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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    Buying a hardtail

    Hello,

    I am buying a new hardtail bike. I am a beginner, female, 25y/o, 169cm, 63kg. I am an ex-runner who can't run anymore due to injury. But I'm looking forward to some serious cycling now. My preference is climbing but I also enjoy technical descents (but without big jumps, I am not talking about downhill). I want not too heavy, good equipped bike for a reasonable price. I think I should look for hardtail XC, right?

    So far, my favorite option is Giant XtC Composite 29er 1 2014 (or 2013 since it's a bit cheaper-around 160$ )... what do you think about it? The equippment is mostly SLX, is that good enough?

    Below is 2013 vs 2014 bike compare. There are some differences with fork, saddle, handlebar, shifters?, rear derailleur, brakes? and wheels. I am not familiar with bike equipment so I have no idea which is better and why.

    Thank you for your help.



  2. #2
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    Re: Buying a hardtail

    I would get the 2014 model. The shadow plus feature is great. Plus, the 2014 version of the Fox fork supposedly doesn't have the issues of the previous years' Float CTD. At least, mine doesn't have the issue.
    What works for me may not work for you. What's best for you depends on many factors. We are different from each other.

  3. #3
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    It looks like Giant was just being more specific about the components. The XT on the 2013 is probably a shadow plus. The brakes are the same. The forks are probably the same(the 2013 issues were only in longer travel versions, 100mm didnt have issues).

    Looks like the only difference is the saddle.

    You could probably get the for much cheaper than what they are asking.

  4. #4
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    I would think you should get a much bigger discount on a left over 2013. I received about 30% off on a trek.

  5. #5
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    Hmm, looks like 160$ discount for 2013 is the most I can get here in my country.

    If really everything except the saddle is the same I will probably go with 2013 anyway.

  6. #6
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    Everything has to be checked. The clutch rear derailleur is a big deal. So I find it hard to believe Giant 'left' that important marketing info off the spec sheet. I know a rider with that 2013 Fox fork who had seal problems, so no way would I recommend that over a 2014.
    Now on to the bike. It has a last gen steep head tube angle Giant used to get quick steering. It was twitchy going downhill over bumps when I test road one. Trek, Scott and Canyon have more developed geo with stable tracking when you are descending, but still quick steering.
    You say Europe, but not the country. Canyon has the Grand Canyon SL which ships to many locations.

  7. #7
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    Since I am a beginner, I am not sure I would even notice that? Too bad I can't test it.

    Will also check Grand Canyon SL, thanks!

  8. #8
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    If you can't test it I'd definitely skip it. That geo is the type that likes a racer to be on top of the front end fully concentrating on the track whenever you are going downhill. Mostly beginners don't do that. I wouldn't pick that either.

  9. #9
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    They don't offer test rides, you can only do few circles in their parking lot.

    Even worse with Canyons - I would have to buy it on the internet without even try to sit on it so I guess that's pretty bad idea.

    Thanks for your help.

  10. #10
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    Some things you can begin to tell from the geo numbers. Giant hasn't changed in years. Canyon has more current modern geometry for quick steering with stability. Ride a Scott Scale or Trek Superfly to compare this more current generation of 29 bike. Ride on the grass and in and out of ditches to get more pertinent info. Call Canyon for fit assistance.
    In fact, I would prefer a Trek Superfly if one was within your budget.

  11. #11
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    An option to test ride a bike is to find something similar and rent it. I did this recently when renting a giant xtc 27.5" and ended up getting a norco revolver 7.1, which was the plan but I wanted a test ride with the different wheelsize and geometry they have like the shorter rear end lower front end. Renting lets you get a lot more time than a short test ride, think i put 6 hours into their new xtc over the 24 hours I had it to get a good for the bike's capabilities.

  12. #12
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    I have just found out that I can only get size M in 2013. I am only 170 cm tall, so I need size S.
    So 2014 or some other bike

    Canyon: I'm kind of a afraid of ordering bike online without even see it before buying :/
    Trek: As far as I see I get less for my money comparing to Giant. If I want similiar equipped bike as is Giant XtC Composite 29er 1 2014 I have too pay more... and that's over my budget.

