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How much do I have to spend?

Old 04-09-17, 10:31 AM
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Eyedrop
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How much do I have to spend?

I'm a die hard roadie. Since nobody in this town seems to ride road, im looking to get a MTB so I can hit some trails with friends.

I'm looking to get a bike that won't hold me back, but also nothing too fancy. For example, an alloy road bike under 20lbs with tiagra/105, decently light wheels, and low rolling resistance tires is all you need to compete at the local amateur level. A bike like that would never hold anyone back, it would all come down to fitness more than equipment at that point. What is the MTB equivalent to this? What should I look for?

Also, how much does proper bike fitting matter? On the road, it's crucial for long term comfort, injury prevention, and putting down the most power and aerodynamics. Is a MTB looser tolerances so to speak? I noticed road bikes typically come in 5-7 different sizes. But MTB is often just 15, 17, and 19... I'm 5'2" male, it's hard to find a bike that fits. Even alot of 15" bikes seem too big. Should I look for a kids bike or WSD?

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Old 04-09-17, 06:16 PM
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I would ask local riders what they think works best for local trails for under $2k (which basically rules out full-suspension). My first instinct is a 27.5 hardtail, maybe with "plus" tires. Specialized Fuse 6Fattie? The small comes with a 100mm fork. Looks like a fun bike. If you want something more race-oriented, Trek Superfly comes in 27.5 in the smallest size.
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Old 04-09-17, 08:45 PM
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So would you say there is a good difference between a $2k and a $4k MTB? I know that in the road bike world, after about $1.5k to $2k, your really not going to notice much of a performance difference. There are marginal gains to be had with slightly lighter weight, more aero frame, but thats about it.

You can literally just take a reasonable entry level alloy road bike from 10 years ago, upgrade to awesome tires, and maybe the wheelset if the originals are super heavy, and your off to the races!!...

Would there be anything wrong with just getting a cheapo $400 bikesdirect hardtail, upgrading the crap out of the suspension and wheels, and calling it a day?

Im a roadie and I really dont know what Im talking about. Can someone please clarify what is necessary to compete at a skilled amateur level? For example, I see there are Superfly's ranging from $1500 up to $2100.

And also, is getting a professional bike fitting crucial to performance? And how about dialing in the suspension settings for my weight? Surely these seem like a performance necessity... Then again, Im not sure what Im talking about lol.

Im just trying to spend my money in all the right places here....

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Old 04-09-17, 11:57 PM
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You want an air fork. The difference between entry level spring forks and a decent air fork is huge. And at your height yeah you probably want an extra small 13" frame and yes people make those, you just have to find one.

Mtn bikes operate the same way road bikes do except it is the more you spend the lighter they get and/or the better the suspension gets. You reach a point where you have to decide do you want that light pretty carbon frame with a ok air fork or do you get a aluminum frame and a nice air fork. Then there is also the point where you hit full suspension frame vs hardtail which means do you want a rear suspension and ok suspension parts or a hardtail with a good fork. Much like road bikes until you spend crazy money you aren't going to get fancy light wheels.

I'm going to say $1500 just to put a number out there lol. That should get you a pretty nice hardtail with good enough everything. Of coarse there are deals out there if you take your time or get lucky you can score a nice hardtail for a lot less. You also need to figure out what kind of mtn bike you want. Like road bikes there are all kinds of mtn bike XC, trail, enduro, blah blah blah.
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Old 04-10-17, 05:38 AM
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Just in case you want full suspension and new, you are looking at $3,000-4,000 as the entry point for a good bike. There are less expensive bikes that will work, but it sounds like you want to give this a serious go with your friends, and the less expensive bikes will likely become more expensive bikes over time (as you swap out parts). There are bikes in the $3,000-4,000 range that you would not be as likely to feel the need to swap out parts. The size is a little less critical that with a road bike, in my opinion.
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Old 04-10-17, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post

1). So would you say there is a good difference between a $2k and a $4k MTB?


