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.

View Poll Results: My Final Four (Help me choose, please!)

Voters
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  • 2008 Giant Trance 2

    16 33.33%
  • 2006 Giant Reign 3

    7 14.58%
  • 2007 Specialized FSR xc

    19 39.58%
  • 2006 Cannondale Rush 800

    6 12.50%
Results 1 to 20 of 20
  1. #1
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    First bike help? Giant Trance/Giant Reign/Specialized FSR xc/Cannondale Rush 800

    I am new to the world of mountian biking, but have been interested in some time. I used to bmx when I was younger, but had to pause that life for college, wife and kids. Now, at 27, college has come and gone, and the kids are old enough to be somewhat self-sufficient. To make a long post shorter...I finally have time to ride!!! As I mentioned, I have had a desire to get into mountain biking/trail riding for quite some time. Locally, we have some really nice single tracks, and obstacle course trails. I am interested in that stuff, as well as "goofing around" on "mountains." (Wooded hills really.) That being said, I have spent the last couple of months shopping for a bike. I do want to go full suspension, but I do not have a insanely large budget. I was wanting to stay between $1000 to $1500. I have been to several LBS and have test ridden MANY bikes. After doing so, I have been able to narrow my field down to four bikes, but I can't seem to make a selection from there. The bikes are a 2008 Giant Trance 2 (around 1000), a 2006 Giant Reign 3 (around 1000), a 2007 Specialized FSR XC (around 1500), and a 2006 Cannondale Rush 800 (around 1000). I have ridden all four, and enjoy all four almost equally. While they are somewhat different from one and other, they all feel "right" to me. Okay, that isn't totally accurate. I did not get to ride a 2008 Trance 2, but I did get to ride a 2008 Trance X2 (that I simply loved). I know the components on the X2 are nicer, but how much difference is there?

    BTW, I am pretty much completely ignorant to componentary. And, I'm not sure how much each of the bikes weight, but none felt too overwhelming. My test rides were only about 30 minutes though, not 2 or more hours.

    Anway, I would LOVE to have whatever advice/experience you guys have with these bikes, or other suggestions. I have included the specs for each bike below. Thanks in advance!!! I appreciate the help!

    2008 Giant Trance 2
    FRAME ALUXX Butted aluminum, 4.2" Maestro Suspension
    FORK Marzocchi MZ Supercomp, 100mm travel
    SHOCK Giant Maestro w/rebound adjust
    HANDLEBAR Race Face Ride XC low rise, 31.8mm
    STEM Race Face Ride XC, 31.8mm
    SEATPOST 3D Forged, 350x30.9
    SADDLE WTB Speed V Comp
    PEDALS Platform
    SHIFTERS Shimano Deore Rapidfire
    FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano Deore
    REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano Deore, top normal
    BRAKES Hayes MX4 Mechanical Disc, 160F/160R
    LEVERS Avid FR5
    CASSETTE Shimano HG-50 11-34T, 9-speed
    CHAIN Shimano HG-53
    CRANKS FSA AlphaDrive, 22/32/44
    BB FSA Mega EXO, external
    RIMS WTB Speed Disc XC
    HUBS Alloy Sealed Bearing
    SPOKES Stainless Steel
    TIRES Kenda Kornodo, 26x2.1

    2006 Giant Reign 3
    FRAME ALUXX Butted aluminum, 6" Maestro Suspension
    FORK Rockshox TORA 302 air, 130mm travel
    SHOCK Fox Float R
    HANDLEBAR Easton EA30 Low Rise, 31.8
    STEM Easton EA30, 31.8
    SEATPOST Easton EA50 350x30.9 mm
    SADDLE WTB Pure V Comp
    PEDALS N/A
    SHIFTERS SRAM X.7
    FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano LX
    REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM X.7
    BRAKES Hayes SOLE
    LEVERS Hayes
    CASSETTE SRAM PG950 11-34T
    CHAIN Shimano HG 53
    CRANKS Race Face Ride XC
    BBR Race Face SRX ISIS
    RIMS WTB SpeeDisc Trail
    HUBS Formula Disc
    SPOKES Stainless Steel
    TIRES Kenda 2.35 Blue Groove/Nevergal "StickE" formula

