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Thread: Brand Quality?

  1. #1
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    Brand Quality?

    Hey guys, new on the board and had a quick question. After reading about the department store and other "off-brand" bikes I've done a little research on trying to find me a good solid bike. I noticed that brands such as Trek, Specialized, Gary Fisher, and Cannondale seem to be the better bikes and are also much higher priced.

    So, from these brands and any others you may add, how would you rank these in order from top quality to least.

    For example, is Trek > Specialized > Gary Fisher > etc...

    Right now I'm checking out Trek bikes, but want to know if I'm getting the most bike for my money.

  2. #2
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    Your order seems about right to me!

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    I went in my LBS to buy a Trek and walked out with a Fisher. Same basic components and significantly cheaper.

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    well trek and gary fisher are basically the same company. trek owns gary fisher.
    and i ride a gary fisher and thus highly recommend them

  5. #5
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    basically any bicycle company will have quality bikes......so a $500 trek will be around the same quality as a $500 Spesh, Fisher, Cannondale, Mongoose*, Schwinn*, etc...

    now....a $500 internet only bike may have a better component spec....but the drawback is not being able to see/feel/ride/compare in person....and fit is the A#1 thing to look for in a new rig...



    * yes...Mongoose and Schwinn still make quality bikes...
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    Most/all of the bikes that you'll find at your local bike shop will be good bikes. Giant, Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale are the most common brands that you'll find, but there are lots of other good bikes out there: Raleigh, Rocky Mountain, Diamondback, KHS, Kona, Marin, etc. Most builders make economical but good bikes, as well as higher-priced really nice bikes. None of the "large brands" are significantly better or worse in quality than the others.

    Most department store bikes are cheaper, but not well built, nor will not last when ridden off-road for anything length of time. Frame materials tend to be of lower quality, components vary from low quality to garbage, and shocks rarely do more than act as pogo sticks. Your local shop will sell you a much better bike that will last, or have some resale value if you decide not to ride anymore.

    Talk to you local shop about what they carry. Find a shop that they're comfortable with and ask for recommendations in your price range.
    Last edited by laffeaux; 05-17-2010 at 06:43 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM
    yes...Mongoose and Schwinn still make quality bikes...
    http://www.schwinnbike.com/usa/eng/P...rontier-Expert
    this is their Top of the line MTB....... looks pretty crappy to me for their best!
    As for Mongoose they have some killer stuff though!
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    Quote Originally Posted by S_Trek
    Your order seems about right to me!
    Stop trying to give help when you aren't any.

    NASCAR (how was the screen name not taken yet) One manufacture's bike isn't ant better than the other up to a certain price range. Only way it would be better is if it fits you better. Any bike you buy from a LBS will be high quality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ae111black
    http://www.schwinnbike.com/usa/eng/P...rontier-Expert
    this is their Top of the line MTB....... looks pretty crappy to me for their best!
    As for Mongoose they have some killer stuff though!
    ....it's a $420 bike....compare it to another $400 +/- bike.....

    but ya gotta admit...a Schwinn tandem cruiser is pretty tight:
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    Quote Originally Posted by ae111black
    http://www.schwinnbike.com/usa/eng/P...rontier-Expert
    this is their Top of the line MTB....... looks pretty crappy to me for their best!
    As for Mongoose they have some killer stuff though!
    Perfect for frequent riders who want that rugged mountain bike style
    The bike itself isn't rugged, it just has the same style as an actual mountain bike, lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bclagge
    The bike itself isn't rugged, it just has the same style as an actual mountain bike, lol.

    interesting.....how did you get that from the spec breakdown?

    seems to be in tow with any other rig in that price range.....
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    Don't forget Jamis in your list of LBS brands... They make a full lineup.

