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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
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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..

  8. #8
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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
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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
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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.

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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
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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.

  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 07:08 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.

  26. #26
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    I'd go with the better fork as it's much cheaper to upgrade the deraileurs. The X5/Deore are very capable.

  27. #27
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    Agree with Breed. If all things are about equal, it would be good to give your money to the better LBS.

    Face it, you're likely to return there quite often in the first couple years

    If its down to such component toss-up to pick, you really should rent each one for a week and see how they are to live with... Wish I coulda done with a girlfriend or two..

  28. #28
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    The LBS has a 2012 and a 2013 Cobia. The 2013 is only $20 more. The main differences I can see in the spec list are:

    Hayes brakes on the 2012 vs Avid on the 2013
    X5 front derailleur on the 2012 vs Shimano Deore on the 2013

    Fork appears to be equal. On a side note I like the paint scheme on the 2012 (red) considerably more than the 2013 paint scheme. Should I get the 2013 strictly on components, or are they close enough it doesn't matter?

  29. #29
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    That red is pretty awesome

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by tuskenraider View Post
    I'd go with the better fork as it's much cheaper to upgrade the deraileurs. The X5/Deore are very capable.
    +1

    Make sure you test ride both as the sizing and geo can vary company to company. Trek's G2 geometry is great for quick handling and slow speed steering, but the fit is not for everyone. However, if it works for you, the Cobia appears to be the better long-term value.

  31. #31
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    I've got a '12 Cobia and it's fantastic. I wouldn't worry about the F/R derailleurs as you'll hardly use the front to be honest. The air fork is major plus for the Cobia. I will say that the Hayes brakes are not the best in the world, but I don't think the Elixir 1 will be much better. I'd go with a '12 cobia because the red looks fantastic (except who puts a white saddle on a mountain bike?). You can get a set of F/R Shimano SLX brakes for around $200 if you really hate the Hayes down the road. I ended up swapping mine after snapping a lever during a crash.

  32. #32
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    I would go with TREK, period! I just think best value, best geometry, and certainly best (and least hassle warranty)---at least from what I have read (and experienced) since MTB'ing for the last 3.5 years.

    --that is just my 2 cents (and i have test ridden a lot of bikes also)---but know first hand that with TREK you could end up getting a MUCH BETTER bike than the one you started with (involving a warranty situation.)

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by 247 View Post
    I would go with TREK, period! I just think best value, best geometry, and certainly best (and least hassle warranty)---at least from what I have read (and experienced) since MTB'ing for the last 3.5 years.

    --that is just my 2 cents (and i have test ridden a lot of bikes also)---but know first hand that with TREK you could end up getting a MUCH BETTER bike than the one you started with (involving a warranty situation.)
    It seems to me that Trek's (or any builder's) warranty would only cover their proprietary hardware, which typically just the frame. They'd probably tell ya to talk to Rockshox, Shimano, SRAM, etc over defective components. Y/N?

  34. #34
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    If you like the look of the '12 better, get the '12. That's what I did.

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    I know you said you've narrowed your choice down to 2 bike, bit have you given the airborne new goblin a look? I'm in the same boat as you trying to pick out my 1st 29er and I'm really looking at the new goblin, rockhopper, and other various bikes in that price range.

  36. #36
    29ers Forever
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    It would be better to go for a bike that has retailers in your area. Trek IS one of the best MTB brands around, now having Gary Fisher in their crew.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by breed007 View Post
    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.
    It is absolutely cheaper to replace the deraileurs - you can get into a GREAT rear derailer for $100 to $ 150. You can upgrade to a really good one starting at $50. You won't get a whiff of a good fork untill you get close to $300.

    Good call man!

  38. #38
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    Hi; I was in Your situation just about 3 months ago: I use to bike occasionally since I was about 4 too (I guess most people start in that age) and mostly owned some kind of an MTB, but the time has come finally to get something decent (before I'm an old prick sipping warm tea in front of the tv - which I have nothing against to actually ). I didn't have much idea what to look for, but did enough research to find out the 29'' become more and more common. Quite accidentally I found a test - ride - scott scale 29 elite and my jaw rammed on the floor, as it was a 600 Euros (about 800 $) cheaper, than a new one, with no signs of wear, with full warranty etc. Ok, to the point: I have a scott scale elite 29'', my bro has a specialized (sorry, don't know the exact model) and my wife's bro has got a giant talon. They are not similar enough to each other for a comparison to make sense, but conclusions:
    - all 3 manufacturers have great machines in their inventory
    - 29'' rule absolutely for the kind of trails You plan to ride
    - as some already mentioned: put 200 or 300 bucks more into it, or in a few months You will have to put 500 or 600 instead
    - choosing between somehow similar models is never easy: it's a must to try them; what seems to be the best for some, might be crap to You

    SIZING: I may not be discovering America hereby, but: bigger wheels don't mean bigger bike! My former 26'' "spreads" me more than the scott 29". And the manufacturers' sizing charts can help, but WILL NOT substitute personally trying the bike out. Sometimes it may be the question of moving the saddle an inch to front or back to make You feel great with the bike, or make You discard it right away.

    Hope to have helped a bit, happy biking!

  39. #39
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    I'm a newb too, looking for help/advice. I'm coming from road/tri, been lurking here for awhile.

