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Old 06-29-06, 04:10 PM   #1
majglow
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What bike should I get? (Results from my trip to the LBSs)

Alright, so I want to buy a new mountain bike next week. I went to three local bike shops to see what they recommended. I described the way I see myself riding as mostly on tiny winding forest / mountain "trails" with the biggest obstacles being tree roots, deep mud, and some streams here and there. I won't be going off any jumps, not voluntarily at least My optimal price range is $1000-$1200, and my hard limit is $1500, but only if it's worth going that high.

Now, I'm pretty much a bike "noob", back when I was 14-17, I used to go out and bike 50-100 miles a week and loved it. Back then I was on a Trek 830 and later a Cannondale M900, both without any suspensions. Now I'm 23.

So, at the first shop, the guy said that for my price range and my style of riding, I would get the most bang for my buck with a hard tail. He recommended the following (both hard tails):

Trek 8500 ($1500)
Gary Fisher Xcaliber ($1250)

I liked the feel of both of them, the Trek had hydrolic brakes and stopped a lot quicker and without effort. I also liked the way you shifted on the Trek (You tap the brake handle up or down). Having a lock out switch on the handle bar. Besides that, both bikes rode really nice.

The second shop I went to recommended a Specialized Stumpjumper ($1500) and another specialized bike. I definetly didn't like the feel of the cheaper Specialized. The Stumpjumper felt OK, but I don't think I want to spend $1500 on it. I would rather go with the Trek (hopefully I'm not saying anything completely ridiculous, being a bike n00b and all).

Ok, the last LBS I went to didn't really carry any hard tails in my price range, and the guy said that after riding a FS bike, he would never go back to a hard tail. They recommended the following:

Ironhorse Azure ($1300)
GT I-drive 4 3.0 or 4.0, not sure of the prices, but I believe they are both in my range.

Anyway, both were OK I guess and felt about the same. I don't think either had lock outs for the suspension (at least I couldn't figure it out).

So, I guess I have 4 possibilities right now: Trek, Gary Fisher, Ironhorse, and GT. However, I still have to decide whether or not to go with a hard tail or FS. At store 1, the FS bikes they had in my price range were Lower end Treks I think, but I didn't pay much attention at that point.

Any advice, suggestions?
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Old 06-29-06, 05:40 PM   #2
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Well first off. It is usually better to go hardtail for your first real bike. Reason being that it will make you a better and smoother rider. Plus, you will get far better componenets on a hardtail bike at the same price.
I'd go for the trek if that's what you liked. That's the most important part.
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Old 06-29-06, 05:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by majglow
Any advice, suggestions?
HT and hydraulic.

if you have that money, why not build your own?? it doesn't take more than about $50-100 in specialty tools. you can get all the info you need to do it from the great folks here. by the time you are done, you will know how to service the bike as well.

half the fun is shopping for parts. if you do a custom one, you won't be apt to want to change stuff later on. this store has lots of nice pictures, a good selection, and navigates well.

there will be no compromises if you go this route. you do not need a degree in rocket science to do it.

www.universalcycles.com

Last edited by mx_599; 06-29-06 at 05:53 PM.
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Old 06-29-06, 05:45 PM   #4
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Hardtail is definitely the way to go. You'll get a better value out of the hardtail especially for your budget. Also, you'll develop as a better rider for the kind of riding you want to do.

What I do recommend is you look at the Specialized Rockhopper ine. If you like the Stumpjumper, you should like the Rockhopper and it is less than $1500. The bike he showed you may have been a Hard Rock. Given your style of riding I would agree that this isn't what you're looking for. Then again, you may have seen the Rockhopper and not liked it.

Check out the Kona bikes. I like mine a lot and for $1200 you'll get a pretty nice hardtail for the money from the Kona line.

As for the other bikes, I'm not familiar with them. However, you are definitely on the right track to test ride them. The bikes are more or less the same and you should go with what feels right. Afterwards, if you're stuck between two or three bikes that feel good and are similarly priced then come back with a list of components.

Take note of the derailleur (rear one in particular), the brakes and the front fork. Bring that info here and we'll share our thoughts on which one is better. In the $500 thread, I set up a table detailing my otions and highlighted the components that were desirable or to be avoided and tha thelped me make my final choice. You can try the same approach.
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Old 06-29-06, 05:50 PM   #5
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I think the bikes that the first shop showed you were very racy. You might want something a little bit more durable and plush.

