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Help me sort through my identity crisis (i.e. which mtn bike do I buy?)

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Help me sort through my identity crisis (i.e. which mtn bike do I buy?)

Old 09-15-15, 11:40 AM
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acid_reign
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Help me sort through my identity crisis (i.e. which mtn bike do I buy?)

Hey all, thanks in advance for any replies.

I've read the sticky. I've read similar posts. Now I just need some reassurance and guidance from the knowledgeable folks here.

I'm 6'1" and 230lb. I've had a Trek DS 8.3 21" for a couple of months now and love it on the road. But from what I've read and from riding it on some single track, I think I agree with the consensus that the DS is not going to be great for this purpose. I know I could put bigger tires on, but I could also put that $$ towards a second bike and would be much more convenient.

I'm looking for something that can handle trail riding, including roots, rocks and small air as my riding level increases.

But I'm not looking to spend a lot of money. Like $400-600. I know it is an expensive sport, but I can't justify it for the % of my time that I'll actually be mountain biking. If I wear out a fork in a year, so be it. I also know the most important factor is fit, so of course I wouldn't buy anything based on price, not fit. So here are my questions:

1) Any disagreement that a DS can't handle trail?
2) Originally I was thinking full suspension but I know many people will yell at me. Is a hardtail really able to handle the rocks/roots? I guess I just need some reassurance on this.
3) I see 2 options: Buying decent used on CL or cheap new. What models should I be looking at in my price range? Am I crazy to think this might work?

19" Specialized FSR Stumpjumper full suspension mountain bike

For new I was thinking (obviously hardtail only) Giant Talon or comparable. I know buying new from LBS is a big benefit.

Let me know if I left out any details. Thank you!
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Old 09-15-15, 02:02 PM
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The answer to question 1) is it depends on the trails. From what you describe, I would say the DS won't work too we'll for you and may not last long if ridden aggressively on those trails.
Question 2) a hardtail can handle anything you throw. It is you that may have problems. It may be slower than a full suspension and it may beat you up more. But it definitely works.

That Stumpy you linked is 16 years old and may be a bit small for you. I'd pass on it.
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Old 09-15-15, 02:14 PM
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1. Nope
2. Yes a hard tail is plenty but I also have no problem with somebody starting on a good full suspension bike
3. I'd go used. In your price range even used you are much more likely to find a good hardtail. I wouldn't worry so much about what brand the frame is and worry more about the parts attached to the frame mainly the fork. Look for some kind of air fork. I also wouldn't be too concerned about 26 vs 27.5 vs 29er.

That specialized is just too old IMO.
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Old 09-15-15, 02:22 PM
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1) Dunno. I don't know much about the DS...
2) Frozen is right. It's your ass and lower back who will fail first. I don't know your trail system, but mine is a pretty unforgiving barrage of rocks and roots and I ride a HT, and so was my prior bike (would have gone full suspension if I could afford it). I'm 205 pounds and not a gentle rider. I've had nothing fail from impact/crash on either bike (entry level Giant Rincon and not entry level Trek Stache 8).
3) I preach craigslist vehemently. $500 bike for $300 the first time, $2K+ bike for $800 the second time. Both in great shape at time of purchase. I basically just cruise CL until I see one of the big names (Giant, Trek, Specialized, etc.), then click and see what it is. If I don't know it, Google it.

Good luck!

Last edited by Bikernator; 09-15-15 at 02:23 PM. Reason: Forgot a word...
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Old 09-15-15, 02:50 PM
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acid_reign
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I'm definitely inclined towards full suspension.. great advice so far. I don't want to make you guys do all the work for me, but what do you think about these listings? How old is too old for a used bike?

Specialized FSR Full Suspension Mountain Bike
Giant VT2
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Old 09-15-15, 11:29 PM
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A basic hardtail frame is pretty much a hardtail frame. By that I mean things haven't changed that much really other wheel sizes and disc brakes over the years. Old full suspension frames on the other hand have a lot more thing to wear out some of which you might not be able to find parts to fix, rear suspension designs have vastly improved, and rear shocks have vastly improved. You can update an old hardtail and turn it into a good riding bike. You can't really update an old badly designed rear suspension though. As for how old is too old for a full suspension bike. With your budget 10 years old or newer is what I would shoot for, newer the better to a certain point. A highend full suspension bike from 10 years ago may or may not be better than a brand new entry level full suspension bike, lot of variables.

If the bike has rim brakes it is too old.
If the bike has a coil spring rear shock keep looking.

