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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    New question here. First time buyer! Several questions I can't seem to find answers to... Help?

    Hi all! I'm new to this sport, and will be purchasing my first MTB soon, but I have some questions I can't seem to get solid answers to.

    Before all that, here's a little about me. I'm 5'11" 160lbs and I'll be using this bike for a little bit of everything. Commuting, riding around town, cross country trail stuff and up and down the local hills and mountains and real bike trails. I donít plan on screaming downhill, but everything else is fair game. Iíd like to spend around $300-$600, but if thereís value in a $1k bike Iíll consider it.

    1) For someone like me, how would a $1.5K to $2K FS bike from 2000 compare to a new $500 entry level hardtail from my LBS? Are the better components and quality of the 2000 bike still good enough to have value today? What are the benefits of buying new from a LBS vs a 10 year old quality bike off craigslist?

    2) On a similar note, should I buy new or used?! For the life of me I canít seem to find a quality discussion on this topic anywhere, and Iíve exhausted the search button for the last 2 hours trying. Typically, you leave value on the table when you buy new considering how fast these things depreciate. But are there advantages to a new bike from a LBS for someone naÔve like me? Personally, Iím always more inclined to carefully buy used off CL and end up with a better quality bike with better resale value than a new, inferior bike that quickly depreciates. Unless someone can tell me why thatís a bad ideaÖ

    3) Is $1K too much for a first-time buyer? Keep in mind I plan on really using this bike for a lot of things. Iím into triathalons and general fitness and I get a real feeling that this sport will click and Iíll be enjoying it for a long time. That said, if I buy a $500 entry-level new bike, would I just want to upgrade it next year and sell it way too soon? If so, why not buy a better quality, $800-$1000 used bike now and avoid that hassle? Specifically, someone in town is selling their Diamondback Mission 1 for somewhere in that range (at least before we haggle!) and Iím considering taking a look and seeing if that would be a good bike. From the reviews it seems like a solid one, but again Iím new to all this and not even sure what to check for on used bikesÖ Help?


    Thanks for all the help! Iím looking forward to hitting the trails again soon!

  2. #2
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    1) It'd be a pain in the ass to tune and maintain. Depending on the FS system in question, it may have a crappy ride. A $500 hardtail from this year would also suck, but at least you wouldn't have a rear linkage to destroy.

    2) I'm a fan of used for your pricepoint. But there are some value-added aspects of buying from a shop that you should consider. You get the opportunity to try several different bikes and sizes before you buy. That's important because getting the right bike is a lot like getting the right pair of skis. It needs to be the right size for your size and style, and then you need to get the fit dialed in for your particular body. With a new bike, you also get to start with new, unworn parts, which usually means you get a period of not having to worry as much about maintenance, and you get warranty protection. It varies by manufacturer, but it's usually on the order of a year on parts and five or more on the frame. I don't think the warranty's worth all that much on a hardtail. I think riding a few bikes is worth a lot. So you can get a good compromise if your city supports a LBS carrying used bikes.

    3) Spend your real number. Often, the used market gives you a little less control of what you spend. But a $1000 retail bike still doesn't come with a "real" fork, lately, although it's at least better than a $500 retail bike. A couple friends of mine have picked up excellent bikes used for $600 or so. Particularly if you wanted full suspension, $1000 isn't out of line even then. If you don't know your way around bikes, getting one from a shop is a good option here. A lot of shops will do nicer bikes on consignment for their customers, even if they're not generally used shops. Get on the phone.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Thanks, that was really helpful. What are your thoughts on the Mission 1? Or should I stay away from FS and go hardtail as my 1st? Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    It's a bike for teenaged boys of all ages. It won't climb as fast as a hardtail or XC bike and it'll be more bike to ride around town. The payoff for this kind of bike is typically the descending fast. Which you say you'll be conservative about.

    I don't like FS bikes very much. For your use, I think if you want FS, a XC or trail FS would make more sense. The one I've disliked least was the Giant Anthem. I'm sure others will have other suggestions.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    anyone else? Help?

  6. #6
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    Since you are just getting into cycling, I think you should buy from your LBS. You'll have a factory warranty, you'll have your LBS to help you learn about the bike and the activity. If they are a really good shop, they should be happy to fix/adjust your new bike for you for some time. It's important to build a relationship with them.

    If you are serious about this, consider a price range of $1600-2000 for a new bike or a used bike that cost that much when it was new. For this amount, you will get a bike that is build up with quality components. In other words, you won't need to upgrade until your skill grows to a level that calls for it.

    If you can buy a newer used bike from your LBS, you can save some cash.

    As far as HT vs. FS? Depends on what type of riding you'll be doing and on what kind of terrain. If you have any friends that are into it, ask them for advice. Ask them what they started riding on and what they recommend as a starter for your area.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  7. #7
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    Here's some things I've learned when buying used from people I do not know with a bike I do not know the history of...

    1. You need to check out all moving parts... at least... the bottom bracket, headset and hubs. If it's a decent FS... then the bearings or bushings in the suspension.
    I've picked up a few bikes without checking these out completely and wound up paying more money for new parts.

