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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    FS or HT? 29er or 27.5? Pepsi or Coke?

    Be forewarned...this is another "recommend me bikes" thread. Snappy thread title, no?

    Anyways, I'm hopefully purchasing a bike come later early-mid spring (gotta save that $) and was hoping to get a few opinions on what types of bikes I should be looking at. My goal is to hopefully demo as much as I can, but for starters…here goes nothing…

    I’d like to stick to somewhere between XC and all-mountain riding, so, from my research I should be looking at bikes that fall into the “trail” category? I know classifications get sorta ambiguous from brand to brand. Insight here would be helpful. Most of my riding is going to be in the northeast, NH/VT and MA.

    Weight is not a priority for me at the moment. Would love a bike that can climb relatively well but can rip through downhill sections and take off drops and smaller jumps.

    I was talking with a shop rep a couple weeks ago and told him that I was either 1) looking for a beefy hardtail or 2) a solid entry-level full suspension bike. He told me to 100% go with the full-suspension and that rough and tough hardtails are not really around anymore. Was his recommendations accurate?

    He brought me over to the Specialized Camber Comp 29er and Stumpjumper, mentioned these would be the best bang for my buck. I know these are more XC-oriented. I haven’t ruled them out completely but from my research I think I would need something with a little more travel?

    So, that’s it. Any other particular brands or models I should be looking at? Again, looking at entry-mid level bikes, budget is ~2,000 with some wiggle room.

  2. #2
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    The Camber and Stumpjumper are both Trail bikes. Lately, I think the Stumpjumper is encroaching on all-mountain territory. XC is still 100 mm of travel or less.

    I don't have saddle time on a Stumpjumper, but a Camber is what got me thinking seriously about FS. I thought it was a pretty cool bike. I don't have a hookup on Specialized, so I bought something else.

    What are you riding now? Do you climb on singletrack? Do any lift-served or shuttled DH?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    The Camber and Stumpjumper are both Trail bikes. Lately, I think the Stumpjumper is encroaching on all-mountain territory. XC is still 100 mm of travel or less.

    I don't have saddle time on a Stumpjumper, but a Camber is what got me thinking seriously about FS. I thought it was a pretty cool bike. I don't have a hookup on Specialized, so I bought something else.

    What are you riding now? Do you climb on singletrack? Do any lift-served or shuttled DH?
    I'm just getting into the MTB scene. My first love (which is currently being hotly contested by mtn biking, from a financial standpoint) is snowboarding. I rode a Trek 3500 (which isn't really a true mountain bike) for all of late summer and fall. I mostly do up-and-down XC (that’s what its called…right? Ha).

    I’ve been on a DH bike before (rental) but I really don’t have the coin for a true DH bike just yet. I also live in very close proximity to a bunch of great singletrack pockets all within an hour drive or less, so I don’t want to short-change myself by purchasing a specialty DH bike. Could I ride a FS “trail” bike like the Camber or Stumpjumper on lift/shuttle-serviced DH? Obviously would not be charging it, but is it possible? Or rather, is this not recommended? Just curious, your comment got me wondering.

    Also, whats the difference between a trail bike and all-mountain bike?

  4. #4
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    Budget? There many hard tails that would handle most trails where you ride. What have you test rode? Which ones did you dis/like?

  5. #5
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    A full suspension will cost more up front, have higher maintenance costs and weigh more than a comparably speced hardtail. Full suspension will take bumps better (comfort) and keep the wheels on the ground (traction) allowing you to take technical spots faster.

    If you just want to ride, a hardtail with decent tires will probably suit most needs. Lighter weight, about 5-8 pounds on average. From a rear suspension standpoint, you're legs can take up however much suspension travel you can put between your butt and your seat when the pedals are level and you're standing on them. Big benefit of dropper posts. Downside, you can't pedal as well when you're off your seat and absorbing the bigger shocks.

    Bigger tires (2.2") will just give you better small bump compliance and traction, which is what you will mostly gain from a full suspension bike.

