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  1. #1
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    First Bike Opinions

    Hi guys, I'm new to the biking world - about to buy my first MB.

    As a student+inexperienced biker, I'm not going to buy a $500 bike... but I have looked at nearby Canadian Tire/Walmart.

    Sport 700c" Mens Bike | Walmart.ca
    or
    26" Men's Peak Bike | Walmart.ca
    or
    K26 | Walmart.ca

    or

    CCM Nitro XT 26-in Mountain Bike | Canadian Tire
    or
    CCM Equator Men's 26-in Mountain Bike | Canadian Tire


    I'm ignoring the frame material right now because I only want the bike to last ~5 years. Not too long.

    My main use will be road/sidewalk/light trails. Nothing too rough.

    My question is, are these good bikes for their price or are they just ripping me off?

    If you guys know of any alright bikes under $300 for a beginner, let me know!

  2. #2
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    It's not that they're ripping you off, per say, it's just that they're not good bikes. They're heavy, have crappy components, and are most likely shoddily assembled. If all you're doing is riding on the road around the block, they'll be fine. Anything more than that, and you'll want a real bike. For $300, your best bet is to look for a hardtail on Craigslist. Should be plenty of bikes in that price range.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JameB View Post
    Hi guys, I'm new to the biking world - about to buy my first MB.

    As a student+inexperienced biker, I'm not going to buy a $500 bike... but I have looked at nearby Canadian Tire/Walmart.

    Sport 700c" Mens Bike | Walmart.ca
    or
    26" Men's Peak Bike | Walmart.ca
    or
    K26 | Walmart.ca

    or

    CCM Nitro XT 26-in Mountain Bike | Canadian Tire
    or
    CCM Equator Men's 26-in Mountain Bike | Canadian Tire


    I'm ignoring the frame material right now because I only want the bike to last ~5 years. Not too long.

    My main use will be road/sidewalk/light trails. Nothing too rough.

    My question is, are these good bikes for their price or are they just ripping me off?

    If you guys know of any alright bikes under $300 for a beginner, let me know!
    Seriously, do yourself a favor and skip on the box-store bicycles. They have crappy components and the bike just won't last. Don't quote me on this, but I've read that the normal life of a box-store "mountain bike" is between 10-25 hours of usage under average mountain biking conditions.

    Also, consider this. Do you want the same guy who just put a grill together putting your bike together? Just sayin'...
    - Dan \m/

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    Sounds like I need to make a trip to a local bike store :O

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JameB View Post
    Sounds like I need to make a trip to a local bike store :O
    That'd be a good idea.

    Also keep in mind a lot of LBS (local bike shops) will NOT work on a box-store bicycle, and if they do, they will charge you more to do it. My local store will work on them, but they not only charge additional charges, but they do not guarantee the work on them due to the component groups being so poor.

    If you go to a Walmart and spend $300 on a bike, or go to a LBS and buy a $300 bike, even though they are the same price, the bike you get from the LBS is going to be the better bike. While the component group still isn't going to be the best, it will be more reliable than the one on the Walmart bike.

    Here's some interesting info for you. Go to Walmart and find a Schwinn bike. Then, go home, look on Schwinn's website, and that bike will NOT even be listed on their website. Those bikes are such crap, Schwinn won't even list them. The Schwinn bikes you get at an LBS store are far different from the ones you find at Walmart. While Schwinn bikes still have the reputation for being "cheap" bicycles, the ones you get at an LBS are actually pretty good bikes.

    I got my parents two of Schwinn's "Signature Series" cruisers last year and they've been great bikes. They ride them quite a bit. No hiccups, failures, etc. They've been great.

    Here's my 2011 Schwinn...Carbon fiber frame, Shimano 105 group set. Sure, there are some parts that could SERIOUSLY be upgraded like the Tektro brakes (brake upgrade is about $100 for Shimano 105) and the wheels, but other than those parts, it's a solid performer.

    ...As for my GT Avalanche, RIP. It was lost when our car was rear-ended in an accident. I loved that bike.

    - Dan \m/

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    That Schwinn on the right looks gorgeous..!

    And the way I see it, realistically, I'll probably need two bikes. One that's a good bike, and one that's a $100 cheap bike that I can leave in front of a mall and not have to worry about it being stolen.

