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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    Constantly upgrade bike, or just buy a good bike?

    I bought a very entry level bike (Northrock XC6) a few months back. I've already put BB7s on it (Which I don't regret one bit) and I am on the verge of buying a new fork, deraileurs , and cassette. However, now that I know I like the hobby, I don't know whether or not to just buy a better bike, or just continue upgrading and selling old parts? Any opinions welcome. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I struggled with the same issue even before buying my first bike and ever having ridden a trail. In the end I was convinced by all my friends that buying a good bike up front will save money down the line. One line that struck w/ me was that buying a whole bike is the only time you get a bulk discount on parts that the manufacturers get passed onto you. It was painful, but I'm hopeful that this bike will last me many many years.

  3. #3
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    are u upgrading for performance or because its worn? if ur satisfied with the bike, then replacing as needed is not a big deal.. but if ur trying to polish a turd, then go new, since u don't want an entry level no more, set a good budget so u get a good pricey bike that would last for a couple yrs..

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by joel787 View Post
    are u upgrading for performance or because its worn? if ur satisfied with the bike, then replacing as needed is not a big deal.. but if ur trying to polish a turd, then go new, since u don't want an entry level no more, set a good budget so u get a good pricey bike that would last for a couple yrs..
    I hope the OP got something out your ditty...I don't have a clue where you were/are going...is there a full moon?
    2014 Nail Trail 29er

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by domster26 View Post
    I bought a very entry level bike (Northrock XC6) a few months back. I've already put BB7s on it (Which I don't regret one bit) and I am on the verge of buying a new fork, deraileurs , and cassette. However, now that I know I like the hobby, I don't know whether or not to just buy a better bike, or just continue upgrading and selling old parts? Any opinions welcome. Thanks.
    I like the upgrading route simply because you get to remove and install/adjust new parts which are useful skills to have. In addition to that, the parts you install will be ones exactly what you are looking for. Unless there is something wrong with the frame, I believe the economic loss can be made up by a gain of useful technical skill and knowledge given that you do most of the work on it. One thing is to be sure that the BIG upgrades made on your bike can have a good chance of transferring to your future bike down the road.

  6. #6
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    If you are basically satisfied with what you've got, keep it and ride it until it is worn out or your skills have exceeded its capabilities. Meanwhile, if you just have an itch to upgrade bits here and there, do so. And, if something wears out or breaks, replace it.

    If the bike doesn't perform adequately, replace it now.

  7. #7
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    You'd think buying a better bike would satisfy you but here I am with a new bike that cost's almost $3k and I'm already upgrading it. It's a disease.
    Quote Originally Posted by Psycle151 View Post
    Friggin' coward. Give me a red chiclet instead of debating like a man. You don't deserve your green blocks.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by domster26 View Post
    I bought a very entry level bike (Northrock XC6) a few months back. I've already put BB7s on it (Which I don't regret one bit) and I am on the verge of buying a new fork, deraileurs , and cassette. However, now that I know I like the hobby, I don't know whether or not to just buy a better bike, or just continue upgrading and selling old parts? Any opinions welcome. Thanks.
    Had the same problem. I think it's better to go the upgrade route.
    For one thing, you can choose exactly what part to change, and as mentioned - you'll learn more skills. Also, if you do it part by part, you have the opportunity to install new and latest parts. A built bike is good for now... but several months later, you might upgrade some parts just the same. So it might be better to go the 'upgrade' route in the first place.


    cheers!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
    You'd think buying a better bike would satisfy you but here I am with a new bike that cost's almost $3k and I'm already upgrading it. It's a disease.
    Yes, the plague spreads quickly!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by time229er View Post
    I hope the OP got something out your ditty...I don't have a clue where you were/are going...is there a full moon?
    my point is, theres no problem for replacing thing as they brake and upgrading .. but seeing that the original cost of the bike was $300, upgrading to higher end stuff can get out of hand quick.. to me the OP is kinda dissatisfied with his current bike and has the itch for something new. it wouldn't make sense to drop $1k on upgrades to $300 bike..

  11. #11
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    Constantly upgrade bike, or just buy a good bike?

