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  1. #1
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    Help me find the best bike for under $800?

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm in the market for my first mountain bike and would like to get the some advice as to which bikes out there are good buys for under $800. Given my lack of knowledge and the many options out there make buying my first bike a daunting task. The sales people I've spoken to at my local bike stores have not being very helpful.

    I'm 5'9'', 165lbs, I stay somewhat active, would like to do do trails, hills(lots of hills), and long trail bike rides.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you
    Last edited by WarG; 05-06-2013 at 02:27 PM.

  2. #2
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    I'm in the same boat and I'm buying an Airborne Guardian. It really came down to that or the Specialized Sport Disc.

  3. #3
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    Hi Hrbib21,

    I was looking at a hardtail dimondback from sports chalet, but after further reading it didn't seem like a good buy. Hope to get some help from folks here.

    Thanks

  4. #4
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    Much like an automobile, you'll want to take as many as you can for a test drive. Since you mention a lack of knowledge, it would be prudent to bring someone along with you whom you trust that does have some experience.
    Buying used could get you more bang for your buck but can be riskier as well. Unless you have someone to help you on your search, you're probably safer looking at new rigs.
    Take your time to enjoy the search and you'll end up with a bike that you'll enjoy for many years to come.
    Cheers!

  5. #5
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    A lot of the major brands can offer good bang for the buck. Since you are a little on the inexperienced side of the sport going into bike shops and asking around is a good idea. Sit on bikes and learn what fits you. Ordering a bike online has the benefit of getting a good deal, but you may pay higher price by not getting a good fitting bike.
    Look into Kona, Giant, Specialized, Norco, Trek they build in such large numbers that you usually get the best deal.
    I would try and find the biggest bike shops in your area, ones that would likely have some overstock of the previous years. 800 bones cans some times get you a Grand in bike if you are willing to have last years model or got real lucky and found a 2011 model.
    Stay with hard tails, at your price range most suspension forks will be equal to all models.
    In the 29er world rotational weight is king. If you narrow it down to a few bikes pick the one with the best wheels, not the name brand handle bar or flashy rear deraillure

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrbib21 View Post
    I'm in the same boat and I'm buying an Airborne Guardian. It really came down to that or the Specialized Sport Disc.
    Great choice for your budget. I tried that bike and it's more like a $1500-2000$ bike..

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clownshoes View Post
    Much like an automobile, you'll want to take as many as you can for a test drive. Since you mention a lack of knowledge, it would be prudent to bring someone along with you whom you trust that does have some experience.
    Buying used could get you more bang for your buck but can be riskier as well. Unless you have someone to help you on your search, you're probably safer looking at new rigs.
    Take your time to enjoy the search and you'll end up with a bike that you'll enjoy for many years to come.
    Cheers!
    Yes, test ride as many as you can and visit all of the LBS in your area. Read all the stickies here and go for how the bike feels, not just the blingiest looking. Fit while RIDING is waht matters.

    Quote Originally Posted by stinkyto View Post
    A lot of the major brands can offer good bang for the buck. Since you are a little on the inexperienced side of the sport going into bike shops and asking around is a good idea. Sit on bikes and learn what fits you. Ordering a bike online has the benefit of getting a good deal, but you may pay higher price by not getting a good fitting bike.
    Look into Kona, Giant, Specialized, Norco, Trek they build in such large numbers that you usually get the best deal.
    I would try and find the biggest bike shops in your area, ones that would likely have some overstock of the previous years. 800 bones cans some times get you a Grand in bike if you are willing to have last years model or got real lucky and found a 2011 model.
    Stay with hard tails, at your price range most suspension forks will be equal to all models.
    In the 29er world rotational weight is king. If you narrow it down to a few bikes pick the one with the best wheels, not the name brand handle bar or flashy rear deraillure
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by hrbib21 View Post
    I'm in the same boat and I'm buying an Airborne Guardian. It really came down to that or the Specialized Sport Disc.


    Looks like great bike for the money.
    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son...

