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  1. #1
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    General purpose - best bike for me out of...

    Im just looking for a general purpose bike to do all things mountain bike related. out of what I have listed, what would be the best bang for the buck.

    1. 2015 Salso el Mariachi 2
    2. 2014 Trek Superfly 8 Gary Fisher
    these above two are all i can find in stock in my size and price range at the lbs

    3. Trek Superfly 7
    4. Trek Stache 7
    5. Stumpjumper Comp 29
    6. Giant XTC Advanced 29er
    7. Niner Air 9 (pushing my budget)
    these above i would have to order at lbs

    8. Airborne Goblin XO - id have to order blindly. im a little leary because i have no mechanical knowledge of bike assembly or maintenence

    Any other good ones I missed. Im a beginner, but want something decent within my budget and don't want a used bike. I also don't want to go beginner cheap and kick myself down the line and spend even more money upgrading stuff i could have bought with the bike.

  2. #2
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    What is your price range?

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    around 2k. maybe slightly more if warranted.

  4. #4
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    Recently picked up a Salsa ElMar SS. Very nice bike. Surprisingly lite for steel, too.

  5. #5
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    If you order through the bike shops are you stuck with the bike if it doesn't fit well or you don't like it after a parking lot test?

  6. #6
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    Are there any bike demos in your area? We have an annual demo with many manufacturers where you can actually ride demo bikes on trails. Something like this would be really helpful for you.

    I would recommend getting a test ride before you buy. The most important thing to consider is how the bike fits you, and whether you like how it rides. Personally I would ride them all, and buy the one that I had the most fun on. The worst thing is to buy the bike with the best rear derailleur but it doesn't fit and is miserable to ride. Think about fun per dollar more than parts spec.

  7. #7
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    I'm only going to comment on the Stache vs Superfly as I have experience on both. Choose the Superfly for more cross country style riding and the Stache for more burly stuff. The superflys are extremely fast and fun while the Stache is a little more burly and slower, still very fun. I demoed a stumpjumper and XTC as well, and both are good bikes as well. I went through this exact choice last summer when looking for my first mtb purchase in 23 years and rode a Mamba for a few months before purchasing a new Stache. I chose the Stache as I'm not a fast rider and prefer the confidence of the slacker ht. If I rode quicker trails more often I probably would have choose the superfly but I prefer to ride the more technical trails.

    FWIW - a good rider would be much faster on a Stache than I would be on an ultra lightweight XC bike. I just go out and ride, rather slowly, and prefer technical obstacles and downhlls.

  8. #8
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    Might sound odd, but I'd also look into the Diamondback Overdrive Carbon (slightly slacker than the Giant XTC, not quite as taut; still specced with slightly heavy fork/wheel setup, but that's better for a beginner rider than minimal possible weight.
    I'd also look into a Salsa Spearfish 3, especially if you can look at that in direct comparison to the El Mar. Really different approaches, but the 2015 spec on the Spearfish3 is pretty compelling, and the 2-3lb step up from a carbon hardtail to get 3.2" of well executed suspension travel on the rear is something worth trying. Also, the slacker head tube angle on the Spearfish really makes that bike better when anything gets technical (the El Mar to a limited degree shares that same massive benefit over some of those options).

    For reference, after running a 66 head angle 29er, it's hard for me to go back to a 71 setup at speed without feeling sketched out at high speed or over 18" drops. I don't consider quick precise steering to be necessarily worth the steep head angle.

    As far as 'being stuck with' stuff, as long as you're running Deore or X5 (or better), you won't be super disappointed. If you have to put on tires yourself, don't consider that a massive loss (OEM tires, unless they were specced for your conditions are usually the biggest ROI changes early on). SLX or X7 drivetrains are seriously good, Deore brakes (or Guide R's) perform extremely well for the money (Deore are the king of budget brakes), so as long as you've got a solid frame, durable wheels, and drive/brake components you'll be happy with the bike. Any tire/cockpit/pedals type changes are user preference anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much about those, just budget some for messing with that.

