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  1. #1
    Senior Member Garilia's Avatar
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    Shopping for a new bike after 25 years, beginning again

    For the people who like to cut to the chase, I'm considering a 29er MTB, possibly one of the 2011 Giant Talons, or a Specialized Hard Rock Sport.

    Now some background information that helps inform you about what might work or not work for me:

    Okay, so 25 years ago I bought my first "real bike." I looked it up recently,and it was a 1985 Trek 300. I road it a lot in the beginning, but then we started having kids, and I started putting on weight, and after awhile it felt skittish under me. I wound up not riding it for years, and I sold it about 15 years ago. I'm 5'9" (male) and weighed around 155 when I bought it. Within 5 years I was over 200, and just a few months ago I was 270.

    I've recently made a new commitment to my personal fitness (something about the being 100 or more pounds overweight,and hitting 50 years old that woke me up). I've dropped 50 pounds and plan to drop at least 50 more, and I want to start biking again.

    I'm very active in boy scouts with my boys, and do camp, raft, canoe, hike...

    I live in South Florida and have access to decent (but always busy) roads, and some nice trail riding at various parks. Two weeks ago I was thinking "hybrid." And two shops were pushing me towards the Trek 7300, and a third was mentioning the Specialized Crosstrail.

    As I've done more research (including reading/lurking in this bike forum and a couple of others, and reading lots of bike reviews) I don't think a hybrid is what will work best for me. I went and visited 4 more local bike shops and got more to think about.

    The hybrids just won't work for the trails at the parks around here. There's some really nice off-road trails, and you need a mountain bike. All 4 shops I visited today were unanimous about that. However, I would like it to be an all-purpose bike, where I could ride on paved paths/roads, and possibly do some longer road rides as my son works on the cycling merit badge.

    I have a friend that owns a K2 mountain bike from Sports Authority for trail riding, but he realized after putting 23 miles around town he needed another bnike and he bought a K2 hybrid and loves it. On the other extreme, I have a friend who bought a Cannondale Bad Boy hybrid, did a lot of road riding (about 70 miles a week, with 50 milers on weekends) and he recently sold that and bought a more expensive aluminum Cannondale road bike (I think it's the CAAD9 4).

    I don't want to buy two cheap bikes, and I can't afford two good ones right now. I have a feeling I might do more trail and recreational riding, with the occasional road ride thrown in. I'm not interested in competing or racing, just having fun riding.

    Sorry for being long-winded, but I wanted to give any of you experts, some background information.

    One of the salespeople (and a friend of mine, another scouter who is a firefighter, but used to work at a bike shop his dad owned) said that you could get a mountain bike and change the tires for the different ride you're going to do.

    So that's how the 29ers came into play. I test rode the Giant Talon2 today, and it felt great under me...in the parking lot. I test rode a Specialized Hard Rock Sport 29, and I don't like the shop. The sales guy just pulled it off the floor and rolled it out the door for me, while the Giant sales guy took it to the back and checked the tire pressure, adjusted the seat height for me, rode it himself once around the parking lot to make sure it was riding right, then gave me a quick inservice on the shifters. While riding the Specialized when I coasted with one leg up and one leg down, my thigh would rub against the seat stay.

    I actually liked two of the shops today, (and they both are Giant dealers...coincidence???) They told me I could buy 700c tires, in the 35-45 range and switch them out for road riding. The front suspension locks, and the seat post is quickly adjustable for a trail vs. a road riding position. I would think of adding end bars to offer a little variation in hand position.

    Some specs on the Talons: Both have disc brakes, 100mm suspension forks, both have SRAM trigger shifters and rear derailleur. The Talon 1 is about $150 more, and for that, key upgrades include hydraulic rather than mechanical disc brakes, an upgrade on the suspension fork to an SR Raidon 29, a front derailleur upgrade from a Shimano Alivo to a Deore, the trigger shifters and rear derailleurs upgrade to a SRAM x.5, as well as an upgraded hub and wheelset.

    First question, Am I out of my mind to try and make this MTB a road worthy bike by simply buying a second set of tires?