    2007 Specialized FSR XC
    FRAME FSR M4 butted frame w/ ORE downtube, sealed cartridge bearing
    pivots, replaceable derailleur hanger, two sets of water bottle bosses,
    disc only, 100mm travel
    REAR SHOCK X Fusion 02RC, Specialized tuned, rebound/compression adjust
    w/ lock out, 7.0x1.6"
    FORK Rock Shox Recon 335, 100mm, fixed coil, lock out, turnkey
    damper, ext rebound adj, alloy steerer
    HEADSET 1 1/8" threadless, black steel cups, loose ball bearings w/ seals
    STEM Aluminum, 7 degree rise, OS 31.8, 4 bolt, black
    HANDLEBARS Specialized XC low rise, butted alloy, 640mm wide, 6 degree up,
    8 degree backsweep
    TAPE / GRIPS Specialized MTB, dual density
    FRONT BRAKE Avid Juicy 3, hydraulic disc, G2 Clean Sweep S/M: 185mm rotor
    REAR BRAKE Avid Juicy 3, hydraulic disc, G2 Clean Sweep S/M: 160mm rotor
    BRAKE LEVERS Avid Juicy 3 hydraulic
    FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano FD-M530, Deore, top swing, duall pull, 34.9mm clamp,
    REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano M-751 Deore XT, long cage, standard spring
    SHIFT LEVERS Shimano SL-511 Deore, 9-speed
    CASSETTE / FREEWHEEL Shimano HG50, 9-speed, 11/34t
    CHAIN Shimano HG73
    CRANKSET Shimano FCM-442-8, Octalink Spline, 9-speed, replaceable
    rings w/ alloy outer
    CHAINRINGS 22s/32s/44A 4mm thick outer, 4 bolt 104/64mm
    BOTTOM BRACKET Shimano ES-25 Octalink Spline, 68mm shell, 118mm spindle,
    50mm chainline
    PEDALS Shimano 505 SPD
    RIMS Mavic X117 Disc, 26", 32h, black, presta valve
    FRONT HUB Specialized disc, loose ball bearing, high/low flange, 32h
    REAR HUB Shimano M-475L disc, 32h, 8/9-speed, alloy QR
    SPOKES 1.8mm stainless, black, brass nipples
    FRONT TIRE Specialized Resolution 26x2.0", 60TPI, aramid bead,
    dual compound
    REAR TIRE Specialized Resolution 26x2.0", 60TPI, aramid bead, dual compound
    TUBES Specialized 26x2.0", schraeder
    SADDLE Specialized BG MTB
    SEAT POST 6061 alloy, black, 30.9 x 350/400mm
    SEAT BINDER Alloy collar with QR, 34.9mm clamp ID, black
    NOTES Protective clear coat, derailleur hanger, reflectors, owners manual

    2006 Cannondale Rush 800
    FORK Lefty Speed Bonded DLR2, 110 mm
    REAR SHOCK FOX Float R
    RIMS Mavic XM117 Disc, 32 hole
    HUBS Cannondale Lefty front, Shimano M475 rear
    SPOKES DT Swiss Champion
    TIRES IRC Serac XC, 26 x 2.1"
    PEDALS CrankBrothers Egg Beater
    CRANK FSA V-Drive MegaExo, 22/32/44
    CHAIN Shimano 9-speed
    REAR COGS SRAM PG-950, 11-34
    BOTTOM BRACKET FSA V-Drive MegaExo
    FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano LX
    REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano XT
    SHIFTERS Shimano LX Dual Control
    HANDLEBARS FSA XC-281AOS, 25 mm rise
    STEM Cannondale XC3 HeadShok, 31.8 mm
    HEADSET Cannondale HeadShok Si
    BRAKESET Shimano LX
    BRAKELEVERS Shimano LX Dual Control
    SADDLE Fi'zi:k Nisene II Sport
    SEAT POST FSA FR-270

  2. #2
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    The parts don't make that much of a difference where I'll point out that my base model Enduro was a good bike stock and remained good when I moved higher level parts to it from another bike I sold. My wife and I have been renting demo models and riding same bike with a $1000 difference in parts and the personality of the bike shows up with both.

    Ride them and think about how they handle slow and fast. Everybody comes to a slow and fast spot, a tricky spot so try a track stand and a tight slow speed turn. Some like a plush feeling bike others want a hard tail feel. Make sure you tune the suspension right and then pick out which feel you like.

    Make sure you know the manufacturer's settings before you test and don't just take the word for the person in the shop. I've had two different places be wrong and there's no way I'd have liked the bikes if they weren't set up right.