2). I know that in the road bike world, after about $1.5k to $2k, your really not going to notice much of a performance difference. There are marginal gains to be had with slightly lighter weight, more aero frame, but thats about

3). Would there be anything wrong with just getting a cheapo $400 bikesdirect hardtail, upgrading the crap out of the suspension and wheels, and calling it a day?

4). . Can someone please clarify what is necessary to compete at a skilled amateur level

....

1). Yes



2) I don't know what your riding, but there are massive gains to be had in the road world beyond the 2k mark. Ride a $9000 bike back to back with a $2000 bike and the differences will be apparent -- but agreed, you don't need a $9k bike to get your foot in the door and go to the local criterium -- you can do that with a well maintained $300 30 year old bike from Craigslist if you want to

3). This would be like putting lipstick on a pig

4). Just a bike- people line up on single speed hardtails next to guys' on S Works Epics at local XC races.
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Old 04-10-17, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post


2) I don't know what your riding, but there are massive gains to be had in the road world beyond the 2k mark. Ride a $9000 bike back to back with a $2000 bike and the differences will be apparent -- but agreed, you don't need a $9k bike to get your foot in the door and go to the local criterium -- you can do that with a well maintained $300 30 year old bike from Craigslist if you want to
I would have to disagree on this one. No way is there "massive" gains to be had on a $9k road bike vs. $2k. Once you have upgraded the wheels and tires, the frame and groupset really dont matter much. I see guys racing CAT 1 and CAT 2 in Tuscon using Cannondale CAAD alloy bike with nice wheels. Those bikes are 98.5% just as good as the $10k bikes. With the right wheels and some carbon finishing kit, you can easily get a CAAD10 with 105 down to the 15-16lb range. A properly tuned 105 groupset will shift just as quick as Dura Ace. And as far as aero gains, most of the low hanging fruit is in the clothing, helmet, and position on the bike. The actual bike frame itself is only a small part of the aero equation.

And I have ridden a $10k bike before. The differences really aren't very apparent while riding the bike. But I must admit, they can help shave a few seconds here and there.... But like I said, after about $2k, the low hanging fruit is gone and you already have a bike that wont be holding you back much, if any...
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Old 04-10-17, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
I would have to disagree on this one. No way is there "massive" gains to be had on a $9k road bike vs. $2k. Once you have upgraded the wheels and tires, the frame and groupset really dont matter much. ..

Sounds like you have all the answers then.

You should tell the fool riding a new Venge that he would be better served on an Allez Sport with a $400 set of deep section Chinese carbon rims

........... because the frame and the group don't really matter
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Old 04-10-17, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Sounds like you have all the answers then.

You should tell the fool riding a new Venge that he would be better served on an Allez Sport with a $400 set of deep section Chinese carbon rims

........... because the frame and the group don't really matter
The Allez sport with chinese wheels would be a much better value and a totally capable machine in the hands of a local skilled amateur racer. If your talking about the TdF, then yes, every second counts. When the race goes on for weeks, and sprint finishes so close, you need all the aerodynamics and stiffness you can get.

But really, the more expensive bikes are indeed faster, but only marginally. There is no way you can tell me a $9k bike is "massively" better than a $2k bike. Thats just not true... In fact, you often see the exact same frames on top end bikes as you do on mid range machines. The difference is usually the stock wheels are way better, and the groupset is Dura Ace vs. 105 or something... Which in most situations, your groupset isnt going to get you dropped. Its not like the guy next to you is going to drop you just because he has Super Record and your running Athena...

If the $9k bikes were massively better, I would have old fat guys beating me up the local climbs no problem. But in reality, its the other way around. I drop guys on expensive bikes all the time riding my old entry level Trek with 8 speed RSX and a quill stem.... Its not an equipment sport.