  9. #9
    Rod
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    Others have given you good advice. First, since you're unfamiliar with most of these bikes a demo day(s) would be the best place to start. You can get a feel for all of the bikes in and beyond your budget. That way you can determine which headtube angle you enjoy riding and how you want the bike to handle.

    All of the bikes above would be great for general purpose mountain biking. The key is to buy the bike that fits and you enjoy riding. Everything except the frame can be easily changed on a bike in a matter of minutes. I know you don't want to go that route, but what I am saying is fit/handling is most important. Any of the above bikes can handle mountain biking.

    The spearfish is another bike I would consider.

    In flexibility, I believe the El Mar has the competition beaten. It can be geared, SS, and have the options for multiple racks. FYI, I own an XTC and would like to get an El Mar someday.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  10. #10
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    I would not spend 2k on an aluminum hardtail because of the lack of comfort.
    When you get to the point of riding longer and hitting more fun/bumpy terrain an aluminum HT will beat you up.
    The rear is a hard tail and aluminum will transmit things right into the rider.
    Trek's SF 9.6-9.8 carbon hardtails are a different story.
    They have been engineered with vertical rear compliance for comfort and carbon damping.
    The 9.6 with XR1 Team tires instead of the smaller volume oem Experts is a long-term no fs needed bike.
    2k is a doable price if you negotiate with a manager only, salespeople are instructed to say no discount is possible. You may have to check a few to get one who will work with you.
    Want even more comfort and better handling down the road? Replace the heavy oem wheels with wide(30+ inside) carbons.
    Once you have the bike setup properly it can handle a broad range of terrain. The geo is dialed for quick turning and stable down hill handling.

  11. #11
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    Surly Krampus - Jack of all trades!

  12. #12
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    Stumpjumper. 'Cuz I have a Hardrock.

    Seriously, though, these are mostly interchangeable except the Stache.

    Starting with a better fork is nice.

    Ride them all, buy your favorite.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
    Rod
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    I would not spend 2k on an aluminum hardtail because of the lack of comfort.
    When you get to the point of riding longer and hitting more fun/bumpy terrain an aluminum HT will beat you up.
    The rear is a hard tail and aluminum will transmit things right into the rider.
    Trek's SF 9.6-9.8 carbon hardtails are a different story.
    They have been engineered with vertical rear compliance for comfort and carbon damping.
    The 9.6 with XR1 Team tires instead of the smaller volume oem Experts is a long-term no fs needed bike.
    2k is a doable price if you negotiate with a manager only, salespeople are instructed to say no discount is possible. You may have to check a few to get one who will work with you.
    Want even more comfort and better handling down the road? Replace the heavy oem wheels with wide(30+ inside) carbons.
    Once you have the bike setup properly it can handle a broad range of terrain. The geo is dialed for quick turning and stable down hill handling.
    I disagree that aluminum will beat you up even though that is considered common knowlege. Like I mentioned before, I own an XTC. I take it on 50-60 mile MTB rides without soreness the next day on ungroomed trails. High volume tires, low pressures, absorbing shock with arms and legs, and comfy grips provide a great ride. Once the trail turns rough, you have to work the bike. Lift the front and rear tires over square edge rocks too. You cannot plow through obstacles while sitting or it will feel like you were hit in the lower back by a boxer.
    Last edited by Rod; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:18 AM.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  14. #14
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    Now after looking at that Spearfish, I'm pulling my hair out trying to decide if I should save up just a little more and get a full suspension bike?

  15. #15
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    I have a hardtail (Stache) and a full suspension Stumpjumper FSR, as well as a Giant Anthem X 29er. More often than not, I reach for the Stache.

    Specialized makes the Rockhopper EVO and a Stumpjumper EVO, which are not far off from a Stache.

    Airborne makes the Goblin EVO which is even closer to being like a Stache. You can take a Goblin EVO to a bike shop and have them do the final assembly and adjustments, and still be ahead of the game, but you just can't test one out before purchasing.

    These days, the material isn't something you can always draw absolute conclusions about like you used to. Carbon frames can feel very nice when done well. Aluminum can be made to have all sorts of different characteristics, as can carbon, steel, or titanium. If you're a big boy, that should be taken into consideration. One man's 'flexy' is another man's 'perfect compliance' or 'too stiff'.

    there are no bikes that do it all perfectly, but bikes like the Stache/RH EVO, SJ EVO, and Goblin EVO are hardtails that fall into the 'trail category' and can be very versatile if that is what you really want.

    Bikes like the Stumpjumper, Niner AIR 9, and Superfly, are more straight up XC bikes. All are very good bikes.

    It's very hard to find full suspension bikes for less than (at least) $2500 that you won't be longing for upgrades with.

    JMHO

  16. #16
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    Even the idea of general purpose vs. XC is debatable.

    For myself, XC bikes have a really nice balance between low-speed and uphill handling and stability on descents. Like a lot of people in my region, I use fairly wide full-knob tires and I've gone with the herd on handlebar width.

    I get a kick out of demoing AM bikes - those with 140-150 mm of travel. They give up some climbing and handling in tight places, but they're a lot of fun to descend on.

    I've been underwhelmed by trail bikes. They climb like a AM bike and descend like a XC bike. Why would I blow a paycheck on that? But I suspect for a lower-volume rider, they may make some sense. I'm not really sure - I'm not that rider.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    There's been lots of good advice and points to think about in this thread. However, if you're not able to look at geometry charts and have a decent understanding of what you're getting into with a bike, going purely off paper, you really do need to demo some bikes to make an educated decision. Even for those with knowledge and experience, selecting a bike based on geometry and online reviews is still a partial gamble.

    For example, Andrew isn't a fan of "trail" bikes and prefers either full-on XC bikes or AM bikes, nothing in between. Frankly, I think he's just not ridden a stellar "trail bike" (tongue in cheek) but that's his opinion. I LOVE my Yeti Asr5 and think that XC bikes are good only for racing. You could have an entirely different experience once you demo a bike.

    So, basically what I am saying is that you need to ask yourself "is worth a $2,000 gamble?" Be willing to drive 2 or 3 hours and demo a couple bikes in your price range.

    If you end up ignoring the advice and buying without test riding, I'd not buy a bike with low-level components. Make sure that you can easily resell what you buy if you take a gamble. Lots of smoking deals online right now... but no deal is good if the bike doesn't float your boat.

  18. #18
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    went to the lbs today looking around.

    well...the trek superfly bikes do not fit me. I'm not sure if all treks fit the same, so i can't rule out the stache yet.

    also, the salsa spearfish does not fit me. that was really the only fs bike that had my attention.

    they had a mariachi in large, and of course it was to big, but the salesman was almost positive the mariachi in a medium would fit after looking up the specs.

    I'm going to also rule out the goblin because as I'm finding out, I'm a hard fit and don't want to take a chance on purchasing one online and find it won't work with me.

    im wanitng to check out the others also before making a decision.

  19. #19
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    Trek has sizing in basically 1" increments compared to typically S-M-L-XL. I can't believe you couldn't find a fit on a Superfly without something as minor as a stem change making the fit, and hopefully the LBS would have a few to swap out for a quick trial fit.

    What didn't fit on the superfly and what size did you try? An 18.5 or 19.5 would be span both sides of most larges IMO.

    Also I find the cockpit and fit of a Stache to be enough different to consider, but again the Stache is really in a different category than most of the XC style bikes you are looking at. I also think (ask your LBS) the Superflys come with the 690 or 720mm wide bars versus the Stache that comes with the 750mm wide. IMO this changes the feel of the fit drastically.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin513 View Post
    Trek has sizing in basically 1" increments compared to typically S-M-L-XL. I can't believe you couldn't find a fit on a Superfly without something as minor as a stem change making the fit, and hopefully the LBS would have a few to swap out for a quick trial fit.

