1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Balance on purchasing new bike...

    The posts here lead me to question, if almost every new bike purchased below $1500. requires upgrades,
    what's the lowest one should go with an upgrade budget in mind.

    For example:
    $500. bike/$1,000. upgrades?
    $800. bike/$700. upgrades?

    What's the reasonable balance?

    After $1,500., how much more does one need to upgrade besides for just "personal" fit issues?

    Would $1,500. be the absolute starting point for a quality MTB?


  2. #2
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    In my opinion, if you find your self upgrading much other than grips, pedals and tires 6 months after you buy a new bike, you should have just bought a higher level bike to start with. With your example, I'd say $1,250 bike, $250 or less in upgrades.

    My point is, rather than upgrading your $500 bike, buy as much bike as you can afford so you DON'T need to upgrade.If something breaks, that's the time to upgrade.

    And no, $1,500 is not the "absolute starting point for a quality mtb". For one thing, that will buy you a pretty nice HT, but an entry level FS. And for another, Bill might buy a $500 bike that is way higher quality than a wally world bike, while Bob might buy a 3k race bike. But that $500 bike could very well be all the bike Bill will ever need, and that 3k race bike will fit Bob's needs perfectly as well.

  3. #3
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    Hey Al,

    When I think of the money I have to put into my used bike to get it to where I want it,
    it comes close to buying a good used FS. But, that used FS won't be my souped up HT purposely built for street riding, so then it makes sense to build up my HT and just buy another FS bike specifically for trail riding/XC.

    As for entry-level, I'm thinking entry-level period (HT/FS).
    So a HT would naturally be the consideration.
    Entry-level into general MTBing.

    What I'm reaching for here is at what price level does one get a bike that "won't" need to be upgraded for a long time? What's the general threshold?

  4. #4
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    From what I've read, EVERYONE would like "just a little more bike", no matter how much they spend. The posts suggest that while a person that buys a 500 bike wonders if they should have spent just a bit more, the guy who spends 2000 also wants just a little more. Human nature?

    If you had the money to spare, you can get the best money will buy. Then the manufacturers will introduce something just a little better...

    In the end I guess it just depends how much one is willing to budget to the sport.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2ndgen
    Hey Al,

    When I think of the money I have to put into my used bike to get it to where I want it,
    it comes close to buying a good used FS. But, that used FS won't be my souped up HT purposely built for street riding, so then it makes sense to build up my HT and just buy another FS bike specifically for trail riding/XC.

    As for entry-level, I'm thinking entry-level period (HT/FS).
    So a HT would naturally be the consideration.
    Entry-level into general MTBing.

    What I'm reaching for here is at what price level does one get a bike that "won't" need to be upgraded for a long time? What's the general threshold?
    I have no idea what you changed on your Opie to get it where you wanted, so I can't say whether I think it would have been a better idea to just look for a better spec'd bike. When I say it is best to buy a bike that doesn't need upgrading (for your riding, of course), I'm being more general and trying to point out that it is a silly idea to go buy a $700 bike with say, shimano deore, a dart 1 and cheap wheels, and then spend $800 buying XT components, a TORA and nicer wheels, etc. because it would have been cheaper to simply buy a bike with similar level components.

    I understand what you are getting at with your "general threshold" idea, but I really don't feel like that is a question that can be answered with out information on how a rider wants to use their bike. Like I said earlier, Bill's $500 HT won't need to be upgraded for a long time because the bike is perfectly spec'd for the riding he wants to do. For me, I would want a bike ('05 SC Blur) with XT drivetrain, XTR brakes and dual control, Fox suspension, DT wheels, carbon bars, a carbon post, CK headset, and other similar level components, which is how my bike is set up. That's how my bike came, and I don't plan to to change anything unless something breaks, so I guess I'm set. I have no idea how much my bike is worth because I got a great deal used, so you'll have to figure it out yourself...

    EDIT: and like rlouder said, everyone seems to want a little more than they got.

  6. #6
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    My $600 Rockhopper didn't "need" any upgrades out of the shop other than tires for the trails in my area. The seat fits me and my riding style fine, I was able to get a comfortable hand position by moving the spacers around. The only thing on my mind when I bought the bike was the wheelset and brakes. Our local trails stay muddy and I wish I would have bought the disc version. However, I'll end up upgrading to a nicer wheelset and discs than what they spec on the bike in the first place.

