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Entry level mountain bike

Old 09-29-19, 07:00 PM
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Jessepcooper
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Entry level mountain bike

Hey all! I'm trying to find an inexpensive mountain bike for my wife to start riding some beginner single track. I am a little lost on what to look for? Hardtail vs full suspension. Things to look for. Things to avoid etc. Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 09-30-19, 01:16 AM
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If it were me....hardtail. When you say inexpensive, what does that mean? I mean we drop $1000 on a phone these days...is that inexpensive or are you thinking $500?

The issue with "inexpensive" entry level bikes you get lower performing components that are heavier and a heavier bike. So you put a beginner on a heavy bike that doesn't climb well, and doesn't shift, turn or stop well, and then say, "Are you having fun?". Thats a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. Heavier. Lower quality components. Lower performance components. Do you need a $2000 carbon framed race bike to have fun though? No...

I just bought what I would consider an entry level hardtail. Its a 2020 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x. In my opinion it has everything a beginner would want, but its not very upgradable, (no bike under $1,000 will be). Its got good hydraulic disc brakes, a 1x9 drivetrain with a good spread of gears. An entry level shock that can be replaced with a better shock in the future and the bike is relatively light so it climbs pretty well. Thats in the $700 range. In that price range I felt there wasn't a better spec'd bike out there. If you go up to $1,000 range you get a lighter frame, better shock, better wheels, lighter components, etc, but will a beginner be able to take advantage of those things. Probably not. If you drop down to $500 then you drop down to mechanical brakes on a lot of bikes, or cheaper hydraulic units, an even cheaper fork, not as nice of drivetrain with MORE gears that may confuse the rider and just weigh more, and a heavier bike.

Bike fit and comfort is huge. Have her ride a few bikes at local bike shops. She should be able to say what feels good and what doesn't.

Specialized, Trek, Giant...all good brands with bikes in the 3 price ranges I described. Next years models are rolling out so there may be some great deals to be had on 2019 models. In some cases the bike may not have changed much except the color, but in some cases it has so do the homework on them.

Last edited by jrhoneOC; 09-30-19 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 09-30-19, 06:52 AM
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IMHO - start with a decent hardtail. Almost all entry level bikes from major brands can be had in the $800-1200 range at your local bike shop. Totally agree with the first poster that a proper fit for a beginner is essential. Try and remove all barriers to enjoying this great sport.
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Old 09-30-19, 07:08 AM
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Hardtail. All depends on your budget too. So many choices out there nowadays.
I agree with everything suggested above.
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Old 09-30-19, 09:05 AM
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Giant Talon 29 3. $550. Hardtail. It's a good bike for my limited skills. The bike loves wooded trails. And so do I.
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Old 09-30-19, 01:57 PM
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I'd suggest taking her around to different bike shops in your area to try out some entry level hardtail mtn.bikes. At entry level you can expect entry level components, but most can be upgraded later if she gets serious about mtn.bike riding. The important thing is to get one that will fit her-if she's tall, you might go with 29" wheels, if not so tall, then 27.5" wheels might work better for her. And be sure that who you buy it from can offer good service after the sale. Most entry level bikes are fairly well equal, you can compare components online. But there can be a great difference in bike dealers!
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Old 09-30-19, 08:29 PM
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Solid advice guys. I know when she first started riding road, a bad fit on an old Fuji nearly soured her to riding but our LBS got her on something that fit her and now she commutes to work almost everyday.

With regards to components, how can you tell which components are better or worse. The branding and nomenclature is a little hard for a newbie to understand.

I personally like hardtail and given that she will likely stay in the beginner/ lower intermediate eschelon, I don't think full suspension is really necessary for her.

Thank you all again for the solid guidance!
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Old 09-30-19, 09:08 PM
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Yes...I feel your pain. Took me a while to figure it out when I was shopping a few months ago.