    Second question, are the upgrades on the Talon 1, worth spending $150 more?

    Third question (kind of piggybacking on the first), should I consider just buying a cheaper MTB, and see if a decent used road bike ever becomes available?

    If you're still reading this, I thank you, and I look forward to any input.

  2. #2
    Ridin' South Cackalacky dahut's Avatar
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    Whatever you get, add at least $150 to the budget for spare tubes, tires, brake pads, fitted replacement seat, helmets, replacement chains, tools, etc.
    "Watch out for giants; they are boorish fools with tongues wagging, drunk upon their own words.
    They will try to teach you a lesson if given the chance, and you will stumble over their stinking feet."

  3. #3
    Senior Member Garilia's Avatar
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    Thanks Dahut, I'm budgeting those things in.

    I see in your sig that you have a Gavin Acele. I've been seeing the bikes on Roadbikeoutlet.com and BikesDirect.com, and as always, these off-brands seem too good to be true. Did you get your Gavin through roadbikeoutlet.com? There's a part of me that's considering two bikes, if I can get them a little cheaper. I'm looking for any info on those online companies and their brands: Vilano and Gavin from RBO.com and Motobecane, Mercier, Windsor, Dawes, Gravity...from BD.com

  4. #4
    Ridin' South Cackalacky dahut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garilia View Post
    Thanks Dahut, I'm budgeting those things in.

    I see in your sig that you have a Gavin Acele. I've been seeing the bikes on Roadbikeoutlet.com and BikesDirect.com, and as always, these off-brands seem too good to be true. Did you get your Gavin through roadbikeoutlet.com? There's a part of me that's considering two bikes, if I can get them a little cheaper. I'm looking for any info on those online companies and their brands: Vilano and Gavin from RBO.com and Motobecane, Mercier, Windsor, Dawes, Gravity...from BD.com
    I got the Gavin used - - well, ridden once.

    "Too good to be true," is relative to value. A Cadillac for one dollar would be too good to be true. But a bike selling on the internet for several hundred dollars less than its brand name counterpoint for essentially the same product is a rather different matter. There are reasons why this can be done. Since you are on a budget, the internet bikes can offer some serious value for your money. How much depends on several things. Common sense tells us....

    1. They sell frames made under contract in Asian factories, adorned with stock components fitting their price point.
    They get the bikes in the same box the shops do, except they ship them straight to you, without opening them. This brings the cost down.
    2. They require that you do all the sizing, set up and final adjusting yourself.
    The burden is on you to know how to use a few basic tools on a bike and what you will need in terms of physical fit and final adjustments. This includes things like properly sized seats and stems. This brings the initial cost down.
    3. They require you to deal with a distant supplier should something go wrong.
    They are not inventory stocking shops, they don't pay wages to a mechanic or wait on regional distributors to make assessments. If there is a problem you have to email, make phone calls in some cases, ship the bike back. This brings the cost down.

    Common sense also tells us the 'brand names' do much the same things, only they work through a territorial bike shop supplier. This means different things.

    1. You pay extra for contract frames made in Asian factories, adorned with stock components, which fit their price point.
    The shop differs in that it takes the bike out of the box, assembles it in the back room and places it on a show floor for examination. This adds cost in both labor, overhead and maintaining inventory in ready condition.
    2. You pay them to do all the sizing, set up and final adjusting for you.
    This means you - hopefully - have an expert to guide you in your selections, someone who can get the right seat and other dimensional needs met at time of purchase. This adds cost in both labor and maintaining additional inventory.
    3. You pay them to handle anything that many go wrong, as the bikes point of service provider.
    This means you have someone who can either fix a problem there and then, or who can call in someone who can. It does not mean they will always do so quickly or expertly, however. This adds cost in labor and parts, or in waiting for both.

    If you are comfortable doing things for yourself and have even moderate mechanical skills, you can assemble and set up an internet bike.** With just a little research you can learn how to fit and tweak a bike for your riding manner, too. There are some adaptations you must go through, anyway, regardless of where you get the bike.