    I'd say upgrades aren't important on an entry level bike, especially if you are putting $1000 into a $500 bike.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlouder
    From what I've read, EVERYONE would like "just a little more bike", no matter how much they spend. The posts suggest that while a person that buys a 500 bike wonders if they should have spent just a bit more, the guy who spends 2000 also wants just a little more. Human nature?

    If you had the money to spare, you can get the best money will buy. Then the manufacturers will introduce something just a little better...

    In the end I guess it just depends how much one is willing to budget to the sport.
    No matter what bike we get we could always use an upgrade.
    But what I think would be a better question is... at what price point does it not matter anymore for the novice?
    I'm sure a novice can tell the difference between a $1000 and a $2000 bike....but how about a $1500 and a $2000 bike? Sure component wise there is a difference but at what price point can a novice not feel or recognize the difference?
    Or maybe at what component setup can he not tell the difference?
    This is the point where he should not upgrade anymore.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rlouder
    From what I've read, EVERYONE would like "just a little more bike", no matter how much they spend. The posts suggest that while a person that buys a 500 bike wonders if they should have spent just a bit more, the guy who spends 2000 also wants just a little more. Human nature?

    If you had the money to spare, you can get the best money will buy. Then the manufacturers will introduce something just a little better...

    In the end I guess it just depends how much one is willing to budget to the sport.
    So true.


  9. #9
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    Call_me_Al
    I have no idea what you changed on your Opie to get it where you wanted, so I can't say whether I think it would have been a better idea to just look for a better spec'd bike. When I say it is best to buy a bike that doesn't need upgrading (for your riding, of course), I'm being more general and trying to point out that it is a silly idea to go buy a $700 bike with say, shimano deore, a dart 1 and cheap wheels, and then spend $800 buying XT components, a TORA and nicer wheels, etc. because it would have been cheaper to simply buy a bike with similar level components.
    Agreed.

    As for the OP, I'm going to start upgrading it this week.
    It's definately a keeper for me regardless of what else I get.


    I understand what you are getting at with your "general threshold" idea, but I really don't feel like that is a question that can be answered with out information on how a rider wants to use their bike.
    True. Let's say general MTBing (XC?).

    EDIT: and like rlouder said, everyone seems to want a little more than they got
    Yep.

    I thought about upgrading my fork from the stock RST T7 to a Dart/Marchozzi/Rock Shox 3. Then I realized...those shocks come stock on $700. bikes. So why not take the $200-$250 and apply them to a $700. bike? Then I ask, why upgrade my shock anyway? It's good enough for what I ride. That's one part I'll ride into the ground (pun intended), then upgrade.

    I thought about getting a used FS. But I'd upgrade that too! LOL!

    So I'm personally thinking about a $1,500.+ HT 29er.
    If the pedals suffice and the seat and grips are ok, then it may very well go unchanged.
    However, I won't spend that money on a bike that I'll start to upgrade in my mind even before I buy it.

    I see sub-$1,500 bikes sharing components with sub-$1000 bikes.

    I don't know...maybe a really great $800. bike with a $700. upgrade budget to shore up the weak points giving me a superior bike to a $1500. stocker?

    So far (and please feel free to correct/educate me), Avid Juicy Discs, Fox Forks, Deore+, SRAM, Shimano Cranks etc...seem to be desirable components for a solid bike.

    I think tires, pedals, saddles and handlebars will always be personal fit/use items.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Screamer
    No matter what bike we get we could always use an upgrade.
    But what I think would be a better question is... at what price point does it not matter anymore for the novice?
    I'm sure a novice can tell the difference between a $1000 and a $2000 bike....but how about a $1500 and a $2000 bike? Sure component wise there is a difference but at what price point can a novice not feel or recognize the difference?
    Or maybe at what component setup can he not tell the difference?
    This is the point where he should not upgrade anymore.
    [SIZE="7"]Bingo! [/SIZE]


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2ndgen
    Agreed.
    True. Let's say general MTBing (XC?).