2007 Kona Dawg Primo 19"
Something more along the lines of that. Might be too small for you and is over priced.
2007 Kona Dawg Primo - New and Used Bike Value

Problem with craigslist is everybody thinks their $2000 bike from 1994 should still be worth 50% of what it cost new when it is really worth about $100.
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Old 09-16-15, 08:15 AM
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How old are you, how good a shape is your back and knees? I personally, at my age and with bad knees from basketball, wouldn't even try anything other than flat beginner trails without full suspension.
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Old 09-16-15, 10:00 AM
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Have you tried the DS on some trails? --- with some wider tires, those bikes do not look that much different from a XC oriented 29'er

Hardtails were handling roots and rocks for years before dual suspension came along -- I remember when the first generation Rock Shox came out in 1990 and they were controversial for anything but downhill racing at first --- people thought the suspension action would take away power until they learned how to ride with suspension


Those Specialized bikes you listed both look well preserved, but they are almost old enough to be museum pieces- some difficulties with older bikes is being able to get parts to rebuild the suspension when it needs it --- the frame manufacturer will usually support the bike with bushing kits, etc for years , so thats probably not an issue, ----


--- I've been riding since i was 18 years old (in 1990) - im now 44, --- i saw the boom of mountain bike racing and the fall -- i raced up to Sport class through the 90's before focusing my attentions on the velodrome
Not important information really, --- but i stuck with a full rigid bike through that time period, - my reasoning was simple, i could afford a full rigid XT or XTR equipped bike for the price of a Deore LX bike with a front fork -- and i just couldnt justify the price of a new AMP, Pro-Flex, or Cannondale Super V back then ---- people on those early generation FS designs raved about how they helped save a ton of energy as you could just stay in the saddle and work on a smooth spin and the suspension takes care of the chop

Would i have won a few more races if i had had full suspension? -- I seriously doubt it -- but i might have been expending a lot more energy -- i'll never know because i'll never be 25 years old again - but in the rigid bike days it was all about picking smooth lines, riding with flow, and yes, you did have to use more body english to soak up bumps, - but thats what mountain biking was all about


-- Fast forward to 2006 when i wanted to dabble in mountain bikes again but had absolutely no racing aspirations at all ---- I bought a full suspension Santa Cruz Superlight
After dialling it in for my weight, - i never looked back -- i also likely will probably never (well, never say never) ride a rigid bike again --- Being older and not trying to set any land speed records anymore, -- i really appreciate the ability to just stay on top of the machine and provide the motor . Line selection is still important and always will be, but full suspension sure takes the sting out of the small stuff


- One thing tha is buyer beware on full suspension --- i recently bought a used downhill bike for trips to ski parks and the like --- i'm a Clydesdale class rider (over 200 #'s ) - so i didnt ride the bike, - i just bought it knowing i needed to install heavier springs asap
---- brought it to my shop and told my guys' to just get some springs, ---- they got to messing with it and sure enough, both damping circuits in the front forks and rear shock were blown -- they were basically running on spring only ---
- so that is a small concern i have with a used full suspension bike at your budget level


My bike was $850 and i thought that i could just throw on some new tires and rims (rims had flat spots) - and replace the springs and i would be rolling for $1200 or so --- that turned out to be wishful thinking , as the forks need a full rebuild, as does the shock, - the freehub is making a grinding noise(its a rebuildable Hadley hub, but still ) and one of the disc calipers is stuck -
The bike will probably cost me 2k when all is said and done with --- i'm ready to spend it, because i will have an extremely nice rig when done --- but its a far cry from the $1200 i thought i would be into it for

---- my example is worst case scenario, as i bought a downhill bike, - which is subjected to more abuse in a weekend than the average guy puts on his bike in a year -- but i was just laying that out to show what can go awry even when you buy a Craigslist bike that by all outward appearances appears fully functional




--- geez, didnt realize i had just wrote a book until it posted
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Old 09-16-15, 10:30 AM
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Too much coffee???
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Old 09-16-15, 11:10 AM
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I'm 27 and joints/back are in good enough shape but I'm not eager to put any more stress on than I have to and while I realize that this is a contact sport - I'd much rather go full suspension to minimize where possible.

I have tried the DS one day on dirt/grass and also singletrack. The tires were understandably not acceptable and my thought was why throw money into a 2nd set of tires when I could throw it into a purpose-built bike instead. Beyond the tires I guess I'm just nervous about the frame/wheels/components not being able to take the punishment of trail. I'd like to keep this bike somewhat nice for road use.

