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.
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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(s) selected, but will it meet my needs? Experienced riders please assist.

    Hello,

    This is pretty much a standard noob bike thread and could really use sound advice.

    First off, My budget is $500 and thats $100 more then I want to spend.

    The bike in question is the Specialized Hardrock series.

    My dilemma is this. I've been to several bike shops, and the only thing they all agree on is this is a fantastic beginner bike.

    I know this can handle my local park gravel trails, I've cut those up on a Target bike for 2 years, I'm a fairly decent rider as I've ridden BMX in woods doing some crazy drops and trails for years as a teen.

    I'm highly intrigued by single track and recently found out I have one of the best spots in the state right in my back yard.

    Please view the videos as this is critical to my decision: http://www.singletracks.com/mountain...eos.php?id=899

    Bottom line, can a Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc handle this? By handle this I mean mechanically. I wonít be riding nearly as fast and there are tons of trails of varying degree, these being shown are probably the most aggressive.

    I've been told that this will be fine, others have told me, it can barely handle it.

    I know the fork isnt so hot on this bike, brakes are ok, I like the shifter as it seemed great on my demo.

    All signs point to, as long as I dont act stupid I should be fine. This type of single track riding would be done about 30% of the time, the rest will be gravel trails/street.

    1. Thoughts on the above?

    2. Rockhopper Base worth it over a Hardrock Sport Disc? Can I do this with a base model Hardrock and save money?

    3. With such a tight budget, I can barely afford a Hardrock Sport Disc, let alone a Rockhopper, as a person who shops for the best possible deal, I find myself looking at the Windsor 4900, its components are superior in just about every way to the choices I've made yet I would end up spending the same amount in assembly fee from a LBS.

    Which is fine, I would never mess with something that would kill me if not prepared properly. Only negative I see is lack of support. No one around here gives lifetime tunes, only 1 year "basic". No clue on this Windsor's durability and by that I mean frame, which is my only concern. Looks mean next to nothing to me. I'm all about function/bang for buck.

    So yeah, thatís where I'm at. I'm all about getting the best I possibly can but I'm also on a strict budget as a young homeowner. I really hate to just "get by" with a bike. The trails in the video are the most extreme I will ever get with the bike. I like to stay local and thatís as aggressive as I will ever get or have time for, going bigger would require practice and parts I canít afford, time or dollar wise.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you very much.

    Note: I've searched Craigslist and LBS's for used. No dice.

  2. #2
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    I'm not familiar with the trail, but from the descriptions I've read (can't view the videos) I think the Hardrock would be fine. My first bike was a $500 Tassajara (2001) and most of the time the obstacles were beyond my skill, not beyond the bike's ability. You'll drive yourself crazy trying to get the "best deal". If you like it and can afford it go ahead and get it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendosa View Post
    Bottom line, can a Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc handle this? By handle this I mean mechanically. I wonít be riding nearly as fast and there are tons of trails of varying degree, these being shown are probably the most aggressive.

    I've been told that this will be fine, others have told me, it can barely handle it.
    I watched about half the first video. The trails look nice. Your Hardrock should be fine on everything I saw in that first less-than-two-minutes of video.

    Most bikes will handle more than people give them credit for. Your Target bike would probably do ok on those trails.

  4. #4
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    I can't watch the video, but I've ridden Stewart trails--they are fun. The Hardrock will be fine. They are great trails for a hard-tail bike.

    I do recommend getting a bike with disk brakes for Stewart. After heavy rain, there can be a lot of puddles and the grit in the puddles wears the braking surfaces. While rim brakes will have sufficient stopping power for these trails, I'd rather wear out disk pads and rotors than rims. Also, rim brakes get muddy even in the shallow puddles. I have rim brakes on my hard tail and I avoid using that bike on muddy days because when I hear that gritty, squealing sound, all I think of is my gorgeous rims getting sanded down.

    Not sure if you are looking at a 26'er or 29'er. A lot of people ride 29'ers at Stewart. Try them both out. I ride a 26'er and am happy, but if I were starting from scratch, I'd test both.

    I don't know the Hard Rock, but I know that Specialized makes a solid bike. I doubt that the Rockhopper will be any more reliable. Both will require maintenance on occasion, especially if ridden often and hard (or through a lot of mud and gritty puddles). It's like a more expensive car isn't necessarily more reliable than a less expensive car. The more expensive bike will be lighter and more efficient. Shifting and braking may feel smoother. But the BB5's are fine brakes (when they have decent cables--my husband bought a bike with BB5's and found the brakes to be 'spongy', but it turned out that it was because the cheap cable housing compressed).