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Old 04-10-17, 09:28 AM
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Why are we arguing about road bikes in the MTB section? And, with MTBs, the differences are more apparent. In the end, though, more riding and less arguing could make the hills easier.
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Old 04-10-17, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
I'm a die hard roadie. Since nobody in this town seems to ride road, im looking to get a MTB so I can hit some trails with friends.

I'm looking to get a bike that won't hold me back, but also nothing too fancy. For example, an alloy road bike under 20lbs with tiagra/105, decently light wheels, and low rolling resistance tires is all you need to compete at the local amateur level. A bike like that would never hold anyone back, it would all come down to fitness more than equipment at that point. What is the MTB equivalent to this? What should I look for?

Also, how much does proper bike fitting matter? On the road, it's crucial for long term comfort, injury prevention, and putting down the most power and aerodynamics. Is a MTB looser tolerances so to speak? I noticed road bikes typically come in 5-7 different sizes. But MTB is often just 15, 17, and 19... I'm 5'2" male, it's hard to find a bike that fits. Even alot of 15" bikes seem too big. Should I look for a kids bike or WSD?
fitting is important, you probably need an XS.

I have to disagree with the you need to spend over $2k for an FS. The definition of decent is different for everyone. I personally spent $1300 on my Giant Stance, not great but air fork and shock, been riding it for almost 2 years, usually twice a week, several 3 day biking trips, one week long adventure, and it has performed as well as I need it to. I usually ride intermediate trails, and an occasional advanced as long as it is not too radical and has no jumps.

I have demo'd several $5k and $8k bikes. Yes they are better, but not one allows me to go on trails I can't go on with my current bike.

If I had it to do over again I would have spent $2500 to $3k for the next level up FS bike, and plan on moving up, but my current bike is not holding me back so it will be awhile until I do.
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Old 04-10-17, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
Would there be anything wrong with just getting a cheapo $400 bikesdirect hardtail, upgrading the crap out of the suspension and wheels, and calling it a day?

Im a roadie and I really dont know what Im talking about. Can someone please clarify what is necessary to compete at a skilled amateur level? For example, I see there are Superfly's ranging from $1500 up to $2100.

And also, is getting a professional bike fitting crucial to performance? And how about dialing in the suspension settings for my weight? Surely these seem like a performance necessity... Then again, Im not sure what Im talking about lol.

Upgrading a crap bike is a good way to waste money unless you're an excellent scavenger with some mechanical skills. Modern mountain bikes are often kitted just like an enthusiast would spec their rig. That wasn't the case 10 years ago. I used to custom build my bikes, but my last purchase was a complete b/c it was a good deal on great parts. But, I will say, it can be useful to get a decent wheel builder to build you a decent wheelset with appropriately wide Chinese carbon rims - something like Hope Pro 4 hubs matched to Light Bicycle rims (25mm internal width, or wider, depending on what tires you expect to run).


Is your goal to be able to keep up with friends on the trails and have fun, or are you looking to compete? If the latter, then something like a Superfly seems a good choice IMO. If you're just looking to ride with friends and not be hating the climbs, get something more fun (slacker head tube angle, longer reach, shorter stem, wide bars, meaty tires). Consider: Arizona has many technical trails, so you might not be giving up much (competition-wise) by getting the more "trail" oriented bike. The advantage of more tire/suspension to maintain your momentum is pretty huge and helps make up for being a heavier bike. I ride AZ with a full-suspension 29er with 2.25" tires and basically consider it a race bike for my area (Phoenix). At some point, you don't need more speed, but more control of your speed.


Fitting is important, but not as important as road riding. Personal choice.
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Old 04-10-17, 02:21 PM
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Any problem with riding a WSD bike? There is a local bike for sale, a Specialized Jett Comp. According to the size charts, the bike should fit well, and it has okay ish components. They want $500 for the bike...
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Old 04-11-17, 08:45 AM
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It would help if you were a little more specific about what your goals are, and what kind of riding (or riders) you plan to be involved with. Are you looking to focus on local XC races? Do you think you will develop a tasted for aggressive DH riding (or entering Enduro events?).

