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Decent "budget" level for singletrack?

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Decent "budget" level for singletrack?

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Old 06-05-18, 07:39 PM
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jefnvk
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Decent "budget" level for singletrack?

So last fall, I bought a fat bike. While it was a blast in the snow, I'm quickly coming to the realization of its limitations on dirt single track. Not concerned about getting passed a lot, I'll admit I'm slow, but it isn't enjoying dropoffs or me slamming on brakes to not catch too much air.

What I'm looking for is a quick way to identify a decent used entry level hardtail MTB for Southern Michigan trails. Don't think I need to get a full suspension for the terrain according to a few MTB coworkers, just looking for a level of componentry (especially forks) that pass the bar for something acceptable for trail use.

Alternatively, I know when budget options come up, there are a couple go-to new choices bandied about in the touring forum that are actually quite decent for their selling point, if these exist in the MTB world as well, I'm all ears. Im not prejudiced against either LBS or mail order, I can confidently fit myself.

Budget is all over the place. Don't want to influence decision making, get me some realistic options and we'll see if it meshes with my cash, but my MO is extracting maximum value for good value, even if I surpass the bottom of the barrel prices
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Old 06-05-18, 09:40 PM
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With a modern mountain bikes, look for ones with:

- Air Suspension Fork
- Thru Axles
- Hydraulic Disk Brakes
- Deore level or above
- Tapered Steerer

Geometry also matters, but I don't know enough to tell the difference so I usually look at models where I can find comments about good geometry.

I'd say a good beginner hard tail starts around $1200 MSRP. The models that have stood out to me are the Trek Roscoe, Salsa Timberjack GX1 and the Santa Cruz Chameleon. I also like cromoly, but the options are more limited in that price range (Marin Pine Mountain being an option).

Mountain bikes are tricky as they have progressed a lot in the last few years. Technically, I can take my 90's mountain bikes on single track, but I won't get into that.

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Old 06-06-18, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by katsup View Post
With a modern mountain bikes, look for ones with:

- Air Suspension Fork
Any particular ones of those to stay away from (i.e., do they make cheap ones I don't want), or is it just when you get to air suspension, you are at a decent level?

And yeah, definitely going hydro brakes. They were a requirement on the fatty, they are certainly going to be on the MTB!
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Old 06-06-18, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Any particular ones of those to stay away from (i.e., do they make cheap ones I don't want), or is it just when you get to air suspension, you are at a decent level?
I don't know any air forks I'd wouldn't call at least decent. There are higher end forks, but you are looking in the budget category. Plus if you hit the thru axle requirement, you are likely already getting a good air fork. That has been the harder requirement to meet with budget mountain bikes.
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Old 06-06-18, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by katsup View Post
I don't know any air forks I'd wouldn't call at least decent. There are higher end forks, but you are looking in the budget category. Plus if you hit the thru axle requirement, you are likely already getting a good air fork. That has been the harder requirement to meet with budget mountain bikes.
Thanks, sounds like a good thing to use when digging through CL then!
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Old 06-07-18, 05:58 AM
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I went through a similar process recently and after reading what google suggested had come to a rather sharply defined image of what to look for without having set foot on ďseriousĒ single track locally. I think the best suggestion I could have taken would be to get local, and thatís what I suggest for you.

Odds are thereís a forum here for your locale. Friends and a decent local shop that caters to mtb folks would be a great option too. Find out how much bike you really need for the riding youíll do. I bet youíll be able to find something appropriate for a whole lot less than you expect.

In my case, I completely ignored the internet and went with a rigid single speed (all city log lady) and havenít enjoyed riding more than I am right now. I donít advocate that you do the same, but for me the trade offs have been more than merely acceptable, they have been gamechanging.
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Old 06-07-18, 08:50 AM
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A 29er with plus tires is a pretty good all arounder. As said decent fork, hydro brakes and bits. Can always run smaller tires if needed. What do the locals run on your trails? What katsup said is a good start. Got any bike event where you could demo some? Bike shops should get you set up to do a ride on dirt. Think 1-1.5 K new. The new boost spacing with 110 front and 148 rear hub width is just from the last 2 years or so.
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Old 06-07-18, 10:43 AM
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More importantly...How much are you willing to spend? What's your limit? Easier to answer your question once that is known.
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Old 06-07-18, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
More importantly...How much are you willing to spend? What's your limit? Easier to answer your question once that is known.
I'm more interested in finding a suitable CL deal. I know I can get into something decent new in a price range I'd actually spend, which is far more than I realistically want to spend if I don't have to. What I was more intrigued about was coming up with criteria of what is acceptable to use while weeding through CL.