    What are some of the key things I should look for? I've read around a few threads - they generally suggest (for my price range):
    - 6061 aluminum alloy
    - Trigger shifter as opposed to grip shifter
    - SRAM derailleurs
    - Ignore the front derailleur, ensure that the rear derailleur is of good quality and moulded (?)
    - Front suspension only

    Am I on the right track? And have I missed something major?

  7. #7
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    If your gonna do any trail with rocks and ruts, one thing I learned after three bikes in a year, was the problems with FreeWHEEL vs FreeHUB. After bending several axles on the weak freeWHEEL design, I had to upgrade to a better bike that had wheel with a freeHUB. Much tougher on the trails.

    The better Alivio shifters and Deore derailleur made a huge difference in my ability, and made the ride less of a mechanical challenge, and more of a biking challenge.

    I finally got the 2014 GT Karakoram Elite and have been extremely happy!!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JameB View Post
    That Schwinn on the right looks gorgeous..!

    And the way I see it, realistically, I'll probably need two bikes. One that's a good bike, and one that's a $100 cheap bike that I can leave in front of a mall and not have to worry about it being stolen.

    What are some of the key things I should look for? I've read around a few threads - they generally suggest (for my price range):
    - 6061 aluminum alloy
    - Trigger shifter as opposed to grip shifter
    - SRAM derailleurs
    - Ignore the front derailleur, ensure that the rear derailleur is of good quality and moulded (?)
    - Front suspension only

    Am I on the right track? And have I missed something major?
    Thanks for the compliments on my roadie!

    I've never used grip-shifters for MTBing, but I would expect to have more control with the trigger-based ones. Of course, I could be wrong in my statement, but I think the grip-shifts are normally cheaper components, or at least the ones I'm familiar are.

    There's no reason why you need SRAM derailleurs. SRAM is nothing more than a brand, just as Shimano is. The only reason you would "need" SRAM derailleurs is because you're brand-specific. For me, I don't like having Shimano derailleurs and SRAM shifters, or vice-versa. If I'm going to go with a component group for derailleurs and shifters, I prefer to stay with the same.

    I wouldn't ignore the front derailleur, but I could probably skimp on it. Most of the time you'll be using the rear derailleur, so you definitely want a good rear derailleur. You'll also want a fairly good quality cassette, as it'll be taking a lot of abuse on those climbs.

    If you plan on doing a lot of rougher terrain, you'd wanna spring for a full suspension, but if you're just going to do some nice, flowing single track with some little jumps here and there, you'll be just fine with a hardtail. You definitely don't want to be doing drop-offs on a hardtail.

    Quote Originally Posted by Livedb View Post
    If your gonna do any trail with rocks and ruts, one thing I learned after three bikes in a year, was the problems with FreeWHEEL vs FreeHUB. After bending several axles on the weak freeWHEEL design, I had to upgrade to a better bike that had wheel with a freeHUB. Much tougher on the trails.

    The better Alivio shifters and Deore derailleur made a huge difference in my ability, and made the ride less of a mechanical challenge, and more of a biking challenge.

    I finally got the 2014 GT Karakoram Elite and have been extremely happy!!
    Congrats on the GT. Photos?
    - Dan \m/

  9. #9
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    Just not sure if the OP is going to get to love the trails as much as I did quickly, so spend a little bit more now where you can. I was thinking that I wouldn't do much more than some smooth trail, but I found my aria is incredibly blessed with great trails!


    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post

    Congrats on the GT. Photos?
    Why I do happen to have a few....lol It came with Hydraulic brakes too, but they do have a model or even two lower that still have some great components with standard disc brakes. But I found for an extra 100 buck now, i could get a much better bike to start with. I am now really sold on the GT brand.



    Last edited by Livedb; 05-22-14 at 06:19 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Livedb View Post
    Just not sure if the OP is going to get to love the trails as much as I did quickly, so spend a little bit more now where you can. I was thinking that I wouldn't do much more than some smooth trail, but I found my aria is incredibly blessed with great trails!




    Why I do happen to have a few....lol



    Great photos of the rig! Before I bought my Flash, I looked at the Karakoram, but I just couldn't get comfortable. I tried a medium size and a large, and they just both seemed to have the wrong geometry for me. I was pretty disappointed, especially since I really like GT. I miss my 2010 Avalanche 1.0 soooo much.