A few thoughts, though:

What I hear you asking is what does it take so that as you keep riding, you are not going to wish you had spent more money on a better bike. Also, if used to enter an appropriate event, would not really be a factor in how well you place.

First, it is going to depend on what TYPE of bike you are looking at. I'll break it down to Hardtail, XC Full Suspension (XC-FS) and longer travel full suspension (All-Mountain or AM)

The short answer IMO, given what I am gleaning from your level of commitment to road cycling is (and these are rough ballpark):
  • Hardtail: $1,500 - $2000
  • XC-FS: $2,500 - $3000
  • AM: $3,500 - $4,000
It can be a little hard to directly compare MTB to road bike builds, because with MTB, the group-set is far less important than the frame and fork, compared to road bikes. 105 is probably comparable to Shimano SLX or SRAM X7 or X9, but with an MTB, this takes a back seat (heck, several rows back) to what frame, shock, and fork you are running. And the longer travel you are looking at, the more important this becomes.

If your goal is to just hammer rides and get from A to B the fastest (and along those lines, enter XC races), then a 29er HT will serve you well. People still crush XC races (even very technical ones) on 29er HTs.

The same is true for many XC-FS bikes, they just make the whole thing a bit more pleasant and might help you a little in the rough stuff.

Where things really get expensive is when you want a bike that crushes the downhills, but is still good enough at climbs and hammering on the flats. This is what AM bikes are made for, and why the entry price for a decent one is so high. Making bike with 6" of travel with slack angles that can be hucked off drops, plowed at speed through rock gardens, yet that behaves well on the climbs and flats and does not weigh 37 lbs..... well, that cost some real money.

Despite the price and technology, though, an AM bike is probably NOT what you want for entering XC races, even rather technical ones. At a local XC race with a good mix of technical, fast, long climbs and rough DH, I did better on my Surly Karate Monkey (a HT worth ~$1500) than on my Turner 5-Spot (140mm AM bike worth ~ $4,500). Though on a non-race day, I enjoy the 5-Spot much more.

Fit: I think cockpit setup/fit is really critical for MTB, but for different reasons.

Since you move around a lot, I think it is both less important and less possible to get the best fit from a strict pedaling point of view. I think there are some aspects of a good road bike fit that can inform your fit on an mtb (particularly saddle position and tilt), but even those are a bit hard to nail down without trial and error. Picture trying to do a professional bike fitting, but on a bike with constantly changing geometry angles. Heck, just sitting on a FS bike changes all the angles. And there is the issue of optimum pedaling possition and the need for the saddle to not be too in the way when you need to get behid it or move around (though dropper posts have helped a lot in this regard)

And handlebar setup is always a compromise between pedaling/climbing efficiency and technical control. And it is ultimately personal style and trial and error that gets you where you need to be. MTB geometry is still evolving, as is approaches to what a good cockpit setup is. So take any "expert" advice with a grain of salt.

WSD: no problem at all. At your height (and probably weight) I think this is definitely worth trying out. Might end up with a different saddle and possibly handle-bar/grips, but otherwise that may be a great match for you. However, as for as that Jet Comp, it is a fine bike for $500, but I don' think it is of the level you are indicating you are looking for. If you get serious and competitive, you are going to end up wanting a different bike. You say you are looking for an equivalent to a sub-20 lb 105 bike? This is more like a bike with Sora level components/wheels, with wire-bead tires.

One final thought: Even though I love both road and MTB riding, and do them overall about the same amount (more road recently) I find my tastes are much less expensive for road. If I needed a new road bike today, $2K would get me everything I want and would never feel I was missing a thing I really cared about. If I needed a new MTB, I don't think I could get away under $4.5K without wistful longings for some upgrades.