If you need a range though, I likely wouldn't go more than $1200 or so new at this point. Seeing as I can get a used Bluto and plus sized wheels that fit the fat bike in the $700 range, that is the used target, and the high end target of where I'd jump out to run and buy if something popped up.

The guys I work with, who are far more into MTB than me, have reached more or less the same criteria for the local trails as @katsup : 29er hardtail, air fork, and they tossed in 1x system too.
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Old 06-08-18, 11:07 AM
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Have you looked at facebook marketplace? Lots of bikes in our area.

Pontiac rec is tough on a hardtail due to being both fast and rocky. Otherwise most trails are fine. I was riding Highland on a full rigid. Actually rode Pontiac on full rigid but swore I would never do that again....

ETA: not a lot of hardtails for sale right now. Kinetic in Clarkston sells Salsa bikes. The Timberjack is a good bike for the price. When I was looking, Santa Cruz Chameleon, Salsa Timberjack, and Trek X Caliber 2018 were all well priced, modern geometry hardtails.

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Old 06-09-18, 08:41 PM
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Try lowering the tire pressure.
Honestly, a hardtail isn't likely better than a fat bike, and may even be worse on the back end.
Save your money for a full suspension bike, or at least rent/borrow a hard tail to see if you like it.
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Old 06-09-18, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JonnyVain View Post
Have you looked at facebook marketplace? Lots of bikes in our area.

Pontiac rec is tough on a hardtail due to being both fast and rocky. Otherwise most trails are fine. I was riding Highland on a full rigid. Actually rode Pontiac on full rigid but swore I would never do that again....
I've been peeking at both CL and FB. This was more an exercise to allow me to know what to look for in a bike. FWIW, I've been running Island Lake and Chelsea, and Bloomer once, its mostly Island Lake where I just can't keep up. Too many areas I just don't feel comfortable coming down onto a rigid fork.

Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
Try lowering the tire pressure.
It's more a suspension issue to me. Low tire pressure (undampened) just doesn't match dampened suspension
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Old 06-09-18, 09:51 PM
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Have been kicking around just getting a Bluto for the fatty too, and possibly a plus size wheelset.
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Old 06-12-18, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
Try lowering the tire pressure.
Honestly, a hardtail isn't likely better than a fat bike, and may even be worse on the back end.
Save your money for a full suspension bike, or at least rent/borrow a hard tail to see if you like it.
Tires don't replace suspension.
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Old 06-12-18, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
I'm more interested in finding a suitable CL deal. I know I can get into something decent new in a price range I'd actually spend, which is far more than I realistically want to spend if I don't have to. What I was more intrigued about was coming up with criteria of what is acceptable to use while weeding through CL.

If you need a range though, I likely wouldn't go more than $1200 or so new at this point. Seeing as I can get a used Bluto and plus sized wheels that fit the fat bike in the $700 range, that is the used target, and the high end target of where I'd jump out to run and buy if something popped up.

The guys I work with, who are far more into MTB than me, have reached more or less the same criteria for the local trails as @katsup : 29er hardtail, air fork, and they tossed in 1x system too.
Keep an eye out on Jenson. They sometimes have some great bike sales.
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Old 06-12-18, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Keep an eye out on Jenson. They sometimes have some great bike sales.
Good call, I never think about them.
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Old 06-13-18, 01:20 AM
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
Try lowering the tire pressure.
Honestly, a hardtail isn't likely better than a fat bike, and may even be worse on the back end.
Save your money for a full suspension bike, or at least rent/borrow a hard tail to see if you like it.
I did this, and ended up trying a hard tail. I didn't like it compared to the fat bike, but it was a cool experience.
Depends a lot on the trail as mentioned above of course. The fat bike is a safe bet for most situations imo
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Old 07-03-18, 11:29 AM
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Check out pinkbike.com. they have a healthy for-sale section, all (mostly all) about mtb bikes.

I'd explore the long wheel based hardtails, running 27.5 Plus sized tires.

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Old 07-08-18, 11:11 AM
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From reading through and what you have said, I would say look for a used Giant Trance, 2015 or 16 should be able to find one around your price range. I actually think a Cannondale Bad Habit would be the perfect fit for you, but hard to find used.
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