    Price range: $800-1200.00
    Size: 5'10", 35" inseam using the Competitive Cyclist measurement guide

    I test rode a Performance Bikes GT Karakorum. Medium was about the right size. Felt heavy, but maneuverable. Wasn't blown away.
    performancebikeDOTcom/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1115170_-1___1745022

    So I'm looking for bang/buck and I don't mind buying online. Based on the lurking in this forum I'm considering:

    Sette-Razzo $1000
    X7, Recon Silver Solo Air TK
    pricepointDOTcom/detail/23436-018_SETR61-277-Bikes--/Sette-Razzo-X7-10-Speed-29er-Alloy-Mountain-Bike.htm

    BD Gravity 29point5 $1100
    X9, Reba RL
    bikesdirectDOTcom/products/gravity/29point5.htm

    Airborne NEW Goblin $1200
    X7, Reba RL
    airbornebicyclesDOTcom/products/113-new-goblin.aspx

    Is there anything else in this price range worth considering (either mail order or local)?

    I also see "Rosetti" in ebay (but not much mention of them in this forum?)
    Rossetti Agatha 29er $1300
    X7, RST Omega Lock
    ebayDOTcom/itm/Rossetti-Agatha-29er-Mountain-Bike-Hardtail-Sram-X7-2x10-Blue-17in-Medium-2013-/251192295515?pt=Road_Bikes&hash=item3a7c3a405b

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    Rode the Cobia today. Not bad. Asked other shop what they had in that range, and they showed me a Specialized Carve 29er Comp. Retails for $1600, guy said he could do $1300. Hard to justify spending $250 more than the Trek. Any opinions?

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by elvispresley2k View Post
    I'm a newb too, looking for help/advice. I'm coming from road/tri, been lurking here for awhile.

    Price range: $800-1200.00
    Size: 5'10", 35" inseam using the Competitive Cyclist measurement guide

    I test rode a Performance Bikes GT Karakorum. Medium was about the right size. Felt heavy, but maneuverable. Wasn't blown away.
    performancebikeDOTcom/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1115170_-1___1745022

    So I'm looking for bang/buck and I don't mind buying online. Based on the lurking in this forum I'm considering:

    Sette-Razzo $1000
    X7, Recon Silver Solo Air TK
    pricepointDOTcom/detail/23436-018_SETR61-277-Bikes--/Sette-Razzo-X7-10-Speed-29er-Alloy-Mountain-Bike.htm

    BD Gravity 29point5 $1100
    X9, Reba RL
    bikesdirectDOTcom/products/gravity/29point5.htm

    Airborne NEW Goblin $1200
    X7, Reba RL
    airbornebicyclesDOTcom/products/113-new-goblin.aspx

    Is there anything else in this price range worth considering (either mail order or local)?

    I also see "Rosetti" in ebay (but not much mention of them in this forum?)
    Rossetti Agatha 29er $1300
    X7, RST Omega Lock
    ebayDOTcom/itm/Rossetti-Agatha-29er-Mountain-Bike-Hardtail-Sram-X7-2x10-Blue-17in-Medium-2013-/251192295515?pt=Road_Bikes&hash=item3a7c3a405b
    Never heard of sette or BD but those seem like good prices for the specs you listed. Now my choices have increases even more. I have a similar price range too. Now to read some more. Hear anything bad about the sette and BD frames?

  42. #42
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    What is the better deal: 2012 Trek Cobia for $1050 or Specialized Carve Comp 29 for $1300? LBS are trying to hook me up. Thanks!
    Last edited by jferguso; 12-01-2012 at 05:10 PM.

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    See above.

  44. #44
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    What year for Carve Comp

  45. #45
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    2013

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    Enjoying following this thread. I am looking at buying a 2013 Trek Mamba or Cobia vs. a Specialized Rockhopper Comp, then again an opportunity has arisen to buy a 2011Scott Scale comp used or a 2012 Trek Gary Fisher X-Cal. I haven't been able to ride any of them yet since they are not all in one place and I have been busy. But hope to get to soon and make my decision.

  47. #47
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    Hey regards to the Trek If your budget can handle another $200 the Cobia is the same frame as the mamba but with better components.

    Personally I was just getting into the sport so I put a firm thousand dollars as my limit... Which held me to the mamba. I assume that if I began to enjoy it-which I really a.m.-then within a year I would need a more significant upgrade Anyway

  48. #48
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    I test rode a 2013 Mamba and a 2012 Coba this weekend. Both felt better to me than the GT Karakoram 2.0. Cobia seems like a better deal, around $100 more than the Mamba.

    LBS also has a 2012 X-caliber for $1300 (~$300 more than Cobia). Haven't' test ridden it yet, but I think it'd be hard to upgrade the Cobia to same spec for $300.

  49. #49
    going downhill silly fast
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    It's all about feel
    I think good advice is always get the absolute best Bike your budget Can Afford.
    If you're new to the sport or just returning like I am, Keep in mind the cost of gear. I spent another $3-$500 on clipless pedals, shoes, clothes, Camelback and tools

  50. #50
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    Honestly, at some point you have to just pick a bike and ride. There will always be a better deal for a few hundred more. The big thing is that you may not notice te difference between a Cobia and an X-Cal, for instance (I know trek bikes so I'm just using these as examples). Pick the bike you like - color, cost, LBS, whatever - and then just ride. It may be that within a year you want a full suspension or a single speed or something else. Any of the bikes you list are amazing bikes.

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