    Have fun shopping and riding.

  3. #3
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    Bro, great choices, but you should probably do a little more research as to exactly what type of riding you'd like to do and what bikes fit that type of riding.

    I say that for two (admitedly small) reasons. One is that you have a list of bikes that are pretty solidly in the trail bike range (Trance, FSRxc, Rush), but then you throw a Reign into the mix, which is considerably burlier and heavier than the rest. It can still be ridden up and down, but with less efficiency on the up and more ability on the gnarly downs when comapred to your other choices.

    The second reason is that you don't know the difference between the Trance and Trance X, and there is a noticeable difference (geometry and travel). Before dropping major coin it's best to know exactly what your options are and what works best for you.

    If I were a beginner that knew I wanted to commit to mountain biking on a FS, but wasn't sure if I wanted to lean more towards a XC type of bike or an All Mountain type of bike, or just wanted to stay somewhere in the middle, I'd seriously consider the Trance X2. It is slacker than XC bikes (including the regular Trance) and has a good amount of travel (5" vs the Trance's 4"), both of which will allow it to tackle more technical terrain. Yet it has a great, lightweight frame, top notch fork, and a highly praised and efficient suspension design, so it can definitely be ridden fast and it's certainly worth upgrading.

    And, most importantly, you already know you love it!

    It’s slightly more than your budget, but IMO it’s worth saving up a little longer for it.

    Ant

    I own a Trance X1, by the way.

  4. #4
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    All of the bikes were set up based off of my height and weight, and then adjust from there for my comfort. I tested some trails, some small jumps, and some small downhills and uphills, and liked the perfomance of all of the bikes. The Cannondale did seem to feel a bit like a toy to me, but maybe it is just because the standover (terminology?) was slightly different. From the test rides, I also determined that I do not like the hardtail feel out of a full suspension. The Cannondale feels this way slightly. I think it is mostly because of the pivot point(s) and where most of the weight lies in the bike. I should have probably taken a little more air out of the rear, and that would have probably eliminated some of the stiffness.

    I don't really want to have to upgrade any components initially, or hopefully for a while. Especially since I have to keep my budget in mind.

    Thanks, bitflogger.

  5. #5
    sru
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    IMHO the Reign is a great bike but might be a little to much for the use and area where you plan to ride. 6" of travel is a lot of bike to learn on. The Trance, FSR XC and Rush are very capable trail bikes. Their geometry will generally be more trailbike oriented allowing you to ride up and down, for longer periods of time.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by antonio
    If I were a beginner that knew I wanted to commit to mountain biking on a FS, but wasn't sure if I wanted to lean more towards a XC type of bike or an All Mountain type of bike, or just wanted to stay somewhere in the middle, I'd seriously consider the Trance X2. It is slacker than XC bikes (including the regular Trance) and has a good amount of travel (5" vs the Trance's 4"), both of which will allow it to tackle more technical terrain. Yet it has a great, lightweight frame, top notch fork, and a highly praised and efficient suspension design, so it can definitely be ridden fast and it's certainly worth upgrading.

    And, most importantly, you already know you love it!

    Itís slightly more than your budget, but IMO itís worth saving up a little longer for it.

    Ant

    I own a Trance X1, by the way.

    +1 on the X2, I also own a X1

  7. #7
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    First off, thanks for the input.

    I understand exactly what type of riding I would like to do. Single track, trails, and small obstacles mostly. That is why I think the Trance, FSR xc, and the Rush would be appropriate selections for me. I basically threw in the Reign because I could get a good deal on it. (I know, I know, don't buy a bike just because you can get a good deal on it. ) I do agree, however, that the 6" travel might be a little much for my usage. Also, the added weight is noticable. I didn't know if these were issues that I might be able to "grow into," though, as I became more experienced. Based off of the components I felt that it might be a "better" bike, but it is probably "better" for things slightly different that I will be using it for.

    I also understand the differences between a Trance 2, and a Trance X2. Mainly the components and the added inch of travel. The issue that I am having is that the Trance 2 falls into my price bracket, while the X2, is a bit beyond it. As I mentioned, I loved the ride of the X2, but there is not a LBS that will be carrying a Trance 2 for me to try. For me to "try" it, I will have to buy it first. I guess what I am questioning between the two is just how similar they are. Based off the specs, what I am told, and what I have read, both have the same (similar?) frames and similar suspensions. While there is an inch difference in travel, they are similar. And, I'm not so sure that "lost" inch of travel will hurt me too much. I would love to be able to compare the two in person, but it simply isn't going to happen, so I was hoping that someone else has had a chance to do so and point out the biggest simlarities and differences. I am VERY skeptical/leary of buying anything, especially at this price point, without trying or at the very least seeing it first.