    And the correct answer: Pepsi

  6. #6
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    I've owned a 2011 Camber Expert and currently own a 2013 Stumpjumper Comp, both in 26" wheeled varieties. I prefer the Stumpy for the longer travel, thru-axles front and rear, and better overall part spec over the Camber I had before. The Stumpy will be a little better suited for aggressive riding.

  7. #7
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    I would recommend a 5-6" FS bike. If you don't mind pedaling, but enjoy ripping the downs, it's a good place to start. You will give up a little on the climbing, but have a bike that is quite a bit more enjoyable for parks and lift assisted riding. Something like a Yeti SB-66, Banshee Rune or Spitfire, Specialized Enduro would all be good bikes. I would suggest buying something used, because you will get way more bang for your buck. Also consider renting bikes if you are going to buy new. Most shops will let you apply rental costs up to a certain point to a purchase.

    I ride a Chromag hard tail as my trail bike right now. However, if I was only going to buy one bike, it would be FS. The HT is fun, but it beats you up, especially if you want to ride rough sections fast.

    2012 Specialized Enduro Evo - Pinkbike

    Knolly Endorphin Medium - Pinkbike

    2011 Transition Covert MED *price drop* - Pinkbike

    2011 Banshee Spitfire ? Large - Pinkbike

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kazlx View Post
    I would recommend a 5-6" FS bike. If you don't mind pedaling, but enjoy ripping the downs, it's a good place to start. You will give up a little on the climbing, but have a bike that is quite a bit more enjoyable for parks and lift assisted riding. Something like a Yeti SB-66, Banshee Rune or Spitfire, Specialized Enduro would all be good bikes. I would suggest buying something used, because you will get way more bang for your buck. Also consider renting bikes if you are going to buy new. Most shops will let you apply rental costs up to a certain point to a purchase.

    I ride a Chromag hard tail as my trail bike right now. However, if I was only going to buy one bike, it would be FS. The HT is fun, but it beats you up, especially if you want to ride rough sections fast.

    2012 Specialized Enduro Evo - Pinkbike

    Knolly Endorphin Medium - Pinkbike

    2011 Transition Covert MED *price drop* - Pinkbike

    2011 Banshee Spitfire ? Large - Pinkbike
    Great recommendations, especially for the 2012 Enduro Evo. That bike is extremely fun!

  9. #9
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    I think either the Camber or Stumpjumper would be fine.

    I didn't live on the East Coast long, but I remember a lot of rocks and roots in the Northeast. So I think you're right to look at FS, as long as you're not backed into short-changing yourself on components by the price.

    Of course, if you're dedicated enough to ride a snowboard in the East, you probably have it in you to ride a rigid singlespeed.

    A friend of mine took his Stumpjumper on lift-served. He said it was way too much for that bike. No personal experience here, though.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    Kazlx lists some great bikes for our NE trails.

    Some resources for local deals:

    Bikes For Sale

    BustedSpoke.com - View forum - For Sale / Trade


    Whereabouts do you live and which places do you think you'll be riding mainly? Might help narrow down your search some more wrt specific shops to hit and bikes that would work well for you.

    As for lift riding, if you're thinking of Highland or Burke, you can have a good time on a Stumpy or Camber or any of the bikes mentioned previously. If you're looking to ride more Attitash or Sunday River type terrain, you're going to probably want something burlier.

  11. #11
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    I live in Boston MA, but do the weekend-warrior thing frequently- mostly singletrack and fireroad XC spots around Boston (although I'd like to get into more aggressive XC riding). I head up to south central NH and Kingdom when I can.

    From what I'm hearing, I think my best bet is to stick with the more trail oriented FS bikes. I appreciate the hardtail recommendations though, so thank you! I just want to ride (hard and fast), and don't want to box myself in to a DH-only rig.

    Has anyone had any good experiences w/ local shops in the greater Boston area?

  12. #12
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    Stumpjumper FSR or Enduro would be great choices.