The price of the bike is the clue for level of components. Since the price point dictates everything for the major companies. For the major brands, they will match each other on price and components. So a $500 Trek is similar to a $500 Giant and a $500 Specialized. Move up to $700, the same is usually the case, and up to $1,000 the same is usually the case. Rare to see a $700 bike with $1000 level components or a $500 bike with $700 level components. The only thing I saw was the 2020 Rockhopper Comp 1x, which I got has a MicroShift Advent 1x9 drivetrain instead of the 2x9 drivetrain that is in all the other sub $800 bikes. So its a similar drivetrain to the $1000 bikes in function, from a different company. Its an inexpensive system, but its getting rave reviews and when I rode it, I personally liked it better than the 2x9 setups. Thats why I went with that bike, seemed like a little more value and performance for a little less money than the other bikes in that price range.

What I DID notice between the brands was feel and fit. They have different frame geometries and for me the Rockhopper felt the best. The Trek felt either too big in the Large and too small in the Medium and the Giant to me was ok..just not great.

Thats the important part call around find a place that sells a few brands and ride them all a few times, then decide which one is in the price range she wants to be in feels the best.
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Old 09-30-19, 09:17 PM
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From my experience color is important.
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Old 10-01-19, 09:57 AM
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Don't sweat the "entry level" component thing. My mtn.bike is old, but has all upgraded components (tho by current standards the fork isn't all that-but works fine for me). Not too long ago, I took a friend (happens to be female) out to the trails for a ride on her new, entry level, mtn.bike. The ride consists of good flowing singletrack, roots, rocks, small drops, stream crossings, etc. Not the most technical trails, but not exactly what I would call "beginners" trails either. She only walked two stream crossings (one of which I walked and one I probably should have). She did better than fine on her entry level bike. She is experienced road riding, but I was surprised at how well she handled the trails and some of the things we rode over. So long as you're getting your wife a decent bike from a bike store, and not a big box store, it should be fine for what she'll be doing. And if her skill level develops to the point where it exceeds the bike's capabilities, parts (or a whole bike) can be upgraded. But gotta start somewhere.
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Old 10-07-19, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by qclabrat View Post
From my experience color is important.
Well that much is obvious. 😄
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Old 10-09-19, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by jrhoneOC View Post
If it were me....hardtail. When you say inexpensive, what does that mean? I mean we drop $1000 on a phone these days...is that inexpensive or are you thinking $500?

The issue with "inexpensive" entry level bikes you get lower performing components that are heavier and a heavier bike. So you put a beginner on a heavy bike that doesn't climb well, and doesn't shift, turn or stop well, and then say, "Are you having fun?". Thats a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. Heavier. Lower quality components. Lower performance components. Do you need a $2000 carbon framed race bike to have fun though? No...

I just bought what I would consider an entry level hardtail. Its a 2020 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x. In my opinion it has everything a beginner would want, but its not very upgradable, (no bike under $1,000 will be). Its got good hydraulic disc brakes, a 1x9 drivetrain with a good spread of gears. An entry level shock that can be replaced with a better shock in the future and the bike is relatively light so it climbs pretty well. Thats in the $700 range. In that price range I felt there wasn't a better spec'd bike out there. If you go up to $1,000 range you get a lighter frame, better shock, better wheels, lighter components, etc, but will a beginner be able to take advantage of those things. Probably not. If you drop down to $500 then you drop down to mechanical brakes on a lot of bikes, or cheaper hydraulic units, an even cheaper fork, not as nice of drivetrain with MORE gears that may confuse the rider and just weigh more, and a heavier bike.

Bike fit and comfort is huge. Have her ride a few bikes at local bike shops. She should be able to say what feels good and what doesn't.

Specialized, Trek, Giant...all good brands with bikes in the 3 price ranges I described. Next years models are rolling out so there may be some great deals to be had on 2019 models. In some cases the bike may not have changed much except the color, but in some cases it has so do the homework on them.
Rockrider AM 100 S
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Old 10-13-19, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Actarus777 View Post
Rockrider AM 100 S
Sweet looking bike for sure.
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Old 10-14-19, 01:26 PM
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Check out demo's from as many LBS in your area. This time of year you may be able to pick up a nicer bike for 30% off.
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Old 10-14-19, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by CodyDog View Post
Check out demo's from as many LBS in your area. This time of year you may be able to pick up a nicer bike for 30% off.
My wife loves biking but hates test riding bikes. Its a nuisance. Lol.
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