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  1. #1
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    First FS bike - go "high-end" or not

    As relative noobs I thought I'd get opinions on my strategy for first FS bikes for my wife and I.

    With skiing, I've gone through the normal progression of new skiis every few years, and it's a sport where a ski designed for an advanced skier usually isn't a ski less experienced skier can handle. Does the same hold true for mtb'ing?

    We've been riding HT for a year and constantly getting better. After renting full DH rigs, we know we like downs, as well as XC. My thought is to go with the frame of high-end bike ( re Bronson, Blur, Ibis HDR...) spec'd out in the gearing we want now (2 ring 22t/36t & 11-36). The rest of the components would be good quality, but not high end.

    My hope is to only do small changes for several years, rather than upgrade whole bikes as our skills increase.

    Anyone see major flaws to this strategy? Can the shocks be set to our current abilities, then adjusted as we get more aggressive? Wife wants to get air.....

    (btw, this Saturday demo Ibis HDR's). TIA

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by russinthecascades View Post
    ...spec'd out in the gearing we want now (2 ring 22t/36t & 11-36).
    Careful w/ that 22/36T front ring combo. I had a 22/32T combo and it worked beautifully. But I decided I wanted more top end and slapped on a 34T. Immediately I started to drop the chain past my little ring and onto the BB shell...say 40% of the time, and worse if I had the bike leaned away from the drive side (left). The diameter of the 34 was just a bit too large so when the chain came off of it, it wouldn't bend/flex enough to hit the small ring, sometimes. I can just see a 36T ring being much worse
    Naysayers never apologize. Critics go to their grave thinking everyone else is wrong.
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  3. #3
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    I went sorta high end on my first bike, then it got stolen. I built the second bike up from just a frame (same one that got stolen BTW). I rode with stock suspension for about 2 months until I could't stand the short comings.....then I had it tuned or replaced it with something better. I come from a moto background so suspension set up is very noticeable to me. I would yes, go as high end as you can afford and build up from there.

  4. #4
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    How noob are you? A carbon frame for a newbie who still occasionally crashes, is NOT the best idea. Fitness and bike handling skills FIRST...before going for a bike in the $3700-up range.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    How noob are you? A carbon frame for a newbie who still occasionally crashes, is NOT the best idea. Fitness and bike handling skills FIRST...before going for a bike in the $3700-up range.
    Yes, I still crash fairly often (but not spectacular crashes), so I'm considering alum if going with the Bronson or Blur. Are carbon frames pretty fragile.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pau11y View Post
    Careful w/ that 22/36T front ring combo. I had a 22/32T combo and it worked beautifully. But I decided I wanted more top end and slapped on a 34T. Immediately I started to drop the chain past my little ring and onto the BB shell...say 40% of the time, and worse if I had the bike leaned away from the drive side (left). The diameter of the 34 was just a bit too large so when the chain came off of it, it wouldn't bend/flex enough to hit the small ring, sometimes. I can just see a 36T ring being much worse
    I'm looking at the SRAM S1400 which comes in 22/36 - (naive question) - wouldn't SRAM thoroughly test the crank better marketing?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by russinthecascades View Post
    With skiing, I've gone through the normal progression of new skiis every few years, and it's a sport where a ski designed for an advanced skier usually isn't a ski less experienced skier can handle. Does the same hold true for mtb'ing?
    No, it isn't true for mountainbiking in general, but an expensive bike could come with highly adjustable suspension which requires some time and attention to learn how to set up properly.

    This is still a good thing, as less adjustable suspension will only let you down once you learn what the bike is doing, and what you want it to do.

    Another thing that is not newbie friendly is cornering. Tires that have big shoulder knobs but lack transition knobs require you to know how much grip the bike is going to have to and flick it aggressively into the corner at speed to get on those shoulders. But you can experiment with tires as you gain experience and see what works for you.

  8. #8
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by russinthecascades View Post
    Yes, I still crash fairly often (but not spectacular crashes), so I'm considering alum if going with the Bronson or Blur. Are carbon frames pretty fragile.
    Carbon is still quite strong, under normal riding conditions. Where they are most vulnerable, is exposure to repeated impacts with the ground
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

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    If you know that you're in the sport for the long haul and will ride quite often, then get a nicer rig. I'd spend my $ on upgraded suspension, wheels, tires, and brakes. A good frame with good suspension and good wheels will last you a while, upgrade the other stuff as needed.
    Just another redneck with a bike

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    How noob are you? A carbon frame for a newbie who still occasionally crashes, is NOT the best idea. Fitness and bike handling skills FIRST...before going for a bike in the $3700-up range.
    I always wondered where the "High end" range started.

