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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    Entry level bike for my girlfriend.

    Hey guys, my gf has been riding with me more and more lately on her 15 year old specialized hardtail. It's done the job so far, but I can tell that her riding is at the point that she would really enjoy a modern bike with a better fork and geometry. I proposed the idea of finding her a bike and she got super excited, so I'd like to get something pretty nice so that I can ride it from time to time as well

    I started looking around on craigslist and found tons of overpriced older bikes, and other stuff that was way out of my pricerange. However, only just recently when browsing jensonusa I realized just how affordable these entry level bikes are.

    What do you guys think I should get her out of these 3 bikes?

    FUJI Tahoe: Fuji Tahoe 3.0 Bike 2012 | Fuji | Brand | www.PricePoint.com

    This is what I'm leaning towards right now. Looks like a decent shock for her that should last a while, hydro brakes, and all the components look decent.


    Vitus 260: Vitus Bikes Nucleus 260 Hardtail Bike 2014 | Chain Reaction Cycles

    This looks cool, more like something I would ride in a 27.5 flavor. 68* head angle, 120mm travel (albeit a probably terrible fork). I like the frame and geometry, but probably not something she would ever notice or care about.

    Jamis Exile: Jamis Exile Sport Mountain Bike 2013 > Complete Bikes > Mountain Bikes | Jenson USA

    Pretty cool 29". LOW end components, but still would be a huge step up from her current. Cheapest. 29" which could be good for her, or bad. Her biggest trouble as of now are her turns, so i don't know if the 29" would make that even harder for her.

    She's 5'6, so I'm leaning towards a 17" frame or there about.

    Let's discuss entry level hardtails and best bang for your buck right now.

  2. #2
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    Ok... Where do we begin...
    The problem with entry level is usually weight. You girlfriend is not as strong as you are. ( Or is she?) Then again, this is a girlfriend and not your wife. It sure would suck to spend a ton of money and in six months she's riding that bike with someone else.
    How much are you looking to spend?
    My wife is 5'7" and I have her on a Salsa Spearfish. That's a 29er fully if you don't know. I built it up as light as I could afford to because I didn't think it was fair to have her trying to ride a bike as heavy as mine. My plan sort of works. My wife is not an avid biker and has no interest in learning to shift correctly or anything. Once in a while, she decides to go trail riding with me and our son(s) and is fine until a hill is too steep or some such obstacle.
    Anyway, look at 27.5 bikes and in my opinion, go for as light a bike as you can afford.
    If you guys can swing like 1300 bucks, Giant has a 27.5 hardtail with an air fork and hydraulic brakes if I remember correctly that is a real nice bike for the money. I'm turning my son in law onto that one soon. He THINKS he wants to start riding with us.
    I like turtles

  3. #3
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    Either of the bikes on your list will be a good entry level bike for your girl friend. However, I would be opposed to ordering a bike blind. It would be ideal for her to test ride the bikes so she can get a feel of the geometry and fit before you decide on which to get. She's a taller woman rider and that will be to her advantage in picking a bike. Unlike most of us, she will not be limited to wds geos and will be able to fit on a s-m men's bike.

    My first "real" bike purchase was a 2012 Giant 29er HT which I got at a significant discount at my local lbs. Like your girl friend, I graduated from an old Gary Fisher that I rode to death on the trails. It was a significant improvement but not a whole lot, given the weight (over 32lbs.) and poor components. If she's decided that she really likes riding, I would suggest that you add a little more to the budget so you can get her something that will last more than just a season. Something in the 1200-1500 range will be an enjoyable buy that will have decent components.

    That being said--if I should chose from either of your top 3 bikes I'll probably go with the Fuji Tahoe. It's got better components and a lighter weight (28lbs is decent). Ask her which one she prefers or better yet- look for one to test ride before you buy. Happy shopping!
    I'm hard yet soft, I am coloured yet clear, I am fruity and sweet. I am jelly. What am I?

  4. #4
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    Get her the best bike she can afford lol.. I made that mistake once. It was a really nice gt, pink even. Long story short, she tried to force me to do some illegal **** with the immigration dept to get her parents into the US from Ukraine and I was like piece out.