  13. #13
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    You can't get around the geo of the Giant. It will be twitchy going downhill. That's hard for a beginner to live with because it attacks your confidence. You won't find that out until you take it on a trail.
    Not so with the Trek or Canyon.

  14. #14
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    First of all, I would like to commend you for your initial post where you have given a pretty good description of who you are and what you're looking for.

    USA specs have the 2014 rear derailleur listed as being a Shadow Plus, so the clutch feature will likely be there on the 2014 euro model, but maybe worth checking. Wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, but it's a nice feature. The alloy version of the xtc that I tested for two months XTC was not really 'twitchy' descending for an XC type bike. The 439mm chainstays are not super short, so that helps keep things stable. I thought it was pretty neutral handling wise for a 100mm travel hardtail. Geometry numbers don't always tell you exactly how a bike will handle.

    The one thing about Giant's MTB offering's these days that concerns me is the Overdrive 2 steerer they spec on their forks. It would make replacing the fork more difficult, or might require an adapter of some sort, and I don't feel it's worth the hassle to have a steerer that is 1-1/4" and tapered to 1-1/2" than it is to have one that is 1-1/8" and tapers to 1-1/2". JMHO.

    A climber that that also likes descending somewhat technical terrain has to make some tough choices. There are not very many free lunches when choosing a bike. You make your bed, and then you lay in it. Bikes that are truly great climbers, WILL give up something on the descents. If you want a bike that is pretty good both up and down, it will NOT truly excel at either. And, if you want a bike that descends like you're on a magic carpet, you WILL give up something with regards to climbing. There are bikes that are pretty good at both, but not 'great'. The trick is finding the one that balances the two in a way that best appeals to you. If you are going to drop a significant amount of money on a bike, I would recommend that you try to hit up some events where you can actually ride demo bikes on trails before throwing down your money so you minimize the the risk of getting a bike you don't get on with.

  15. #15
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    @eb1888: With Canyon, you were talking about this one, right? Canyon | Mountainbikes | Grand Canyon CF SL 29 6.9

    With my (poor) bike knowledge I would say it is better equipped than Giant. It is tempting. Only online ordering is a big issue. :/

    @jeffj: Thanks. You are right, can't get all in one bike. But as I said before, climbing is my priority.
    About fork. If this one doesn't have some big issues I would probably stick with them.

  16. #16
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    People can argue the fine points of bike parts for months here. None of it is really really important, as long as the parts tend to work. Usually they do tend to work.

    The essential thing is to find a bike that has correct proportions for your proportions, and for what you are comfortable with: geometry. Primarily, that is in the frame - but can be tuned with seat, stem and bar.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qwerta View Post
    @eb1888: With Canyon, you were talking about this one, right? Canyon | Mountainbikes | Grand Canyon CF SL 29 6.9
    With my (poor) bike knowledge I would say it is better equipped than Giant. It is tempting. Only online ordering is a big issue.
    Yes that is the bike. A well engineered carbon frame is the most important 'component' making up your riding experience.
    Canyon Presents 2013 CF SLX Carbon Hard Tail 29"ers
    A carbon hardtail with compliance outclimbs any stiff carbon or aluminum bike. The compliance helps you maintain traction when moving over rocks and roots.
    This bike would increase your enjoyment in descending technical trails...stable performance and damping with quick accurate tracking is what you will have. The right tool for the job. With the XTC climbing will be all you get.
    Descending will be possible but twitchy in bumps without full concentration.

    Canyon has excellent customer service. Their entire business is based on it.
    Last edited by eb1888; 4 Weeks Ago at 08:28 PM.

  18. #18
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    From your original post it sounds like you have ridden something, even if you borrowed a bike for a few rides. You may be able to use the geometry from whatever you have ridden and compare it.

