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  1. #1
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    Opinions wanted, 3 Hardtail 29er bikes in my price range

    OK, I have been looking into a 29er and I am on the fence because of my lack of knowledge. I want a hardtail that is tough, good quality upgrade-able frame and decent to really good components. I also want a decent bike shop which has caused more issues.

    I like a bike shop that is very close to me and they only carry Specialized and Cannondale. I like Specialized but I can't afford to get close to what I want, but with a little tweeking I could get a Rockhopper as a good bike? I like the Trek 2015 Xcaliber 7 (not the 2014 X7). But the only bike shop that sells Treks is 20-30 mins away and the close bike shop is only 3 miles from my house. Oh, and I prefer Shimano shifters over SRAM so that limits my options some as well though with the right bike I might be willing to learn SRAM. I want to get something tough and usable and as things wear out I will replace them with better quality options, drivetrain, breaks and front fork etc.

    Bike shop close to me, lifetime adjustments, discount tune ups and lifetime frame replacement for defects. Warranty issues done directly though them. (this company does our work bikes and they have done a very good job as problems have come up IMHO, replaced chain, several needed adjustment's, lost screw here and there and all done in minutes).

    Bike shop further away (Trek dealer). Lifetime adjustments drivetrain and breaks, not sure about discounts on tune ups, seemed nebulous on the subject, three free "tune ups" in the first year, saying the first tune up is in a month so I think they are more talking about adjustments and inspection than an actual tune up.

    Here are the three bikes I am looking at my price point, less than a $1000. As far below this price as I can get but maybe closer to $1000 if money gets better soon.

    2015 Trek Xcaliber 7. Like the basic specs, test road and it felt good but I would need to test again since I rode the X8 and spent to much time trying to deal with SRAM shifters that I felt like I did not feel the bike well. $929 retail.

    Specialized Rockhopper, probably with an immediate fork replacement. Is frame worthy of upgrading as things wear out? I have seen some people hear refer to the Rockhopper as junk. I like the way my duty Hardrock rides, but it is heavy and I would like something I can ride for a long time and upgrade. Crave is too far out of my price range so Rockhopper is my only affordable option from Specialized. $880 retail

    Cannondale Trail 29 4. I test rode one of these and I am not sure how I feel about it. It was probably not the right size for me and sizes at the shop were limited. I don't know much about Cannondale, but the reviews on this bike from there own website all pretty much say Cannondale's customer service sucks. Only one said they liked the bike. Any good? Frame good, parts? I just don't know much about them. $960 retail.

    I looked into bikes I would need to put together myself such as Airborne but all I can get is SRAM which I am not fond of and I need to be able to put a rear rack on my bike so I can use it as a back up to duty work and it seems odd to me to buy a bike that is nice and then basically jerry rig a bike rack onto it. These above bikes all have rear rack options. Sadly this price range is a lot of money on my budget so it's not like I can get a second bike or get replacement bike for a long time. I am leaning toward the Trek 2015 X7 but I really wish I could buy it from the shop near my house but they don't sell Trek. Also, I am not versed in bike repair or tuning. I want to learn but as of yet I don't have anyone to show me so I will probably have to figure it out as I go. Some of the bike shops have classes in the fall, but nothing anytime soon so I don't see me being able to piece a bike together. Well, thanks for reading. This forum has a ton of information, sometimes enough to get me more in trouble, LOL.

  2. #2
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    IMO, go for the Rockhopper. It fits so many of the things you want. Price, shop, ride quality is a known, same bike as your duty bike. You can definitely upgrade stuff along the way. Maybe find some quality used parts from a local rider who's upgrading, catch a online sale, etc. Best thing is you would have the same bike as the one you work on, but in a higher performance dress.

    Since you say you aren't versed in bike wrenching, it's doubly important for you to go with a shop you really like. Just my 2 cents. G'luck!

  3. #3
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    If you are not against purchasing online, the best $1000 deal out there (I think) is at pricepoint on a carbon Haro flightline comp. better components, carbon frame, tapered headtube, shimano drivetrain.

    Haro Flightline Comp Carbon 29er Mountain Bike on Sale Now

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the information but I don't think I could mount a rack on that and I don't know sizing for Haro's or much about carbon bikes (other than they are light)

  5. #5
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    i don't know much about the differences in components and drivetrains, but I have a Trail 4-29er and I love it. shifts smooth, brakes are very efficient, and it handles all the creeks, roots/rocks and log overs I give it. I got mine in September and so far my only complaints are that the tires wear in quickly and don't grip at all in mud. I haven't upgraded anything, but tires will be first. haven't had to deal w/ customer service yet either.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFinn510 View Post
    i don't know much about the differences in components and drivetrains, but I have a Trail 4-29er and I love it. shifts smooth, brakes are very efficient, and it handles all the creeks, roots/rocks and log overs I give it. I got mine in September and so far my only complaints are that the tires wear in quickly and don't grip at all in mud. I haven't upgraded anything, but tires will be first. haven't had to deal w/ customer service yet either.
    How is the Suntour remote lockout fork?

