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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    Decision - Overkill possible

    Hi all,

    I am finally making an entry-level purchase soon and would appreciate some expert guidance. I'm familiar (through rentals) with cross country to moderately aggressive riding and expect to do the same, but more often now.

    Testing a number of hardtail rides in the sub $600 range I've narrowed down to Trek 4300 or the REI Novara Aspen. Fit and feel are good on both (Trek is a more stable/smoother ride) and the components are comparable. REI has a leg-up because I have a gift certificate to bring the Aspen to under $150.

    Now, with that being said, I have the opportunity to get a dual suspension 2006 Novara Float 1.0 for $300 at the store. This is obviously a different animal than the hardtails. I'm comfortable on it and it's a smooth (but slower) ride, so would it be overkill or a great opportunity? Cost (value) is a factor so this is how it looks:

    Novara Aspen: $130.
    Trek 4300: $380 (or $480 w/ disc brakes)
    Novara Float 1.0 2006 model (same build as 2007 model): $300.

    My first instinct is the Float as it allows me to expand to harsher tracks and cushier ride, but I do like the quicker rides of the hardtail and don't expect to come across many tracks in WI that would crunch me and/or the hardtails. Thoughts? Any help is appreciated.

    Thanks,
    DR

  2. #2
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    If you are making an entry level purchase, I would strongly advise you to go with a hardtail. Personally, I would recommend that you get the Trek 4300.

    A full suspension bike in the price range of 300 is not going to be any better than a hardtail. I would not advise you to get the Novara float.... most of the suspension systems (front and back) will itself cost you more than 300.

    If you do feel like you want a full suspension bike, save up the money- around 1500-2000, and then go ahead and get it.


    But again, out of the ones that you have shortlisted- I would place my money on the Trek 4300.
    "Winners never quit. Quitters never win. But those who never win and never quit are idiots."

  3. #3
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    I would second his advice on the Trek, they have great frames. How about you use that REI certificate for accessories and gear that you will invariably want after buying the Trek?

  4. #4
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    Yep exactly what they said ^^^ and with the gift certificate get yourself a selection of...

    Pump
    Multitool
    Camelbak
    Helmet
    Gloves
    Chain Lube
    Tire patch kit
    Chainstay Protector
    Riding Clothes
    Bike Computer...

    of course you can't get all of the above with $150 but whatever you consider most important (ie helmet).

    With your budget I'd definitely rather get a good hardtail compared to a below par dually. For a dually don't go far below $1500 unless you're looking in the 2nd hand market with caution. With duallies a good rear shock would probably cost around $250 or more so this gives you an indication of what you're getting for $300 - namely a heavy bike with a little bit of suspension which probably wouldn't work very efficiently. The Trek on the other hand is a very decent bike for the $$.
    [SIZE="2"]Life's a bi&*h & then you Ride![/SIZE]

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the feedback. I don't know what caused the slightly smoother ride on the Trek - obviously the many components and frame work together to create the overall package - but is the Novara frame that much inferior?

    Other than bending and breaking a frame, how great is the cause and effect to quality and ride for the two frames I'm considering?

    FYI: I'd like to be a homer in going with Trek since the company is in my backyard (40min away), and am willing to invest in a better bike down the road.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbhermit
    Yep exactly what they said ^^^ and with the gift certificate get yourself a selection of...

    With duallies a good rear shock would probably cost around $250 or more so this gives you an indication of what you're getting for $300 - namely a heavy bike with a little bit of suspension which probably wouldn't work very efficiently. The Trek on the other hand is a very decent bike for the $$.
    Understood. I do have some of the accessories/extras already - just needing a roof rack at this point which is not in the bike budget.

    The float was originally $899 and since it's last year's model it's marked at $599, thus with the gc it would be under $300 for me. I'm pretty much steered away from that bike now anyway since I might invest more down the road in a couple of years.

    I will take a closer look at the 4300 disc version as well.

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