    A lot of people have always told me to spend as much money on a bike as I could afford. I'm glad I've invested some cash into buying a decent bike, as it does get its fair share of usage. Unfortunately, it's seen more usage this year along a dirt path than actual MTBing. Every weekend we plan on going MTBing, it either rains the day before, or rains on the day we plan on going. It's really annoying.

    My wife's first MTB was a GT Avalanche 3.0. She doesn't ride as hard as I do, so she decided to go for a cheaper one. Given the abuse she put that thing through with all her crashes, falls, drops, etc., it held up really well, but we still managed to replace a front derailleur. She also managed to break a tooth off a chain-ring. I'm not quite sure how she managed to do it, but she found a way.

    We lost both of our GTs when we were rear-ended in a car accident. While I got my Flash 2, she got a Specialized Jett Comp, which she's been pretty happy with. When we lost the GTs, we used it as an excuse to upgrade to 29ers. There are a lot of things we like more about the 29ers, but I do miss the more nimble handling of the 26ers. Given a choice between the two, I'd go with the 29ers again.

    When we first started MTBing, I KNEW I was gonna love it, but I had my doubts about her. It turns out she had just as good a time, and she really enjoys a lot of it. I still can't get her to climb obstacles or descend down large hills, but it is what it is. If those types of things are outside of her comfort zone, I'm not gonna press her about it, but I do think she should at least give some of the easier things a try.
    - Dan \m/

  11. #11
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    For $300 you can get yourself a really nice used bike with good quality components on your local online classifieds. Dont waste your money on box store garbage. They arent worth the box that they come in
    Feel the burn, feel the pain, avoid changing gears, its single speed time!

  12. #12
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    Jameb, I just picked up a 2013 GT Karakoram 29" MTB from Nashbar for $375.00. plush tax and shipping. The local Performance shop had it for $499.00 and would not discount. Nashbar is constantly running different sales. You just have to catch the one that is the best. Now, with that said, if you're new to biking, you most likely will not be experienced to assemble the bike. So you would still need to get it to a bike shop and pay for assembly. Or get a friend to help. But I would highly recommend this bike for the price you can't go wrong. Right now I believe they are only doing 10% off. But they did have it at 21 and 25% off. Which is when I purchased.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by quattroG View Post
    Jameb, I just picked up a 2013 GT Karakoram 29" MTB from Nashbar for $375.00. plush tax and shipping. The local Performance shop had it for $499.00 and would not discount. Nashbar is constantly running different sales. You just have to catch the one that is the best. Now, with that said, if you're new to biking, you most likely will not be experienced to assemble the bike. So you would still need to get it to a bike shop and pay for assembly. Or get a friend to help. But I would highly recommend this bike for the price you can't go wrong. Right now I believe they are only doing 10% off. But they did have it at 21 and 25% off. Which is when I purchased.
    The downsides to buying online are not being able to try the bike for comfort, and of course, if there needed to be a warranty claim or return for some reason. Do these companies stand behind their sales?

    Using the Karakoram as an example, I had my mind set on another GT after my Avalanche got destroyed, but when I sat on the Karakoram, I hated the geometry. I tried both, medium and large sizes, and the comfort and fit for me were all wrong; disappointing, to say the least.

    What are the return policies as far as these types if things? Am I stuck paying the S&H costs to have the bike shipped back? That could be pretty expensive.
    - Dan \m/

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
    The downsides to buying online are not being able to try the bike for comfort, and of course, if there needed to be a warranty claim or return for some reason. Do these companies stand behind their sales?
    What are the return policies as far as these types if things? Am I stuck paying the S&H costs to have the bike shipped back? That could be pretty expensive.
    Yes both valid concerns. But as in most cases when buying online, do you homework first. Go to the local bike shops and find something you like. Then look for the best price online. And as far as returns, again, check that out first before purchase. My example is just to show that I was able to save over $125.00 on the bike vs the local performance bike shop's price. But again, I have assembled and tuned bikes before. I'm just making a point here that the OP can find better bikes in his/her price range than the local big box retail store bike..