    I don't know...maybe a really great $800. bike with a $700. upgrade budget to shore up the weak points giving me a superior bike to a $1500. stocker?

    I think tires, pedals, saddles and handlebars will always be personal fit/use items.
    First point: Sorry, I meant riding level, not type of riding.

    Second point: I'd say look harder for a $1200 stock bike with components closer to what you want, and have a $300 or less upgrade budget.

    Third point: That is why I think that those should be mostly all you are upgrading unless something breaks.

    As for that 29er... find yourself a Superfly.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Screamer
    ...
    Or maybe at what component setup can he not tell the difference?
    This is the point where he should not upgrade anymore.
    Good idea... i.e. XO v. X9, and XTR v. XT.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Call_me_Al
    First point: Sorry, I meant riding level, not type of riding.

    Second point: I'd say look harder for a $1200 stock bike with components closer to what you want, and have a $300 or less upgrade budget.

    Third point: That is why I think that those should be mostly all you are upgrading unless something breaks.

    As for that 29er... find yourself a Superfly.
    Superfly!

    On my "dream" list!


  14. #14
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    Personally I just bought an $800 Ibex Trophy, it's more bike then I probably needed to start with, but it seemed to have a good range of parts for the price and wouldn't require any major upgrades. It has a 318 Tora Air, Avid BB7 brakes and Sram x7 components. I don't know enough about tires, hubs, etc to know if they need to be upgraded, but figure I'll replace them when they wear out. My situation may be different from yours, since you have almost for certain been riding longer and might know better in what you are looking for. I can say I looked at $550-$700 bikes at the LBS and actually had a Motobecane for $600 that I returned.... I'm glad I did because by spending the extra $200 I easily received $200 in upgrades that I probably would have made at a later date (better brakes, better fork). Anyways, not sure if this helped ya out or not.

    -Ron

  15. #15
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    Impossible question to answer...

    I spent $300 on my first real mountain bike (18 years ago or so). No upgrades other than tires when they wore out.

    I spent $800 on my second mountain bike (1995). Other than tires when they wore out and replacing a broken fork, no upgrades.

    My current bikes probably cost $3,00-$3,500 each with no upgrades.

    I did and do replace parts when they break. But they're not upgrades, they're replacements.

    The point is, there's no magic price that means no upgrades. Components are personal preference, regardless of price point of the bike. So if an entry level bike fits you well and the components work for you, then you don't need to upgrade. If you have a $2,000 bike and the components don't work for you, then you'll likely change to parts that you prefer.

    Most "upgrades" aren't required. They're emotional based on being passionate about mountain biking. People tell themselves it's an upgrade but most of the time, the only thing they gain is less weight for more money. And we're talking grams, not pounds. For perspective, a paper clip is about a gram. Usually, people would be better off eating less and exercising more to upgrade their bike performance.

  16. #16
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    I think there may be a easier way to think about it 2ndgen. It seems like you are getting bogged down looking at a lot of different bikes with all kinds of different components and you are trying to compare apples to oranges by lumping them all together by price. Figure out what YOU want 1st and ignore the rest of the crap.

    1. Find a frame style you would want to ride that fits your body size. If it's going to be FS, narrow it down further to the style of suspension you want. Not sure what you will like? Demo, rent and ride your pal's bikes.
    2. Figure out the components you want and then what you actually need. Most things are a WANT not a NEED. Bling factor gets the best of us at times. REQUIRED upgrades are few and far between. WANTED upgrades are a dime a dozen.
    3. Figure out the lowest price you can get them for. Qbike.com is my best friend.
    4. Factor in installation charges if you're not a do it yourself kind of guy. In the long run, learn to wrench! It gives you something to do when it's rainy outside and makes you love and appreciate your bike even more.
    5. THEN AND ONLY THEN...Shop that frame around and see which would be cheaper: pre-built with top of the line stuff, pre-built with some lower end stuff that you will replace later, or just frame and parts and you do the wrenching or even pay a mechanic. Generally, buying a pre-built bike is the cheapest way to go. Bike companies get parts at wholesale where individuals have to shop for good sales. Building a bike part by part can occasionally be done cheaper than by buying it built, but only when you have to time to wait for deals to pop up.