  8. #8
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    No major brand is currently offering a good product for trail riding in your price range. Any bike with a Suntour fork is not designed for fun/difficult trails. These bikes are appropriately only for bike paths and easy trails. They do look like mountain bikes. But that's all.
    You need at least an XC series RockShox or an air fork like a Recon or Raidon. These are true entry level forks.
    So if 600-800 is your budget Get something like an Airborne Guardian for 675 no upgrade needed if your aren't heavy.
    Or get a BD Gravity Point 1 for 450 and put a Raidon on it for 175 or a Recon Gold for 240. You will be under 700.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    No major brand is currently offering a good product for trail riding in your price range. Any bike with a Suntour fork is not designed for fun/difficult trails. These bikes are appropriately only for bike paths and easy trails. They do look like mountain bikes. But that's all.
    You need at least an XC series RockShox or an air fork like a Recon or Raidon. These are true entry level forks.
    So if 600-800 is your budget Get something like an Airborne Guardian for 675 no upgrade needed if your aren't heavy.
    Or get a BD Gravity Point 1 for 450 and put a Raidon on it for 175 or a Recon Gold for 240. You will be under 700.
    Hi Eb,

    Thanks for your input. Glad I didn't buy the one from sports chalet for 600! I did read all the good reviews on the airborne guardian and the bike seems to be a good fit, the only problem wight the online purchase is my lack of knowledge to get it serviced myself.

    Do you still think is a good buy?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hrbib21 View Post
    I'm in the same boat and I'm buying an Airborne Guardian. It really came down to that or the Specialized Sport Disc.
    Really considering this one as well. Just hesitant because of the reviews regarding assembly and tune ups. Bike repairs in my area are known to get expensive.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarG View Post
    Really considering this one as well. Just hesitant because of the reviews regarding assembly and tune ups. Bike repairs in my area are known to get expensive.
    Airborne Guardian is a nice bike for the money, just make sure you order right size. Read around here, ask questions as needed regarding size. Most bike repair is easy, only thing that is pita is wheeel truing and hydraulic brake bleeding. I usually do all mine except wheel truing.
    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natedogz View Post
    Airborne Guardian is a nice bike for the money, just make sure you order right size. Read around here, ask questions as needed regarding size. Most bike repair is easy, only thing that is pita is wheeel truing and hydraulic brake bleeding. I usually do all mine except wheel truing.
    Regarding size, I'm 5' 8-9", been told I should get a 16-18 depending on the bike. what size are you looking at?

  13. #13
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    What inseam length are you.
    The guys at Airborne will answer your calls, help you with size, assembly, tuning or replacement parts if necessary. Very good customer service.
    YouTube PinkBike Tech Tuesdays and Park Tool manuals are going to give you a lot of info. Spend a little time and you will by rewarded on the trail where you will need the info.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarG View Post
    Regarding size, I'm 5' 8-9", been told I should get a 16-18 depending on the bike. what size are you looking at?
    I'm not looking, just bought Nashbar SS 29er rigid for another fun option. There's a bike sizing stickie around somewheres...forget maybe in Beginner's forum. I'm about 6'2" riding 21" Nashbar 29er SS (stock stem iirc 110mm stem), 21" Access XCL(with 90mm stem), I rode the Tora fork for about a year and then swapped it for 1.5lb lighter Reba I had laying around (Reba is about 3.5lbs)...also swapped out to nice Cane Creek headset, swapped tires, saddle, grips, bars, and went 2x9 with bashguard...great handling bike with great value.

    ACCESS Product Reviews and Ratings - Spin Doctor Pro Bike Build - 2010 Access XCL 9.7 29" Mountain Bike from Performance Bike

    Access XCL 29er 29er Hardtail Reviews

    HTH...

    Nashbar is 20% off today only and $474.99 minus 15%....great deal! Love it! Rigid and SS is not for everybody, but you can change to squishy fork anytime, I use it for my fun bike, not everyday rides.

    Nashbar Single-Speed 29er Mountain Bike - Overweight Code G Restricted
    Last edited by Natedogz; 05-07-2013 at 05:49 PM.
    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son...

  15. #15
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    Nashbar 25% off today only...at checkout use code NB40....updated my post above for more fit info.
    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son...

  16. #16
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    Good bike fit calculator: Fit Calculator - Competitive Cyclist

    Call Guardian or whomever you're considering and get fit help from them after you do the calculator to be sure. Not all bikes size same ways and sometimes the online specs are not correct, when in doubt check to be sure.
    Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life son...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarG View Post
    Hi Hrbib21,

    I was looking at a hardtail dimondback from sports chalet, but after further reading it didn't seem like a good buy. Hope to get some help from folks here.
    Thanks
    Good job on restraining yourself. I just bought a hardtail DB from Sports Chalet and REALLY wished I'd held out and gotten something comparable to the guys I'm riding with and more important to the type of riding we've been doing.

