I'm in the market for a new bike (400-500 dollar range), and test rode a few at my LBS today.
They carry Fisher, Trek, and Specialized.
I rode the Specialized Rockhopper and all three versions of the Hardrock, the Fisher Tassahara (or however you say it) and the Marlin. I didn't ride the Trek, as I've never been a fan.
What I noticed on all the bikes I rode (except the Tass, which is out of my price range), is that they all shifted like crap. Not so much the rear, those were all pretty good, but the fronts. On all the bikes I had to fidget with the shifter to get the front gears to shift right. Annoyed the crap out of me.
First one I rode was the Hardrock Sport Disc. First thing I noticed was that it weighs a ton. I guess this is to be expected at this price point. I also noticed that it seemed very noisy. I could feel this vibration coming through it, and it was making a noise like the chain was rubbing somewhere, but it didn't seem to be. I also noticed the front derailer tended to do what it wanted, it was very uncooperative. I thought the discs were cool till I rode it, then I realized that they didn't stop any better than standard brakes and were most likely a waste of money. Reading the boards here confirmed that. They wanted $439 for it.
Then a I rode the Hardrock Sport with V-brakes. I thought it stopped BETTER than the disc version. It also seemed quieter and didn't have the wierd vibe the other one did. Still shifted lowsy though. They wanted $349 for it. I also felt (on both Sports) that the front fork was a little spongy, although it did have impressive travel.
Next I rode the Hardrock Comp, and liked that one better.The Marzocchi fork felt better, and it shifted a little better, but still not to my liking. The red and black flamed paint job was killer though. This one was $549.
Then I rode the standard Rockhopper, at the bike store guy's suggestion. Seemed to shift a little better, but otherwise didn't do anything for me. $500 for this one.
I tried the Fisher Tass, mainly because I wanted to try out the Deore components. This one was 619, and shifted the best. Also had a better fork, and had a great ride. I also liked that all of the cables were run over the top tube. I DIDN'T like the color (I know, just being picky), the fact that it only came with 1.95 tires compared to 2.2 on the Specialized, and lastly, I'm not a Trek fan, and last I heard, Trek owned Fisher.
The Marlin was okay, it was $519. It shifted better than the Spec. bikes, but not as good as the Tass, because the components were downgraded. It also had a downgraded fork. Plus it had a hideous paint scheme. This teal color with red orange and yellow flames aorund the Fisher logo.
This bad shifting, how do I fix it? Is it just something I need to live with at this price point?
Just for background, my last bike was a '95 Marin Eldridge Grade. I bought it in 96 as a leftover. It had full LX components on it, with rapidfire shifters. It was on sale for 599, IIRC, and it was rigid. I had them install a Judy XC front fork when I bought it. Even at almost ten years old, it shifted better than the bikes I rode today. It was also a good bit lighter. It was Tange double butted Chro-Mo IIRC. I'd still have it if some fawker hadn't stolen it. Now funds don't allow me to get another bike in that price range.
So do I just have to suffer with crappy components on the lower end bikes I can afford? Or is it possible that a great tune up would fix the shifting? Or maybe I should try and get the bike shop to upgrade the derailers/shifter for me at time of purchase?
And actually, what controls shift quality, the shifters of the derailers? (oh, and yes, I know I've been spelling that wrong the whole time...sorry)
Thanks for any info.
I feel like a newbie, the last time I did any bike research was back in '96, and it seems like EVERYTHING has changed since then. I;m totally lost when it comes to the current stuff.