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    I walked in my LBS to buy a Trek like my uncle rides. I test rode a few and rode out on a Giant. You-gotta-test-ride-as-much-as-you-can!!!! Dont buy a bike cuz of the name. Just like the other dudes said,..LBS's will carry great quality MTB's. As long as you stay away from the pawn shops and flea markets,...you'll be fine. It also depends what kind of a rider you think you "can be". Good luck

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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM
    interesting.....how did you get that from the spec breakdown?

    seems to be in tow with any other rig in that price range.....
    I'm just chuckling at the wording they used in their own product description. They don't say it's a rugged mountain bike. They say it has a "rugged mountain bike style." It's the product overview sentence.

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    Thanks a lot everyone for the good information!

    I did overlook the "fit" aspect of it and have decided to check out my local Bike Barn tomorrow and demo some bikes. Hopefully, they'll be able to size me and see what will work best for me as well.

    Right now I have my eyes set on the Trek 3900 or 4500, so we'll see!

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    where wud u guys rate scott in there?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hazdxb
    where wud u guys rate scott in there?
    Count it as another major brand, just like a few dozen others:
    Quote Originally Posted by laffeaux
    Most/all of the bikes that you'll find at your local bike shop will be good bikes...
    ...
    ...but there are lots of other good bikes out there: ...
    ...
    ... Most builders make economical but good bikes, as well as higher-priced really nice bikes. None of the "large brands" are significantly better or worse in quality than the others.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mount Dora Cycles
    Stop trying to give help when you aren't any.

    NASCAR (how was the screen name not taken yet) One manufacture's bike isn't ant better than the other up to a certain price range. Only way it would be better is if it fits you better. Any bike you buy from a LBS will be high quality.

    So....Why rate them? Or have shootouts to rank them?
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by S_Trek
    So....Why rate them? Or have shootouts to rank them?
    Because you need to get your magazine sold or website visited by people who are looking for the best "deal".

    edit:
    OK, I have read many small comparison test where the conclusions go something like this:

    - We like bike A because it is easy to climb on it and it is nimble on twisty trails. It can be a handful on rough descents
    - We like bike B because it is great on rough descents. It is a bit of a pig when climbing, though.
    - We like bike C because it does pretty OK both climbing and descending.


    I hate it if a review just says "This is a good bike and this is even better", without explaining what is so good (or better) about it.
    Last edited by perttime; 05-18-2010 at 02:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM
    ....it's a $420 bike....compare it to another $400 +/- bike.....

    but ya gotta admit...a Schwinn tandem cruiser is pretty tight:
    i got one of those as a rental bike at work its pretty sick
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    [QUOTE=laffeaux]Most/all of the bikes that you'll find at your local bike shop will be good bikes. Giant, Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale are the most common brands that you'll find, but there are lots of other good bikes out there: Raleigh, Rocky Mountain, Diamondback, KHS, Kona, Marin, etc.

    --- all they make mostly bke frames only. Giant - is it Giant bike with shimano ( sram, ... ) components or shimano bike with Giant frame?

  22. #22
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    Anyone with opinions of Cdale since the change in ownership?
    Now go home and get your ******* shinebox.

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    BMC > All

    Muahahahahaha!

    j/k...but they do make some sweet frames.

    Anyways...off the top of my head (this will likely not be 100% accurate but close):

    Most well known brands make a spectrum of quality bikes.

    Typically, brands like Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Gary Fisher, Jamis, etc. all make bikes from entry level to high-end. There is really no hierarchy when it comes to comparing just brands unless you place a certain specialty in to the comparison.

    Top companies by technology and/or sales number would probably be Giant, Trek and Cannondale. These companies are on the leading edge when it comes to bike technology. I believe that Giant is on the cutting edge when it comes down to Aluminum frame tech. Trek is strong on frame structure/design tech. Cannondale is also strong on frame structure/design tech and also have proprietary suspension tech under their belt.