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by quattroG View Post
    Yes both valid concerns. But as in most cases when buying online, do you homework first. Go to the local bike shops and find something you like. Then look for the best price online. And as far as returns, again, check that out first before purchase. My example is just to show that I was able to save over $125.00 on the bike vs the local performance bike shop's price. But again, I have assembled and tuned bikes before. I'm just making a point here that the OP can find better bikes in his/her price range than the local big box retail store bike..
    No doubt. Then, there's a whole other level of problems (maybe?) by going to an LBS and "showrooming" a bicycle, then buying elsewhere.

    For example, let's say I head to my LBS, a salesperson spends a considerable amount of time with me, and I decide I like a GT bike. This LBS may be the only shop in the area who carries GT. I do some shopping around and find a better deal online, so I purchase that bike online. Let's say down the line, I need that bicycle serviced or a warranty repair of some type carried out and they're the only GT dealer within 150 miles. I'm now going to be forced to drive three hours to get my bike serviced, or have to deal with a guy whom I've wasted his time. He's not exactly going to be pleased to see me, and I'm probably not going to get good service, and if I do get any service at all, I'm probably going to be raked through the coals. It's a case of burning bridges.

    While that is just a scenario, it is a possible scenario. Now, if I were, to say, purchase a Cannondale, a brand this LBS did not carry, and choose to have my bike serviced at this same LBS, treatment would probably be different.

    Anyway, it's not always a good idea to "showroom." Even if I gave the LBS the opportunity to price-match and they declined, I still probably wouldn't be very welcome in that store.

    There are also other variables to consider. For instance, if you buy from an LBS as to online, sometimes you will get a year or two of free maintenance, services, and tunings, you may also get a discount on items like a bike rack, helmet, hydration pack, and other cycling-related clothing, which as we all know, can add up to quite an expense. The price of the bike is just the beginning. My wife and I have probably spent just as much money on equipment as we have on bicycles.
    - Dan \m/

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    Is Nashbar an online bike retailer or are they a brand of bike or are the both? I see Nashbar bikes and I see other manufacturer's bikes on THEIR website... :S


    They're having a sale right now (20% off), I'll be visiting LBS next week some time! *fingers crossed*

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by JameB View Post
    Is Nashbar an online bike retailer or are they a brand of bike or are the both? I see Nashbar bikes and I see other manufacturer's bikes on THEIR website... :S


    They're having a sale right now (20% off), I'll be visiting LBS next week some time! *fingers crossed*
    Both. They sell branded items, then their "house brand" items, kinda like Performance Bike, whose "house brand" is Scattante.
    - Dan \m/

  18. #18
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    Nashbar or their full name is Bike Nashbar, is owned by the same company as Performance. They were purchased several yeas ago by Performance. They are now considered the "close out" retailer for the chain. I went to the local Performance and asked if they would match the online price and they would not.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by quattroG View Post
    Nashbar or their full name is Bike Nashbar, is owned by the same company as Performance. They were purchased several yeas ago by Performance. They are now considered the "close out" retailer for the chain. I went to the local Performance and asked if they would match the online price and they would not.
    And that would be why I saw a Schwinn Paramount Series 7 (Performance Bike Exclusive) like mine on Nashbar's site a few years back...
    - Dan \m/

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    SO everything good at my LBSes is 400+.. :|

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    You can find a mid-level mountain bike on the Bay or CL for cheap and it will be far better in quality than the big box store bike.

    Occasionally, high end bikes will appear at your price point that are a terrific value.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
    You can find a mid-level mountain bike on the Bay or CL for cheap and it will be far better in quality than the big box store bike.

    Occasionally, high end bikes will appear at your price point that are a terrific value.
    SOrry, but which stores are those? :S

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    They're not sold in stores. A used bike is often a better value than a new one.

  24. #24
    Pint-Sized Gnar Shredder Zephyr11's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JameB View Post
    SOrry, but which stores are those? :S
    He's referring to used bikes on eBay and Craigslist. Generally, as long as you're knowledgeable, that's a great way to get to find good deals. However, if you don't know what you're looking for, it's very easy to get ripped off and overpay/buy worn out equipment.

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    Not sure how far you are to these, but this may be worth a look. There really isn't a very good selection right now for CL.

    GT Avalanche 4.0 mtb downtown toronto

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