    Know what you want before you shop. This will ALWAYS save you money.



    A note on buying and "upgrading" components...

    Understand that a LOT of people on these forums have been riding for a while and have tried out many different styles of bikes as well as component groups over the years. We all start to form our own opinions about specific components and how they fare over time given our specific riding styles and riding conditions. But you don't neccessarily need to change components on your bike just because a couple of us keep saying we prefer brand X to brand Y. If you don't have a real opinion on something, try the cheaper stuff first. IF you find something that you don't like, try the next step up in the line or another brand that has some different characteristics that you desire.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cgreen9761
    I think there may be a easier way to think about it 2ndgen. It seems like you are getting bogged down looking at a lot of different bikes with all kinds of different components and you are trying to compare apples to oranges by lumping them all together by price. Figure out what YOU want 1st and ignore the rest of the crap.

    1. Find a frame style you would want to ride that fits your body size. If it's going to be FS, narrow it down further to the style of suspension you want. Not sure what you will like? Demo, rent and ride your pal's bikes.
    2. Figure out the components you want and then what you actually need. Most things are a WANT not a NEED. Bling factor gets the best of us at times. REQUIRED upgrades are few and far between. WANTED upgrades are a dime a dozen.
    3. Figure out the lowest price you can get them for. Qbike.com is my best friend.
    4. Factor in installation charges if you're not a do it yourself kind of guy. In the long run, learn to wrench! It gives you something to do when it's rainy outside and makes you love and appreciate your bike even more.
    5. THEN AND ONLY THEN...Shop that frame around and see which would be cheaper: pre-built with top of the line stuff, pre-built with some lower end stuff that you will replace later, or just frame and parts and you do the wrenching or even pay a mechanic. Generally, buying a pre-built bike is the cheapest way to go. Bike companies get parts at wholesale where individuals have to shop for good sales. Building a bike part by part can occasionally be done cheaper than by buying it built, but only when you have to time to wait for deals to pop up.

    Know what you want before you shop. This will ALWAYS save you money.



    A note on buying and "upgrading" components...

    Understand that a LOT of people on these forums have been riding for a while and have tried out many different styles of bikes as well as component groups over the years. We all start to form our own opinions about specific components and how they fare over time given our specific riding styles and riding conditions. But you don't neccessarily need to change components on your bike just because a couple of us keep saying we prefer brand X to brand Y. If you don't have a real opinion on something, try the cheaper stuff first. IF you find something that you don't like, try the next step up in the line or another brand that has some different characteristics that you desire.
    Astoundingly inciteful!

    That's why I'm prowling these forums asking a ton of questions.
    It's one thing to Google for information, but for me, it's always better to have an exchange with someone who's actually experienced with MTBing.

    It was riding my buddy's FS and that's what got me to wanting to get one for trail riding.
    Then I started thinking about owning multiple bikes.
    Again, a "used" FS, a new HT and eventually, a custom toy.

    Thank you.

    My goal?
    Have fun.

    I'm riding my OP daily now.
    Put's a huge smile on my face!
    And that's why I'm loyal to her.
    And that's why she's a keeper.
    I will get "other" bikes, but she brought me back to biking,
    and she frees me right now when I ride her.

  18. #18
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    I think you got it....

    Quote Originally Posted by 2ndgen
    My goal?
    Have fun.
    You have the most important (and often overlooked) aspect of the whole process.

  19. #19
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    But yeah, it should be 1k for a hardtail , and 1.5k for a fullsusp.
    For upgrading I would change the cranks if they're low end, the seat if it's not confy, LX+ derailleur, etc.
    For me, If it isn't Deore+, and it's a good bike, it's got to go.

    Don't change the rims any time soon. You'll probably trash them as you learn.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    You have the most important (and often overlooked) aspect of the whole process.
    What else is there?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garlock
    But yeah, it should be 1k for a hardtail , and 1.5k for a fullsusp.
    For upgrading I would change the cranks if they're low end, the seat if it's not confy, LX+ derailleur, etc.
    For me, If it isn't Deore+, and it's a good bike, it's got to go.