  11. #11
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    First FS bike - go "high-end" or not

    I think going for the higher end stuff is fine. Riding nice stuff is nice, if you have the money to spend and want to spend it why suffer? Most important thing to spend money on is suspension and that includes the frame (the rear suspension design is super important as it really effects how the bike rides and pedals).

    As far as carbon frames go, carbon is plenty strong IMO. Depending on the type of terrain you ride you frame may not hit the ground very often, if ever, if you crash. It's pretty protected by wheels, pedals, seat, and bars on smoother stuff.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by russinthecascades View Post
    With skiing, I've gone through the normal progression of new skiis every few years, and it's a sport where a ski designed for an advanced skier usually isn't a ski less experienced skier can handle. Does the same hold true for mtb'ing?
    No, you can get as high-end or advanced bike as you want, and grow into it. Of course, getting a mid-range bike with mid-range components will do fine and likely last a long time. But, yes, the quality of certain components can certainly make of difference in ride quality--shocks, forks, wheels, etc.

    Most of us are "upgrading" our bikes anyways, so I think getting the frame you want is the most important consideration. If building your own bike, you can make certain the most important components are the highest quality (and cost) and have the remaining components more mid-range.

    It sounds like you are going for a do-it-all bike, which is a great idea. Of course, a do-it-all bike will do OK with all kinds of riding, and great with a few types. The ones you list sound good for this. I have a Blur LTc as my do-it-all bike, which does XC well (but not as well as a XC bike) and could do lift-service well (but not as well as a longer travel bike).

  13. #13
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    Buying a high end bike is cheaper than buying a middle range bike and upgrading piece by piece. Most people do the latter because it allows small expenditures over time. But getting the best bike you can afford is probably cheaper in the long run.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by russinthecascades View Post

    With skiing, I've gone through the normal progression of new skiis every few years, and it's a sport where a ski designed for an advanced skier usually isn't a ski less experienced skier can handle. Does the same hold true for mtb'ing?
    nope. spending more will actually make things easier on trail/am bikes. better suspension, stiffer frame and wheels. lighter and stronger parts.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by russinthecascades View Post
    As relative noobs I thought I'd get opinions on my strategy for first FS bikes for my wife and I.

    With skiing, I've gone through the normal progression of new skiis every few years, and it's a sport where a ski designed for an advanced skier usually isn't a ski less experienced skier can handle. Does the same hold true for mtb'ing?

    We've been riding HT for a year and constantly getting better. After renting full DH rigs, we know we like downs, as well as XC. My thought is to go with the frame of high-end bike ( re Bronson, Blur, Ibis HDR...) spec'd out in the gearing we want now (2 ring 22t/36t & 11-36). The rest of the components would be good quality, but not high end.

    My hope is to only do small changes for several years, rather than upgrade whole bikes as our skills increase.

    Anyone see major flaws to this strategy? Can the shocks be set to our current abilities, then adjusted as we get more aggressive? Wife wants to get air.....

    (btw, this Saturday demo Ibis HDR's). TIA
    What do you mean by "high end"? Giant vs Santa Cruz or a Bronson vs. a $500 hardtail? If it's just company vs. company, there's no difference there. The "high end" bikes are just different, not better, especially if this is your first such bike. New bikes are great, but the only real thing here is to make sure to learn a little about them, learn how every part works so you can understand when it's not working and if you can easily fix it or take it to the shop and be able to tell them exactly what to fix. Some things are just not realistic for shops to be able to fix (small tweaks and sweet-spot adjustments to shifting, etc) because they aren't riding it on the trail.

    The more expensive the shocks, the more adjustable they are and the more they can be ridden in a variety of trail conditions and speeds without performing poorly.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    What do you mean by "high end"? Giant vs Santa Cruz or a Bronson vs. a $500 hardtail? If it's just company vs. company, there's no difference there. The "high end" bikes are just different, not better, especially if this is your first such bike. New bikes are great, but the only real thing here is to make sure to learn a little about them, learn how every part works so you can understand when it's not working and if you can easily fix it or take it to the shop and be able to tell them exactly what to fix. Some things are just not realistic for shops to be able to fix (small tweaks and sweet-spot adjustments to shifting, etc) because they aren't riding it on the trail.

