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.
Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    4

    Beginner needs budget bike advice

    I am on a very tight budget and have never bought a bike. The last bike I had was one I inherited around 20 years ago. I plan to use it for both street riding, pulling my kid in a trailer, and light offroad trails. I live in the Seattle area.

    Now that I am looking at bikes, I have found that I am rather out of my element. I've been looking at local shops and online places. I am pretty mechanically inclined but don't have time to learn how to build something myself, etc. I found some in my budget at rei that they'll build and I can return if I don't like. I could conceivably order more than one to try. Does anyone have any insight into these?

    Schwinn Mesa 1 Bike - Special Buy at REI-OUTLET.com

    2012 Marin Pioneer Trail | Mountain Bike Components and Reviews
    (this one I ordered from REI for $399 since it was the last one they had. They'll build it at the store and I can return it if I don't like it or decide I want a different one.)

    Raleigh Talus 3.0 Bike - 2013 at REI.com
    (I get a 10% refund on this one)


    Do you think it's really worth it to spend the extra $60 on the Marin or the extra $100 on the Shwinn compared to the Raleigh? A shop here has a similar Raleigh but with disc brakes for $450.


    The Marin has integrated shifters. I hear they are good for road bikes, but would it be good/bad on a mountain bike?


    Is the Shwinn a good bike if I later upgrade some of the components? It looks to me like it has some features I like (in theory) such as the lockable fork and disc brakes, but has some components that maybe aren't as nice as the Marin, but I don't know if any of the components are that different in this price range anyway.


    Sorry to ask so much. I have been reading online and realize how little I know about bikes! Any advice is welcome, except to spend even more $. Thanks!

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: moefosho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    1,341
    At that price point I usually encourage people to shop used. $400 can get a pretty nice used bike with much better components than a $400 new bike.

    Also, for what type of riding you will be doing, I think a cross, hybrid, rigid bike might be better.

    Seattle Craigslist has tons of bikes and the prices seem to be good with some amazing deals coming on every once and a while.
    2008 Redline Monocog 29er SS/Rigid
    2013 Marin Mount Vision XM7
    FS: 26" Black Flag Expert Wheelset (new), Reba 29 Fork

  3. #3
    Level 5 Rider!
    Reputation: Desidus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    233
    After buying my bike at the $400 price point I wish I had bought a used bike. However that said the LBS service you get with a new bike is nice. Any of these bikes would be fine for what you plan to do with them. If however you plan to eventually get into real trails or have any long fairly steep climbs then I would recommend staying away from the Talus as it doesn't have a very low gear set which is a major problem with mine.

    The lock out will be a nice feature if you are planning on pulling a trailer for sure so that is definitely a consideration (its also a benefit when riding on pavement of any kind. Disk brakes on low end bikes aren't the greatest things in the world and a lot of times your standard v-brakes can outperform and are lighter than low end disk. That said if you really like the idea of disk then its probably easier to upgrade if you already have them. (no experience in the matter though so I will let someone else tell you if thats not true. lol.)

    Biggest deal is fit... a good bike can feel like crap. If your LBS has that bike at the store then go there and try it out. You can always purchase it elsewhere afterwards. At least then you will know if you like it or not.

    If it was just components then I might go with the Marin as its deraillers are both altus rather than tourney. Not a fan of tourney parts, but for your light work it will probably be alright.

    Anyways that's my two cents. Please keep in mind that I am a newbie myself and just things I have heard by keeping my ears open.
    You earn 1000 exp!
    You are now lvl 5! (5/100)
    Str +3, Sta +4, MTB Skills +1, Grip +1, Iron Butt +1
    New Item - Broken pedals

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    12,322
    I moved out of Seattle fairly recently. Where are you? How far are you willing to drive to get to trails? There's good stuff within an hour's drive, but it wouldn't be worth owning a MTB if it doesn't leave city limits.

    "Light offroad trails" is a stupid phrase, IMHO. Even the easiest riding spots around here roll some and have some variety of surfaces. Besides, hybrids don't do anything a mountain bike won't.

    $400 isn't much on a retail bike. Check out Recycled Cycles, Second Ascent and Play-It-Again sports. They'll make your dollar go a lot further if you're open to used bikes. Although REI's crazy return policy does let you get a lot of money back out of a bike if you don't like it.

    REI downtown is very uneven on their sales staff. Some really know their stuff. Some don't. If you're going to an REI outside the city, I have less confidence in the staff. Seattle has an embarrassment of riches in its shops and shop staff, so some spill over to REI.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    3,682
    Here's a 29 bike with Shimano Alivio/Deore mid level drive components. I don't usually suggest lower level parts.
    The 69* head tube angle and short chainstays make for current geo.
    Save up to 60% off new Mountain Bikes - MTB - Gravity 29Point1 29er Mountain Bikes
    $419 delivered.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    4
    Thanks for your replies. I have actually been looking for a used bike for a few months, but have been dismayed at how hard it has been to find anything that fits me and that has the few features I know I want. I'll admit I don't have an abundance of free time to look though. I have been to many LBS multiple times and have figured out which ones to go to and which I will avoid. As for online ordering, I would rather get it from a place that will set it up properly.

