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  1. #1
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    Best 29er under $500? please help..

    Hi guys. I'm a newbie and interested in MTB'g, but don't want to spend more than $500. I tried craigslist and have had little luck. The good ones go like lightening!! Are there any new bikes from 300-500 that are very decent bikes? I plan on doing more paved trails than actual vertical terrain (thought about hybrids, but don't like the design). Thanks so much if u can point me in the right direction!

    Kurt

  2. #2
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    Outside online likes this one (and so do I).

    Diamondback Overdrive Mountain Bike | Mountain Bikes | OutsideOnline.com

    Bluesky also has this for $520 ($560 with shipping)

    BlueSkyCycling.com - GT Karakoram 2.0 Disc 29er Bike

    And this for $320 ($360 with shipping):

    BlueSkyCycling.com - GT Karakoram 3.0 29er Bike

    Bikes Direct has a few like this one in that price range:

    Save up to 60% off new Mountain Bikes - MTB - Gravity 29Point1 29er Mountain Bikes

    And if you can stretch to $650 (with shipping) Airborne has this:

    Airborne Bicycles. Guardian
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  3. #3
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    Hi Luclin. Thanks so much for your input. I was at Dick's this morning and the Diamondback Overdrive was on sale for $449. U think I should go for it? I also saw a Fuji Nevada 1.0 elsewhere for $500. My only worry is the Chinese-made bike. Thanks again!

    Kurt

    BTW, would it behoove me to go for the 2.o for $200 more? Thanks
    Last edited by Mango7; 08-04-2012 at 07:00 PM.

  4. #4
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    I don't think you could go wrong with the DB Overdrive. REI outlet is also blowing out the 2012's for $459 and if you are an REI member they throw in free shipping. I'd say go for it!

  5. #5
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    The Overdrive is a good bike but if you buy it from a non-dedicated bike store (like Dick's) then be certain to check it over thoroughly to insure that it was assembled correctly and with the correct components.

    I saw two Overdrives at a Sport's Authority (a store like *****) here in Houston that were side by side on the floor but each had been assembled with different components. One looked correct to the specs listed on the Diamondback site while the other appeared to have had the drive train and brakes assembled from random left over parts they had lying around in the back of the store.
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luclin999 View Post
    The Overdrive is a good bike but if you buy it from a non-dedicated bike store (like Dick's) then be certain to check it over thoroughly to insure that it was assembled correctly and with the correct components.

    I saw two Overdrives at a Sport's Authority (a store like *****) here in Houston that were side by side on the floor but each had been assembled with different components. One looked correct to the specs listed on the Diamondback site while the other appeared to have had the drive train and brakes assembled from random left over parts they had lying around in the back of the store.
    Wow. Thanks for that, L!

  7. #7
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    I am thinking about going for the GT Karakoram 3.0, but the only one they have is an XL size (32.77" standover height). That would contact the boys down there, but will that still be OK? Thanks again..

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MissoulaGriz View Post
    I don't think you could go wrong with the DB Overdrive. REI outlet is also blowing out the 2012's for $459 and if you are an REI member they throw in free shipping. I'd say go for it!
    Thanks MG!!

  9. #9
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    Outside says it true-
    "Itís the SR Suntour XCT 100mm fork that we had real issues with. The preload dial, which is meant to change the stiffness of the shock, didnít work, and thereís no rebound adjustment, so the fork simply rockets compression off bumps right back into you at full speed"
    Other reviewer have called it "punishing offroad".
    So anything with an x series Suntour needs to include the cost of an immediate upgrade to a minimum of a RockShox XC 29-32.
    A Reba would be best or Manitou Tower Pro or a Suntour Epicon.
    The Guardian has a XC29.
    GT Karakoram 2.0 Disc 29er has a Dart3 a no longer produced version renamed the XC32. But the bottom end Alivio drivetrain is hard to adjust and slow shifting.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Outside says it true-
    "Itís the SR Suntour XCT 100mm fork that we had real issues with. The preload dial, which is meant to change the stiffness of the shock, didnít work, and thereís no rebound adjustment, so the fork simply rockets compression off bumps right back into you at full speed"
    Other reviewer have called it "punishing offroad".
    So anything with an x series Suntour needs to include the cost of an immediate upgrade to a minimum of a RockShox XC 29-32.
    A Reba would be best or Manitou Tower Pro or a Suntour Epicon.
    The Guardian has a XC29.
    GT Karakoram 2.0 Disc 29er has a Dart3 a no longer produced version renamed the XC32. But the bottom end Alivio drivetrain is hard to adjust and slow shifting.
    Thank u for that, EB! Seems when I'm about to home in on what looks like an solid, reasonably priced entry-level 29er someone wakes me up!! Do I have no choice but to spend above $600 for a bike that's going to spend most of its time on paved and gravel trails? Thanks again