    Don't change the rims any time soon. You'll probably trash them as you learn.
    I think I'm going to be ready to pull the trigger on an '09 Gary Fisher Cobia and build that up as needs/desires dictate.

    Right now, it's making the most sense. 29er, premium HT frame, solid warranty, worthy of investmen.

    So that drops my initial buy to $1000., but it's a bike worth putting in another grand to get it to above it's premium model big brother (Paragon @ $1900.). However, because the components on the Cobia are so good, it should last me as is throughout the winter for XC distance riding. It's basically a rolling frame build up. I'll get to enjoy it as I build it.

    I think I've found my basic bike and the price comes in at about $1000. for it stock with:
    Fork: RockShox Tora 318 Solo Air 29 Fork
    Crank: Shimano M442 44/32/22
    Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore
    Rear Derailleur: SRAM X.5
    Shifters:SRAM X.5
    Cassette: SRAM PG950 11-34, 9 speed
    Wheels: Shimano M475 disc hubs/Bontrager Ranger disc rims
    Brakeset: Avid BB5 mechanical disc w/Avid FR-5 levers

    Not bad for a solid starter huh?

  22. #22
    Rod
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    That bike is definitely a solid starter. Like most people have already said almost all bikes don't need upgrades unless you feel like a certain part is hindering your performance and I have never noticed that. Most people just want to save weight or to make their bike have more "bling" which is virtually impossible because we are a group of people who wear spandex clothing and we look extremely dorky. I guess they just want to look cooler to the other dorks who don't have their rig in matching chris king. I don't understand it, but I do recommend exchanging parts for comfort.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2ndgen
    I think I'm going to be ready to pull the trigger on an '09 Gary Fisher Cobia and build that up as needs/desires dictate.

    Right now, it's making the most sense. 29er, premium HT frame, solid warranty, worthy of investmen.

    So that drops my initial buy to $1000., but it's a bike worth putting in another grand to get it to above it's premium model big brother (Paragon @ $1900.). However, because the components on the Cobia are so good, it should last me as is throughout the winter for XC distance riding. It's basically a rolling frame build up. I'll get to enjoy it as I build it.

    I think I've found my basic bike and the price comes in at about $1000. for it stock with:
    Fork: RockShox Tora 318 Solo Air 29 Fork
    Crank: Shimano M442 44/32/22
    Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore
    Rear Derailleur: SRAM X.5
    Shifters:SRAM X.5
    Cassette: SRAM PG950 11-34, 9 speed
    Wheels: Shimano M475 disc hubs/Bontrager Ranger disc rims
    Brakeset: Avid BB5 mechanical disc w/Avid FR-5 levers

    Not bad for a solid starter huh?
    My opinion:
    -29er...
    -I think you should get the crank changed, I hate it when I see good bikes with crappy cranks (like the specialized I saw today)
    -not a fan of rockShox
    -good starting out front derailleur, just be careful, because the cage screw tends to come off
    -not a fan of SRAM, but X.5 are good to start out with
    -good brakes

    I started like this with my vertex. It's a bike that has almost no stock components now.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod
    That bike is definitely a solid starter. Like most people have already said almost all bikes don't need upgrades unless you feel like a certain part is hindering your performance and I have never noticed that. Most people just want to save weight or to make their bike have more "bling" which is virtually impossible because we are a group of people who wear spandex clothing and we look extremely dorky. I guess they just want to look cooler to the other dorks who don't have their rig in matching chris king. I don't understand it, but I do recommend exchanging parts for comfort.
    LOL!

    Amen to that last sentiment!


  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garlock
    My opinion:
    -29er...
    -I think you should get the crank changed, I hate it when I see good bikes with crappy cranks (like the specialized I saw today)
    -not a fan of rockShox
    -good starting out front derailleur, just be careful, because the cage screw tends to come off
    -not a fan of SRAM, but X.5 are good to start out with
    -good brakes

    I started like this with my vertex. It's a bike that has almost no stock components now.
    Hi G.

    I've researched the components here on MTBR Reviews and the Rock Shox 318 got really good reviews.

    "If" the crank fails, then I'll replace it.

    But that's the whole purpose of starting out with a good entry level bike.

    To change it as needs/desires arise.


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