    2. Be sure you can replace parts on the bike. A friend of mine STILL rides an old FS with a rear shock no one makes parts for. He has to find an LBS that still has parts for it... but eventually he will have to buy a new bike. In the meantime.. he's very proud of the years and miles he's gotten from this one.

    3. Frame cracks... gotta be able to find them. If someone has repainted the bike... I will stay away from it.

    Pawn Shop bikes, Craigslist bikes, they can be a real crap shoot. Not to mention the possibility of buying a stolen bike.

    Still, I've gotten some decent bikes from CL. Pawn Shops are still the worst place in my experience.

    I agree that if you want a reliable, really useful bike, you might be better off spending 1600-2000 new.

    Another option is Demo bikes. Either from the bike maker themselves, or LBS.
    The problem here is that while you may get last year's model for a really sweet price(I did on a Spec FSR Expert 29er), but you may not get much of a warranty, or it may be beat up more than you want...
    The bike I got is one I actually knew the history of. I know the guy who runs the bike shop it was being demo'd at. I knew how many times it had been out (less than 10), basically what shape it really was in.

  8. #8
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    For what you want.. Take a serious look at this:

    GT Avalanche X Mountain Bike - Hard Tail

    It is a fairly well equipped, new bike capable of XC and All-mountain use. It will be very hard to find anything else with the same level of components at the same price.

    It's only "flaw" for your use is that you may need to change out the cranks/chain rings for something a bit friendlier for street use (it comes set with a 36/22).
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  9. #9
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    Wow thanks for the advice guys. I visited one of my LBS and asked a ton of questions. They currently only stock Giant, after getting out of Kona, but they said they're in the process of bringing in some other brands as well. I'll check back if they have that Avalanche.

    Still thinking I'll buy used though, but I'll have to take my time and really inspect the bike. But there are a couple other LBS shops in the area I want to check out and see if they demo or have some used bikes.

    I'll ask some of my friends some more about their opinions too, and I'll keep you guys updated! Thanks!

  10. #10
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    I agree that GT Avalanche X looks like a great bargain. It's got decent equipment and specs. Good bang for your buck.

    My advise is to realize that if you really get hooked onto serious mountain biking (competitive racing) you will eventually need upgrades or a completely new bike. But for a beginner and all around bike the Avalanche X should be able to deliver satisfaction.

  11. #11
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    I think you should call every place in town and look for rentals.
    Rent a few bikes and then you can decide what's important to you, rear suspension is nice for some uses but not for others.

  12. #12
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    For a free day long demo check the niner site for demo dealers in your area. Each will list what model and sizes they have. Giant dealers also offer demo bikes.

  13. #13
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    2) On a similar note, should I buy new or used?! For the life of me I canít seem to find a quality discussion on this topic anywhere,
    This is very simple. Look at the components included with a new vs used bike. You will see how much better value you get with a used bike if spend some time comparing.

    -fit is very important.
    -90% of what you see on craigslist is overpriced. Create and ebay account and google "ebay search completed". This lets you see a recent list of all bikes sold and unsold on ebay.
    -try this link for used mountain bikes on ebay:
    Mountain Bikes | eBay
    -the best value (least cost of ownership is probably 3-4 year old used hardtail $700-900 range, or a used full suspension in the $900-1200 range.) budget $200 to tune the bike up despite how good of a condition the owner claims the bike is.

    read my responses here in this thread for a breakdown of tiers of components:
    Which is the better deal?

  14. #14
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    Wow thanks for the awesome advice guys. How long can I expect that GT Avalanche to be at that price?

  15. #15
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    Just a few thoughts...


    I would go hardtail. I've riden a hardtail for years, and have done some gnarly trails with one. I think for anything other than DH, a hardtail is fine, especially if you're be using it on the street to ride around town. Plus at your pricepoint, most FS bikes are not going to be much good.

    LBS vs. used.... there's been some good points for both. Personally, I would go used only if it was a bike that's only a few years old and in good condition (a no-brainer, I guess), Older bikes may seem cheap, but then you have a hard time finding obsolete parts for them, and the tech has changed so much over the last decade you'll get a much better bike the newer you go.

    Warranty....meh. I really don't think it matters one way or another. On an older bike, anything that's going to go wrong with the frame (main thing to worry about IMO) would probably already have happened. Anything else you can upgrade/replace. I've bought 4 new bikes since I was 15, and have never needed "warranty work". It's not like buying a car, bikes are failry simple and there's not alot to go wrong. But that's just my humble opinion.

    On the other hand, SERVICE is a good reason to buy from a LBS. If you have anything wrong over the first few months they';ll usually fix it free of charge unless there are parts to buy. And you may get a free tuneup(s) with purchase. I recently found one about 20 miles from me that offers free tune-ups for life. Considering a basic tune-up is like 60 bucks, a tuneup once or twice a year over a few years really adds up.Unless you plan to do all your own work, then it doesn't matter.