Last edited by Kapusta; 04-11-17 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 04-11-17, 10:25 AM
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Do you have a local bike shop that sells MTN bikes where you feel you could trust the owner? I ask because in my case I found a small bike shop that stood out because the owner was incredible in his ability to show me the options available for the money I was willing to spend, and what my needs were. I found that store in 1999 and I've been going there ever since.
So ideally you would mention what types of trails you want to ride with your friends, the money you are willing to invest, and so on.
It's easy enough to find a good shop. If you tell him what you are willing to spend, he will recommend what is available in that price range. If he continually keeps suggesting the next level up, without you asking what the benefits on the next level would be, I would skip that shop.
Find out how much his repair costs are for typical MTB tune-ups/adjustments, because that figures into it a lot. For example, you'll probably have your BB and hubs cleaned out more often than a road bike.
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Old 04-11-17, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
So would you say there is a good difference between a $2k and a $4k MTB? I know that in the road bike world, after about $1.5k to $2k, your really not going to notice much of a performance difference. There are marginal gains to be had with slightly lighter weight, more aero frame, but thats about it.
With full suspension bikes, there's a huge difference from $2k to $4k. It's about like going from a $700 road bike to a $2000 road bike. Thanks to the fork and shocks, mountain bikes are about 2x the price of an equivalent road bike. Once you get to the ~$3k level, you hit the marginal gain point.

Would there be anything wrong with just getting a cheapo $400 bikesdirect hardtail, upgrading the crap out of the suspension and wheels, and calling it a day?
And drivetrain and brakes...and by the time you're done the only thing you have left is the frame. So effectively, you'll have bought a $400 bike to get a $100 frame...

Im a roadie and I really dont know what Im talking about. Can someone please clarify what is necessary to compete at a skilled amateur level? For example, I see there are Superfly's ranging from $1500 up to $2100.
For hardtails, the marginal returns point starts around ~$1200. None of the Superfly models will hold you back. And even a X-Caliber 9 ($1300) is perfect capable.

And also, is getting a professional bike fitting crucial to performance? And how about dialing in the suspension settings for my weight? Surely these seem like a performance necessity... Then again, Im not sure what Im talking about lol.
Im just trying to spend my money in all the right places here....
Suspension tuning on air suspension is easy. Use shock pump, start at recommended pressure, adjust pressure in 5 psi increments, stop when it feels good, proceed to ignore the pressure for the rest of the riding season.

Fit is very non-critical, mountain bike is much more dynamic than road cycling. You're constantly adjusting your position to suit the terrain, so you're not nearly as sensitive as on a road bike.
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Old 04-11-17, 10:56 PM
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I'm too lazy to look but I'm going to guess the other problem with upgrading that $400 bike is the frame has a straight steerer which greatly limits your fork options. Then there are the quick release wheels. Most GOOD wheels are going to come set up for thru axles and while a lot can be converted it is an extra PITA to deal with. Had to deal with the wheel issue myself and this was a couple years ago when trying to find a decent set of used wheels for my older QR frame/fork bike. Finally just had to bite the bullet and buy a set and buy the parts to convert them to QR.
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Old 04-12-17, 05:39 PM
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Man you guys have been very informative and helpful. Much appreciated!

Ive decided to up my budget a bit and get something more proper in the $750-$1000 range. I found a really nice 2010 Trek Top Fuel 9.8. Has a carbon frame, xt groupset, nice Fox suspension.

Only problem is the 26" wheels. I know they comprimise performance a little, but whats more scary is the lack of available parts.

Is buying a bike with 26" wheels a bad idea?

Im also looking at a small 2013 Cdale Scalpel 4 29er. He only wants $800, but the brakes need work, and the handlebars are not aligned with the fork... Supposedly the bike has low miles, but something tells me its been abused... Plus, the bike is alloy, has not as good suspension, is heavier, etc...

The Trek is $900 and both shocks were just serviced, new tires, supposedly in very good condition. And according to size charts, would fit me well.

But it has 26" wheels....
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Old 04-12-17, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
Man you guys have been very informative and helpful. Much appreciated!

