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Old 04-09-05, 10:32 PM   #1
Jeeper
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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.

Anyway...

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.
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Old 04-09-05, 10:54 PM   #2
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My previous bike had an Altus/Acera drivetrain and I thought it shifted fine. The front derailleur did require that I set it up and not my lbs mech to get it shifting sweetly though. The rear didnt really respond much to my fiddling but it shifted OK but not as solidly as my current LX setup.
(EDIT)
Pre-tension, that is I set the front shifter to run so that there was always real tension in the cable. That way the derailleur would respond instantly rather than first taking up the slack.
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Old 04-09-05, 11:02 PM   #3
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Oh ok, thanks for the tip about the pre tensioning. That may be the problem, because it seemed like on all the bikes I rode there was alot of travel in the thumbshifter before the it actually started to move.

I plan on riding them again, so I'll have to mention it to the guys at the shop the next time I go.
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Old 04-09-05, 11:29 PM   #4
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Yes.
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Old 04-09-05, 11:32 PM   #5
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Yes what? They all shift like crap? So is it worth it to upgrade parts, or do I need to increase my price range?

Great quote, btw. DKM is one of my favorite bands. I've seen them a bunch of times, they always put on a great show. It's nice living right near their hometown.
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Old 04-09-05, 11:37 PM   #6
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Altus/Acera are designed for price, not for functionality.
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Old 04-10-05, 12:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper
I'm in the market for a new bike (400-500 dollar range), and test rode a few at my LBS today.
Thios is why we have the $500 MTB thread stickied
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper


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.
Could also be the LBS wrench's fault
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper

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.
Wow their wrench SUCKS. My $250 bikes run as quiet as the more expensive ones. I want the descisin to be based on the bikes merits not how crummy the thing is adjusted. There's no excuse for that. As for the discs again- that can be traced to poor wrenching.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper

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.
At least they seem to be able to adjust V's correctly
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Originally Posted by Jeeper

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.
New LBS
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper

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.
Tires can be changed
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Originally Posted by Jeeper


This bad shifting, how do I fix it? Is it just something I need to live with at this price point?
Find a different shop
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper

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?
.
There's no excuse for that. It sounds like the bikes were slapped together and the wrench never rode them. That's BS in my opinion. There's no reason things sould be RUBBING on a new bike. Totally inexcuseable
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Old 04-10-05, 10:09 AM   #8
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Raiyn, thanks for the info.

I read the $500 bike thread (all 19 pages!) , and actually posted this there too. I didn't really find the info I was looking for in there though. I also felt this question fell a little out of the scope of that thread because I'm not looking for a recommendation on a bike, I'm just trying to find out about shifting.

Anyway, I'm thinking your right about the shop. Every bike I rode, they had to put air in the tires first, because they were all really soft. And on the Hardrock Sport Disc, the handlebars came loose at the end of my test ride. I bunnyhopped it, and when I came down, the bars spun a little in the stem. I thought I broke something till I realized it was just loose. I told the guy about it, but by that point I wasn't fussy about the bike anyway because of the noises. Also, the rear derailler cable was all frayed, they didn't have it crimped. Looked very amateurish.

I know of another shop that carries Specialized, I'm going to check them out. They also have a 30-day money back policy, I think that's pretty cool.

Oh, and I realize I can swap out tires and such, but I'd rather not get into all that. I just want to buy something set up like I want out of the box. Plus, some bikes can't fit a 2.2 tires, I know they wouldn't fit on my old Marin.

One last question. Is the Hardrock Sport frame worth upgrading at all? Or should I look elsewhere?

Thanks alot for the info, I appreciate it.
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Old 04-10-05, 10:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper
Raiyn, thanks for the info.

I read the $500 bike thread (all 19 pages!) , and actually posted this there too. I didn't really find the info I was looking for in there though. I also felt this question fell a little out of the scope of that thread because I'm not looking for a recommendation on a bike, I'm just trying to find out about shifting.

Anyway, I'm thinking your right about the shop. Every bike I rode, they had to put air in the tires first, because they were all really soft. And on the Hardrock Sport Disc, the handlebars came loose at the end of my test ride. I bunnyhopped it, and when I came down, the bars spun a little in the stem. I thought I broke something till I realized it was just loose. I told the guy about it, but by that point I wasn't fussy about the bike anyway because of the noises. Also, the rear derailler cable was all frayed, they didn't have it crimped. Looked very amateurish.

I know of another shop that carries Specialized, I'm going to check them out. They also have a 30-day money back policy, I think that's pretty cool.

Oh, and I realize I can swap out tires and such, but I'd rather not get into all that. I just want to buy something set up like I want out of the box. Plus, some bikes can't fit a 2.2 tires, I know they wouldn't fit on my old Marin.

One last question. Is the Hardrock Sport frame worth upgrading at all? Or should I look elsewhere?

Thanks alot for the info, I appreciate it.
I have a Hardrock Sport (non-disc) and I think it's great. Vibration: don't know, but sounds like something's wrong with the bike. Shifting? You can always upgrade the derailleurs right?
I think the Hardrock Sport frame is good all around, it feels very strong and (in my opinion) isn't very heavy. I'd go for the Hardrock Comp if you have the money, a) better fork b) discs (maybe not good ones but at least the wheelset will have disc hubs) c) flames

What I want to upgrade on my Hardrock is the fork and the wheelset aswell as discs later. (the wheels are already quite untrue, still not enough to affect the braking though)
One of the issues with the RST Gila T5 fork on the HR Sport is that the rubber seal things unstick really fast and I'm going to have to stick them with zipties. When I took it to the LBS the guy wrote into the computer: "Lubrificar guardapolvos" which is the equivalent, in English, of lube the rubber seals (I'm not sure if they're called rubber seals but oh well )
I'm sorry but lube it my ass, 2 hours later the things already slid up and down again.
Overall, if you have the money, I'd go for the HR Comp.
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Old 04-10-05, 11:43 AM   #10
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Don't worry about the $500 MTB thread. The creator of it, refers everyone to it when they mention anything about a new bike. I am getting annoyed with that. That thread is LOOOOOONG and usually not that helpful.

Back to the subject: I just replaced an Acera rear derailleur with an LX. The Acera was starting to develop some extra play so I replaced it. It did shift very well. After replacing it with the LX i can tell you that it really shifts no better.

It is built a lot better and looks a lot smoother in operation but a properly tuned derailleur should always shift well. Tuning is the key.
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Old 04-10-05, 01:48 PM   #11
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a properly tuned derailleur should always shift well. Tuning is the key.
Agreed 100%, I use the Tourney RD (the next one down from Altus/Acera) purely becuase I get through derailures like a ***** through sailors and properly tuned they always work fine.
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Old 04-10-05, 01:52 PM   #12
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No, I've got Acera's on my CrossCountry and I have to say it shifts fine. Could be better but with some maintance now and then it'll do it's job.
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Old 04-10-05, 03:14 PM   #13
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Front deraileurs are dirt cheap. Buy a XT for 20 bucks if you dont like the Altus....
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Old 04-10-05, 03:32 PM   #14
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No.

Any mainstream stuff can be made to shift well-- if it is not shifting well it is because the adjustment is incorrect (of course, I am assuming that the components are in reasonably good condition and that things aren't bent or worn out).
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Old 04-10-05, 03:36 PM   #15
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You get what you pay for . . . anyone can build a cheaper product, but that does not make it better, just cheaper!
Save your $$ and buy a better equipped bike.
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Old 04-10-05, 03:48 PM   #16
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Most of the inexpensive deraileurs will shift fine if properly maintained. For how long is the issue. New Acera/Altus although lower end should last the new rider a while before they need to upgrade.

I purchased 20 low end Comfort bikes with TY-30/40 (low end and then some) components and Revoshifters on them in 1999. They were used as rentals but only on the road. I NEVER replaced a component on any of these bikes. I just maintained them. I sold them last fall for just about what I paid for them. Thhey still shifted reasonably well and the new owners were thrilled to have them. The key is maintenance. Personally I can't ride a bike with anything loose without my noticing it. I'm real anal about mechanical stuff.
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Old 04-10-05, 06:31 PM   #17
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My louis garneau with sis parts still shifts reasonably well after 4 years and 500 miles or so.

About on par with my Kona's altus/acera on the road, off-road is probably a different story.
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Old 04-10-05, 07:13 PM   #18
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Ok, thanks for all the great replies. These were all brand new bikes, so wear shouldn't be an issue. I guess they just weren't properly adjusted.

I'm going to take the advice I recieved in another thread....don't fork over any cash thill they adjust it to my liking.

Thanks.
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