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  1. #1
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    In the market for a used mountain bike

    I want to get into mountain biking and I have a budget of about $1000-$1,500 I need some recommendations from the experts. What is the best bang-for-buck in that price range? I will mostly be riding mountain trails and occasionally slick rock in Moab. I am 6'-0" and 200lbs if that matters.

  2. #2
    perpetual pucker factor
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    At that height, you'll probably want to look at a Large sized frame. After that point, your choices will start to fall into place. As everyone will say, you need to test ride a few bikes to see what you like. Go to as many shops as you can, and ride everything you can. With your budget, a used bike is may be a very good idea. You also might be able to find something brand new on clearance from a local shop for near the price of a used bike. I got my Giant Reign from Go Ride (a great shop in Salt Lake City) on clearance, and they knocked almost 40% off the price because it was the previous year's model.

    A few things to do some studying on:

    1) Suspension types. Floating pivot systems vs single pivot, vs four-bar, etc. There are a lot of designs out there, and some are better than others. I personally really like floating pivot systems like Giant's Maestro, Santa Cruz's VPP, and Canfield's One Design. They seem to pedal more efficiently up hills while still going super smooth and bottomless going down through chunky stuff.

    2) Geometry - This is VERY important. If you want an all mountain (do a bit of everything) bike, you will most likely want something with 5-6" of suspension travel front and rear, a top tube length of around 24", and a head tube angle of 67-68ish degrees. Again, test riding will show you firsthand what feels right. A large-size fame from most manufacturers will fit just fine. I wouldn't go for a medium at 6' tall, unless you are going to be doing downhill racing. Many DH racers like smaller frames for the really steep stuff, but if they had to pedal them up a hill they would be hating life.

    3) Components - There are two main companies, both of which make great stuff: Shimano and Sram. I personally love Shimano's brakes, but I like Sram more for derailleurs, shifters, and cranks. I know a lot of people who feel the same. But anything Shimano with SLX, XT, or XTR will be great quality, and anything X9, X0, or XX from Sram will be equally good.

    In terms of suspension brands, I like Fox a lot. Others like Rockshox, and others prefer X Fusion or other brands. They're all pretty good nowadays. Just ask the shop workers about the pros and cons of each model you test ride.

    Wheel size - You have 3 options: the normal 26" that's been around forever, the more cross country oriented 29", or the relatively new 27.5". 26" is usually the strongest and easiest to find tubes/tires for. They also accelerate faster than the larger tires. The large 29er wheels roll very fast, but are more flexy and accelerate noticeably slower when sprinting than a 26er. the 27.5" (often called 650b) is a mix of the pros and cons of each. It's still a bit hard to find tires and tubes for them at times, but it is a growing trend. Time will tell if it stays around or not. If you're unsure, I'd go for a 26er. I really like how lively they feel, and they roll plenty fast with the right tire combo.

    4) Brands/Models - There are as you well know, very many brands. Some have great reputations, others have bad reputations. It's hard to say that one brand is complete garbage, because someone will get all butt hurt and post up a reply saying how they love that brand and it's been great for them. So don't place too much emphasis on the brand of the bike. Just search these forums for problems with a certain model from a certain brand. You'll quickly find out if that bike has more problems than others.

    A few of my favorite brands:
    Giant - it's hard to beat them in terms cost. Their Maestro suspension is VERY good, the bieks are light, and they are usually a few thousand cheaper than a similar Specialized or Trek (which I believe are far overpriced, personally).

    Santa Cruz - They are often very expensive, but they are all great bikes. Very good reputation and they are almost universally respected.

    Canfield - I'm putting this on the list purely because I love them so much. They are a more boutique/small brand, and they might be very expensive for a first bike. But they are incredibly well built and ride exceptionally well. I ride a Canfield One now, and it's the best overall bike I've ever owned.

    Specialized and Trek - A lot of people ride them and are very vocal about how much they like them. I personally don't like their suspension designs. I think they are overpriced and hard to tune for both uphill and downhill. But others disagree.
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  3. #3
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    Wow! Great response! Gives me alot to think about. I will definitely be testing out some bikes this weekend to see what feels the best. Thank You!

  4. #4
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    freaking awesome of you to put all this out for him, nice job Charg!

  5. #5
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    Whether you're peddling or twisting the wrist...you're still riding on two wheels...and that's good enough for me

  6. #6
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    If you're a large, you're going to have an easier time finding demos or even something to test ride than I do.

    It's hard to find a small to even throw my leg over, much less demo. And +1 for everything the charging rhino says.

  7. #7
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    Charging pretty much covered it all.

    My bit to add. I went through this three years ago. I had the same budget as you looking for a used full suspension bike. I was just getting back into mountain biking and really had no clue about any of the new "stuff" happening with the sport. I ended up overpaying a little for the bike I decided on and in the end I got burned a bit. The frame cracked and I had no re-course due to it being used. If I were to do it again my first attempt would be to find a leftover. Ive heard plenty of people getting bikes up to 40-50% off which typically brings them down into that range, and you get a warranty.

    The frame that cracked was a Rocky Mountain. This new frame I have (moved all my parts over) is a specialized stumpjumper fsr pro and I love it. That frame just handles soooo much better then my RM did.

  8. #8
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    In the market for a used mountain bike

    I had good luck buying used in the Denver area. Walked away with a SC Nomad for $1200 thats been treating me well over the past 3 years.

    I found that almost everyone on Craigslist would let you take their bike for a quick ride on a local trail (meet at a trailhead and ask while looking the bike over in person). If you brought cash to buy on the spot, look relatively legit and gave them your drivers license they'll almost always say yes. If the bike market in your area is large enough, this is an AMAZING way to find a bike that speaks to you and fits you well. I tried 9 different bikes from different owners on local trails before hopping on the Nomad - at that point, after one ride, I knew it was the right bike.

    When buying used:
    1) inspect the frame religiously for the tiniest of cracking
    2) while on the phone, ask him to bring recent fork/suspension service paperwork
    3) consider how anal the owner is - does he seem like someone that babies his trophys and looks after them, or does he see the bike as more of a tool?

    The rest of the issues are relatively cheap and easy to fix (unless the entire drivetrain is thrashed, but that should be pretty obvious). Budget another 100-150$ to get it in shape, just in case you missed something. The main things are the condition of the suspension, fork and most importantly the structural condition of the frame (dings are fine).

  9. #9
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    If I were in your shoes, I'd try to find a new bike on clearance sale. The main reason I'd steer you away from buying used is that you probably don't know what to look for in terms of abused bikes. If you have a knowledgeable friend, might be another story. You will also spend about $100 on a tune up and once-over at the local shop unless you've got that covered as mentioned before.

    A new giant trance, trek ex series or specialized camber on sale, could be great options. I'd stay away from a racing-type bike as well as a long travel "am" bike. Not really what you need when starting out.

    Budget for a helmet, gloves, bike shorts, pump and camel back. That's another $150 to $200.

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