    Internet bike purchases can be rewarding, if you patiently learn what you must to make it so. If you do not wish to do that, a bike shop can offer a good deal, andsome can discount last years models or trade ins to compete with the price points on the internet bikes. Much of this suggests they know what they are doing. Not all do, however, and like any other retail outlet, they can be staffed by inconsiderate snobs. Or worse, clueless, profiteering boobs out to make a buck.

    In the end, the onus to know the difference is on you.


    ** Youll see that I also have a Specialized Hard Rock. I got it from a thrift store and have totally stripped, cleaned and begun reassembling it myself. By comparison, bikes from BD, for example, are pretty much pre-assembled when you get them. They are only broken down for shipping in a box.
    Last edited by dahut; 09-05-10 at 05:33 PM.
    "Watch out for giants; they are boorish fools with tongues wagging, drunk upon their own words.
    They will try to teach you a lesson if given the chance, and you will stumble over their stinking feet."

  5. #5
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    I see you'll soon be 50 years old. Why not ask the folks in the 50+ forum for suggestions. They'll let you in a few weeks early.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

    Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles Schultz

  6. #6
    Senior Member Garilia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    I see you'll soon be 50 years old. Why not ask the folks in the 50+ forum for suggestions. They'll let you in a few weeks early.
    Wait, they're not allowed to read this forum? ;-)

  7. #7
    Senior Member Garilia's Avatar
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    I'm seriously looking at the bikes from Bikesdirect and RoadbikeOutlet. I feel I can get a great deal on a road bike, it's almost impossible to get a new retail road bike of decent quality for under $700, and I can get one for less than $400. I'm still probably going to wind up spending more than I originally planned on a MTB (maybe about $795 on a Motobecane Fantom29 Pro, but I'll get a lot more bike than either of the Talons that cost more. I figured if I bought a second sets of wheels for the Talon to make it "road-worthy" I'd be plunking down at least $200 more, and it becomes an $1100 bike. I can get two for about that price.

    I spoke with my buddy who used to run a bike shop with his dad, and he still has an above average amateur workshop setup in his garage (he built his own MTB) and he thinks it sounds good, and is willing to help me assemble them (the beauty of buying two for $1100-1200, instead of one, is I can spread the cost out by purchasing one now and the other a few months from now).

  8. #8
    Ridin' South Cackalacky dahut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garilia View Post
    I'm seriously looking at the bikes from Bikesdirect and RoadbikeOutlet. I feel I can get a great deal on a road bike, it's almost impossible to get a new retail road bike of decent quality for under $700, and I can get one for less than $400. I'm still probably going to wind up spending more than I originally planned on a MTB (maybe about $795 on a Motobecane Fantom29 Pro, but I'll get a lot more bike than either of the Talons that cost more. I figured if I bought a second sets of wheels for the Talon to make it "road-worthy" I'd be plunking down at least $200 more, and it becomes an $1100 bike. I can get two for about that price.

    I spoke with my buddy who used to run a bike shop with his dad, and he still has an above average amateur workshop setup in his garage (he built his own MTB) and he thinks it sounds good, and is willing to help me assemble them (the beauty of buying two for $1100-1200, instead of one, is I can spread the cost out by purchasing one now and the other a few months from now).
    and you have a friend who used to run a bike shop? Man, you are in. Get the Moto's and get a lot for your money.
    "Watch out for giants; they are boorish fools with tongues wagging, drunk upon their own words.
    They will try to teach you a lesson if given the chance, and you will stumble over their stinking feet."

  9. #9
    Senior Member Garilia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dahut View Post
    and you have a friend who used to run a bike shop? Man, you are in. Get the Moto's and get a lot for your money.
    I like the way you're thinking, cuz it's the way I'm thinking!

  10. #10
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Personally, I think that it will be a pain in the butt to switch tires and tubes for pavement and off road riding. I would get a cross bike and an extra set of wheels. Its a lot easier to change a set of wheels than the tires and less chance of problems.

    As for the BD bike, just make sure that you get the right size.

    Since you have this buddy that can work on bikes get two decent used bikes.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

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