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  1. #1
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    Need help selecting first 29er

    Need help buying first 29er. There are several decent bike shops where I live and I intend on riding some different bikes, but I was hoping you guys could give some opinions based on the hardware and your personal experience with the brands or models I'm looking at. I am 5'11", 175 lbs and this will be my first decent mountain bike. The trails I have around here are pretty basic singletrack. My price range is $1100 and under. I am going to buy new from a LBS. Here's what I have so far:

    Felt Nine 60
    Trek Mamba
    Specialized Rockhopper Comp 29
    Scott Scale 970
    Giant Talon 29er 0

    I know all of these are pretty similar but can you tell me what makes any of them stand out? Where I live I have to visit 3 different bike shops to see these 4 bikes. The other major brands I've seen around here are Giant and Cannondale, but the components on those at my price point don't seem as impressive. I'm sure you guys see posts like this all the time and I'm sure it gets old, so I apologize and thank you in advance.

    What region of the country do I live in? Gainesville, FL
    Where do I plan to ride my new bike? San Felasco state park, single track
    Are there any YouTube videos of the trails I plan to ride? Yes, and they're boring
    How much time do I plan on devoting to this hobby? Weekends
    What is my previous cycling experience? Riding bikes since I was 4, never competitively. Recreational road/mtn
    Have I participated in other hobbies, sports or activities that may give me relevant skills? Functional fitness
    What are my mechanical abilities? Good, Mr. Fix-It at the house and shade-tree car mechanic. Own plenty of tools. Never worked on bikes.
    Do I currently own a bike? Cannondale CAAD 9-7 road and crappy Mongoose MTB from Walmart
    Do I currently own a helmet, gloves, padded shorts, proper shoes, Cyclocomputer, Finish line bike wash, Finishline brush kit, shop rags, chain lube, chain stay protector (I like Shelter), Gloves, good socks, solid tire pressure gauge, floor tire pump, on trail tire pump or cartridges, shock pump, good three way hex, mufti tool, spare bottles, cages, backpack to put all your gear in? I own most of that.
    Why do I want to buy a new bike? Don't own a decent mountain bike and two of my brothers do. Need to join the club.
    How much research have I already done and do I have an idea of what I want? Visited several LBS when I searched for my brothers bike last XMas. Lots of online research. Want the best all around bike for about a grand. LBS says I'll be happiest with a 29er for my size and the local trail scene.
    Do I have friends who are into the hobby? What's their mechanical and riding experience? Two of my brothers have decents MTB's. They are beginning riders as far as trails go.
    What kind of bikes do my riding buddies ride? Trek 4 series and Cannondale Flash.
    What kind of bikes do I see on the trails I plan to ride? (Full suspension, hardtail, rigid, single speed, geared) Haven't been in a while, but all types. All better than my current piece of crap.
    Can I really afford this hobby? Are my credit cards paid off? Do I have savings in the bank and money to burn? I don't intend on sinking tons of money into after you guys help me make an awesome initial investment. Am I going to do constant upgrades and eventually purchase a multi-thousand dollar bike? No. But I can afford it for my purposes.
    How much money do I want to spend on this hobby over the next year? Beyond the bike? Maybe a tune up or tube here and there. Bike under $1100.
    What am I trying to accomplish by participating in this hobby? Fun
    How do I expect my life to be different a year from the day my new bike arrives? I will have logged many trail rides/increased my trail riding skill

  2. #2
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    Another one of these threads? Haha just messin with ya....but seems like we get one with the same subject title on a daily basis. I'll do my best to help.

    Any chance you could invest a couple hundred more? That will get you into an actual entry level hard tail that is worthy of investing money into. Dont get me wrong, the ones you listed are decent bikes and will help you decide if your gonna enjoy your new hobby. From personal experience, if you end up loving the sport (which I'm sure you will)... It will cost more then the bikes worth to upgrade key components like suspension, wheels, drivetrain.

    Upgrading parts is not mandatory but youll quickly learn that this sport is an addiction. Buying a good bike from the start will allow you to grow into it. I'd check out the giant Xtc 29er for a little more. It's a great frame and race worthy. The other manufacturers also have similar models if your not into giants. If your at the top of your budget you'll just have to ride each one and get what feels best. They are all fitted with similar components so it's hard to say that one is superior to the other.