    And if you can do all your own work, or have a friend who can, look into an online bike shop, such as bikesdirect or Airborne Cycles. The Airborne Goblin (29er) looks like a great bike, and a great deal at around 1,150.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FriarTuk View Post
    Wow thanks for the awesome advice guys. How long can I expect that GT Avalanche to be at that price?
    It's been up at or about that price on Nashbar for a couple of months now however as we have no way of knowing just what their inventory levels are certain sizes could start going out of stock at any point in time.

    Basically they could start running out today or a couple of months from now. (Only they know for sure).

    I will point out though that Medium and Large sized bikes (the two sizes that someone 5'11" would be considering) tend to go out of stock first as they seem to be the most common sizes.
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  17. #17
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    Always call and ask the dealers if they have a bike in your size that is from last years models.
    They are often deeply discounted hundreds of dollars.
    Sometimes they dealer will offer to call their supplier and ask if there are any last year models in back stock they can get for you cheap.
    Nothing wrong with a used bike in general.
    But like a used car, there will be wear and tear, so you should try to get it inspected by a local bike shop if you can.
    They can advise you that the shock is trash or the derailleurs or shifters are worn out, etc. etc.
    Maybe a rim is bent and you don't know it yet.

  18. #18
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    Also, Hard Tale vs Full Suspension...
    I think hard tales are great for general riding however if you have a history of pain in your back or similar then you should seriously consider the full suspension bikes.
    I speak from some experience with back and neck pain after two surgeries.
    I am strong enough to ride my hard tale over almost anything but it beats me up badly if it's too rocky or bumpy.
    I hate feeling like I was hit by a truck for a few days after a rocky ride on my hard tale.

  19. #19
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    Wow... I would never buy a bike from Craigslist. Definitely buy your bike new from the shop. You're willing to spend enough money that you will get a great bike. Craigslist bikes could have all kinds of problems that you don't see right away. Even if it works at first then it could break the next day. A lot of junk magically will work, then you buy it and find out it breaks after a little use of it.

    I know I checked Craigslist and there absolutely wasn't any deals to be had here. You're also running a risk when meeting someone with that much cash.

    I would definitely go to a bunch of shops.

    1) Benefits of buying at Local Bike Shop = Trust, warranty, solid product for the money. Support the shop.
    2) NEW! I've explained why.
    3) As long as you have the money and know it will be worth it. I just bought my bike for $500 and I'm completely satisfied with my purchase. At first I wanted to get the best deal possible for my money and was looking for an absolute bargain. I realized for a real bargain I'd have to spend at least $500, basically. So I did and I have no regrets.

    I'm pretty broke too so if you find a good enough bike then $1000 isn't bad. I personally think it's too much to spend for me. I like my price of $500 that I got my bike for. I am a real noob and just getting into cycling, so I can learn as I go on a really solid bike that I expect to last me a really long time. I'll hopefully learn to do a lot of my own maintenance and repairs and eventually I can buy a better bike. For my needs $500 gets me a fantastic bike. I bought a Giant Escape 1.

    Good luck finding the right bike for you

    EDIT - Also, you might want to try asking this question on Yahoo Answers. They give some good answers sometimes. If you can ask a good enough question you'll get good answers.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FriarTuk View Post
    2) On a similar note, should I buy new or used?! For the life of me I canít seem to find a quality discussion on this topic anywhere, and Iíve exhausted the search button for the last 2 hours trying. Typically, you leave value on the table when you buy new considering how fast these things depreciate. But are there advantages to a new bike from a LBS for someone naÔve like me? Personally, Iím always more inclined to carefully buy used off CL and end up with a better quality bike with better resale value than a new, inferior bike that quickly depreciates. Unless someone can tell me why thatís a bad ideaÖ
    Oh and as to this point.

    Usually you are looking at a basic depreciation of 25-30% off MSRP on a new bike the moment you buy it, meaning that if you tried to sell it 2 months later even in "nearly new" condition no one is likely to pay you more than $750 for even a lightly "used" bike that MSRP'd for $1000 new.

    On the other hand, if you manage to snag a new closeout model already discounted at 30%, 40% or even 50% off then you are basically letting the dealer eat the usual "Depreciation hit" and getting a new bike for essentially the same price (or less) than someone would probably be asking for the exact same bike (year and model) on Craig's list.
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  21. #21
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    What about something like a BAMF Grappler or AIRBORNE Guardian?

    They look like quality bikes at a good price for entry level?
    Need a 29er

  22. #22
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    BAMF bikes are made with "Hi-Ten" steel. Which is to say recycled Chinese skank-iron.

    Airborne's getting some good buzz. They have the usual problem with internet bikes, which is that you can't try them out. I think that's very important, but not everyone agrees with me.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  23. #23
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    Hey everyone! Figured you guys might like an update. I've been scouring craigslist for the past few weeks and checking out all the bikes, trying to see what's a good value and what I want to do with my budget. Well, today I re-checked the GT Avalanche X and noticed there's also a 20% off coupon, one day only, TODAY. I pulled the trigger and bought it for $640 shipped. After looking around on CL I have a hard time seeing how any used bike will come with that kind of value. The components look great and the shock alone is a $350-400 shock. Wow.

    I'll update when I get it and how it feels! Thanks everyone.

  24. #24
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    Sweet Congrats!!!

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