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  5. #5
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    When i was at Walmart today this dude was buying his gf a bike... She seemed happy. That's really all that matters. And he'll probably get a thanks for the bike bj too

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  6. #6
    turtles make me hot
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    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    When i was at Walmart today this dude was buying his gf a bike... She seemed happy. That's really all that matters. And he'll probably get a thanks for the bike bj too

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk
    I'd probably have to buy my wife a BMW to get a thanks BJ any more.
    I like turtles

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    When i was at Walmart today this dude was buying his gf a bike... She seemed happy. That's really all that matters. And he'll probably get a thanks for the bike bj too

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk
    This seems right.
    Bottome line is when people ride really nice bikes, they form new expectations in their mind. For someone who is used to a 15 year old entry kevel bike, anything over $400 will likely be a big step up and knock her socks off.
    Also, I wouldnt be too concerned with longevity of the entry level stuff. It is true that it will be heavier and may not be as tuneable, but most should function fine.
    I have a 2012 Cannondale as you can see in my signature. It is an entry level trail bike that cost around $800 when new. Aside from a fork upgrade, I still have all of the original drivetrain, complete with Shimano Altus and Alivio der. I ride an XL bike and ride it regularly on rooty and rocky trails. With over 1,000 miles, it still functions pretty well. Some stuff is ready to be upgraded, and the bike would def shift smoother with SLX, but it works fine.
    Take a look at some of the Gravity and Moto hardtails from BD....you can get a bike that is spec'd better than that Fuji for about $599.
    Good luck
    - MOOTS Mooto X
    - Salsa Fargo
    - Surly Pugsley
    - Cannondale SL4 29

  8. #8
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    First, let me say you guys rock. Thanks for the replies, because this is something that has been on my mind a lot lately (well, cycling in general, I've been riding a lot this year).

    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496 View Post
    Ok... Where do we begin...
    The problem with entry level is usually weight. You girlfriend is not as strong as you are. ( Or is she?) Then again, this is a girlfriend and not your wife. It sure would suck to spend a ton of money and in six months she's riding that bike with someone else.
    How much are you looking to spend?
    My wife is 5'7" and I have her on a Salsa Spearfish. That's a 29er fully if you don't know. I built it up as light as I could afford to because I didn't think it was fair to have her trying to ride a bike as heavy as mine. My plan sort of works. My wife is not an avid biker and has no interest in learning to shift correctly or anything. Once in a while, she decides to go trail riding with me and our son(s) and is fine until a hill is too steep or some such obstacle.
    Anyway, look at 27.5 bikes and in my opinion, go for as light a bike as you can afford.
    If you guys can swing like 1300 bucks, Giant has a 27.5 hardtail with an air fork and hydraulic brakes if I remember correctly that is a real nice bike for the money. I'm turning my son in law onto that one soon. He THINKS he wants to start riding with us.

    Weight is a big part of what I'm looking for, over geometries, etc. She's actually pretty strong since she is a waitress and on her feet all day and never complains on our rides and just huffs and puffs a bit. We've been together over 2 years, which is long enough that I'm comfortable buying her a bike. That said, I'm also going to go 1/2 on the bike with her, this way she has to cough up some actual dough and I can tell if she is serious about this or not. So far we ride at least twice a week and shes taking her old bike, i'd like to get a nice shiny new bike to get her excited and take her riding more. She seems into it. She also snowboards with me, and went over 30 days this last season. That might help explain the type of gal we're talking about here.

    Price range, probably 700-1000, which is exactly why I was looking at used bikes first. Then i found some very nice new bikes on outlet, which is why i started this thread. The fuji is a ~1300 bike MSRP, and can be had for ~700, and at 28lbs it's not too tanky. Seems like a decent deal.

    Quote Originally Posted by TikiGoddess View Post
    Either of the bikes on your list will be a good entry level bike for your girl friend. However, I would be opposed to ordering a bike blind. It would be ideal for her to test ride the bikes so she can get a feel of the geometry and fit before you decide on which to get. She's a taller woman rider and that will be to her advantage in picking a bike. Unlike most of us, she will not be limited to wds geos and will be able to fit on a s-m men's bike.

    My first "real" bike purchase was a 2012 Giant 29er HT which I got at a significant discount at my local lbs. Like your girl friend, I graduated from an old Gary Fisher that I rode to death on the trails. It was a significant improvement but not a whole lot, given the weight (over 32lbs.) and poor components. If she's decided that she really likes riding, I would suggest that you add a little more to the budget so you can get her something that will last more than just a season. Something in the 1200-1500 range will be an enjoyable buy that will have decent components.

    That being said--if I should chose from either of your top 3 bikes I'll probably go with the Fuji Tahoe. It's got better components and a lighter weight (28lbs is decent). Ask her which one she prefers or better yet- look for one to test ride before you buy. Happy shopping!
    I've been looking mostly at mens bikes, because in my opinion at her height she should have no problems there. I'm thinking a 17" bike would suit her well, but it would be nice to have her test ride some bikes. I'll see what I can do in regards to that and take her to the LBS. I appreciate your insight on this from a female perspective.