    If you haven't ridden at all, it may be good to see if anyone you know will let you take out a bike on a ride. It may not be a lot to go on, but it may give you an idea of what you liked or did not like about the bike. I felt too cramped, or I had to stretch too far to the bars, or I didn't like how it rode slowly on a descent, or at higher speeds it wasn't stable or whatever.

    Someone who knows the bikes can hopefully help you connect the dots between the two.

    The problem with mountain biking and buying an expensive bike cold is that are different ways ways to negotiate the terrain. One person's technical may not be technical to another.

    John
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    1992 Serotta T-Max - 70mm Z3 Light
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    The essential thing is to find a bike that has correct proportions for your proportions, and for what you are comfortable with: geometry. Primarily, that is in the frame - but can be tuned with seat, stem and bar.
    Yeah, that's my biggest fear with Canyon - how could I know if geometry is going to work with me if I don't even try to sit on it?

    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    This bike would increase your enjoyment in descending technical trails...stable performance and damping with quick accurate tracking is what you will have. The right tool for the job. With the XTC climbing will be all you get.
    Descending will be possible but twitchy in bumps without full concentration.
    But if climbing is my priority - is XTC better for climbing than Canyon? I do enjoy descends but it is more important for me to be fast on climbs than on descends. I may be wrong but I think downhill speed mostly depends on the courage of a rider and his technical knowledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
    From your original post it sounds like you have ridden something, even if you borrowed a bike for a few rides. You may be able to use the geometry from whatever you have ridden and compare it.
    At the moment I am riding an old Giant: http://i60.tinypic.com/10gzevm.jpg
    How do I like it? A lot. But the truth is that I have never ride any other bike (except some borrowed Merida that I didn't like-I think the frame was to small for me).
    My old Giant is actually defective now but it is more than 10 years old. It is heavy and I think that's the only thing about it that I didn't like. For descending on very steep slopes it really was kind of a hard to ride but I believe on that steepness no bike is easy to ride.

  20. #20
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    You've kept that bike in good condition for how old it is.
    You will climb much better than you ever have on either of these bikes. Other things will affect how hard you can climb. Going tubeless would make it easier to run lower air pressure for more grip. Getting 30mm inside width wheels will increase the contact patch for a lot more grip and let you go even lower in pressure. The added volume also helps your tire conform to rocks and roots so you don't lose traction. Choosing the right tire for your terrain and wheelset. You're moving with this new bike into the high performance area of mtbiking with lots of options.
    The Canyon will be immensely more capable of giving you confidence in descending. It can be super fun and equipment does make a huge difference.
    You're 5'6.5" and I would recommend the small(16") bike. Frame available, bikes sold out.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    You're 5'6.5" and I would recommend the small(16") bike. Frame available, bikes sold out.
    Wow, yesterday S size was still available! Bad luck
    But I definately won't buy only a frame, my bike knowladge is too poor to be capable of buying and building a whole bike from parts.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qwerta View Post
    Wow, yesterday S size was still available! Bad luck
    But I definately won't buy only a frame, my bike knowladge is too poor to be capable of buying and building a whole bike from parts.
    I've built bikes from the frame up and you do not want to do that. Not only do you have to learn as you go, it is more expensive and I'm not even adding the cost of tools and getting some wrong parts that will not work.

    John
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    1992 Serotta T-Max - 70mm Z3 Light
    1993 GT All Terra - 46mm Mag 21

  23. #23
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    Yeah, I need a whole bike, not just a frame. Looks like Giant XtC Composite 29er 1 2014 is my best value for money again. Canyon is sold, Trek is too expensive,... any other ideas?

  24. #24
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    Check with Canyon for restock info. Ask if they will put one together for you or have any demo units.
    Heading back out for more loops on my SF 9.8. The geo is perfect for tracking and stability.
    Geo is very important to me.

  25. #25
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    I'll check for restock. But don't wanna wait too long.

    Anyone familiar with Radon bikes? Black Sin 29 8.0 | Hardtail 29"

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