    The last bike I had was a hybrid/rigid but I have an old shoulder injury that never healed and am under the impression that a hardtail would be better.

    I have read that after Schwinn's bankruptcy some of their bikes are crap and some are fine. Any idea how to tell which is which? (Obviously I am not shopping at wal-mart.)

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    4
    Anyone have experience with integrated shifters?

  8. #8
    Level 5 Rider!
    Reputation: Desidus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    233
    Quote Originally Posted by noobarific View Post
    The last bike I had was a hybrid/rigid but I have an old shoulder injury that never healed and am under the impression that a hardtail would be better.
    That might not necessarily be the case. Hybrids tend to be more upright sitting so they could be easier on your shoulder as well due to putting less weight on it. Though in comparison to a fairly upright MTB with front forks it might go back in favor of the MTB. Hard to say.

    As for Schwinn I would say that a frame isn't going to make or break a bike at your price point. And the rest is all standard components pretty much.
    You earn 1000 exp!
    You are now lvl 5! (5/100)
    Str +3, Sta +4, MTB Skills +1, Grip +1, Iron Butt +1
    New Item - Broken pedals

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    3,682
    Quote Originally Posted by noobarific View Post
    As for online ordering, I would rather get it from a place that will set it up properly.
    Bikes come within a few minutes effort of being setup.
    Anything you need help on you can take to the lbs you like or spend a small amount of time learning with the many online resources. You avoid living with lower quality components for a one time effort.

    It is to your benefit to learn basic maintenance because most things show up on the trail where there isn't much road service.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Jams_805's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    136
    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    It is to your benefit to learn basic maintenance because most things show up on the trail where there isn't much road service.
    That's one of those things I learned the hard way when I did my first ever tire change in the middle of the California heat and it took foreverrr ha
    Rockhopper 29er

    -FSA Carbon handlebars, stem, & seatpost
    -2011 Rockshox Reba
    -Stan's Flow Wheelset
    -Ergon Grips

  11. #11
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    12,322
    Quote Originally Posted by noobarific View Post
    Anyone have experience with integrated shifters?
    "Integrated shifters" can mean a couple different things. Usually on a mountain bike or hybrid, it refers to an assembly in which the brake lever and shifter share a housing but are functionally separate. They're not necessarily terrible as long as you're content with mechanical brakes. I don't like them because they're bulky, tend to have somewhat weird ergonomics, I like my hydraulic brakes now that I have them and they make it impossible to replace the brake lever or shifter one at a time. I suspect they save the OEMs some money.

    What features are you looking for that are making it hard to find a used bike? Certainly going used can mean letting go of some things...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    4
    size (I am 6'3")
    front suspension
    not from a big chain store
    not a fixer-upper
    no more than around $400-450

    The budget seems to be the biggest hindrance.

    I did come across this recently:
    Giant 26" hardtail mountain bike
    Should 10 years old be worrisome? Is Giant a reputable brand?

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Jams_805's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    136
    Quote Originally Posted by noobarific View Post
    size (I am 6'3")
    front suspension
    not from a big chain store
    not a fixer-upper
    no more than around $400-450

    The budget seems to be the biggest hindrance.

    I did come across this recently:
    Giant 26" hardtail mountain bike
    Should 10 years old be worrisome? Is Giant a reputable brand?
    Giant is definitely one of the big 3 brands around my parts. Many So Cal shops sell Trek, Specialized and Giant. That bike is a great starter, disc brakes, decent size for your height.. if budget is an issue, I definitely wouldn't pass it up, Just make sure the frame isn't showing damage, all the teeth on the gears and such look good, and you should have something good enough to learn on
    Rockhopper 29er

    -FSA Carbon handlebars, stem, & seatpost
    -2011 Rockshox Reba
    -Stan's Flow Wheelset
    -Ergon Grips

  14. #14
    Level 5 Rider!
    Reputation: Desidus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    233
    Lots of people love their old Rainers as evidenced by the giant forums. The fork is a big deal too on old bikes but as a newbie I don't know the signs of a failing fork. Ask around here someone is bound to know what to look for.
    You earn 1000 exp!
    You are now lvl 5! (5/100)
    Str +3, Sta +4, MTB Skills +1, Grip +1, Iron Butt +1
    New Item - Broken pedals

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    43
    How can you trust that used bikes will give long life?

  16. #16
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    12,322
    One of the compromises with a used bike is often that the "honeymoon" period new bikes have is over. For me, I've still saved more buying used than I've spent on early maintenance for everything I've bought that was from the mid-80s or newer. But at the end of the day, you have to make this decision for yourself.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

Similar Threads

  1. beginner mtn bike advice
    By ferhanmm in forum All Mountain
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-01-2012, 05:25 PM
  2. Advice on a beginner bike
    By bushin in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 07-05-2011, 10:08 PM
  3. Beginner in need of budget bike guidance.
    By guster130 in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 06-10-2011, 11:07 AM
  4. beginner bike advice for a fat guy
    By zephoria in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 03-10-2011, 04:13 PM
  5. Beginner Needing Bike Advice
    By Challenger0968 in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-05-2011, 10:21 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •