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Thread: New, Old Rider

  1. #1
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    New, Old Rider

    I'm 35 years old and used to biked daily for years in everything from cross country, street to trail/mountain. I've taken a roughly 10 year hiatus, but am now getting back in with some friends. I'm 5'8", about 160 lbs in good shape, and looking for some additional recommendations. Based on how I used to ride, I think I'd prefer a hardtail to a full suspension bike, and I'd like something that will grow with my skill instead of starting out, and having to upgrade. Budget is up to $5,000.

    Any input? I'm currently vetting some Santa Cruz, and Specialized (Expert Comp) but would love to hear from the forum.

  2. #2
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    I'm very happy with the geo,weight and full frame compliance of my Trek Superfly 9.8. I swapped the oem wheels toward AC Wide Lightnings They increase the front and rear compliance from the added volume and lower psi 16/20 for my 180lbs. Also more grip and sidewall support climbing and in turns. The XR1 Teams on the bike are an excellent tire for rocky rooty hardpack with some loose, gravel and sand on my trails
    Another bike is the Pivot Les.
    Pivot Les: Final Review (The Trail Perspective)
    American Classic Wide Lightning 29"er Wheels: Final Review
    With money not a consideration I would choose a 9.8.

  3. #3
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    Well you have a very liberal budget which will put you on a top end HT.

    I would look at bikes that your local dealer carries for service and or warranty issue's that may arise. Specialized and SC are very respectable companies that there products reflect.

    We all have our personal favorites so you'll have to just hop on a few and see what feels right.

    Another fast compliant HT is the Cannondale Flash carbon. With your options it's gonna be fun . Keep us posted.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChickenLips View Post
    I've taken a roughly 10 year hiatus
    ...
    I think I'd prefer a hardtail to a full suspension bike, and I'd like something that will grow with my skill instead of starting out, and having to upgrade. Budget is up to $5,000
    If you're comparing the hardtails you used to ride to the full suspensions you used to ride, you missed out on some cool progress in full suspension bikes.

    Now, you haven't given us enough information about what kind of biking you want to do, but you may not want to rule out full suspension.

    Can you share some more details? Are you looking for a bike you'll ride on the road and trails, just XC trails, some more technical trail/all-mountain riding? When you say you want the bike to grow with you, does it need to be able to handle big drops in the future? How much travel are you looking for? Where do you live?

    That information will help people make better recommendations.
    2014 Horsethief, 2013 Karakoram, NB-AT3, 2006 Giant XtC

  5. #5
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    ^^ This, there are still a lot of variables out there that can help us in pointing you in a current direction. You have made one step in choosing to go 29er over 26 or 27.5(650b) standards.

    Other suggestions for the eventual bike, go with something that has/allows for thru-axle both front and rear, look at tapered headtubes for the fork and depending on if you already have some parts laying around that you want to use or not I would look at the bottom bracket standard (I am still very much a threaded bb guy).

    Other than that, now comes the time where you start going to shops, looking at demo bikes, taking things out on rides (parking lot or better) and getting a feel for what is out there. I agree with peteer that you should not rule out a FS bike as many standards have changed and technology has come a long way in 10yrs.


    Oh and 35 is not that old, I will be turning 35 this year (in a few months actually) and have been riding a steel HT for the last 4yrs (still love this bike). However, I am now building my first FS bike, it will be more trail oriented for those places I like to go where my current 100mm of travel really is tested to its max and I can utilize something else with more travel.
    Inbred 29r (Purple People Eater)
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    Oh and 35 is not that old, I will be turning 35 this year (in a few months actually) and have been riding a steel HT for the last 4yrs (still love this bike). However, I am now building my first FS bike, it will be more trail oriented for those places I like to go where my current 100mm of travel really is tested to its max and I can utilize something else with more travel.
    Ha. 35-years-old right now. Just built my first FS bike, for basically the same reasons.

    (Gregnash, you might check out the [2014 or later] Horsethief. I put one together. It's phenomenal, and has truly exceeded my expectations.)

    Edit: Hahah. Nevermind! You have seen that. I thought that was you. We've been posting about olives and barbs for brakes, and you mentioned in the thread linked above that you've got your FS frame already. How's the build coming?
    2014 Horsethief, 2013 Karakoram, NB-AT3, 2006 Giant XtC

  7. #7
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    LOL.. yup will be hitting up my LBS tomorrow for some things to hopefully put my bike together on Monday.
    Inbred 29r (Purple People Eater)
    HH Thumper (Blackheart)
    Bikes for Boobs F*ck Cancer! One too many, 6/24/13. Miss ya ma'.

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    35 - older rider, haha. 61 in a few days.

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    I didn't read all posts word for word. If it hasn't been said, geometry, suspension technology and design have all come a long azz way in 10 years.

    No one can make good recommendations for you. Your best bet is to 1) find a few large bike shops that have multiple brands for you to demo and 2) demo some aptly different bikes; like 100mm HT to 150mm FS in 26, 27.5 and 29 wheels.

    Shops will usually allow you to put your demo $$ towards a purchase so the more brands they carry, the more $$ goes towards your purchase.

    Last comment... $5k will get you a LOT of bike. You could almost get a decent FS and a nice HT. Shop around.