    Same boat here. I was at the LBS for the second or third time in 2 weeks and got my feelings hurt when he told me I had an entry level bike and that I'm wasting my money. I'm one to tinker in the garage....so I love to upgrade. I just hope that what I'm buying, is stuff I can strip back off and use to build a better bike later if I feel the need. I watch my pennies with very build I do (cars, golf carts, computers, house, stereos, etc)...not one to rationalize skills and knowledge as currency. I wish that I could be more like that. The problem is, unless you go pretty big $$$. You're still gonna want change things here and there. Plus it's like layaway...spend in increments. Not a big bill up front.

  12. #12
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    Buying individual parts close to retail prices get crazy expensive, even with good deals still cheaper to buy a complete bike, specially if is "pre own", plus usually entry level frames are well Entry level and will never provide a high quality ride regardless of how fancy the components are..

  13. #13
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    I've bought expensive bikes in the past, and now I'm just on an upgrade schedule. Every few years I spend a few hundred on parts. Way cheaper than buying a new bike, and used bike prices are insane where I live. So it really depends. Am I saving money? I don't know what that means.. Do I have the exact bike I want for the price ive paid? That's the real question. I also sell my old parts and make back at least half because I want until I find things much cheaper than retail.

    I got my trek liquid frame with shock and sealed headset for 75 bucks. Selling my nashbar frame for 50, paid 50 on a sale shipped.. So 25 bucks for the frame? Not bad. Wheels, 75 bucks off cl. Fork? Epicon from China. I've stayed 8 speed due to price of cassettes. Got my last XT cassette for 15 bucks on ebay slightly used. I'm gonna chop it up and take apart an old 9 speed for the 36t, and then mix and match the gears I want.
    I paid double for my fd as I did for my rd, and my rd is a deore shadow cause I got it on sale at the lbs. Anyways, I'm not broke, but i do like to save money because I have other hobbies too. You have to consider what you're upgrading, and how that will fit your future plans. Like if you want a new wheel size obviously don't go and buy a new fork for your current.

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  14. #14
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    Re: Constantly upgrade bike, or just buy a good bike?

    OP, I just wandered over here from your other thread. My initial reaction to the first post here is that drivetrain upgrades are usually not worthwhile.

    I have two mountain bikes now: an upgradeitis Hardrock, which I bought new in '07, and a '13 Kona Hei Hei DL. Also bought new, but not retail-priced.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
    You'd think buying a better bike would satisfy you but here I am with a new bike that cost's almost $3k and I'm already upgrading it. It's a disease.
    I bought the Kona with the hope that I wouldn't spend a lot of time or money screwing around with throwing parts at it. So far, I feel like that's worked out pretty well for me.

    I bought it last July, so I've only had it a little under a year. I changed the pedals to "my" system at time of purchase, and swapped the stem to a -17 I had around pretty soon after. The saddle wasn't terrible, but it had the banana hammock shape, and I like a flat-topped saddle, so I swapped it with one of my road bikes. I'd still like to get a different saddle for that bike, but I have a little time. I also swapped the tires. I don't really expect a new bike to fit me bang-on or have "my" contact points and tires out of the box, so I wasn't particularly disappointed by any of that.

    Since then, I've worn out one chain and chewed up the grips. But all the high-dollar stuff is original.

    I'm still stoked on the fork, shock, and brakes. I'm not crazy about SRAM drivetrains, but the drivetrain has been working fine, so I'm leaving it alone unless some other circumstance pushes me to change it. I'm not crazy about the wheels - new bikes never come with the wheels I'd like them to anymore, road or mountain - but they're still doing the job okay, so I'm going to stick with them until they're expensively damaged. Kinda defeats the purpose of buying a wheel for easier, cheaper maintenance if the old ones aren't at the end of their lives yet.

    I'm thinking of replacing the handlebar after this racing season. I don't like to monkey with things mid-season, but it's a riser and I have it on a slammed -17 stem.

    Compared to my experience of owning my Hardrock - everything breaking as soon as I pushed it - owning my Hei Hei has been great. And I realize I've listed a bunch of things I'm tinkering with, but they're all inexpensive, certainly relative to a bike, so I'm feeling pretty good about taking a deep breathe and blowing a paycheck with the expectation of not buying anything fundamental for a few years.