  7. #7
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    I don't have issues with the fork. soft when I want it to be, more stiff when needed. I like to lockout for road rides and some climbs, and it stays stiff. I've read reviews that say the fork is shiit, but I don't have issues with it. this is also the nicest/best bike I've owned so my comparisons are all from lower quality equipment. long story short though, I've rode it in all conditions possible in southeast PA since September and it's held up great so far. wash and lube every so often, some pinch flats here or there, otherwise a great bike. I ride with guys on much nicer bikes, HT/FS/SS and the only thing holding me back is my own cardio level.
    when it comes down to it, go w/ the bike that fits you best and you like the best. too much choice will lead to doubt. my LBS gave me a great deal on the price because it wasn't the newest model out. if you can wait, LBS' run great season end sales in September-November.

  8. #8
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    I have a rockhopper they're fun as hell and fast too I haven't ridden anything else but I'll give a point for the rockhopper

  9. #9
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    I test rode the Cannondale and the sizing does not work well for me. The medium does not give me enough room for my knees not to feel like they will hit the handle bars if I turn more than just a little and the large is too big.

    I am still up in the air but after talking prices and options I am leaning more toward the 2015 Trek Xcaliber 7 than a Rockhopper. I like the shock better on the Trek, the drivetrains are similar as well as the brakes. After that it's going to be all about feel. I did not like the Suntour on the Rockhopper and according to the LBS that is really close to me, upgrading the fork sounds like it will cost A LOT pushing the cost of the Rockhopper way higher than the X7 with no options for any discounts or deals to offset it. I am saving so I have time.

    Any comparison between the Xcaliber frame and the Rockhopper frame? Trek LBS says the Trek G2 is better and the Specialized LBS says Specialized has dialed it in better. Of course that is what I expected them to say, LOL

    A local add has a 2012 Giant Talon 0 with an upgraded fork for a good price but I don't have the cash so I doubt that will be an option by the time I have the money.

  10. #10
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    I have a superfly 5, and originally was dead set on the xcal 8. I think trek is a great bike and would recommend it to anyone. Infant I'm picking another superfly 5 up I found on craigslist for the girlfriend tomorrow.

  11. #11
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    The frames will be pretty much identical for all intended purposes. The rockhopper does have a steeper head tube angle, which may help handling. On the flip side the Trek has a slacker HT angle for stability + g2 geo to help handling.

    I haven't seen the 2015 Trek specs yet but experience tells me a similarly prices Trek will have better components than the Specialized.

    Why is a 20-30 minute drive such a big deal?? You won't be going to have tune ups that often. 20-30 minute drive shouldn't be a deal breaker.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sickmak90 View Post
    The frames will be pretty much identical for all intended purposes. The rockhopper does have a steeper head tube angle, which may help handling. On the flip side the Trek has a slacker HT angle for stability + g2 geo to help handling.

    I haven't seen the 2015 Trek specs yet but experience tells me a similarly prices Trek will have better components than the Specialized.

    Why is a 20-30 minute drive such a big deal?? You won't be going to have tune ups that often. 20-30 minute drive shouldn't be a deal breaker.
    The drive to that shop is not a deal breaker, and unless I end up finding a can't pass up deal on a used bike or if I test ride the X7 and just can't stand it (which I can't imagine) I plan on getting the Trek. I want and need to learn how to tune the drive train and brakes on my bike anyway and that distance will help me learn I think. REI and both LBS offer basic tuning and even some more advanced classes (I think in the fall) from time to time, I just need to get off my butt and go.

    Thanks for all the information, please feel free to add to this thread as I have time before I can afford to buy and will be reading up and trying to educate myself on bikes, parts and upgrades as I wait for all the money to be saved.

  13. #13
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    My first "real" mountain bike purchase was a Rockhopper (albeit the SL pro version) and I really liked the geometry. To this day I really loved the fit and ride characteristics of that frame.
    After 3 seasons of hard riding it held up quite well and I was able to sell it used for a decent amount to help finance my next bike.

    As you said, you can get a really good deal used though for about $1000 for a 2012-2013 bike with better components - just be sure that it wasn't abused and you should be good to go.

  14. #14
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    You won't need a class for the drivetrain tuning. Just watch a couple vids and block out 45 minutes for each. After several hours of riding the ferrules and housing ends get compressed into the cable stops from spring pressure. This effectively lengthens the cable which often needs to be cut. A quality pair of cutters are recommended. Superglue the area to be cut to avoid fraying. Barrel nuts are at the shifters for fine tuning.
    Hydraulic brakes don't get tuned much for Shimanos at this level.

  15. #15
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    Opinions wanted, 3 Hardtail 29er bikes in my price range

    You'll also be able to catch some deals are slightly higher end models in the coming months.

    Earlier this season I got a 2013 x-caliber for $500 off msrp.

    Just curious, why does everyone hate SRAM shifters so much? I personally prefer to use my thumb instead of my index finger. Partially because I almost always have my index finger resting on the brake levers.

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    Opinions wanted, 3 Hardtail 29er bikes in my price range

    It's because I've been using Shimano triggers for years and because my work bike has Shimano. I'm sure I could get used to SRAM but I would prefer Shimano if I can find it just to keep things the same at work and home

  17. #17
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    Opinions wanted, 3 Hardtail 29er bikes in my price range

    Makes sense, my last two bikes have had SRAM shifters and rear derailleurs, I don't even remember what shimano shifters feel like.
    Last edited by Sickmak90; 08-02-2014 at 09:57 AM.

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