  11. #11
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    Its hard finding the perfect bike on a budget. Iīm in the same boat. Good luck!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TinaNorway View Post
    Its hard finding the perfect bike on a budget. Iīm in the same boat. Good luck!
    Thanks Tina U too!

  13. #13
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    Here's the usual problem. Nobody rides technical rocky, rooty singletrack on a road bike. So even if they have ridden for years, they have zero experience on that terrain. Bike paths and dirt roads are everywhere so it's easy to see what you need to ride them- wider than road tires and a suspension fork for added comfort- a Suntour fork is fine.

    And you now have a bike like the others going back into the woods. When you try it out the path is many times bumpier and sharply up and down with quick turns with trees and other obstacles and dropoffs a couple inches off the path. Throw in gravel, sand and mud for traction challenges too. These track are built by bikers for only one thing- fun. The intensity of effort to get up short steep hilly sections, the fast downhill excitement level and terror if you're on that Suntour fork can be a big draw. The most of the time bike paths and gravel roads become boring and get a lot less time. But you are sure you will die or totally wear out your brakes when you go back in the woods again.

    That's why you will not be happy with that fork even for 10% of your riding. And nobody only rides singletrack 10%
    .

  14. #14
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    Get the Airborne if you can afford it.
    Climb into the sky, never wonder why - Tailgunner
    You're a Tailgunner

  15. #15
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    And from someone who actually owns the Overdrive and has ridden it on singletrack I can agree that the fork is bike's weakest link.

    However, for the beginner trails (Which someone new to the hobby should be starting out on) the Suntour fork is not going to ruin your ride. It does what it is supposed to (for the most part) in that it smooths out the relatively minor bumps and impacts that you would experience on a basic trail.

    As such, it would probably suit you for a few weeks to a few months (depending on how often you ride and how quickly your skills progress) at which point you could look at tossing the extra $150-$200 for an entry level Rockshox fork (like the XC-28) that will hold up versus the intermediate level trails you would be getting into.

    IMO if you can't afford to spend $600+ on a bike today with a basic but decent fork, $400-500 now will at least get you on a bike and out on the trails. You can always set aside some cash over the following months and potentially be able to buy a much better fork upgrade for your 29er than anything you could buy today which comes stock in the $600 range..

    Like this:

    BlueSkyCycling.com - Rock Shox Recon Silver TK 29er Solo Air Fork

    Which is a considerably better fork than the Dart or XC-28 series.

    Also note that Nashbar has had the Overdrive Expert (spec'd between the basic and sport models) for between $400-500 over the past couple of weeks so if you keep an eye on their site you might catch a decent deal there..

    Diamondback Overdrive Expert 29er Mountain Bike - Twenty Niner
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  16. #16
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    If you can afford an extra $99 or have a coupon...check out the Novara Buzz. More an urban trail king than a off roader but nice 4130 cro-mo frame with a quality 4130 rigid (maintenance free and functional...not to mention at least 2 lbs lighter) fork.


  17. #17
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    I just bought a Diamondback Overdrive through REI's website for around $450 and free shipping to the store. It is through their outlet and is a "special buy". Basically it just has slightly cheaper components then the $900-$1000 version. Bang for the buck it seems to be decent and latet if I want more I bet I could recoup most my money out if it.

  18. #18
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    There's always this one: (as long as there's a Costco nearby). It has the XCT problem too though.

    costco 29er.

  19. #19
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    Thanks so much guys! I thought this thread died...sorry for the delay!!

    I have seen the Diamondback OD for $449 at Dick's (in orange, blue or black). It seems like a nice bike but flimsy feeling(Is this normal??)
    Also found a 2011 Fuji Nevada 2.0 for $525 (I'm not sure its a 29'r tho).

    Will keep u posted on what I end up with. Thanks again!!

  20. #20
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    Btw, does anyone know where I can find an orange 2012 GT Karakoram 3.0?