Great comments from everyone, I really appreciate it. What is the absolute cheapest full suspension bike (but still worth the $$) out there?
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Old 09-16-15, 11:40 AM
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The DS has a steep head tube angle and a 63mm fork. Even if you can fit a mtb tire -and you will likely be limited on the rear- that bike won't work too we'll if you want to mountainbike. And it won't last long either.

I would not discount a hardtail if I were you. I'm 39 have ridden nothing but hardtail/rigid (including a 26-inch rigid singlespeed) for the last decade. I have a bad upper back (paragliding accident, among other things) and messed up my shoulder enough snowboarding last year that I can no longer ride a rigid fork. Well, I can but it hurts afterwards. But on a hardtail with a suspension fork? I've done 100 milers (on singletrack) and even 250 mile bikepacking races without problems.

I did buy a full suspension bike this year (my hardtail frame broke, waiting for warranty... tried a Yeti... you know what happens) and it is fun. I'm not going to deny that. I'm faster on some descents (better traction and geometry) and can go faster on roots with less fatigue. But is not like riding a hardtail will cripple you. And I still think a high end hardtail is more fun than a basic full suspension. If you do go for a hardtail get a 29r. They work much better on roots.

You will not find a decent new full suspension for $600. Nope. In the used market you may. I think the best deals will be on bikes from about 2007 to 2010. Old enough that prices are low, but new enough they aren't obsolete.
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Old 09-16-15, 11:50 AM
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My thoughts -- the cheapest (with the "but still worth the $$ " caveat ) - is the Santa Cruz i linked to in the middle --- its roughly twice your budget though
--- its a simple , easy to maintain suspension design that has been effective for years and will be effective for many more - also still retains good resale value when its time to upgrade or move on

The Motobecane i linked to looks like a copy of the Santa Cruz frame design , but its half the price -- its a lot closer to your budget parameters ,

--- other than that -- i was impressed with some bikes i saw on sale at a big skiing store (Sun N Ski Sports) recently --- and its close enough to the end of the season , many of the LBS's should be blowing out their 2015 inventory soon

Wiki Peak Full Suspension Mountain Bike | Fezzari BikesŪ

Superlight 27.5" D XC Kit Complete Mountain Bike (100144401) at CambriaBike.com

Save up to 60% off new Mountain Bikes - MTB - Motobecane Fantom 2729DS Disc brakes, Tubeless Compatible Rims


these guys' have a lot of bikes

Diamondback Atroz Comp 27.5" Mountain Bike - 2015
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Old 09-16-15, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by FrozenK
But is not like riding a hardtail will cripple you. And I still think a high end hardtail is more fun than a basic full suspension. If you do go for a hardtail get a 29r.
.
100% agree
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Old 09-16-15, 12:07 PM
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I would advise against the Motobecane, and any full suspension bike from Bikesdirect to be honest. While it may look like the Santa Cruz, with a single pivot design pivot placement and shock leverage are key. Santa Cruz has about 20 years of refining that type of frame. Bikesdirect doesn't put the same R&D effort. They buy catalog frames from whichever Taiwan company and slap a build kit on them. The Diamondback isn't a heck of a lot better on that department.
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Old 09-16-15, 12:51 PM
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I just got a 2015 Giant Stance for $1300. If you are confident with your ability to finish assembly and do your own maintenance you can get better prices at bikes direct. I could have gotten a comparable bike for $1000, maybe less, but opted to buy from an LBS for the year free maintenance.

And almost all the aluminum frames at bikes direct, (and other places for that matter, including many other big brand names) are from Giant's Taiwan factory.
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Old 09-16-15, 01:29 PM
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No, most aluminum bikes do not come from Giant's Taiwan factory. I don't know where you got that idea but that is not true. Is not true even for Giant, since they moved some production to mainland China.

Bikesdirect used to have most of their bikes made by Kinesis in Taiwan. And there are several other factories in that island, some quite big like Merida (that makes or at least used to make some Specialized models) But most low end frames come from mainland China these days, made by a variety of factories.

Also, by saying that they are made on the same factory it seems to imply that there is little difference between brands. That is also untrue. Your Giant Stance has a much simpler suspension than the Trance and will perform differently. Even for bikes with the same suspension design like the Trance and the Anthem, the performance can be very different. While one can be perfectly tuned for it's intended use, the other can fail miserably due to poor geometry.
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Old 09-16-15, 04:21 PM
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Yup, I'm aware that there are no NEW bikes in my price range. I'm going to have to take a stab at CL, go hardtail, or really think about how much $$ I want to sink.

I think the best thing for me may be to try out both and see if I can convince myself that I don't need a rear shock.
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