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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    Bike purchase options.

    Hey folks, though it'll be a while before I can splash some cash on a new bike I thought I'd get some feedback on my two main options.

    The way I see it, my budget is limited so my dream of owning a Cube Stereo Super HPC 160 SL is going to have to remain a dream (seeing as it retails at a shade under 4k) unless I go mental and take out financing (which is seriously tempting me). I know that if I got a cheaper full suspension rig I'd have part of my brain constantly nagging me "it's not the Cube". So a hardtail is the logical choice considering my income.

    The main question I'm facing is which route to take of the following:

    1) Save up around 500 for a solid entry level hardtail. These generally come with those really poor Suntour SR forks (such as the one fitted to my current ride), so I'd immediately want to upgrade the forks for an extra 200ish (possibly more) so it could take on more challenging trails.

    2) Save up 700-800 for a hardtail with a solid fork. I see the main advantage as not having to upgrade and fit a new component straight away - then again you could say that's a disadvantage as fitting new parts gives practice etc. The obvious disadvantage is that I have to wait longer to buy a bike.

    3) Save up 700-800 and buy a bunch of upgrades for my current ride.

    Seeing as I live in Norfolk, UK, there's not a whole lot of riding to be done. The only real place I know of around here is Thetford Forest, about 50 minutes away. The highest graded trail is red and whilst there are uphill sections, they aren't very steep, and the "expert" bits are definitely not expert. None of it is challenging to me except the fitness part because I've allowed myself to become woefully unfit. We managed two 10 mile trails, one 11 mile trail and one 6 mile trail in one five-hour session, though that included stops for food and for playing in some bombholes.

    Now, I drove down there last summer for a few rides with my friend (he's no longer around which, combined with my random limited days off, makes getting anywhere nowadays tricky, not to mention the weather here sucks). My ride is a 2008 Mongoose Rockadile ALX I believe, It's got basic Shimano drivetrain, Altus rear derailleur, standard v-brakes and Suntour SR forks. Cost me 210 brand new but I just wanted something at the time that could get me to and from Uni and maybe a spot of riding in Thetford.

    It definitely needs significant upgrading at the minimum. The drivetrain is knackered and the forks are almost gone as well. I'm listing upgrading as an option simply because my rims, tyres, bars, frame, saddle etc are decent and I like the frame, though I'm well aware the fact that it was a cheap bike means they're going to be heavier than the alternatives. I worked out that if I bought at the right time of year I could get a new fork and a whole new SLX drivetrain with SLX hydraulic disc brakes for around 800, depending on the fork.

    Then again, I could get something like a Cube Aim Disc for 500, which features an all-Shimano drivetrain, Shimano hydro discs, some other nice bits of kit but is let down by a Suntour XCM fork. CRC has some good deals on forks occasionally, such as up to 40% off.

    I know things like that could be called overkill for my local riding but if I have a solid bike with some good tech on it it'll be great for when I go on biking holidays with friends to the Lake District or Scotland or wherever. I know my Mongoose would probably fall to pieces if I took it on anything more challenging.

    My question to all you more experienced folk is which of the three paths do you think is better to take? Am I better off buying a 500-ish bike and upgrading the fork or will a 700-800 bike already fitted with a better fork have a much improved spec? Or should I just save up, buy a bunch of components and play mechanic?

    Oh, and for anyone interested, this video (not mine) is the best I could find on the most "technical" (if you could call it that) section of trail in Thetford (of the marked trails at any rate), and I have no problem blasting through that at a decent pace: youtube.com/watch?v=gszlBPQb0SQ

  2. #2
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    Another option you should consider is going for a used or a demo bike. You can save a lot of money and get a great bike!

  3. #3
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    Definitely look at used bikes. They are usually a better value for the money.

  4. #4
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    The main issue with buying used is that there's not really many options within an hour of where I live unfortunately.

  5. #5
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    My two cents:

    1) If cycling is just a hobby (and not your main mode of transport), don't spend money you don't have on it.

    2) Typically don't recommend buying a bike you immediately plan to tear major parts off of (like the fork). The fork is a major contributor to the cost of the bike, so you'd basically be throwing away money. If you know that the fork on a $500 bike won't suit you, wait and save for something bigger/better.

    3) Wouldn't recommend spending money on upgrading the mongoose to the level you're thinking. You'll spend more money on the parts than you would on a new bike with an equivalent build.

    In your shoes, I'd wait to find a well built hardtail at a price I'm happy with. As chombers suggested, keeping an eye out for demo models is a great way to get a well built ride for less.

    In the meantime, just ride the crap out of what you've got. We all geek out on gear, but it's the actual riding that counts.