  21. #21
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    Redline Monocog. You might be able to get a Flight version within your budget but you'd have to watch the for sale threads and move quickly. i dont think many people part with the Flight once they have it.

  22. #22
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    Check craigslist for a used bike. Not sure how active your area is, but I have seem a few lately.

  23. #23
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    I am in the same boat right now, I am trying to decide what I want to order. I was even thinking of ordering tonight. My budget is $450 or less.

    I am stuck between two bikes, which do you guys think is better for the money?

    BDs Gravity 29Point 1 or Diamondback Overdrive 29er?

    The main differences I can see between the two are the models of shifting components and wheels. Are the diamondbacks sram components really any better than what the Gravity has? What do you guys think is better??

    I have been leaning more towards the Gravity 29. Is there any disadvantage to it over the diamondback?

    Also, what size should I get? My buddy is about the same height and has a 19 and loves it. I am roughly 5-9 or 5-10.

    Thanks!!

  24. #24
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    The Airborne Guardian is the stand out among those for value.I`m kinda wanting one.

  25. #25
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    wmblalock-- Both those bikes are for bike paths and not trails. The Suntour fork does not have adjustable rebound dampening so it pogos you over multiple bumps offroad. You can't keep your line so no confidence in the bike and no skill development. The minimum usable is a RockShox XC 28 or 32 TK fork. A Recon Gold or Reba is better. Something like a 2010 Reba Team or Race used for 250 or up to 2012 takeoff to 350 could go on these bikes.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    wmblalock-- Both those bikes are for bike paths and not trails. The Suntour fork does not have adjustable rebound dampening so it pogos you over multiple bumps offroad. You can't keep your line so no confidence in the bike and no skill development. The minimum usable is a RockShox XC 28 or 32 TK fork. A Recon Gold or Reba is better. Something like a 2010 Reba Team or Race used for 250 or up to 2012 takeoff to 350 could go on these bikes.
    From the research I have done, you are correct that the SunTour fork isn't great.
    Unfortunately, I cannot find any bikes for $450 or under that have anything better.
    I have tried looking for used for months and haven't been able to come up with anything.
    My friend has been trying to get me into MTBing with him, so I just wanted something somewhat reliable and safe to get me started to see if I like the sport. $450 is my max.
    My friend who is getting me into MTBing has a $500 Gary Fisher he bought new with i believe the same SunTour fork. He wants to upgrade now (a year or two later) because he has really gotten into the sport. In a year or two if I am still into the sport I could always get a different bike or a new fork. I am just looking for best $450 or less bang for the buck, preferably 29er, not used (because i cant find a used one).

    Thanks for the advice. I think I am going to order the 17.5 Gravity 29.1 to start and see if I like the sport. In a year or so, if I am still interested and have time for the sport, then I will probably consider spending more money on upgrades or a better bike.

  27. #27
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    ^^^
    A friend of mine bumped into a Scott Scale 29 Team at a pawnshop for your price. Great bike. His model year had a Tora, so a "real" fork. Get on the phone and see if anyone's got something for you that someone's already paid for the depreciation on.

    Is the 29.1 the one with the high single pivot rear suspension?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  28. #28
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    Good call! Best thing you can do, really... get the best you can at the time, enjoy what you bought, then fix what's most important to you when the time comes.

    I started mountain biking in 1990 on a Trek 850. I enjoyed that bike to no end. Rode it year round, was my preferred mode of transportation even after getting my first car. If you like your Gravity half as much as I liked my first MTB, it will be money well spent!

    Just make sure you stay up on the maintenance, lol. For a couple weeks, I ignored some play in my crankset that had developed in the second year of owning my trek: turns out the bottom bracket bearings were shot. I had split the outer bearing races & stripped some of the threads inside the bottom bracket. Had to spend several hours to extract the inner pieces of the housings and filing the threads before I could get a beefier set of bearings in there.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    ^^^
    A friend of mine bumped into a Scott Scale 29 Team at a pawnshop for your price. Great bike. His model year had a Tora, so a "real" fork. Get on the phone and see if anyone's got something for you that someone's already paid for the depreciation on.