  18. #18
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    Another happy Guardian rider here. Same height and weight as OP and have not found the fork lacking.
    It is my first mtb and have little experience with bikes aside from taking off training wheels, and had no problem setting the bike up or adjusting the derailleurs and brakes. YouTube can walk you through pretty much anything.

    It is definitely a leap of faith not being able to ride one before buying, but I haven't seen many disappointed buyers on the boards. And the airborne dude who posts here is usually around to address any issues.

    Whatever you end up with make sure you ride that sucker.
    Good luck

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarG View Post
    Really considering this one as well. Just hesitant because of the reviews regarding assembly and tune ups. Bike repairs in my area are known to get expensive.
    I recently bought the Airborne Guardian and could not be happier. I would not sweat assembly too much, it is about 80% assembled out of the box. All I had to do was turn the stem around 180 degrees, attach the handlebars, install the seat post, and put the front wheel on. The cables and derailleurs are set up out of the box. The rear derailleur and brakes did require some fine tuning, but nothing difficult.

    It is also worth mentioning that while the Guardian is $600, the shipping cost is $75. In addition, it does not come with pedals. So in reality this is a $700-$750 bike depending on what pedals you spring for. That being said I still feel like it is a great deal.

    If you do much research on this bike, you will find quite a few complaints about the X3 front derailleur. The latest production run comes with an X5 FD. They have not updated the spec sheet because they still have a few 20 and 22 inch frames in stock equipped with the X3. My bike is an 18 inch and it came with the X5.

    These guys are very accessible, give them a call and they can answer any questions you may have.

    Good luck with the bike hunt!

  20. #20
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    I wish I'd looked into Guardian before I bought my DB.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natedogz View Post
    Yes, test ride as many as you can and visit all of the LBS in your area. Read all the stickies here and go for how the bike feels, not just the blingiest looking. Fit while RIDING is waht matters.



    Yes.





    Looks like great bike for the money.


    It's really coming down to the airborne guardian and the specialized rockhopper. Thanks guys for all the help.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by clarkster View Post
    I wish I'd looked into Guardian before I bought my DB.

    Don't sweat it, just so you know my old bike got stolen after putting over 200 in parts and labor.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDocTx View Post
    I recently bought the Airborne Guardian and could not be happier. I would not sweat assembly too much, it is about 80% assembled out of the box. All I had to do was turn the stem around 180 degrees, attach the handlebars, install the seat post, and put the front wheel on. The cables and derailleurs are set up out of the box. The rear derailleur and brakes did require some fine tuning, but nothing difficult.

    It is also worth mentioning that while the Guardian is $600, the shipping cost is $75. In addition, it does not come with pedals. So in reality this is a $700-$750 bike depending on what pedals you spring for. That being said I still feel like it is a great deal.

    If you do much research on this bike, you will find quite a few complaints about the X3 front derailleur. The latest production run comes with an X5 FD. They have not updated the spec sheet because they still have a few 20 and 22 inch frames in stock equipped with the X3. My bike is an 18 inch and it came with the X5.

    These guys are very accessible, give them a call and they can answer any questions you may have.

    Good luck with the bike hunt!
    Hi Doc,

    Did you looked into the specialized rockhopper before buying the guardian? If you did, why did you opt for the guardian?

    Thank you

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jojadog View Post
    Another happy Guardian rider here. Same height and weight as OP and have not found the fork lacking.
    It is my first mtb and have little experience with bikes aside from taking off training wheels, and had no problem setting the bike up or adjusting the derailleurs and brakes. YouTube can walk you through pretty much anything.

    It is definitely a leap of faith not being able to ride one before buying, but I haven't seen many disappointed buyers on the boards. And the airborne dude who posts here is usually around to address any issues.

    Whatever you end up with make sure you ride that sucker.
    Good luck
    We may be on the same experience level! I just can't wait to get on those trails this summer!!!!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natedogz View Post
    Good bike fit calculator: Fit Calculator - Competitive Cyclist

    Call Guardian or whomever you're considering and get fit help from them after you do the calculator to be sure. Not all bikes size same ways and sometimes the online specs are not correct, when in doubt check to be sure.
    Thanks for the link Nate.

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