    OP, I think it really comes down to what you want from owning your bike. For a lot of people, collecting bicycles is a hobby and riding is an excuse. I admit I have a fair collection myself, though I claim the parts I've thrown at them have mostly been in response to wear or damage. What I want, or at least claim I want, from my bikes is for them to do their job.

    If you're the collector type, it doesn't matter what you start with. You're going to throw parts at it.

    If you're the just ride it type, well, I still see '90s hardtails with a ton of stock components on the trails every now and then, and plenty of bikes over five years old.

    I'd caution you against thinking you can move to a new frame. In the past ten years, disc brakes have taken over from rim brakes on more expensive bikes, the headset standard has been shaken up, bottom brackets have been shaken up, and some new axles have come out. There's no guarantee (in fact, I'm more confident something won't work out) that you'll be able to move over your high-dollar parts in a couple years, at least without funky adapters that may defeat the purpose of doing it in the first place.

    If you're going at this from the collector direction, start with the frame. If you just want to ride, save your money, cut your losses, and start over with something that does its job.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  15. #15
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    Oops, and to add to standards drift: wheel sizes. What a disaster. Five years ago, 29ers were new. Two or three years ago, they were dominant. Now 650B is the hot new thing. And ten years ago, all anybody ever rode was 26". That'll mess with your incremental upgrade/transfer plans. Certainly lost On-One, or somebody, the sale of a carbon feather wonder hardtail frame to me when 29" came out - I test rode some, wanted one, and decided trying to build a bare frame by cannibalizing my old bike and buying a fork AND wheels didn't make sense.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Thanks for the reply, it was very informative. I'm pretty bummed about that frame thing, since it is something I really want to do in the future. I do have disc brakes, I assume I could just purchase a new bottom bracket (If needed), and many of the frames I've been looking at have a 9mm QR. As for the headset, I'm not sure. Do you still think it would be nearly impossible, given that I would still invest money on things I need for the new frame? Thanks again!

  17. #17
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    All things are possible given time, money, and possibly machine tools, a TIG torch, and an autoclave. Bottom brackets vary - if you want to put an English-threaded bottom bracket in one of the new smooth-bore shells, you may have to do something irreversible. But you can easily adapt a 24 mm spindle to one of the new shells. But who knows - if bottom brackets all get wider, none of us will be able to keep our cranks. And your disc brakes don't fit the only standard that's been out there. There are a bunch of old frames running around with two holes drilled close together and no available brakes anymore.

    My point is, if you want to do it this way, start with the part that's hardest to change and has the greatest potential to obsolete all your shiny new parts. Build out from there.

    That's the frame, but you should have a fork in mind and realistic plans to buy it within a year or so. On the road side, people usually buy the frame and fork as a set, but suspension forks stop that from making sense for the manufacturers.

    Headsets are cheap. They're more of an annoyance than anything, but the new tapered fork steer tubes aren't compatible with the old 1-1/8" straight headsets, probably what you've got. So you have to decide if you want to commit to the old steer tube standard for the life of the fork and probably adapt a new frame to it because the new frame is likely (but not definitely!) to use the new standard, defeating the purpose of the new standard, or if you're going to go to the new standard all at once, with a frame and fork.

    Time was, everything was standardized in a useful way and there was real pushback when things got changed. Now, it's really more like a car - yeah, you can modify things, but you really have to do your homework and parts for any one car aren't all that likely to fit another one.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  18. #18
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    I've got no particular knowledge about mountain bikes, but I have engaged in other hobbies which lend themselves to fancy gear purchases. I think that most times, if you are "serious" about the hobby, you're eventually going to buy the fanciest gear you can halfway-reasonably justify.

    So if you're already eyeballing that new bike, just go for it I mean, you know deep down that's what you wanted to hear when you started the thread

  19. #19
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    Here's where I stood when I bought mine. I wanted a GT Zaskar but couldn't afford a $1200+ bike so I bought a Karakoram. Has low end components but I've already replaced the crankset because the old one was flexing. It's allowing me to find the weak spots in my bike and take care of them as I see them plus the more I ride the more I'm outgrowing certain parts. BUT I can wait and find the parts I need/want on sale and not have to worry about saving up a ton of money or a monthly payment on a $1k bike.

    Plus like stated earlier, I'm. Learning how to work on my own bike and not relying on paying a LBS to do everything for me.