    My first bike was a $550 Kona and it was great. I used it for years.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendosa View Post
    1. Thoughts on the above?
    I didn't see anything in those videos that a Hardrock can't handle. It's a very stout bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mendosa View Post
    2. Rockhopper Base worth it over a Hardrock Sport Disc? Can I do this with a base model Hardrock and save money?
    It's always a good idea to spend as much as you can up front. Don't put yourself into debt for years to come but the more you spend the less you'll have to fuss to keep the bike running.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mendosa View Post
    3. With such a tight budget, I can barely afford a Hardrock Sport Disc, let alone a Rockhopper, as a person who shops for the best possible deal, I find myself looking at the Windsor 4900, its components are superior in just about every way to the choices I've made yet I would end up spending the same amount in assembly fee from a LBS.
    I don't think buying a first high end bike should happen over the internet. You need to be able to feel what the bike is like and how it fits before you can commit to riding it. If you buy online then who knows what you'll get, maybe it'll fit and ride well, maybe it won't. If it doesn't ride well or fit right then you won't ride it and you'll have wasted all your money not just the slight price difference.

    The Hardrock is a great bike and I wouldn't play roulette with an online bike just to try and get a couple of nicer parts or save a few dollars. Eventually you'll probably break something on the bike (it's a mountain bike after all) and that's a great time to start upgrading parts, as you break them.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  6. #6
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    The Hardrock work would fine for those kind of trails, the one thing to remember is that it is not just the bike but more so the rider.

  7. #7
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    Thank you for this advice. This really helps me out a lot. I believe I'll be going with a Hardrock. Now I just need to figure out which one..

    Looking into the 29'er possibly but I get a lot less bike for that option. Think I'm gonna stick to the 26 Sport Disc.

    Would love to get more opinions.

    Thanks.

  8. #8
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    The only thing you should realize is that the Altus Level components you are getting are still mostly plastic. If you hit your derailleur up against a rock there is a good chance you need a new one. They are a little heavy, but that isn't that big of a deal. If you want to buy at a LBS that bike is as good as any other.

    On the other hand If you are willing to buy online you can look at the Dawes Haymaker 1500 (419) and the Windsor 4900 (429). Both of these bikes have significantly better components then you will get at a LBS.

    Setting it up shouldn't be a problem if you have basic mechanical skills. I bought my Forge Sawback and with very little bike experience I was able to set it up properly. Forge has excellent customer service, but I can not attest to Bikesdirects service.

  9. #9
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    I would like to get the bike assembled by a pro despite being mechanically inclined. Just not worth it in my opinion. The quality and warranty are a concern, not any reliable reviews I can find. The components are worth it if these bikes are solid.

  10. #10
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    Lots of people around here have those two frames. The frames are solid, but not very aggressive. Bikes direct tend to make the most neutral frame they can. If you go this route and don't like it you can always buy an aftermarket frame online.

    There are 2 types of people around here LBS fan junkies and the get the most for your money type. Figure out which you are and make the call. Do your research and make your best decision. Both sides have their points. If you do buy online find a frame calculator. To make sure it fits before you buy.

    I do find the components on the sub 500 LBS bikes absolute crap though. Plastic parts right up to Deore. That being said properly fitted bikes are worth it. Take a chance on parts or take a chance on fit. You could lose either way.

  11. #11
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    Well, in life I am definitly a "get the most for your money" type. I think everyone is to a degree, especially in this economy.

    I've gone to 3 reputable LBS's and called about 5 more in my area and only 2 gave me straight answers to my questions. I'm pretty disappointed actually. No LBS around me is willing to work on the price of any of their bikes for a cash sale or if I buy extras, a few said they would take away their 1 year service for a couple bucks...really? I ask about 29ers and if its worth going with them and I get BS responses, just arbitrarily tell me "yeah they're good, they're faster in the trails..." Ok, completely 1 sided, with only 1 benefit mentioned, Thanks bye!

    Overall I'm very let down, the couple places that worked with me did help a lot. They answered a ton of my questions and made me stick with the Specialized brand.

    Sizing seems to have a couple definitions as well. What they call sizing is either downtube/height sizing or a full fledged measurement of all your extremeties on a machine, with positioning on a stationary bike, all of which run a minimum of 100 bucks...a complete rip off in my book, this should come with the sale if I'm dropping 500+ on a bike.

