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.
mtn. biking 101
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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    Entry level bike decisions decisions

    Hey guys i'm new here and am looking for my first so called "real" entry level bike. I've had my toysRus bikes since i've been a kid but am now 22 and looking to start riding some real miles. I went to LBS and determined a 19" is best for me.

    I plan to ride mostly a mix of everything. TBO probably more pavement pounding than anything but i do want to be able to do some trails along with some hardcore offroading. I'm 22 and in my last year of college so i would like to stay under the $500 mark, and probably closer to the $300 mark but i would say 500 max.

    I was originally looking at the Diamondback Response XE, and k2 bikes at dick's and sports authority. I basically just want something reliable that will last me a while the includes at least front forks, and FR discs. I'll probably get flamed for this, but i've been looking at a couple FS bikes, should i steer clear of them since i'll also be on road and want an entry level bike? The Forge 7xx looks to have a great price with excellent reviews, and so do there 5xx. There's just so many bike and options i'm kind of overwhelmed. I've also looked at many other bikes mentioned on here. I'll probably put a list together later of my options. What do you guys recommend?

  2. #2
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    Most here are going to say to stay away from the Dick's / Sports Authority bikes.

    They are not built to the same specs as a "real" mountain bike.

    The Forge 5xx may be your best bet, or checking craigslist.

    Just use this site and type in your bike and you can find reviews for almost every single bike, down to every single part.


    By the way - Go Green!

  3. #3
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    Actually, the Diamondbacks have mostly good reviews. And the Response line is not bad, especially the Sport and Comp models. It's just that, when you buy from a big store (be it Dick's or Target), the customer service goes out the window. They'll replace stuff if they have to under contract, but they will try to weasel out of it if they can...

    The Sawback 5xx is also good.

    For your price range, I'd steer clear of FS setups. Just get a solid hardtail.

  4. #4
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    Echo'd - avoid FS unless you find something reasonable on Craigslist. Full suspension on the road just looks pretty and does nothing but rob your energy. Cheap full suspension is going to be even less efficient and significantly less durable. At the entry level, try to cut back on the moving parts!

    The reason we say to go to an LBS is for proper sizing and support. While there are always exceptions, guys at the box stores are not generally as informed or passionate about what they do. You'll be less likely to get properly sized for your bike and support after the sale will be tougher. Most LBSes around here provide a handful of free tuneups for the first few months. I never really go to Dick's, but I know Target doesn't exactly have a bike shop sitting in the back :P

    If you're up for your own maintenance or paying somebody for tuneups, by from wherever. The Forge is a great deal, as are Motobecane's and Dawes from bikesdirect.com.

    Good luck and have fun!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsmosher
    Actually, the Diamondbacks have mostly good reviews. And the Response line is not bad, especially the Sport and Comp models. It's just that, when you buy from a big store (be it Dick's or Target), the customer service goes out the window. They'll replace stuff if they have to under contract, but they will try to weasel out of it if they can...

    The Sawback 5xx is also good.

    For your price range, I'd steer clear of FS setups. Just get a solid hardtail.
    Actually, the reviews on Forge's customer service are great (you have to dig through some of the Sawback threads) You don't deal with Target.com for warranty / shipping damage problems. You go to Forge directly. Evenerthing I have seen, they have been very responsive.

    At the price point you are looking, I don't think you can beat teh Sawback...As long as you can deal with properly selecting a size, and assembling and adjusting it properly (Forge has even helped out with that by getting a LBS involved if it is not shiffting properly, etc.)

    Take a look at
    http://www.forgebikes.com/saw5red.asp
    They are $379.95 right now at target .com
    You can get this price down to about 340 with the of the discouts possible (but you will still have to pay shipping, though if you wait and watch they sometimes run free shipping specials)
    Forge has a couple of lesser models that are cheaper price but I don't think they are a very good deal price wise for what you get. The saw is equiv to bikes in about the $550 price range (it just doesn't have a wel known brand name).

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the input guys. I think i'm definitely going to stay front suspension only since i'll be on road half the time and do not want to expel unnecessary energy. I do like the sawback 5xx. So i need a 19" frame, is there anyway to get a red one in that size?

    Here's the bikes i've been looking at and prices, the goal is simple, buy the best bike with the best parts at the best price. I'm pretty sure i want to buy new, unless i can find some crazy deal on craigslist. But for 2 weeks, and looking in 3 large cities, there has been zip.

    Heres what i've been looking at -----

    1.) Diamondback Response XE - $299
    2.) Sports Authority k2 sidewinder FS - $367
    3.) Forge Sawback 5xx - $380
    4.) Motobecanes 700Ht - $499

    And since joining here i've read numerous threads with bikes in my price range like gt, scott, etc. I would love to get a hardrock or rockhopper but they're too expenseive new but i have been looking for one. Either way i think i want a new bike just so i don't have to worry about fixing anything right away. About the maintenance, yes i will do everything myself and i'm sure in time i will do some upgrades. I'm sort of a hobby mechanic so i do everything like the myself.

  7. #7
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    What do you guys think about a 29er? I see bikes direct had some for under $500. I'm 6ft if that makes a difference.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buck3yeRideR
    What do you guys think about a 29er? I see bikes direct had some for under $500. I'm 6ft if that makes a difference.
    29er's gonna take more energy to move around if all you're doing is mostly pavement pounding.

    From what I've gathered, the primary advantage of 29ers come out when going downhill (easily roll over obstacles, good grip during cornering).

    I'm sure some 29er lovers are gonna come shoot this down. But if you're primarily looking for a commuter, I think the smaller wheels will be more advantageous for *this* application. (For mountain biking, it's debatable.)