    Then there's the boutique bikes which are usually privately owned specialized bike companies like BMC, Rocky Mountain, Intense, Turner, Titus, etc. They turn out small number of quality bikes, usually hand built, and are typically in the $1000+ range for just the frames only. These companies are pretty much in a class of their own. Some employ specialists like Easton and Ritchey to create some of the best hand made frames around. A typical price for a complete bike with mid-range components run in at about $2500 and top end models with high-end components can reach in the lower $10,000 (Example: Litespeed Sewanee Ti with complete XTR drivetrain and custom lightweight components can run up to $14,000 and weigh as little as 21 lbs. which is feather light for a full suspension bike)

    Then there are the brands which use common borrowed tech and make a wide range from cheap, department store bikes to high-end shop bikes. I believe Mongoose, Schwinn, Diamondback, etc. fall in to this category. This is the prime reason why those who are less than knowledged in this hobby but pretend they know a lot will snicker when these bike names are mentioned.

    And lastly there are the catalog bikes. Frame makers like Giant have a line of frames that are specifically sold in catalogs. These frames are sold in catalogs all over the world to small, little known brands or online only brands which slaps their name on the frames and are sold. I am not sure how the process works but I believe most of the catalog frames are either older frame design/tech that the manufacturer no longer uses for their brands or they are just cookie cutter frames that are created for this purpose only. I don't know too many but I believe Sette would be one example. Catalog frames are by no means poor quality. Typically companies like Sette only uses high end frames which are fairly new on tech and are well within the light-weight category.

    I think that's all I have.

    If you're worried about brand quality...as long as you avoid department stores or brands that you've never heard of, you should be quite safe

    Sorry for the long post.

  24. #24
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    Then there's several brands that typically consist of just a few guys who design, do the QC, and market their frames. The actual production is usually done in one of the better Taiwanese facilities (yes, Taiwanese and Chinese welders can do a great job). These frames are not cheap but the lower cost of production makes the price more palatable for many looking for something ... not made with a cookie cutter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Then there's several brands that typically consist of just a few guys who design, do the QC, and market their frames. The actual production is usually done in one of the better Taiwanese facilities (yes, Taiwanese and Chinese welders can do a great job). These frames are not cheap but the lower cost of production makes the price more palatable for many looking for something ... not made with a cookie cutter.
    Ah...yeah, and then there's that^.

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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Then there's several brands that typically consist of just a few guys who design, do the QC, and market their frames. The actual production is usually done in one of the better Taiwanese facilities (yes, Taiwanese and Chinese welders can do a great job). These frames are not cheap but the lower cost of production makes the price more palatable for many looking for something ... not made with a cookie cutter.

    Why I picked up Tomac and Ride a Tomac. They make bikes that work, not bikes that are marketed to sell. cough cough specialized
    /shameless plug

    There are other similar companies like the old Titus

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mount Dora Cycles
    Why I picked up Tomac and Ride a Tomac. They make bikes that work, not bikes that are marketed to sell. cough cough specialized
    /shameless plug

    There are other similar companies like the old Titus
    The Revolver was on one of my drool list.

    Which one you got?

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    Nothing has changed, they still suck

    I think it stinks that they are moving there production overseas but thats me because I live in the US, I really like that there new XL Lefty equipped bikes have a longer steerer (Smalls have a shorter) there XC stuff looks killer and the RZ 140 seems like a nice ride but the Moto seems overpriced and they dumped there gravity bikes completely.

    I am a big guy so for me the best thing about Cannondale is that there XL frames are actually XL and the Lefty is as amazing as always..... its hard to find a top tube around 25" most brands XL's are a Cannondale large.

    I dont think its been long enough to see what they are really going to do and how there stuff will last but I would bet its going to be high quality.. Dorel bought Cannondale to get into the higher end market.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigSharks
    Anyone with opinions of Cdale since the change in ownership?

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    Carbide XC

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mount Dora Cycles
    Carbide XC
    Sweet. I will proceed to envy you while hating you secretly.

    Seriously tho, sweet ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captainjoon
    BMC > All

    Muahahahahaha!

    j/k...but they do make some sweet frames.