    What didn't fit on the superfly and what size did you try? An 18.5 or 19.5 would be span both sides of most larges IMO.

    Also I find the cockpit and fit of a Stache to be enough different to consider, but again the Stache is really in a different category than most of the XC style bikes you are looking at. I also think (ask your LBS) the Superflys come with the 690 or 720mm wide bars versus the Stache that comes with the 750mm wide. IMO this changes the feel of the fit drastically.

    im 5 10.5" i think i have the upper body of someone 6 3" and the lower body of someone 5 7".

    the trek sf 8 in size 17.5 was right there at the crotch. the next size down was the 15.5 which didn't hit the crotch but felt way to cramped up.

    he said they would have to size me with the 15.5 and then add this and that to stretch the cockpit out. i just don't want to go through all that time, trouble, and money to try and make something fit.

  21. #21
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    Can you check out a Santa Cruz Highball 29 in large anywhere nearby? Will give you a little more in the reach size with a better standover than the Stache or Superfly. Unfortunately I don't think the Stache is going to give you any more standover room although it might stretch you out a bit comparing a 15.5 or 17.5 frame.

    Unfortunately you might have to add some for a longer stem or to get your seat back some if you are a difficult fit.

  22. #22
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    They have a bin of stems. I bet they'll swap it to make a sale.

    However, I've come to think that bike sizing is about nailing weight distribution. If you "longer" a bike by sticking a long stem on it, you may end to with too much weight over the front wheel.

    People often have little to no standover clearance on 29ers. I don't think it's that big a deal. I guess I have the luxury to think what I want - I ride one with a radically sloping, curved top tube and have very average proportions, so I do have some clearance.

    I'd say start with the longest, lowest frame you can find, get the one that feels closest to right with the stock stem, then if you can get the bars a little below the saddle, maybe with a -17 degree stem and flat bars, you're golden.

    Giant and Specialized are both reputed to be long and low. Last I looked, they both looked fairly traditional where some companies have taller frames with shorter reaches. But that's closer, at least. If the Trek dealer is competent and willing to spend some time on a sale, you might bring up your concerns there, and see if they can make it work for you.

    If you get into more extensive parts swapping, be ready to pay. But I think a stem is reasonable to sell a $2100 bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  23. #23
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    No Rocky Mountain bikes in your area?

    I've done a visual comparison between the hartail Superfly and Vertex.
    The Vertex has a lower standover, but the reach would be shorter than the Superfly.

    For a hardtail, the Kona Honzo is lower again.
    FS and low: checkout the Kona Process models.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Knievel View Post
    im 5 10.5" i think i have the upper body of someone 6 3" and the lower body of someone 5 7".

    the trek sf 8 in size 17.5 was right there at the crotch. the next size down was the 15.5 which didn't hit the crotch but felt way to cramped up.

    he said they would have to size me with the 15.5 and then add this and that to stretch the cockpit out. i just don't want to go through all that time, trouble, and money to try and make something fit.
    Your characterization of your size tells you what size bike you need.
    One for a rider with whatever upper body or torso you have.
    Because that is what will let you ride and get the performance you want to have fun.
    Step on the pedal to get on and off.
    Go back in and test ride a 19.5".
    Ride on the grass and into ditches.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Knievel View Post
    im 5 10.5" i think i have the upper body of someone 6 3" and the lower body of someone 5 7".

    the trek sf 8 in size 17.5 was right there at the crotch. the next size down was the 15.5 which didn't hit the crotch but felt way to cramped up.

    he said they would have to size me with the 15.5 and then add this and that to stretch the cockpit out. i just don't want to go through all that time, trouble, and money to try and make something fit.
    5'10 on a 15.5 trek?? you'll totally regret it

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