  6. #6
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    I bought a 500 dollar bike because that is all I could afford. It was fine..... for a while. 9 months later I upgraded the fork which was 250 bucks. I could have bought a better bike with better components for around the 750 I had invested at that point, but would have been without a bike for 9 months!

    Just ride what you can afford.........

  7. #7
    1/2 fast or 1/2 assed?
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    I feel you on the used stuff. But every once in a while you'll find a diamond in the rough. When I was buying I scoured the Craigslist and eBay until my eyes bled. I finally came across some NOS Fuji @ a chain "LBS" and saved $300 off of a $1000 (MSRP) bike. I felt satisfied until I saw a 2012 Trek Cobia going for $650. It was beautiful. Needless to say that it only lasted for a day or two.

    Moral of the story- Be patient. But not TOOOO patient. You do wanna get out there and ride eventually. Being on a budget in an expensive hobby (lifestyle) can be traumatic. I say just find the best deal you can at the moment. Either way the new bike will be the best bike youve ever owned. Good luck!
    I'm a ******bag in real life so I dont have to be one on the interwebz.

  8. #8
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    the Voodoo Hoodoo is an affordable option, new for 500 (i don't know how to make the pound sign for euros). bikeradar[dot]com has a great review of this bike where they gush over the fork. pretty good frame/fork set-up and a reliable parts kit. good option for the recreational mt biker.
    mtbr won't let me post links, but if you go to bikeradar and search 'voodoo' in the search field one of the first options is a review of the voodoo hoodoo. check it out.

  9. #9
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    See, I needed these responses to convince myself to take the more sensible option. Thanks for the input. Got a lot of saving to do before I start looking.

  10. #10
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I bought my previous commuter for $100. In retrospect, that was really too little to spend on a bike. But if the weather wouldn't prohibit you from riding trails anyway, IMO, now's a good time to start watching Craig's List, EBay, etc.

    I think that used mountain bikes in my region (Pacific Northwest in the United States) start getting pretty feasible around $300. But you can start watching your local used sites and checking out your local used shops right now.

    For me, the value of the missed riding days would be relatively high. I'm less concerned with what I'm on, although I do see some wisdom in waiting to buy something that has a better cost of ownership.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
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    I'd be happy riding my current Mongoose and saving for a new bike for a while if it wasn't for the fact that I need a whole new drivetrain and a new fork. The cost of that alone seems to justify just buying a new bike. I should be able to get away with riding it this summer in the forest again, as the trails aren't that big of a challenge, but it definitely wouldn't handle much tougher. I might just get a new chain and cassette to keep it going, as I get the occasional clunk and jolt when pedalling along.

  12. #12
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    unless you know your fair share about bikes, parts and repair i would recommend avoiding online purchases, perhaps aside from craigslist where you can actually see and ride the bike prior to purchase. After 18 years as a bike mechanic i have seen my fair share of disappointed ebay buyers investing way too much repairing their 'new' bike.

  13. #13
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    In that case, go ahead and save up.

    And take care of your next bike!
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    In that case, go ahead and save up.

    And take care of your next bike!
    Definitely. This Mongoose has done surprisingly well given that it went through a Northern winter in the world's worst shed. Fully intend on getting well into maintaining my next piece of kit to the best possible standard. I've always loved mountain biking whenever I've been as a kid or to the forest, and now is the time for me to throw myself into it! Ain't gonna do things half-arsed!

  15. #15
    Bikes/Beers/BustinAss
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    the ruiner of good threads ^^^
    I ride because exercising sucks, it's a lot of fun, and it makes beer taste oh so much better.

  16. #16
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    LOL. Someone's guaranteed to do something half-assed and provide a good thread sooner or later. Usually sooner. Having one or two people be more conscientious won't ruin the board.

    Here's a good one. IIRC, in the first post, he proposed to upgrade the suspension fork and rear triangle and move up to 29" wheels.
    Jeep Bike Build
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    seeking input on 2 options

    Quote Originally Posted by bc3xx0 View Post
    I bought a 500 dollar bike because that is all I could afford. It was fine..... for a while. 9 months later I upgraded the fork which was 250 bucks. I could have bought a better bike with better components for around the 750 I had invested at that point, but would have been without a bike for 9 months!

    Just ride what you can afford.........
    In light of what you just said ... I was looking at purchasing either the mongoose stat 29er or the mongoose ledge 3.1 ... Could you tell me what you think ?
    they are within range of what I can afford since my last bike got stolen . I am from Oklahoma and Craigslist hasn't helped at all . Thank you. I'm new here and I didn't wanna start another thread .

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