    Anyways...off the top of my head (this will likely not be 100% accurate but close):

    Most well known brands make a spectrum of quality bikes.

    Typically, brands like Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Gary Fisher, Jamis, etc. all make bikes from entry level to high-end. There is really no hierarchy when it comes to comparing just brands unless you place a certain specialty in to the comparison.

    Top companies by technology and/or sales number would probably be Giant, Trek and Cannondale. These companies are on the leading edge when it comes to bike technology. I believe that Giant is on the cutting edge when it comes down to Aluminum frame tech. Trek is strong on frame structure/design tech. Cannondale is also strong on frame structure/design tech and also have proprietary suspension tech under their belt.

    Then there's the boutique bikes which are usually privately owned specialized bike companies like BMC, Rocky Mountain, Intense, Turner, Titus, etc. They turn out small number of quality bikes, usually hand built, and are typically in the $1000+ range for just the frames only. These companies are pretty much in a class of their own. Some employ specialists like Easton and Ritchey to create some of the best hand made frames around. A typical price for a complete bike with mid-range components run in at about $2500 and top end models with high-end components can reach in the lower $10,000 (Example: Litespeed Sewanee Ti with complete XTR drivetrain and custom lightweight components can run up to $14,000 and weigh as little as 21 lbs. which is feather light for a full suspension bike)

    Then there are the brands which use common borrowed tech and make a wide range from cheap, department store bikes to high-end shop bikes. I believe Mongoose, Schwinn, Diamondback, etc. fall in to this category. This is the prime reason why those who are less than knowledged in this hobby but pretend they know a lot will snicker when these bike names are mentioned.

    And lastly there are the catalog bikes. Frame makers like Giant have a line of frames that are specifically sold in catalogs. These frames are sold in catalogs all over the world to small, little known brands or online only brands which slaps their name on the frames and are sold. I am not sure how the process works but I believe most of the catalog frames are either older frame design/tech that the manufacturer no longer uses for their brands or they are just cookie cutter frames that are created for this purpose only. I don't know too many but I believe Sette would be one example. Catalog frames are by no means poor quality. Typically companies like Sette only uses high end frames which are fairly new on tech and are well within the light-weight category.

    I think that's all I have.

    If you're worried about brand quality...as long as you avoid department stores or brands that you've never heard of, you should be quite safe

    Sorry for the long post.

    Wow, thanks for that informative post captainjoon. From what I've seen and read so far on these companies and the bikes they produce, you basically summed it up. After trying a few bikes today this is for the most part true. The LBS bikes made the department store bikes (particularly Sports Authority) feel like toys! LOL. Sometimes, I question if the suspension on some of those bikes even work. I can't comment on the online brands because I can't really demo them and check them out in person, so I will stick to my local Bike Barn.

    Trying out bikes was probably a bad thing for me. I was looking at entry level Treks with mechanical disc brakes, but after checking out hydraulic disc brakes (didn't know these bad boys even existed!) on a Fuel EX 5 I literally became obsessed. So, I guess I will be saving for another week or two

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    Wow...that's a big jump to go to a Fuel EX 5 from a 3900.

    But, if you are serious about the sport it's best to get what you really want. Some people will tell you to get an entry level to "try out" the sport and I would agree in most cases...but if you're absolutely sure that you will be sticking with it, then definitely buy something that you won't regret.

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    Same think happened to me. I got an entry level hard tail about $400 American. About 8 mths later I got a custom (custom because I was able to piece together the entire bike) 2010 Trek 8500 for about $2,200. I wish I had never bought the entry level bike. I could have spent that $400 on better stuff for my new bike

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    Hey guys, I was checking out some more Trek hardtails wanted to know if the price gap reflects a significance in component upgrades between the 6700 and the 6500. Is it the 6700 worth the $220 over the 6500? I plan to visit my LBS again and demo these bikes. They also have the hydraulic brakes and are a little cheaper than the EX 5.