    Is the 29.1 the one with the high single pivot rear suspension?
    The 29.1 is a hard tail
    bikesdirect.com/products/gravity/29point1.htm

    I have looked around and just can't find anything used, nor do I have the time to deal with the day after day search. I have looked for a month and nothing.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by G0at View Post
    Good call! Best thing you can do, really... get the best you can at the time, enjoy what you bought, then fix what's most important to you when the time comes.

    I started mountain biking in 1990 on a Trek 850. I enjoyed that bike to no end. Rode it year round, was my preferred mode of transportation even after getting my first car. If you like your Gravity half as much as I liked my first MTB, it will be money well spent!

    Just make sure you stay up on the maintenance, lol. For a couple weeks, I ignored some play in my crankset that had developed in the second year of owning my trek: turns out the bottom bracket bearings were shot. I had split the outer bearing races & stripped some of the threads inside the bottom bracket. Had to spend several hours to extract the inner pieces of the housings and filing the threads before I could get a beefier set of bearings in there.
    That is how I was thinking.

  31. #31
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    I've got the XCT on my Hardrock and i've rode that thing on all kinds of rough trails. I wouldn't take a rigid over it on the trails (and i have one). Get the preload just right and it will get u by without rattling you apart. It wont' be as nice as better forks but it isn't going to keep you from getting out there either and I don't mind it for now. It isn't as smooth as the XC Judy on my other bike though.

    If the bike is setup for 100mm then that is nice for future upgrades

  32. #32
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    Sams has a Jeep 29er on sale now at a store near you ;-)

  33. #33
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    A buddy of mine has a Genesis 29er from Walmart. It is a fine machine

  34. #34
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    Well, if $450 is your number, you get what you get. You get less hosed on components by BD than by a major brand at that price.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  35. #35
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    Depending on the trails you're riding, the Suntour fork will be fine. The fork can outperform most beginner's skill level.

  36. #36
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    Stony Creek- Fall Season 2009 - YouTube
    You can ride like that easily in a couple of months. Not on a Suntour. I ride this trail almost daily. A suntour and the tires on those bikes would add 50% to my time and take away most of the fun. It would be way more intense.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mango7 View Post
    ?.. I plan on doing more paved trails than actual vertical terrain (thought about hybrids, but don't like the design). Thanks so much if u can point me in the right direction!

    Kurt
    Kurt: I have a Univega Zig Zag that I have ridden on all the beginner, intermediate and advanced trails in middle TN. It is a 15 year old hybrid with Geaux street tires and a rigid fork. I can make it around the trails just fine. Certainly not as fast as I can on my carbon XC bike, but well enough to have a good time. The Suntour fork will make the ride more comfortable than a rigid. Any bike in that price range with that fork are designed and priced to do exactly what you are looking to do.

    Make sure you have enough money in your budget for a good helmet, gloves and some shorts with a padded liner. Have fun!

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    Kurt: I have a Univega Zig Zag that I have ridden on all the beginner, intermediate and advanced trails in middle TN. It is a 15 year old hybrid with Geaux street tires and a rigid fork. I can make it around the trails just fine. Certainly not as fast as I can on my carbon XC bike, but well enough to have a good time. The Suntour fork will make the ride more comfortable than a rigid. Any bike in that price range with that fork are designed and priced to do exactly what you are looking to do.

    Make sure you have enough money in your budget for a good helmet, gloves and some shorts with a padded liner. Have fun!
    +1 to everything. Padded shorts are a must, and I ride a Costco Northrock XC6 with a Suntour XCT V4 fork. I've put about 250 miles on it on off road single track and surprise surprise, I'm not dead! That fork will be for for what you are asking it to do. Heck, if you've got a Costco membership I would suggest you get an XC6 or an XC29 for $350 and $480 respectively.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    .......The Suntour fork will make the ride more comfortable than a rigid. Any bike in that price range with that fork are designed and priced to do exactly what you are looking to do.
    I agree 100%.

    I think the "you're gonna die on the Suntour fork" statements here on the forum are a *bit* sensational IMHO. While its not the best fork out there, there is a need for a fork at that level and price-point. 95% of the people buying a bike equipped with that fork don't ride hard enough to exceed the design parameters, and the ones that do eventually upgrade by right of passage to a better fork or, usually, a better bike alltogether.

    This is dating me a little bit, but when I started racing mountainbikes in the early 90's, most of the suspension forks we had to chose from back then were only marginally better than the XCTV4, and the trails were a whole lot less groomed than most of today's trails. And I'm still alive! LOL
    Please Note: I no longer work for Airborne. If you have an Airborne question or problem please contact them directly.