    So, I've tried the good guy route, I know the value of having and buying from a LBS but they let me down for the most part. So I'm still really torn.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendosa View Post
    No LBS around me is willing to work on the price of any of their bikes for a cash sale or if I buy extras,
    I probably wouldn't either. Some shops have a pricing strategy whereby they leave a bit of room to drop the price a token amount to make the purchaser feel good. Others hold the line on their marked pricing. The heat of the season is probably the worst time of year to ask for a discount.

    Sizing seems to have a couple definitions as well. What they call sizing is either downtube/height sizing or a full fledged measurement of all your extremeties on a machine, with positioning on a stationary bike, all of which run a minimum of 100 bucks...a complete rip off in my book, this should come with the sale if I'm dropping 500+ on a bike.
    I prefer the term "fitting" for the more elaborate process. Fitting really is a more elaborate process, and it really is better to have that process unbundled from the purchase of the actual bike. Not everyone wants a professional fit. Some want fits done for bikes they already own. Not all bike shops even sell an elaborate, fitting service. Not everyone who wants a fit will want it from the same shop that they buy from.

    And to be honest, $500 is chicken-feed in the bike world. You are not a big fish for that price. My fork cost that much. I know of people whose cranksets cost more than that. For $500, you should expect clear answers to your questions and a suitable frame size, and a bike that is well put together and that functions correctly.

    If two of the shops gave you straight answers, then why not patronize one of those two shops? That would seem to be the logical thing to do.

  13. #13
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    Guys who work at LBSs all have opinions, and they'll be more than happy to tell you them. Best thing to do is get a bike, ride it, and then you can have your own opinions.

    As for sizing, the most important measurement these days is the top tube. Most frame designs have good standover clearance now, and you can adjust the seat height, but you really want a top tube that will allow you to run the bar/stem combo you're most comfortable with.

    Lastly, as far as "is it good enough for xyz trail": Bikes have brakes. If you slow down on rocks, keep the wheels on the ground, even a $200 will get down the trails. If you start hucking things, you'll need better wheels and a better suspension. It's all about how much abuse you're going to put the bike through.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mendosa View Post
    No LBS around me is willing to work on the price of any of their bikes...
    Bike shop prices are set within a range by the manufacturers, most actually price their bikes at the bottom of that range so they don't have anywhere to go on price. The manufacturers want to keep multiple dealers in a geographic region from being able to compete against each other so they set prices, plus it keeps their products with a higher apparent value if one shop isn't undercutting the others.

    Good bike shops are hard to find, but it's worth your search.

    What questions were you trying to get answered? Maybe part of your problem is you're asking the wrong questions to the wrong people.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Maybe part of your problem is you're asking the wrong questions to the wrong people.
    Well all my question have been presented on this forum and in bike shops, pretty sure thats the right people to ask my questions.

    The problem is, there is air of elitism in these stores. None of these guys really know wtf they're talking about when it comes to lower end bikes. Only 1 shop really gave me some great advise and examples of what each platform can do when the user knows how to ride, out of the 5 I contacted, it was disappointing.

    I had questions about specific trails in my area and weather this bike is capable and the answers were vague and usually lead to discussions about better bikes way outside of my stated price range, rather then addressing the capabilities of the one I had in mind.

    I guess to sum it up, they suck at customer service and interaction but know a lot about technical aspects of the gear.

    The only redeeming quality is the service they will provide for a year after a sale. So right now I'm educating myself as much as I can and will make the decision whether to go BikesDirect or LBS.

  16. #16
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    You're not going to get much advice on a lower end bike, because a) they're all pretty much the same, and b) their parts are compromised to meet a price spec. If you have $500, you can buy a $500 bike. That's the whole conversation. If you come in looking for a 5'' full suspension bike, sure you can talk design / price / maybe a 4 or 6'' is better for what you ride.

    But a $500 bike is a $500 bike. There's not much to discuss.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireball_jones View Post
    You're not going to get much advice on a lower end bike, because a) they're all pretty much the same, and b) their parts are compromised to meet a price spec. If you have $500, you can buy a $500 bike. That's the whole conversation. If you come in looking for a 5'' full suspension bike, sure you can talk design / price / maybe a 4 or 6'' is better for what you ride.

    But a $500 bike is a $500 bike. There's not much to discuss.
    This is very correct. Each shop will likely have 1-2 bikes that fit your price range and maybe a total of 4 different models to choose from.

