Hi all - new to MTBR.com although I've read a lot from here in the past. This is my first post. I've been a bike freak for ages - I love everything about riding, repairing and maintaining my bikes. I do more road than mountain. I rode less once my kids came along, but I've been getting back into it more over the last 3 years (I can get a bit more time to get out, and now the kids can ride along too some of the time) and have also taken up running 1/2 marathons to help keep in shape.
I am posting my review to help other people decide if this is a good route for them to purchase a bike, and to help with the sizing. With three kids I need to do what I can to save a few bucks - but being my first mountain bike purchase in 20 years I wanted to get something good that will last. No Canadian Tire or Walmart bike-shaped-objects would do, and the prices at the bike stores for something half decent seem a bit crazy relative to what you are getting. Here in Winnipeg, there seems to be no good middle ground between cheap crap and high priced decent bikes so I went to the internet again after a positive experience last year buying a road bike.
I recently purchased a BikesDirect Gravity 29point3. It's my first 29er, and my first mountain bike purchase since about 1993. It is replacing my 1992 Trek 7000 hard tail rigid fork. I keep my bikes for a long time and take good care of them.
I'm in Canada and paid $750 US. I had it shipped to Pembina ND and I drove down to pick it up. I paid PST/GST and Duty to bring it back home - about $200 canadian. For my first road bike I bought I was only hit for PST/GST of about 1/2 the amount. I filled up my near empty tank while there, and the cheap US gas more or less saved me the cost of the gas to get down there.
I ordered the bike on a monday, and it arrived on Friday of that week. The bike arrived in perfect condition with the exception that the derailleur hanger was bent! It was bent enough that the derailleur always made a clicking noise and I couldn't ride it at all because it seemed like it would wreck the derailleur. I sent an email to bikes direct and they are mailing out a new hanger direct to me in Canada so I don't have to travel down. In the meantime I carefully used a large crescent wrench to straighten out the hanger as well as I could and now the shifting is smooth and the derailleur is quiet. However when that new hanger arrives I will put it on because I want it aligned as perfectly as possible.
It took me about 1.5 hours to put it together, attach the stem/handlebars, adjust the brakes, derailleurs, pump up the tires, attach the derailleur, and set the seat height. This was my first time working with hydraulic or disk brakes, so it took me a bit longer than it would otherwise.
It has 30 speed SRAM X7 components that seem to work very well. Shifting is certain and crisp. Like my 20 year old Trek with Deore LX used to be, the shifting is smooth and I can shift while putting power to the pedals. First time getting Hydraulic brakes. I'm impressed at how well they work, but am a bit unsure about whether I'll be able to maintain them myself. First time getting a bike with suspension (yes I am very old school). I like it when doing rougher terrain, but often ride with the lockout on.
One note on the frame geometry - the lengths shown on their site can be confusing and maybe wrong. I am 5'11"/200lbs and am fairly athletic and was not sure whether I should get the L 19" or medium 17.5". Standover on the 17.5" was listed at about 29.4" or something, but when i measure it about 6 or 8 inches in front of the down tube about where you would stand over, it is actually about about 30.5". I think they must measure standover right at the seat tube because that measurement matches to their site. They show a wheelbase of 1070mm for both the 17.5" and 19" frames (which seems incorrect, but maybe is possible), but my 17.5" was about 10 or 20mm longer than that.
I am glad that I got the 17.5" because this is a tall bike and when I hop off I feel that my boys are a bit close to the top tube already on the medium frame. The medium is comfortable, and my legs did not feel too close to the bars, but since I wanted to stretch out a little bit more I replaced the 90mm stem with 120mm which is good, but maybe I should have went with 100 or 110mm, or tried lowering the bars a bit first since they are as high as they could go with all spacers under the stem. I'll keep making small adjustments to get it where I like it best. I know the latest school of thought says top tube length matters more than standover - while I understand in some cases that may be true, I do think there are certain types of riders where top tube height still does matter maybe more. If you are borderline between two sizes, I would say go to the lower size on these frames/geometry.
For anyone who buys one of these, the brake levers and shifters are pressed right up against the edge of the handgrips. My hands would hit the edge of the levers and it felt awkward like there was not enough room for my hands. Do yourself a favour and move the the brake levers/shifters inwards by about 3/4 of an inch to give your hands more room - a world of difference to make the bike feel more comfortable.
Riding a 29er is a new experience for me. I love it. Takes a while to get used to the height of it. It seems faster and getting over rough stuff, logs and cornering seems easier due to the greater height/clearance and big wheels. I do notice a bit less nimbleness, but overall I like it more in comparison to my 26" no-suspension.
The paint looks nice - matte gray. However like other people have mentioned it seems to scratch quite easily. There is no thick clear coat layer to protect the paint like some of the more expensive name brands. However I'm a bit rough with my bikes and they end up gettting scratched up anyway - I'll find some touchup paint.
The welds look good. I don't see any reason why this bike won't last me the next 20 years like my Trek did. Only think I wonder about is the 30 speed drivetrain. With a narrower chain I wonder if the drivetrain won't be as bullet-proof as my old 21 speed Deore LX.
In Canada, bikes cost a few hundred dollars more than in the US. Total expenditure was about $950 including duty/PST/GST. A similar bike I saw at a local bike store was $1500, or about $1680 with tax. It had the same X7 components, Avid brakes, and FSA crank but with a better recon fork (mine has the Tora.) It did have a better and more durable paint Job, and maybe slightly better wheels, and nicer looking bars, stem, etc. The weight felt about the same as mine. So I could not justify paying about $700 more for a brand name, recon fork, and nicer paint job.
I'm happy with my purchase and like riding the bike. Hopefully this post may be helpful to others.
Pictures are attached along with a picture of my Trek I'm replacing - bonded aluminum made in the USA. Will never be anything like that agin.
Hopefully my review is helpful to you
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Thread: Bikesdirect Gravity 29point3