    I was able to get another hundred bucks off of the FSR, so it is slowly falling MORE into my price range.

    Thanks again for all the help/advice!

  8. #8
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    Got to throw in my vote for the Trance2, I loved my '05 Trance3, it transformed my riding. Within a year it had full XT kit on it and a REBA.
    I decided to move on when I learned about 29ers. For my height they just made sense and after reading the 29er shootout which included the Niner RIP9 which the testers all basically describe as very similar to my trance I started lusting.

    I happened upon a great deal on one with build kit and couldn't resist. Been on my RIP9 now for just about 11 months, 4500+ miles and couldn't be happier, very sweet, capable Agro XC/AM bike, like the Trance it has taken my riding to a whole new level. Can't wait for the new 90-120 maxle lite 29er REBA sometime later this year

  9. #9
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    The X's head angle is more slack. Meaning in a regualar Trance you feel more stretched out. If you felt good in the X, then you probably wont like the Trance as much. Even though everthing else between the two bikes are very similar, the geometry of each frame is what makes each its own.

  10. #10
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    Like rydog wrote, a shorter top tube length and considerably slacker headangle will have a tremendous impact on how the X2 rides compared to the regular Trance. The difference goes beyond components and an inch of travel.

    Good luck. They are all fine bikes.

  11. #11
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    Thanks rydog and antonio. I understand exactly what you are talking about. As I said, I was under the assumption that the frame between the Trance 2 and the X2 are pretty much identical. Upon further review, there are slight changes in the geometery. Different travel plus different components plus different weight plus different geometery might equal a totally different ride. Or, it could feel very similar. But without any type of evidence, mainly a test ride, it is becoming tougher and tougher for me to side with a blind purchase of the Trance 2. I am a bit disappointed because I loved the X2.

    At this point, it looks as though I would have to lean towards the FSR. Not a final decision yet, but a slight lean. It is definitely between the FSR and the Trance 2.

    I am concerned about the maintenance on the bikes. How does the FSR compare the the Trance? Short term and long term.

    Thanks again everyone!

  12. #12
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    I fell in love with the FSR (for my budget), of course the EPIC SL would have been the $hit, but i ended up choosing a hardtail for my riding style.

    I would say, go for Specialized FSR XC.

  13. #13
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    Hey man- I ride a Trance Advanced (pro-deals people...pro-deals) and absolutely love the thing- Looks like youve already been given alot of really good advice and yeah, they're all really sweet rides- If singletrack and trail ridin (small obstacles and no big drops) is your thing or what you think your thing would like to be then you cant really go wrong with any of those bikes- I ride a medium (18in) frame and Im 5'10- It fits me perfectly on the trail and fills tight (in a good way)- And Ill tell ya, the 4.2 inches of travel on my trance feels like 5 when I get into major stuff...the wheels stay glued for the most part- Giants new suspension is pretty cool- And remember too, you can always upgrade on down the line...deals are everywhere- Lots of luck- hope you enjoy whatever it is you decide on-
    "The work stinks but the fringe benefits are great"

  14. #14
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    I've actually had the same dilemma. I was comparing the Giant Trance2 and the Specialized FSR.

    There's a pretty big difference between the Trance2 and the Trance X2. They look real similar, but the X2 was significantly lighter than the 2, the component mix is quite different too, the Trance2 I looked at didn't come with any lockout-able shocks. of course the difference in price is pretty big as well. (On that day, the store I was at, the Trance 2 was ~$1000 and Trance X2 was much closer to ~$2000)

    It probably doesn't mean anything, but I liked how when you go up the different versions of the FSR, the frame is the same, just the components change.

    I ended up going with the specialized, just because I liked the component mix better. Of course that's bound to vary depending on where you go.

  15. #15
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    Thanks abcfob, that is exactly the type of correspondence that I was looking for. I knew that I couldn't be the only one who has faced this conflict. I really appreciate the first hand experience.

    You are dead on with the pricing of the two Trance models. The $1800 price tag makes the Trance X2 too hot for me to touch. That is the reason for my interest in the "more affordable" Trance 2 model.