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by NASCAR
    Hey guys, I was checking out some more Trek hardtails wanted to know if the price gap reflects a significance in component upgrades between the 6700 and the 6500. Is it the 6700 worth the $220 over the 6500? I plan to visit my LBS again and demo these bikes. They also have the hydraulic brakes and are a little cheaper than the EX 5.

    Thanks!
    Side by side comparison: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...6700disc,empty

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    Looking at the comparison, I think the upgrades are well worth the price difference.

    It's definitely more than $220 worth of upgrades if you price the components in retail numbers.

    But, if you were planning on upgrading components on your own fairly soon...it might be better to go with a lower spec bike.

    If I was making the decision, I would probably save the $220, deal with the Deore components (They're not bad, really), sell off the M485 brakeset and get my self a decent set of Juicy 7's or XT's, ride the bike out for a year, sell the Tora and get a set of slightly used Fox F-series or a SID or REBA for about $250-300.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mount Dora Cycles
    Why I picked up Tomac and Ride a Tomac. They make bikes that work, not bikes that are marketed to sell. cough cough specialized
    /shameless plug

    There are other similar companies like the old Titus
    Not to mention the guys at the company itself are top notch. You remember the Bike magazine article they did on Tomac where they hand check every bike.

  38. #38
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    I feel like a broken record sometimes, but:

    Ride everything you would even consider as your price range.
    Pick the one that fits the best and you enjoy riding the best.
    Spending more money up front will usually lead to better performance and longer life of the parts. Spend more up front and save money down the line when it comes to replace things.
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    My opinion:

    When dealing with $1000+ bikes, I think there is a difference between the top tier brands, like Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Giant; and the lower tier, like Schwinn, Diamondback, KHS.

    Subtleties like warranty, pivot quality, and even frame strength are definitely better with the top tier.

    Under $1000, most of these bikes are manufactured and assembled in the same fashion, often in the same factory.

    For example, I usually recommend Specialized or Cannondale for my friends who buying $1000+ bikes, but I bought my sister a $350 Diamondback when she wanted a cheap bike.

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    Lower end bikes by those companies are all the same. Made in China made in Taiwan from the same factories. The higher end models is where they start to differentiate from each other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sanjuro
    My opinion:

    When dealing with $1000+ bikes, I think there is a difference between the top tier brands, like Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Giant; and the lower tier, like Schwinn, Diamondback, KHS.
    Besides the huge marketing machines the bigger companies possess, what makes Cannondale a higher tier than a smaller company like KHS? Not looking for an opinion, more like facts, proof, real world applications...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dictatorsaurus
    Besides the huge marketing machines the bigger companies possess, what makes Cannondale a higher tier than a smaller company like KHS? Not looking for an opinion, more like facts, proof, real world applications...
    I don't know if I would categorize them in tiers, but the biggest difference between the two brands is that Cannondale is a manufacturer which engineers and builds most of their frames and suspensions. Some of their lower line frames are manufactured in Taiwan but the frame engineering and design is still proprietary to Cannondale.

    KHS on the other hand (and correct me if I'm wrong) is no longer a manufacturer but more of a rebrand of catalog frames. They still exist as a company, but instead of manufacturing their own frames, they buy catalog frames which they relabel with their brand and sell. Like I mentioned in a previous post, there's nothing wrong with catalog frames. Most are very high in quality. The only down factor is that they are shared among a whole lot of different brandings and design and technology usually lags a little behind the major brands.

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    That's the thing about company tiers...I don't believe in it. A well designed and built frame is still a well designed frame, regardless of who built it. The decals and colors have a psychological effect on some people though.

    I realize that bigger companies design their own frames and spend a lot of money on R&D. But also those catalog frames are designed by engineers, they just happen to receive their salaries from a different source as opposed to direct employees of Trek, Cannon...etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dictatorsaurus
    That's the thing about company tiers...I don't believe in it. A well designed and built frame is still a well designed frame, regardless of who built it. The decals and colors have a psychological effect on some people though.