  3. #3
    cowbell
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    You listed Treck and Giant - both offer lifetime frame warranties. That's a huge plus in my mind. But based on what you're asking, I highly recommend you look at the Airborne Goblin. It's all X7 components and right at your price range, honestly, in terms of bang for you buck, nothing else is going to touch it.

    Airborne Bicycles. NEW Goblin

    Now, the bad part is you can't test ride a goblin unless you know someone that has one. And I highly recommend you test ride all the bikes you're looking at. In the end, if you like something that ends up with close to the same geometry as the Goblin, you might go ahead and get one in spite of not being able to test ride it.

  4. #4
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    +1 on giant xtc

    Also check Jensonusa they have an air 9 Niner for $1,200 which in my opinion is a great bike.
    Sit and spin my ass...

  5. #5
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    Here is your bike.... You sound like a large frame..
    Niner Air 9 Custom Build Bike > Complete Bikes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Sit and spin my ass...

  6. #6
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    I am getting my Scalpel 29er this week I will let you guys know what I think, it's my first!

  7. #7
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    I am very partial to the Scott on this one... My vote would be Scott Scale 970... I prefer those components and Scott's are beautiful looking bikes..
    fat old man ... fueled by Mexican pastries....

  8. #8
    Trail Tire TV on blogger
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    component wise they are all about the same, the only thing that stands out to me is the slightly more relaxed head/fork angle of the Scott. I think as a weekend warrior type rider this may feel more comfortable to you. the very steep head angles make steering a bit faster, but it can easily become twitchy at higher speeds..and will also give a LOT less "i'm going over the bars" feel

    The Trek G2 geo might be somewhat the same but I've never ridden one personally since the G2 took over their line so I can't say.

    the Goblin is also a wicked good deal, but remember it's mail order so you need to be your own Mech... need the basic ability, time and tools.... but it will give you a MUCH bigger bang for the buck over the others... But if you aren't much of a mechanic ,.. well a properly working cheapo will work better than a screwed up high end...
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
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    Some bikes should be off your list. If it uses a low grade Suntour fork the bike is for bike paths and easy trails. No adjustable rebound damping shows up as pogoing when the bumps increase and speed goes up with more difficult trail riding. A good fork is the most important component in skill development. And conversely a poorly specced fork leads lots of people to give up the sport.
    If you go for a Suntour bike get the price down and swap out the fork for something from Bluesky like a dual air Reba-- the fork on the Goblin.

  10. #10
    I'm with stupid
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    Dont over look the GT Karakorm, have one for my tooling threw the open space and running around town. It works great and is really fun to ride in the single track.

  11. #11
    I hate sugar sand.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Some bikes should be off your list. If it uses a low grade Suntour fork the bike is for bike paths and easy trails. No adjustable rebound damping shows up as pogoing when the bumps increase and speed goes up with more difficult trail riding. A good fork is the most important component in skill development. And conversely a poorly specced fork leads lots of people to give up the sport.
    If you go for a Suntour bike get the price down and swap out the fork for something from Bluesky like a dual air Reba-- the fork on the Goblin.
    I've got a '12 Marlin (step below Mamba) with the not very good Suntour fork. Ten miles of crashing over roots on this thing is not fun. It's very jarring and really fatigues your hands, wrists and shoulders.

    Get something with a decent fork, or plan on budgeting for an upgrade in the near future.

  12. #12
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    My 5 cents. After years of biking with tripple chainring, my friends had to "push me" to buy double chainring with my new bike.... After 7 month of biking, I am so glad they did it :-)

    All those bike have tripple chainring - I would never buy one now. Cotharyus above recommends Airborne Bicycles. NEW Goblin - although no experience, it looks very nice with X7 and double chainring. I would be happy to recomend my bike, but they do not sell in USA...

  13. #13
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    I have a Felt Nine 60 and absolutely love it. My LBS gave it to me for $900 so know you may have some wiggle room on the price.

  14. #14
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    I was in a similar situation a month ago, but looking to spend under $700. I ended up with a Felt 80 and I'm still happy with my choice. I assume the 60 is the same frame with a little better components.

    I'm 5'10" and ended up on a small frame.

