport. Keep us posted on what you find & we can help you determine if it's a good deal or not (these other guys probably more so than myself...I have a history of being horrible at estimating used bike priced)
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Old 04-05-12, 09:21 PM   #13
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Yeah, I will definitely do that. Have been trying to educate myself on parts hierarchy but there are so many! And some bikes are mixed crap with good. Haha. Guess that'd be fixable though.

Will post findings when I am in the market.

Question: what are the components you would not go budget on? Say I'm looking at a bike with an awesome rear derailleur but a disturbing front? Idk, just an example.
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Old 04-05-12, 09:55 PM   #14
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It's a LOT to take in...I've been a regular of these forums for two years & I'm still awaiting advice on mid-level brakes on another thread.

You'll use your rear derailleur a lot more than the front because you'll have anywhere fron 7-10 gears back there that are closer in ratio, so that's a perfect example. Same with brakes...the front gets 75-80% of braking power so you'll use it a lot more than the rear. However, I find that it's much easier to get the hang of proper distribution of braking power if your brakes are the same front & rear (unless you're a really skilled rider, in which case many people will have larger front rotors than rear).

But really the one thing you don't want to skimp out on is the frame. Everything else can be upgraded piece by piece if you decide to hold onto the same bike, but replacing the frame is much more costly & difficult. Next to that I would personally go with the quality of the wheels because I've had bad experiences with cheap wheels going out of true. Then fork (some may put this ahead of wheels), brakes, derailleurs, seat, crankset, handlebars/stem, chain in that order for me. Others will probably rank importance somewhat or even very differently, but I think everyone will agree that the frame is the most important.
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Old 04-05-12, 11:50 PM   #15
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Anything I should look for in particular as far as the frame goes?
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Old 04-06-12, 06:21 AM   #16
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For frame material, look for either 6061 or 7075 Aluminum, or 4130 steel. Thoroughly inspect the frame for any dents or fractures. If there's even a tiny crack or dent in the frame, keep looking.
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Old 04-06-12, 09:55 AM   #17
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Awesome. Thanks a lot. Going to be putting my Super Le Tour up for sale on CL, so I am hoping to be in the MTB market soon!
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Old 04-06-12, 01:00 PM   #18
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For frame material, look for either 6061 or 7075 Aluminum...
or 7005 AL


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...I find that it's much easier to get the hang of proper distribution of braking power if your brakes are the same front & rear (unless you're a really skilled rider, in which case many people will have larger front rotors than rear).
I'm NOT a really skilled rider - does this mean I need to downsize the 180mm front rotors on all my bikes?
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Old 04-06-12, 07:21 PM   #19
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Here is a Specialized Hardrock 17": http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/bik/2907170916.html

He is willing to take-in trades, and is interested in my Super Le Tour. Pretty sure he would trade for the Specialized. According to BikePedia, it is either a 1996 or a 1995. Pretty low-tier components. But think it's a good trade? The Super Le Tours were midrange road bikes, and are somewhat hard to find now.

Steel, not double-butted, low-end... Hmm. Think I could do better?

edit: Here is another, newer bike: http://sprockettsrecycledbicycles.co...gt-idrive-6-0/
Possible trade, as well.

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Old 04-07-12, 09:57 AM   #20
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The price on the GT seems fair. You have learned well this week , The Force in you is strong!

I'm glad to see a shop like Sprocket Recycled keeping some old players in the game. Affordability on old classics is good.
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Old 04-07-12, 10:03 AM   #21
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Hmm. Looked at the BikePedia page for that GT, and the 6.0 is rock bottom, Wal-Fart quality. "/

Today, I am headed over to BikeWorks - a local co-op - to see if they can help me with getting the shifter cable end into the lever of my wife's '74 Suburban. Having some issues. Will also be taking my '83 Super Le Tour over there to see if they want to do any trades or anything on some nicer mountain bikes.
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Old 04-07-12, 10:19 AM   #22
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Hope you make out at the co-op. That 83 Super LeTour has a really nice frame. I had one that I flipped and regretted parting with it almost immediatley. It was a very tight frame, handled well and rode great. Around here a 83 Super LeTour would sell for at least $150, but you could try for more, maybe $180 or $200. Of course, I'm a long way from Seattle.
Let us know how you're making out.
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Old 04-07-12, 10:27 AM   #23
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Hope you make out at the co-op. That 83 Super LeTour has a really nice frame. I had one that I flipped and regretted parting with it almost immediatley. It was a very tight frame, handled well and rode great. Around here a 83 Super LeTour would sell for at least $150, but you could try for more, maybe $180 or $200. Of course, I'm a long way from Seattle.
Let us know how you're making out.
Thanks, rocco!

I wish I could detail this thing... Well, I could, but the tear-down would be my first time doing so, and all I have to work with is a small 5x7' balcony off our apartment, with slatted wood floor, thus requiring I throw down the tarp. So, yeah, detailing it would probably be quite irritating and possibly end up losing something. Ha!

I'm hoping to at least find a midlevel hardtail at the co-op. Most co-ops deal with older bikes and department-store bikes, so hopefully I'll find something with Deore/LX or higher components. Think that's reasonable?

Looks like they have a few mtb's. Here is a pic of their shop (they also have a warehouse and "retail" space) with bikes currently being worked on:
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Old 04-07-12, 08:49 PM   #24
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or 7005 AL

DOH! ^^What I meant


I'm NOT a really skilled rider - does this mean I need to downsize the 180mm front rotors on all my bikes?

In comparison to someone who has never MTB's before, I would assume you're a very skilled rider, which was the basis of that statement. It would have been more accurate to say "once you get the hang of riding", but that's why, in almost every other piece of advice I give other than this one exception, I add something along the lines of "someone correct me if I'm wrong, I'm anything but an expert".
..
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Old 04-08-12, 01:43 AM   #25
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Wait, what's wrong with communism?

Ha. Found a lot of nice bikes at BikeWorks today.

Trek singletrack 930 white 15" $55
Schwinn moab black 17" $75
GT Tequesta grey 16" $80
Trek 930 black 16" $65
Cannondale Caffine F3 17" $85 (Shimano LX)
KHS Crost grey/black 15" $60
Bianchi Lynx yellow 16" $75

Looked them all up on BikePedia, and the Cannodale looks to be the best.
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