    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    Get her the best bike she can afford lol.. I made that mistake once. It was a really nice gt, pink even. Long story short, she tried to force me to do some illegal **** with the immigration dept to get her parents into the US from Ukraine and I was like piece out.

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk
    Damn man, sorry to hear about that. I want to spend under 1k, and have a bike that is upgradable in the future. This means to me that the frame itself is decent and is worthy of putting a nice fork on down the road, lighter wheels, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    When i was at Walmart today this dude was buying his gf a bike... She seemed happy. That's really all that matters. And he'll probably get a thanks for the bike bj too

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk
    Pretty much my thought. Any of the cheapest bikes here are going to be leauges better than a wally bike. And to be honest I bet a wally bike is better than her current dinosaur. She struggles with the drop shifters, and the v brakes really freak me out because she's so grabby with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496 View Post
    I'd probably have to buy my wife a BMW to get a thanks BJ any more.
    LOL, no-one to blame but yourself on that one :P

    Quote Originally Posted by fat_tires_are_fun View Post
    This seems right.
    Bottome line is when people ride really nice bikes, they form new expectations in their mind. For someone who is used to a 15 year old entry kevel bike, anything over $400 will likely be a big step up and knock her socks off.
    Also, I wouldnt be too concerned with longevity of the entry level stuff. It is true that it will be heavier and may not be as tuneable, but most should function fine.
    I have a 2012 Cannondale as you can see in my signature. It is an entry level trail bike that cost around $800 when new. Aside from a fork upgrade, I still have all of the original drivetrain, complete with Shimano Altus and Alivio der. I ride an XL bike and ride it regularly on rooty and rocky trails. With over 1,000 miles, it still functions pretty well. Some stuff is ready to be upgraded, and the bike would def shift smoother with SLX, but it works fine.
    Take a look at some of the Gravity and Moto hardtails from BD....you can get a bike that is spec'd better than that Fuji for about $599.
    Good luck
    THANKS for the insight, same line of thought I've been having. She is so used to this old bike I think a new ride will blow her mind and bring some more fun back into cycling. I know it did for me. Anyways, what is this BD you speak of? I tried a quick google but no luck, i'd like to look at any bikes in this price range before pulling the trigger.

    Thanks again guys, i'm somewhat new here but this seems like a great community. I really dislike the pinkbike forums, even more so after spending some time over here.

  9. #9
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    ^^BD is bikes direct . Com
    They sell off name bikes. If you don't feel you need the free 90 day tuneup from an LBS, they have some good deals on entry level bikes. Free shipping too.
    - MOOTS Mooto X
    - Salsa Fargo
    - Surly Pugsley
    - Cannondale SL4 29

  10. #10
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    People usually pad their prices on Craig's List by $100 or more. You'd do the same - it only takes one sale in which the buyer is way too happy to fork over the cash to realize it's time to get into yield pricing.

    I'm a big fan of more traditional methods of buying used, too. Where I live, there are a couple of used bike shops and general used sporting goods stores. They give a shopper the opportunity to ride a few bikes back-to-back, which I think is a pretty significant value added.

    Go to some shops so she can test-ride some bikes. 17" unisex can be too long a bike for a woman who's 5'6".

    And don't downplay what she's got - a '99 Stumpjumper would still be a pretty nice bike. It's not like hardtails have changed that much since then. Since '89, maybe...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireinMTB View Post
    Hey guys, my gf has been riding with me more and more lately on her 15 year old specialized hardtail. It's done the job so far, but I can tell that her riding is at the point that she would really enjoy a modern bike with a better fork and geometry.
    I'm not sure what this means. I bought my wife a mountain bike after she had been using our sons old 2001 Moab and found a nearly unsued 2001 Trek 8000. You are probably wondering where is the upgrade.

    Well the Trek was definitely lighter and it fit her really good, it has slightly better fork and I put on a better seat and better V-brakes and my son rides the Moab hard and is not that fussy on maintenance. She loves the Trek and we have a great time riding. But... I hand pick what trails we ride and make sure she does not get into anything over her head. FWIW, we have ridden road bikes together for a long time so she can ride pretty good.

    So this brings me back to what your statement "her riding is at the point" means especially when you say that she is grabby with the brakes and "drop shifters?"

    If you think she will be able to ride the stuff you ride, or at least something that requires a bit of technical ability, then getting an upgraded bike with a better fork, brakes, larger wheels, etc. makes sense. If it is just going to be fairly smooth up and down stuff and you want to get a nicer bike because the old specialized hasn't seen a wrench or any grease in 10 years that is another thing and you may just want to find a really good older used bike that is the right size and not abused.