    The more expensive the shocks, the more adjustable they are and the more they can be ridden in a variety of trail conditions and speeds without performing poorly.
    I guess by high-end I mean more expensive, but even that statement is relative. What I might consider high-end might be below average for a pro. I plan to skip entry level and slightly better, and go to what many people describe as performance bikes - semantics....

    I hear you on learning the bike, it parts and how they worked. I've really enjoyed learning to do maintenance on our HT's. We'll buy high enough quality that the focus will be learning to optimize the set-up rather replacing components.

  17. #17
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    Frame, brakes, wheels, suspension. That's where you should go high end. These parts, with proper maintenance and care will last many years.
    The cake is a lie.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kubikeman View Post
    Frame, brakes, wheels, suspension. That's where you should go high end. These parts, with proper maintenance and care will last many years.


    well what's left at that point? drivetrain will be high end if you buy a complete bike with the four things you mentioned, it's assured unless you can piece together a kit bike like Competitive Cyclist allows you to do.

    cockpit and tires are the only thing remaining, and people tend to change those to match their fit, preference, and trail conditions.

  19. #19
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    If you are going to be riding several times a week then you need a better bike. Keep in mind you're still changing as a rider and probably will want a different bike next year.

    I have gone through hardtail, 5inch FS, 4inch XC FS, then back to 6inch FS. I found I liked the 6inch FS and was happy with it so that's when I bucked up and bought a Mojo HD.

    If I were you get a good bike, not the best, until you settle on what style of riding you like.

  20. #20
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    if you can afford it get high end. imo riding a crap bike wont make you better, riding with good riders will make you better.

  21. #21
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    I understand what you mean in regard to skiis, but I don't think that is really the case with mountain bikes. There might be some differences in how you set it up, but that is why stems and bars, are replaceable, and shocks are adjustable.

    I would not worry about going CF, either. They are proving themselves quite capable of handling the abuse thrown at them, and I don't think more experience riders necessarily crash less, they just crash harder and faster. You get better at learning how to not hurt yourself, but that does not necessarily apply to the bike.

    Also, 22/36 should work fine. If the component group comes that way, and that is what you want, go for it.

    The only reason I might hesitate a little about dropping huge coin on your first fs bike is that it is a little hard to know exactly what you are going to really want once you start to spend time on some fs frames.
    Last edited by kapusta; 08-02-2013 at 11:34 AM.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  22. #22
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    I say start with a beater first. High end bikes are "high end" for reasons you won't appreciate as a beginner. Frame/Fork, components, wheels etc...

    If you start with a low end bike and upgrade things as you learn then you can eventually transfer them over to a better bike/frame when the time comes.

    I remember thinking I was crazy for paying $500 for my first MTB. Turns out 4yrs later I've spent more than that on a nice set of wheels.
    Let's make like a Bike and get the Huck outta here...

  23. #23
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    He's not a newb, he's ridden for a year and has rented different types of bikes. He's ready to upgrade.

    High end bikes get to be ridiculous after a point. There are diminishing returns as you spend more money.

    For example, you can buy a Blur TR for $3100, or for $7900, with lots of options in between. The $3100 bike will ride like a dream. If you can afford to upgrade to carbon, and a nicer fork, etc, then go for it, but if not, don't worry because you are only missing out on minor differences in performance and weight.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by In-Yo-Grill View Post
    I say start with a beater first. High end bikes are "high end" for reasons you won't appreciate as a beginner. Frame/Fork, components, wheels etc...

    If you start with a low end bike and upgrade things as you learn then you can eventually transfer them over to a better bike/frame when the time comes.

    I remember thinking I was crazy for paying $500 for my first MTB. Turns out 4yrs later I've spent more than that on a nice set of wheels.
    The most expensive way to get a high end bike is start with a low end bike and upgrade everything.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  25. #25
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    First FS bike - go "high-end" or not

    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    The most expensive way to get a high end bike is start with a low end bike and upgrade everything.
    The cheapest way is competitive cyclist plus build yourself. CC matches prices too so shop around for the components.

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