    I realize that bigger companies design their own frames and spend a lot of money on R&D. But also those catalog frames are designed by engineers, they just happen to receive their salaries from a different source as opposed to direct employees of Trek, Cannon...etc.
    Yes, you're absolutely right.

    Like I mentioned, the only disadvantages of catalog frames are that the design and tech isn't exactly 2010. It may be 2009 or 2008, but seriously, would anyone even notice the differences? And also, when will you ever run in to someone who will look at your Azonic and go "Hey! I have a HungLow bike that uses that exact same frame!"

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    Justa say no to Trek, Cannondale, Specialized...

    Just buy American...Turner, Intense, Ellsworth, Ventana, etc.
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by captainjoon
    Yes, you're absolutely right.

    Like I mentioned, the only disadvantages of catalog frames are that the design and tech isn't exactly 2010. It may be 2009 or 2008, but seriously, would anyone even notice the differences? And also, when will you ever run in to someone who will look at your Azonic and go "Hey! I have a HungLow bike that uses that exact same frame!"
    The disadvantage of a catalog frame maybe that's it's slightly outdated, the advantage to me is that if it's been around for a while, at least I know it's rugged and proven.

    My Sette Flite frame is the same as the KHS AM2000 which has been around for a while. Nothing fancy, just basic four bar that can take a ton of beating. Mad fun frame when the trails get rough!


  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDubKC
    Just buy American...Turner, Intense, Ellsworth, Ventana, etc.
    How 'bout from all over the world...

    So far I think I own and have owned bikes from:

    - New Zealand
    - Switzerland
    - Canada
    - USA (3)
    - Taiwan (2)
    - Italy

    Only ones missing is China, Japan, Germany, France and whoelse?

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dictatorsaurus
    The disadvantage of a catalog frame maybe that's it's slightly outdated, the advantage to me is that if it's been around for a while, at least I know it's rugged and proven.

    My Sette Flite frame is the same as the KHS AM2000 which has been around for a while. Nothing fancy, just basic four bar that can take a ton of beating. Mad fun frame when the trails get rough!

    Nice ride!

    Too clean!

    Oh no, dork disk on the rear wheel!

    Sorry...I tend to notice little things.

  49. #49
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    The bike looks quite different now. That was when I first got the bike and hadn't ridden it on the trails yet.

    - Dork disc gone.
    - Converted to grip shift.
    - Converted to 2x9 using BBG and Blackspire stinger
    - Converted to u-turn.
    - went with Monarch 4.2 shock.
    - Clear helicopter tape covering most of the frame. Can't see it if you're more than 1 ft away.

    The Nevegals roll slow but that's ok. It's an AM bike and not a XC racer. Weighs around 33lb-35lb but climbs very well. Not issues with traction at all. Bob is significantly reduced with the floodgate.Very happy with it. If I hadn't bought it I would have went with the 09 BMC Trailfox 02 which is damn sweet.

    Quote Originally Posted by captainjoon
    Nice ride!

    Too clean!

    Oh no, dork disk on the rear wheel!

    Sorry...I tend to notice little things.

  50. #50
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    Orange Cycles maybe? UK...
    _______________________________________________
    08 Intense 5.5

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dictatorsaurus
    The bike looks quite different now. That was when I first got the bike and hadn't ridden it on the trails yet.

    - Dork disc gone.

    If I hadn't bought it I would have went with the 09 BMC Trailfox 02 which is damn sweet.
    I love BMC bikes.

    Here's mine...it's the older frame design:

    2007 Trailfox 01


  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDubKC
    Orange Cycles maybe? UK...
    Ah, that's right...how can I forget UK!

    Orange sounds good or maybe a IF.

    I'll put it on my list of "to acquire in the future."

  53. #53
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    Bike Barn?


    You're in Houston then?

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