  20. #20
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    Update: I've almost locked in my decision to build a new bike. I have a new thread: What kind of bike will meet my requirements? Thanks again.

  21. #21
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    stock bike 25lbs under $1k, or even fresh build under 20lbs $1k, i think is not gonna happen.. chinese carbon frame and rims alone will be over the budget, good thing about biking is u don't really have to pay to play, gather parts and set a budget or save up for the dream bike. ride the bike u got, or do small upgrades thinking towards a new frame. check the Redline D660 around $1500 25lbs, thats the closest i think

  22. #22
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    I just replied in the other thread, but it's this simple:

    If you're looking at a new bike, it's a better value to buy it as a complete unit, and those also do a better job of matching overall parts quality. Until you're spending over $1700, the frame isn't nearly as important as the components bolted to it (brakes, wheelset, tires are still going to be more noticeable unless the bike fit is atrocious)

    Hydraulic disk brakes are better - the Shimano units are worth the money on a new bike; unless you're restricting yourself to paved pathways, good brakes are a must.
    Simple drivetrains are really more than adequate - the X5 and Deore stuff is nearly as function as XTR/XX, just not as light or bling-tastic.
    Aluminum isn't bad - the rigidity and weight of carbon fiber is impressive if done right, and laughably bad if done just to say it's carbon fiber; 6061 aluminum is actually a really good material for making bike frames, and the weight penalty of using Al on a hardtail frame is trivial compared to efficiency gains that can be made elsewhere.

  23. #23
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    ASwitch's experiences mirror mine - under a certain price point, it's a nonstop adventure of figuring out which is the next-worst engineered part for some riders. Maybe you're like my wife, who can still ride her middle school 24" wheeled bike; for my part I took a brand new DB Overdrive and within a week rendered everything but the frame, seat, and handlebars unusable (stripped the crank in the first day just by pedaling too hard, warped both mechanical brake rotors on one decent causing a wreck that took the RD and cabling for the front derailleur and rear brakes with it). There just is a threshold on parts where replacing parts with something nicer starts becoming optional for people that ride either a lot, or aggressively. Unless you're good at finding used stuff, it takes saving up and figuring out which parts you actually care about and notice (test rides help a ton here too - for my part I don't care much about drivetrains so long as they work, but being north of 250lb with all my gear plus water bottles I know I need solid brakes and rims; I don't need a super-plush feeling fork, and there is no tire that grips on our peculiar mix of degraded granite ball bearings over concrete density hardpack, but I do know that the higher volume tires ran tubeless do more for both of those).

    I went through a fair bit of the sequential upgrade set with my previous bike, and by the time I was finished I spent as much as I did for my current bike, and wound up with a couple of awesome parts (XT brakes, MTX-33 wheels) and still had to contend with some parts that just weren't up to spec with those.

    Ride what you have, replace stuff that is a safety hazard, and learn as much as you can as cheaply as possible - ride what you've got, and spend the rest of the time reading.

  24. #24
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    In part the LBS says there is no use spending X dollars on that frame because they want to sell you a bike. Secondly I cant afford nor can I see paying 1500 for a bike. SOOOO count me as a scrub MTBR. I will never have the latest and greatest stuff. I will probably never win a race or even compete in one.
    I ride because I like it.
    I will ride the trails available because they are there.
    If I break something I will fix it with a part that is the next step up from what I have.
    If you talk to 20 different guys you will get 20 different opinions, my advice, your bike your money your enjoyment of the sport. Other than that, be a duck.

  25. #25
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    Like others, I love to tinker with my bikes and I have built a number of them up from the frame. They are older, but they ride great and work well for me. I still ride road bikes from the 80's and have upgraded them here and there over the years. I can usually find really good stuff on eBay and I do my own work. There is something about riding a bike that you made that is not a cookie cutter replica of everything else from the same factory in China except for the brand.

    That said , I read you other thread and you are crazy to upgrade a bike you want to race instead of buying a new good bike. If you are racing to lose keeping throwing parts at an old frame or trying to build a light bike for too low a budget. Hate to say it, but I'd look for something as close as what you want and accept that it will be the same as everyone else's.

    John
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    1992 Serotta T-Max - 70mm Z3 Light
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