Do any of your bike shops carry Norco? this is what I often suggest to people. It's a bit cheaper too.
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Old 06-29-06, 06:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by santiago
What I do recommend is you look at the Specialized Rockhopper ine. If you like the Stumpjumper, you should like the Rockhopper and it is less than $1500. The bike he showed you may have been a Hard Rock. Given your style of riding I would agree that this isn't what you're looking for. Then again, you may have seen the Rockhopper and not liked it.
I saw the rockhopper, it only has 2 front gear plates (or whatever they are called) right? I know it was named rockhopper at least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mx_599
HT and hydraulic.

if you have that money, why not build your own?? it doesn't take more than about $50-100 in specialty tools. you can get all the info you need to do it from the great folks here. by the time you are done, you will know how to service the bike as well.

half the fun is shopping for parts. if you do a custom one, you won't be apt to want to change stuff later on. this store has lots of nice pictures, a good selection, and navigates well.

there will be no compromises if you go this route. you do not need a degree in rocket science to do it.

www.universalcycles.com
What's HT and hydraulic? Also, I'm kind of shying away from building my own because I don't really have THAT much free time, at this point I rather just have a bike and hit the trails... also, every DIY project I've taken on has ended in disaster.

Anyway, on monday I'm going to go by a couple more shops and look at more bikes. So far, I think I prefer the Gary Fisher Xcaliber, but I'll definitely get a list of components of my top choices of bikes.

PS, I just sold my old Cannondale M900 for $250.
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Old 06-29-06, 06:58 PM   #7
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One thing to keep in mind about the xcaliber is that it is a 29er -- meaning it has 29" wheels. This is not super big deal but the parts are less available and usually more expensive for upgrading exchaning, etc. For example, the forks, rims, and tires are different. It is supposed to ride smoother and more grip off raod.

For anotherGary Fisher, have a look at the Hoo Koo E Koo. It is fairly similar to the 8500, with lesser compontry, but a good bike for the price.
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Old 06-29-06, 06:58 PM   #8
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hydraulic brakes and a hard tail frame.

you don't sound like you're a candidate for a build, just get one of the bikes you mentioned i am sure it will be great!
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Old 06-29-06, 07:22 PM   #9
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HT = Hard Tail bike.
Hydraulic => hydraulic brakes.

I don't necessarily agree with the hydraulic recommendation. I think a set of Avid BB7 mechanical brakes is more than enough for most XC riders.
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Old 06-29-06, 07:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by majglow
I won't be going off any jumps, not voluntarily at least
C'mon, lol. From your story, I would go with the Trek, if you buy something you don't like, you will not take care of it, use it, or mountain bike on it, so I think put in the extra cash and you will have something that you will love.
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Old 06-29-06, 08:35 PM   #11
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Cannondale Prophet, great working full suspension, definately in your budget.
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Old 06-29-06, 09:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by santiago
HT = Hard Tail bike.
Hydraulic => hydraulic brakes.

I don't necessarily agree with the hydraulic recommendation. I think a set of Avid BB7 mechanical brakes is more than enough for most XC riders.
Good point, don't get hung up on hydraulic brakes, especially if the bike you like has Avid mechanical brakes.
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Old 06-30-06, 08:14 AM   #13
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I'm pretty much in the same boat you are. I'm 24, have a 10-year old Trek 830 and am finally getting back into biking. I've been looking in the $800-1500 range, with LBS recommendations being Trek 6500 disc, Specialized Rockhopper & Stumpjumper, and the Gary Fisher Cake 3 (FS).

The thing I *can* suggest to you is to see if you have a local MTB club. Here in central Ohio, we have a club (COMBO) and if you join (lifetime = $20), you can get 10% discounts at many LBSs. That may help you to decide between a lower/higher model. Plus, the club works to increase trail awareness, etiquette, organizes highway clean-ups and just make things more fun.
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Old 06-30-06, 08:31 AM   #14
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Cannondale Prophet, great working full suspension, definately in your budget.
Well that or the Rush...I just got the Rush 800 for $1700 so a Rush (or Prophet) 600 should be in your ball park in terms of price. I liked the feel of the 4" suspension on the Rush personally...more of a HT feel while still getting FS.
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Old 06-30-06, 09:00 AM   #15
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That Trek or the Fisher would be a GREAT bike. At the end of the day, go with the one that feels real nice...
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Old 06-30-06, 03:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mx_599
HT and hydraulic.

if you have that money, why not build your own?? it doesn't take more than about $50-100 in specialty tools. you can get all the info you need to do it from the great folks here. by the time you are done, you will know how to service the bike as well.

half the fun is shopping for parts. if you do a custom one, you won't be apt to want to change stuff later on. this store has lots of nice pictures, a good selection, and navigates well.

there will be no compromises if you go this route. you do not need a degree in rocket science to do it.

www.universalcycles.com
When you buy the components seperatly they are much more expensive than when they come with a complete bike. I would only change parts out when it wears out or breaks. Sometimes you can buy a cheaper bike and exchange a few key components (getting what you want) when you make the deal at the shop.
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Old 06-30-06, 10:33 PM   #17
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i would not buy the trek because it sounds like it has dual control levers. those are very troublesome and dumb in my opinion
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