    The components on the FSR are a bit nicer than the Trance 2, but it does carry a slightly heavier price tag to account for that.

    I know my initial posting limited my decision to the four bikes above, but does anyone have a suggestion for a "bang for the buck kick a$$ bike" in $1000 to $1500 price range? One of the problems that I am having is that I have only a few legit LBS in my area, and all carry only a hand full of the options (Specialized, Giant, Cannondale, Trek, Gary Fisher, Mongoose mainly) that are out there. And, their on-hand stock is pretty limited.

    Another problem that I am having is the best customer service and warranty/repair that I have encountered is at an LBS that has the most mediocre bike that I have ridden. Meanwhile, the best bikes that I have ridden are at a shop with d-bags working for them. (It happens to be the shop located closest to me.) Luckily, the "best bikes" shop(s) is a local chain, so I COULD buy a bike from another location if needed. I have dealt with another one of their shops, and the workers there are courteous, knowledgeable, and HONEST. While the drive is a bit further away, good service is worth it.

    Thanks again everyone! Please continue with help. I really need it, and appreciate it. Thanks.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mholt28
    Another problem that I am having is the best customer service and warranty/repair that I have encountered is at an LBS that has the most mediocre bike that I have ridden. Meanwhile, the best bikes that I have ridden are at a shop with d-bags working for them. (It happens to be the shop located closest to me.) Luckily, the "best bikes" shop(s) is a local chain, so I COULD buy a bike from another location if needed. I have dealt with another one of their shops, and the workers there are courteous, knowledgeable, and HONEST. While the drive is a bit further away, good service is worth it.
    a lot of high end bike shops and local chains seem to be very arrogant and snotty towards beginners and intermediate riders. there are a ton of shops like that where i live and i can't stand them. its a good thing you're looking for a good shop, its probably more important to have a good shop than it is to have a good bike.

  17. #17
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    Any other offerings? Thanks guys!

  18. #18
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    Trek Fuel EX 5.5? I don't know much about it, just seems to be similar spec'd and priced.

  19. #19
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    The LBS bikes around you make pretty good stuff- What I mean is they make lower end up to very high end stuff- When you get into other companies like Ellsworth, Ibis, Yeti to name a few youll have a very hard time finding a bike within your price range- My roommate rides a trek fuel ex7 which is about 1900 dollars and he bought it used (in really good condition) for 1000- He likes it for the most part- They make an EX 6 thats spec'd pretty similar to the trance2- Ill also tell ya from firsthand knowlegde that giant is a standup comp.- People tend to become pretty loyal to the name they choose to ride on- Giants customer service is second to none....if something happens to my ride within 5 years theyre gonna help me out...and they have in the past- Thats pretty f'in cool-
    "The work stinks but the fringe benefits are great"

  20. #20
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    I just wanted to give a little update, if I could...

    After taking quite a few test rides, doing some research, and posting this thread/poll, I finally decided to head to my LBS and make the big purchase. Heading into the store, I was still stuck on the FSR XC and the Trance. I wandered over to the bikes to make my final decision, and there it was, a new bike to enter the picture. I liked the look, and it was my size, and in my price range (top end, yes, but barely squeeking in there). I took it on a ride for about an hour. While riding the new bike, I had a blast! It fit well, rode well, and didn't feel a bit uncomfortable. Upon returning to the shop, I knew that the "which bike to purchase" decision had just been made. Just like that. Which bike is it, you ask? I walked away with an 06 Specialized Enduro Comp. I really like the bike, and haven't had any issues with it during the limited time that I have had it. It is a fun bike. It fits me, physically and personality-wise, like a glove.

    Outside of the bike, I started picking up some of the "goodies" that come along with the hobby. I decided to go straight to clipless pedals (Shimano) and shoe (Adidas Marathon). I didn't practice before riding, but haven't had too many issues with it yet...knock on wood. I was a little skeptical about all of the "efficiency" talk, but I must say, going clipless is GREAT!

    I also picked up a Bell Variant helmet, Pearl Izumi FF Pro Vent Gel gloves, Canari Gel shorts (for under my cargos), a Saris Bones 3 rack (with bike beams), and a CamelBak M.U.L.E.. To this point, the M.U.L.E. is only stocked with a Topeak multi-tool (23-tools I think) and some patches. I have yet to purchase a tube or a pump, but they are both in the plans of the near future. Cost is growing quickly!

    Thanks again for all or your help guys. I appreciate it!

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