    John
    1995 Trek 970 - 80mm Atom Race
    1992 Serotta T-Max - 70mm Z3 Light
    1993 GT All Terra - 46mm Mag 21

  12. #12
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    Another excellent point.^^
    I like turtles

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by fat_tires_are_fun View Post
    ^^BD is bikes direct . Com
    They sell off name bikes. If you don't feel you need the free 90 day tuneup from an LBS, they have some good deals on entry level bikes. Free shipping too.
    Thanks for the tip, i'm looking through the site now and there are some decent deals. However, this website is pretty terrible.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    People usually pad their prices on Craig's List by $100 or more. You'd do the same - it only takes one sale in which the buyer is way too happy to fork over the cash to realize it's time to get into yield pricing.

    I'm a big fan of more traditional methods of buying used, too. Where I live, there are a couple of used bike shops and general used sporting goods stores. They give a shopper the opportunity to ride a few bikes back-to-back, which I think is a pretty significant value added.

    Go to some shops so she can test-ride some bikes. 17" unisex can be too long a bike for a woman who's 5'6".

    And don't downplay what she's got - a '99 Stumpjumper would still be a pretty nice bike. It's not like hardtails have changed that much since then. Since '89, maybe...
    Understood, and I agree on all points. Shes been on her old bike for the last two seasons now. It's just plain not designed for the terrain she is starting to tackle. I see her riding this thing and the suspension has no travel and is leaking, the brakes work great but they are way too touchy (by todays standards at least), the geometry is steep for some of the hills shes starting to roll down, and the shifting works okay - but drop shifters are just oldschool. I'm sitting here riding my ~$2k bike and it just doesn't seem right. By all means if she could ride my XL titus I'd let her and just rip it up on the stumpjumper, but that wont work due to our size differences. Don't get me wrong, shes been happy riding her older bike and loves riding, I just think its time to take a step up to something nice that she can have some pride in.

    I've already decided it's new bike time though, because at the very least her old stumpjumper needs a fork of some kind, and shifters/rear derailleur, as well as tires, and for that kind of money I may as well get her a nicer bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
    I'm not sure what this means. I bought my wife a mountain bike after she had been using our sons old 2001 Moab and found a nearly unsued 2001 Trek 8000. You are probably wondering where is the upgrade.

    Well the Trek was definitely lighter and it fit her really good, it has slightly better fork and I put on a better seat and better V-brakes and my son rides the Moab hard and is not that fussy on maintenance. She loves the Trek and we have a great time riding. But... I hand pick what trails we ride and make sure she does not get into anything over her head. FWIW, we have ridden road bikes together for a long time so she can ride pretty good.

    So this brings me back to what your statement "her riding is at the point" means especially when you say that she is grabby with the brakes and "drop shifters?"

    If you think she will be able to ride the stuff you ride, or at least something that requires a bit of technical ability, then getting an upgraded bike with a better fork, brakes, larger wheels, etc. makes sense. If it is just going to be fairly smooth up and down stuff and you want to get a nicer bike because the old specialized hasn't seen a wrench or any grease in 10 years that is another thing and you may just want to find a really good older used bike that is the right size and not abused.

    John
    I DO NOT expect her to ride what I ride, but she has been riding the trail I built around my house. it's about 4 miles, a few big descents, and tons of berms/rollers/tight singletrack. She can ride it without issue on her current bike, except for one of the downhills which she walks. She's already "into" riding, she just needs something more capable and enjoyable to ride. Okay, well maybe she doesn't "need" a bike (i see where you are going with this), but it sure would be nice for her, and I love her.

  14. #14
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    Then sack up and buy her a $2000 bike. The cliche of couples riding together with the guy on a wonderbike (ish) and the girl on some POS that doesn't fit blows.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  15. #15
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    Okay here is a plan...

    Check out what is available at local shops. You want to find a good fit. See if a 29er is the best way to go. If there is a really good deal and it is a bike that you can use and upgrade, not an entry level, then that may be a good way to go.

    If you really don't like the frame/components then take what you learn on fit and go find a nice 2/3 year old used bike and save the 40-50% loss the minute you walk out of the store.

    John
    1995 Trek 970 - 80mm Atom Race
    1992 Serotta T-Max - 70mm Z3 Light
    1993 GT All Terra - 46mm Mag 21

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    I wish bikes lost that much value.. But check out Craigslist, bikes don't lose half their value until they are rusted heaps.. And even then... Id get her one off bikes direct. They are cheap and come in colors

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

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    Thanks guys, and ou2mame, that's what I have found as well. I don't see the need for such extremes in some of the others replies. I don't want to spend ~2k on a bike, it's entirely unnecessary for her. All we are looking to do is go from something like this (almost exactly her bike):



    To something more like this:



    And I'm looking to spend under 1k.