  9. #9
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    I rode my 26" bike and now my 29" bike around town and the difference is negligible. The 29er is just slightly less energy efficient when you take off but other than that I can't tell much difference. I really personally can't tell a difference in taking off either. The biggest factor I think is the tires...not the wheel size. I changed out my tires this year from the stock tires that have pretty small tread to Nevegals which are big chunky offroad tires and that made a big difference in a negative way. So now I don't really take my bike around town. I am hoping to grab another wheelset this summer and get some commuter type tires for them so I can ride around town again.

  10. #10
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    OK guys, pretty sure i decided on the Forge Sawback 5xx as seen here http://www.forgebikes.com/saw5blu.asp
    Unless anyone has any other suggestions or can get me a better bang for the buck in a new configuration.

    Does anyone know if these bikes are in target stores, or just online? Anyone know of any coupons to save some $$$?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buck3yeRideR
    OK guys, pretty sure i decided on the Forge Sawback 5xx as seen here http://www.forgebikes.com/saw5blu.asp
    Unless anyone has any other suggestions or can get me a better bang for the buck in a new configuration.

    Does anyone know if these bikes are in target stores, or just online? Anyone know of any coupons to save some $$$?

    They are available at Target.com only.
    If you buy an entertainment coupon book for about $20 it has a coupon inside for 10% off. that will get you a $38 discount and then you have the coupon book for saving other places for the rest of the year. Sometimes discount coupons can be found searching online.

    As long as you can be sure about the size, I think this is a great entry level bike for the money. We have 3 in our family and they have been a good choice for us. Great gear train components for an entry level bike of this price. About the only thing I wish they would change is the fork...a Dart 3 would be an improvement, but then it would cost more.

  12. #12
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    Order my sawback 5xx! With shipping being $30 and taxes being near $30 my total came to $437. I used my AAA 10% discount and ended up getting it for $397. Thanks again everyone for all your help

  13. #13
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    Ordered mine, its on sale now for $340 i also got a 10% coupon on top of that and Bing cash back ($11). I got the 5xx red 17" i hope its a good size for me, im 5'10".

    But having some weird issues with Target and UPS. Target.com says they shipped my bike on May 2nd, and it will arrive between May 6 to May 10. But UPS site says "Billing information received" which means they never got the package yet. Called Target, they said UPS site didnt update yet, called UPS they flat out told me Target is not telling the truth and that their system is accurate and they never got the package. So... called back Target they assure me UPS site is not updated and that i should wait till May 10, and if i dont get it then i will get a replacement.

    Hope for the best, expect the worst.

  14. #14
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    of course the price is dropped $60 after i purchase mine

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buck3yeRideR
    of course the price is dropped $60 after i purchase mine
    if u purchsed less than 13 days before they dropped the price, then they will refund u the difference. I ordered mine on Sunday for $379, saw it Monday for $340 and called, the gave me a refund for the difference.

    BTW UPS screwed up on this one, for some reason the package wasn't scanned till it got to my city's sorting facility, and UPS was telling me Target never gave them the package. Had me worried that maybe the bike was lost since Target claimed they shipped it for sure.

    This is how it came:


    Then 30 mins after i put it together:


    Hardest part was adjusting the front brakes, they were rubbing when spinning the wheel, had research online for some tips. Used a business card in between the moving pad and the rotor and advanced the stationary rotor all the way to center the caliper, then backed it off after i tightened the CPS bolts.

    Havent had a chance to tear up the trails yet.

    Good luck!

  16. #16
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    Took the Forge Sawback 5xx out to the trails maybe for 4 or 5 hardcore sessions now, so i have some feedback regarding the bike..

    First, the rear tube went after going thru a trail with lots of roots, and drops, it seemed to have been from the pressure, the tiny hole was in the seam of the tube. Got a heavy duty thorn resistant tube and put it in the back, its much heavier than the stock tube, but now i can ride with confidence.

    Second issue i had with this bike was the saddle. The rails bent and the seat had no more suspension after a few trail rides. It made for some very uncomfortable riding. I kept riding it though, and the sides and the front "beak" of the saddle also got bent downwards. Seat is total crap imo. I'm 170lbs 5'10". Got the Serfas Rx to replace it.

    Also for some reason one of my gears in the rear was out of alignment after a couple of sessions, so i had to align it again, no big deal and easy.

    Overall the bike is amazing for the money! I dont regret my purchase at all.


  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbospartan
    Most here are going to say to stay away from the Dick's / Sports Authority bikes.

    They are not built to the same specs as a "real" mountain bike.

    The Forge 5xx may be your best bet, or checking craigslist.

    Just use this site and type in your bike and you can find reviews for almost every single bike, down to every single part.


    By the way - Go Green!

    Uh...

    I got mine from Sports Authority.com for $250. Rode the **** out of it and then upgraded some of the parts to be better of those on the sport/comp. It went from a REAL mountain bike to a REAL REAL mountain bike.

    Only problem I'm having is finding the right grips...
    I give positive rep all around but then I get negative rep from all the clowns.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by vladkgb
    Second issue i had with this bike was the saddle. The rails bent and the seat had no more suspension after a few trail rides. It made for some very uncomfortable riding. I kept riding it though, and the sides and the front "beak" of the saddle also got bent downwards. Seat is total crap imo. I'm 170lbs 5'10". Got the Serfas Rx to replace it.
    I am certainly no expert but I think most riders get most of their weight off of the saddle when riding through anything rough, so they are not relying on there being any suspension in the seat. At least that is what I do. We have three Sawbacks in our family and the seats have been fine but maybe we have not been very rough on them.

    I really like the look of the red with white fork BTW. I think it is now my favorite color. I have a blue 19" which I don't particularly like the looks of, but the bike has been great. I have had it about a year now and rode about 900 miles.

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