Ive decided to up my budget a bit and get something more proper in the $750-$1000 range. I found a really nice 2010 Trek Top Fuel 9.8. Has a carbon frame, xt groupset, nice Fox suspension.

Only problem is the 26" wheels. I know they comprimise performance a little, but whats more scary is the lack of available parts.

Is buying a bike with 26" wheels a bad idea?

Im also looking at a small 2013 Cdale Scalpel 4 29er. He only wants $800, but the brakes need work, and the handlebars are not aligned with the fork... Supposedly the bike has low miles, but something tells me its been abused... Plus, the bike is alloy, has not as good suspension, is heavier, etc...

The Trek is $900 and both shocks were just serviced, new tires, supposedly in very good condition. And according to size charts, would fit me well.

But it has 26" wheels....
I have over 30 years into my MTBing, and somehow survived about 25 of those years with 26" wheels, I like the modern 29er or the 27.5 better. However, I would pick a good 26" bike over a questionable 29er any day. The parts will not be that big of a deal for years to come. If you love MTBng, the you can ride this bike while saving for your next bike. And, 26" bikes are very agile.
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Old 04-13-17, 09:14 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
Man you guys have been very informative and helpful. Much appreciated!

Ive decided to up my budget a bit and get something more proper in the $750-$1000 range. I found a really nice 2010 Trek Top Fuel 9.8. Has a carbon frame, xt groupset, nice Fox suspension.

Only problem is the 26" wheels. I know they comprimise performance a little, but whats more scary is the lack of available parts.

Is buying a bike with 26" wheels a bad idea?

Im also looking at a small 2013 Cdale Scalpel 4 29er. He only wants $800, but the brakes need work, and the handlebars are not aligned with the fork... Supposedly the bike has low miles, but something tells me its been abused... Plus, the bike is alloy, has not as good suspension, is heavier, etc...

The Trek is $900 and both shocks were just serviced, new tires, supposedly in very good condition. And according to size charts, would fit me well.

But it has 26" wheels....
26" wheels. Bad idea. At minimum I would start right here. Best bang for the buck for a starter MTB.

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/bikes-stance

You can probably talk a local bike shop into selling you a Stance 2 for ~$1000
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Old 04-13-17, 09:27 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop View Post
The Trek is $900 and both shocks were just serviced, new tires, supposedly in very good condition. And according to size charts, would fit me well.

But it has 26" wheels....
Get the Trek. Recent servicing on the shocks is a major plus, ask when the pivots were serviced. If you're riding a size M frame, then there's nothing wrong with 26" wheels. If you need a size L/XL there's a minor advantage to 27.5/29 but not enough to make up for better suspension quality.

A 2010 bike is new enough that basically every new component will still fit. Wheel selection may be a bit limited, but many 26in wheels are on clearance, so it's a double-edged sword. Realistically, you don't need to upgrade the wheels, or you can always go the Chinese carbon route.
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Old 04-16-17, 06:43 PM
  #22  
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I ended up getting the Trek. The guy I bought it from was super down to earth and knowledgeable. We ended up hitting it off and talking for like 2 hours about bikes. HE was also a big time roadie. I just felt confident that the bike was well maintained and cared for, and the bike had a nice character to it. The test ride was really good. Everything felt solid, and the bike fits like a glove. I dont even think I need to change the seat or stem. Very comfortable and ergonomic. He actually helped me dial in the suspension for my weight. The bike is in great shape and came from a cool guy, so I bought it...

I really dont think the 26 inch wheels will be an issue. You can find wheels and tires online easily, and for very good prices. I would prefer 27.5. But overall, the 26 inch tires were not a dealbreaker. And the rest of the bike is quite high end compared to the other bikes in my price range. The thing was in great shape and just felt right.

Last edited by Eyedrop; 04-16-17 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 04-16-17, 07:18 PM
  #23  
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Looking at Trek's bike archives, that is a nice bike that shouldn't need any upgrading either. All good parts.
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