    Anyways this thread has run its course and you can let it die, i have some great ideas for bikes and I'm checking out BD now as well.

    Thanks again all.

  18. #18
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    Re: Entry level bike for my girlfriend.

    Quote Originally Posted by FireinMTB View Post
    Thanks guys,...I don't want to spend ~2k on a bike, it's entirely unnecessary for her...
    Then do not be surprised when she no longer wants to satisfy your unnecessary needs. Equal ride means equal fun = balance + more sexy time.
    IMHO :sly:
    Quit being such a cheap priick, she's paying half! 2000/2=1000 Go get her a bike better than yours to enjoy both her increased pleasure, and yours.



    (tapa)
    The best is the one you want to ride most often..

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    There are other online bikes ,Airborne,Ferrazzi,Price Point,also check Ebay and the Marin's on there.

  20. #20
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    None of us needs a $2000 bike. That's not what it's about.

    Giving your SO a cheaper bike as a gift is pretty much lose-lose. Fix up what she's got, split something expensive, find something awesome on Craig's List, take a deep breathe and buy it yourself, whatever. But putting her on something that you and she see as less capable or inferior is just plain bad.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    None of us needs a $2000 bike. That's not what it's about.

    Giving your SO a cheaper bike as a gift is pretty much lose-lose. Fix up what she's got, split something expensive, find something awesome on Craig's List, take a deep breathe and buy it yourself, whatever. But putting her on something that you and she see as less capable or inferior is just plain bad.
    I would not buy her a bike that I wouldn't ride personally. In fact, that is the main reason I'm going to get her a nicer bike. I would not want to ride that old bike she has been riding.

    Any of the bikes I posted in this thread however, i would rip with.. then replace any parts that i break down the line. In fact, i personally want this one for myself

    Vitus Bikes Sentier 275 VR Hardtail Bike 2014 | Chain Reaction Cycles

    Anyways, my gf does not want to spend 2k on a bike (even collectively), you guys are missing the point entirely. I'm not married, so i don't need to buy my girl expensive presents to get laid.

  22. #22
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    The Vitus looks like a nice bike. Check out the geometry specs and have her test something locally that is very similar... top tube length, stand over, etc.

    John

    PS... Nice to see a Vitus without the bonded tubes and lugs (for those who may remember). I know, I know... the only thing that remains Vitus is the name.
    1995 Trek 970 - 80mm Atom Race
    1992 Serotta T-Max - 70mm Z3 Light
    1993 GT All Terra - 46mm Mag 21

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    Update for everyone, just wanted to say thanks for the advice (some of it, at least). We ended up going to my LBS and test rode about 5 bikes they had in her size. She tried SM and M bikes, but the smalls all seemed a bit cramped for her. We also got to ride entry level bikes from KHS, Giant, and Raleigh all of which surprised me on the cost to quality front.

    She didn't like any of the "womens specific" entry level bikes they had, too girly of paintjobs and were too clunky. Lots of entry level forks have this "clunk" when you pull the front wheel off the ground and unload the shock, which no matter your skill level is terrible.

    Anyways, when it came down to it she LOVED the Raleigh Tokul II they had there in light blue. This bike had everything I was looking for, hydraulic disks, shimano componentry, a buttery(for what it is) suntour 32mm sprung 120mm fork with variable lockout, 3+9 gearing, "fun" geometry. After riding this thing, I can genuinely say I'd love to have it myself.. although I could see replacing the fork down the line, I doubt she will ever want and/or need to.

    Raleigh Bicycles - Tokul 2

    Anyways she's in love with the bike (and so was I, honestly)and we've gone on 4 rides in the last week and she doesn't want to put it up at the end of the ride. It's even been her idea to go ride, which is kickass for me. I bought her the bike and she is buying us a nice rack for my subaru which is a win-win, now I just need to decided which I want (roof vs hitch mount).

    So no, buying a cheaper entry level bike for your girlfriend is not a "lose-lose".

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    Chip in on a hitch mount 1UP USA. Just get silver the black fades. Light so easy for anyone to take on or off. Expensive but protects the bikes.
    To upgrade that fork Nick at Suntour has an air fork for $200 shipped. Raidon. Sealed no maintenance oil damper.
    If you want to upgrade your Suntour fork

  25. #25
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    582
    Entry level bike for my girlfriend.

    Am I too late again? Crap! I guess I'll just sell my old bike. My wife would have given me hell anyway.

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