  15. #15
    29ers Forever
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    I live up in VT and will be getting a Trek Mamba myself (my first 29er) this spring. I would prefer the Trek because it is a quality brand that has the RockShox fork for the least amount of money. (I will pick up the Trek for $839) It is definitely the best bike for the money.

  16. #16
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    The 2012 GT Karakoram 1.0 is a great bike for about a $1000, or for a couple hundred more you could purchase a entry level GT Zaskar. Just some input from a few very satisfied GT 29er riders.

  17. #17
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    try bikesdirect.com

    a lot of quality bikes in your price range. you could ultimately save money, and you get to do some bike assembly Mr. Fix it

  18. #18
    going downhill silly fast
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    Your getting some great advice which is really key in making the right decision.

    I went with the Mamba and I am very pleased with my choice. It is a great bike and I am enjoying the heck out f it.

    But this is pure hobby/revreational for me and i am likely to remain an intermediate rider. You might consider upgrading to a Cobia or other make with a more matured set of components. if you are the kind of person to dive into things and enjoy physical challenges..this is likely going to be addictive for you and I recommend getting the absolute maximum bike you possibly can.

    Ride 'em all several times. You'll realze that you keep coming back to one more than the others...that will be your bike...it chooses you.

    Good luck and enjoy!

  19. #19
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    If your budget is $1100, you should shop around for a 12' model Trek Cobia. I bought one about a month ago for $1000 on clearance. Tested both the Mamba and the Cobia and felt the air fork on the Cobia was a significant upgrade.

  20. #20
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    There were several comments about spending $200 or so more for a good entry level hard tail -- I absolutely second that. I agree also with the previous (before me post) that Trek Cobia is better than a Mamba. Absolutely. I saw a big difference. If you are looking at the Rockhopper -- try the Carve (there are several models) -- the top of the line Rockhopper and Carve lower end have very similar pricing but the Carve has much better fork...

  21. #21
    29ers Forever
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    For $1100, the 2013 Trek Cobia is available. The pricing in the website is an MSRP, not an actual price. If you want that bike and have the money with you, the dealer could probably take $100-$200 off the price. It all depends on what bike YOU think has the best components for the price.
    2013 Trek Cobia- 29er
    2015 Raleigh Misceo- Gravel bike
    2013 Trek 3700 Disk- 26er
    1994 Cannondale R300- narrow tire roadie

  22. #22
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    I did not suggest that the Trek Cobia is what you need the additional $$$. The $200 additional and the comment to select Cobia were separate points... Side note - in my experience at least in Austin, dealers are not very interested in taking $200 off $1000-$1300 bike. I wish they were :-)

  23. #23
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    I have 2 rides on my new cannondale scalpel 29er, it is better then I thought it was going to be! Both rides this weekend were on rocky technical trails and I was amazed how it just keeps rolling. The biggest advantage that I found was on the technical climbs it real stays balanced as long as you are moving, makes climbing a little more fun. I highly recommend the scalpel!

  24. #24
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    Got it narrowed down to a Trek Cobia and a Specialized Rockhopper Pro 29. Both companies seem equally well respected. The main pieces of componentry I've been comparing (let me know if anything else is super important) are the derailleurs, the fork, and the brakes. The Specialized appears to have better F/R derailers (X7/SLX vs. X5/Deore), whereas the Trek has a better fork (air). Both have Avid Elixir 1 brakes. Which is more important, better fork or better drivetrain? Again, I intend on test riding both. Just wanting opinions on the hardware. Thanks.
    Last edited by jferguso; 11-26-2012 at 08:08 PM.

  25. #25
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    Got it narrowed down to a Trek Cobia and a Specialized Rockhopper Pro 29. Both companies seem equally well respected. I did some research on the componentry. The Specialized appears to have better F/R derailers (X7/SLX vs. X5/Deore), whereas the Trek has a better fork (air). Which is more important, better fork or better drivetrain? Again, I intend on test riding both. Just wanting opinions on the hardware. Thanks.
    You'd have to look this up, but my gut tells me it's going to be cheaper to replace the derailers than the fork in the event you're displeased with either component. I'd would just ride both and, if you don't have a clear favorite, buy from the bike shop you like better. Buying from a good bike shop is vastly underrated.

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