  40. #40
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    I applaud Airborne for not putting a 29er out there with a Suntour fork. That component choice is what sells the Guardian. Ride a Suntour for 2 hours in rocky tech and tell me how your knees feel.

  41. #41
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    EB: wmblalock specifically stated he will be riding mostly paved and maybe some trails. He will not likely be riding on rocky tech for two hours. He has been very upfront about what his needs are. The Suntour fork meets his needs and budget. Please stop bagging on the Suntour fork. It's fine. It comes on entry level bikes. Entry level bikes are sold to beginners. Beginners should ride beginner trails. As his skills increase, his equipment needs will rise. For a lot of beginners, money is better spent on things like bibs, pedals, shoes helmets, gloves etc.

    Wmblalock: Pick a color, they are all the same.

  42. #42
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    They are not going to put forks on these bikes that are not going to hold up. They just aren't going to be as nice of a ride. I've beat the hell out of mine for a year now.

  43. #43
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    Any idea what a LBS would charge to assemble a internet bought bike like the Airborne for example?

  44. #44
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    $75-$200. It depends on their prices in general, whether it's priced as a package or shop time, and how in-depth they get about the initial tune.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hilltoppr View Post
    Any idea what a LBS would charge to assemble a internet bought bike like the Airborne for example?
    Do it yourself.
    This is for the Costco/Northrock bike but it shows you what to do.
    Assembly Guide - Northrock XC6 Mountain Bike - by Northrock Bikes - YouTube

    from here or here

    or search on You Tube for how to video's
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  46. #46
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    Lbs tech put bikes together because they all ship the same. Maybe $50 would cover it. The bike is mostly assembled and Airborne will help you with any tuning. Stuff you can easily pick up and should know for out on the trail. Here's a video
    .UNBOXING YOUR NEW BIKE - YouTube

    Everyone has ridden a bike on the paved roads and bike paths and on dirt roads. No one has ridden on trails. Why? Everyone has hiked them. Trail riding is a different activity then bike riding. Once you do it on a minimally decent setup you may skip a lot of the bike riding you were thinking about. Just not challenging. You really can't predict how much you will do something without any experience.

    If you do pick a Suntour fork bike and try a technical trail just don't be put off of the sport by thinking it's not possible to do this..You can upgrade with something used for as little as $100. And don't think a good fork is overkill for two track and dirt roads. You can blast along those at full speed and float over the minor things you'll see with extra safety.

  47. #47
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    On the subject of budget bikes and susp forks...I think the industry has done a huge disservice by specing garbage forks like this on $500 bikes in place of a proper rigid fork. Used to be you learned on a rigid and then added a susp fork (a real one) later as your skill built to that level. The bike manf. could then actually spec decent components at that price point. At the end of the day, the rider ended up with a nice bike that was upgradeable at a later time. I also realize that the majority of riders spending $500 probably never ride the bikes on any particularly difficult trails and the fork helps sell the bike. Rant over.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  48. #48
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    When I killed my last suspension fork, I did a little shopping around before my friend offered me the one I have now.

    Rigid forks retail for around $75. I wouldn't be too surprised if economies of scale have made it cheaper for the manufacturers to spec suspension forks at this point. Obviously if a lot of them, or even just a few but some major ones, put rigids on their entry-level bikes this would change. But I've sometimes paid attention to who's offering fully rigid bikes in their entry-level lines. They don't seem to last long. Redline was doing it for a while, but now it's only their singlespeed that ships that way.

    Lame. I think it's that suspension forks sell bikes. Even when they're a disservice to the bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  49. #49
    mtbr member
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    ^^
    Yup, marketing trumps common sense and brains in this world. Lots of dumb mother****ers out there.

    Just try explaining to someone why the rigid is better than the cheapo fork. You'll get nowhere.

    Oh well.
    CRAMBA Chairman

  50. #50
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    Hi Guys- I thought this thread died weeks ago!! I really appreciate your thoughts very much!

    I ended up buying an orange GT Karakoram 3.0. It is a beautiful bike and is a lot of fun. It really needs to be tuned, if u will, but it suits me just fine. I considered other bikes like Airborne, but this one really appealed to me for a multitude of reasons. Thanks so much again brothers!

    Kurt
    '12 GT Karakoram 3.0

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