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    Thanks all for the excellent feedback. I'll be riding a bit of everything from local trails with some friends, to trips back out West for uphills (Northern Az) to trips out east (woods). I'll also be taking my kids on bike rides down paved bike paths but I can do that on a unicycle so it's not really a factor.

    I haven't looked at the new full suspension technology which certainly makes me ignorant of it; but it's a bit of a mental thing for me as well. I like feeling the trail, even when it means "ouch". I always felt more in control. Obviously I don't have a valid point here, because I haven't given any of the new tech a try. Weight was always an issue as well, I liked having a lighter bike I'm able to manipulate and one that allowed me to fly uphill. In the past, I struggled there with the "soft-tails".

    The most common use will be trail riding in the Midwest. Technical stuff with everything from rocks, lumber and dirt but without substantial up/downhills. That said, I'll load this bad boy up and head out for trouble every chance I get so it truly will get a taste of "everything".

    As for bikes; note that there are a couple I'm already looking at. I've had a hard time finding feedback on the Specialized SJ Expert (2014). Does anyone have comments on it specifically?

    EDIT: Regarding the "old rider" in the title; I was (poorly) referencing the fact that I haven't ridden in a long time, not my actual age. At 35 I don't even begin to think old.

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    Another one here for considering a full suspension. I recommend at least trying a modern 4" duallie back to back with a hardtail. They don't give up much weight or climbing performance with modern shocks and suspension designs. If you like to 'feel' the trail, they have adjustable damping--check out the Fox CTD rear shocks. You could leave the rear in climb (stiff) most of the time to feel the trail and then only switch it softer when you need to, which you obviously cannot do with a hardtail. And the Speshy Epic even controls that for you automatically with it's "Brain". IMO the biggest downside to dual suspension 29ers is the handling--they have to have a slightly longer wheelbase and rear chainstays than the hardtails do to accommodate for wheel movement. On 26" XC bikes, this was never much of a problem, but with the wagon wheels it becomes an issue on super tight trails.

    If you do want a hardtail, theres a lot of great options and you can't go wrong with the SC Highball or the Spec Stumpjumper mentioned, and your budget puts you well up in the model line. You'd also be able to get a nicely spec'd Spesh Epic or SC Tallboy Carbon, which IMO will be just as fast as the hardtails and a bit more capable to boot.
    '12 Santa Cruz Superlight 29 | '12 Santa Cruz Butcher | '06 Specialized Allez Comp | '81 Schwinn Converted Fixie

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    Quote Originally Posted by ghost_03 View Post
    You'd also be able to get a nicely spec'd Spesh Epic or SC Tallboy Carbon, which IMO will be just as fast as the hardtails and a bit more capable to boot.
    Going to ride a Tallboy Carbon this weekend. Looking forward to it!

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    5k on a hardtail?

    Ti, custom.

    IF deluxe Ti would be my pick. Steel 2nd.

  14. #14
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    Find some demo days. Ride a bunch of bikes. Many people have said " a lot has changed " and it has. These days, you can catch world cup racers riding full suspension bikes in XC races. With 5K to get your hands on something, you could go with a sub 25 pound carbon fully without trying very hard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    Find some demo days. Ride a bunch of bikes. Many people have said " a lot has changed " and it has. These days, you can catch world cup racers riding full suspension bikes in XC races. With 5K to get your hands on something, you could go with a sub 25 pound carbon fully without trying very hard.
    This...

    My first mtb is a lot different than what I ride now. Demo everything you can, and then make more of an informed decision based on your own conclusions. Everyone's opinion is subjective. FWIW

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slash5 View Post
    35 - older rider, haha. 61 in a few days.
    Nice! I hope to be able to keep riding when I get to your age. No disrespect

  17. #17
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    I agree if you have that kind of budget, I'd demo any and everything you can get your hands on. I've been racing and riding MTBs since the early '90s and A. LOT. has changed so much that you can't even begin to compare to what you were riding a decade ago. Only you know what your riding is like and what your preferences are like so go demo everything you can on your local trails and figure it out.

    I am 46 next week and if you'd asked me this question a year ago I'd have said go 100mm dually all the way. Fast forward a year and I've been racing and riding all season on an 80mm alloy 29er hardtail I bought on closeout as a spare / beater / fun bike last fall. Turns out it's been tons more reliable than the full carbon high end XC dually I spent a crapload of bills on in October 2012, which has now been torn apart and out of service repeatedly over the past 4 months with one thing and another after less than 2 full seasons' of use. Super nice high end dual suspension bikes are insane amounts of fun and ride like a dream, especially if you're a pro racer with a pro mechanic working on them daily, or you're doing multiple epic 4-6 hour days in the woods on rough trails, or you genuinely enjoy tinkering with your ride, but the reality I've found between my own experience and that of my husband and our teammates is that oftentimes these bikes can be kind of like race cars; you wrench on them all week for a few hours' worth of fun on the weekend and I just don't have the time for that, I'd rather ride. The hardtail it seems I just lube the chain check the tire pressure and ride out the door. Most of the racing and local trails I do are no brainer easily (29er) hardtail accessible assuming the pilot isn't a total dunce. I live in Colorado for what it's worth AND I'm a girl oh and did I mention I'm also kind of old? My elbows and knees still work just fine and they've got way more travel than any bike known to man.

    on custom frames... I have opinions about this that I'll keep to myself here, the only thing I'll say on this regard is: caveat emptor. I've heard a ton of horror stories over the years.

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