    I honestly recommend bikesdirect at this price range. You are getting much more bike for your money. If you have visited all of those shops you now know what type of sizes you need in a bike and can make an educated decision. Good luck. If you do go the LBS route make sure you reward the ones with the best service.

  18. #18
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    I fully intend on supporting the one that truely helped me and took time to answer my questions.

    At this point. I got my eyes set on this: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...y/29point2.htm

    Its either that or a Specialized 26" Sport Disc, but I'm kinda digging the 29er. Just need one more visit to see how I like a similar setup at a LBS then I'll have my mind made up.

  19. #19
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    Nice bike. Actually I love the full set up of this bike. The shifters seem to be the only thing on the low end. Well the Dart 3 as well, but it is the best shock you will get in your price range.

  20. #20
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    Mendosa, I know exactly what you're getting at about that air of elitism in a LBS. You find that in almost any specialty shop these days and I really don't understand it. If you ask me they should be the other way around as the internet is making that LBS less and less needed. When I first started out I didn't even know how do the basic adjustments on my bike but thanks to Ytube and forums I can now do my own tune-ups and I'm really shocked at how easy it is to work on a bike. People will have you believe that knowing and dealing with a LBS is very important and, while it would be really nice, it's not that important. I know there are a lot of people on this forum who own or work at LBS and will take exception to what I'm saying but I could care less and I know I'm not alone in my thinking.
    I also don't think you should be placing a whole lot of stock into that years worth of service. You're looking at a $500 bike which tells me you're far from an avid or extreme rider. You are likely not going to be riding all year round so how many months out of that year are you really going to be needing that service, maybe 5-6months? And out of that how many trips are you really going to be taking your bike into the LBS to get those free adjustments? Not worth it being apart of your decision making if you ask me. I'd seriously keep an eye out in the used market for somebody who is looking to grab the next years big thing. You'll get way more bike for that $500 if you buy used then if you try and buy new. Plus with the internet you can learn just how easy it is to tune-up a bike after you buy it or what too look for while shopping used.

    Shopping for a bike can be hard if you're trying to be that good guy and buy local from a LBS but in reality there is a reason why those local shops are going the way of the Dodo bird. It's simply too easy and so much cheaper to buy online and learn how to fix your own bike. Don't give up on the used market. The used market is going strong and you will find a great bike.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireball_jones View Post
    But a $500 bike is a $500 bike. There's not much to discuss.
    There is always something to discuss. A good salesperson will find it.

    Back when I was new, my big frustration was the lack of information and discussion of components across different bike models. I would ask about the difference between, say, XT and Alivio parts. I would get answers like "XT is better", which never struck me as satisfactory. So I guess I can sort of see where the OP is coming from.

  22. #22
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    Thanks guys.

  23. #23
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    I was in this same boat and I just purchased the Gravity 29Point2 seemed like the best bang for the buck. I can't wait as it is on the truck for delivery right now.

  24. #24
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    My current bike is a hardrock disc 29er and I love it. The suntour fork that came stock was absolutely awful though. I don't know if it had any damping but it sure didn't feel like it. No rebound adjustment either, just preload. I'm 220 and would easily bottom it out on 1' drops. Other than the fork, nothing on the bike was begging for an upgrade. I ride aggressively on technical singletrack and have broken nearly everything else, so the only stock parts on the bike are now the frame and cranks. Great entry level bike to upgrade on when you break parts.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAK View Post
    I also don't think you should be placing a whole lot of stock into that years worth of service. You're looking at a $500 bike which tells me you're far from an avid or extreme rider. You are likely not going to be riding all year round so how many months out of that year are you really going to be needing that service, maybe 5-6months? And out of that how many trips are you really going to be taking your bike into the LBS to get those free adjustments? Not worth it being apart of your decision making if you ask me.
    Why does how much money the person has dictate how avid or extreme rider he is? Up intil this year my bikes weren't worth $500 and a couple of others in my group are not on the best bikes but we continiue to ride more and harder than others on $6000 turners. I really don't equate $$$ amounts on how well a person rides or how often they ride.

    The more the OP rides the more that 1 year of free service will be used. Espcially on a $500 bike. I know on my friends entry level bike I was adjusting his brakes and deraliers almost every week and we only ride 1-2 times a week. The entry level bikes tend to need service sooner and more often than the higher end bikes in my experince.

    And now that I am on an expensive Niner should I be considered an avid or extreme rider even though I ride the same amount and same trails I did on my cheaper bikes? I might be faster becuase the bike handles and rides better but I don't think that changes me as a rider. Still doing the exact same stuff, its just alittle easier.

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