    From what you are describing the Stumpjumper would be a great bike for you. I just purchased a Stumpjumper myself, and honestly if I had done a little more research I would have baught the Enduro instead. I have never taken a lift up yet. I always climb, and enjoy the climb, but I love the downhill and try to turn everything into a jump or drop. So far I am finding that the stumpjumper fsr comp 29 is handeling the climbs just the same as my hardtail, and is awesome at all drops and jumps I have taken thus far.

    I say keep doing what you are doing. Great research and demo all you can. Take your time. When you find the bike you want you will know it.

    Good luck
    "Ideal bikes are not bought, they evolve beneath you"

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bear99 View Post

    Has anyone had any good experiences w/ local shops in the greater Boston area?
    JRA in Medford is top of a lot of people's list.

    Cycle Loft in Burlington and Wheelworks in Belmont also have good selections. Ferris Wheels in JP are good folks; think they might deal in used rigs too.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kazlx View Post
    I would recommend a 5-6" FS bike. If you don't mind pedaling, but enjoy ripping the downs, it's a good place to start. You will give up a little on the climbing, but have a bike that is quite a bit more enjoyable for parks and lift assisted riding. Something like a Yeti SB-66, Banshee Rune or Spitfire, Specialized Enduro would all be good bikes. I would suggest buying something used, because you will get way more bang for your buck. Also consider renting bikes if you are going to buy new. Most shops will let you apply rental costs up to a certain point to a purchase.

    I ride a Chromag hard tail as my trail bike right now. However, if I was only going to buy one bike, it would be FS. The HT is fun, but it beats you up, especially if you want to ride rough sections fast.

    2012 Specialized Enduro Evo - Pinkbike]




    Knolly Endorphin Medium - Pinkbike

    2011 Transition Covert MED *price drop* - Pinkbike

    2011 Banshee Spitfire ? Large - Pinkbike

    I'd add the Tallboy LT and Niner RIP 9 to the mix. You should be able to find both used.

  15. #15
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    I picked up a 2014 Giant Trance 3 27.5 for just under 2K. It is a great ride and has held up to my 250# at the local BMX track several times. I did look at the the Trek Fuel as well but their 27.5 wasn't out when I was ready to buy. It was a nice ride as well.

  16. #16
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    In regards to buying used...what are the parts of the bike I should be looking at the closest to make sure I'm getting a decent deal? Obviously cracked frames, but what else? My current bike mechanics knowledge is limited, so I only ask to make sure I'm not missing anything.

    Also, I'm assuming buying used through mtbr or pinkbike is a relatively "safe" way to buy used? When I say safe, I'm assuming its an ethical marketplace for buying used? Does anyone have any horror stories about getting a lemon through mtbr or pinkbike?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bear99 View Post
    Also, I'm assuming buying used through mtbr or pinkbike is a relatively "safe" way to buy used? When I say safe, I'm assuming its an ethical marketplace for buying used? Does anyone have any horror stories about getting a lemon through mtbr or pinkbike?
    You're much better off going with a local sale. I wouldn't ever consider buying a used bike that I wasn't able to test ride and check out first hand.

  18. #18
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    Meh, not that big of a deal. Just ask for high res pics of the bike. Anyone willing to work with you should be fairly reputable, especially when getting two grand for a bike. I always try to buy locally first, because it's nice to check out in person. Also, I have never minded driving even if it's a couple hours and it's what I want. I always check profiles and posts of sellers before I buy something and don't buy from people that joined two days ago just to sell something.

    FWIW, I would buy a more aggressive bike that you think exceeds your capabilities, if that's where you want to be. IE, if you want to do drops and rail berms, don't just buy an XC bike because you feel it fits your riding better now. In all honesty, you can't beat most of the 5-6" AM bikes out right now for just plain fun all around bikes. XC bikes are lame. Sure, they climb better, but they suck to descend on. If you plan on pedaling to make it to the fun parts, buy a bike that rips, you'll have more fun and confidence. Something like a Trance would be good as well.

  19. #19
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    hardtail 26!

  20. #20
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    Re: FS or HT? 29er or 27.5? Pepsi or Coke?

    Quote Originally Posted by bear99 View Post
    In regards to buying used...what are the parts of the bike I should be looking at the closest to make sure I'm getting a decent deal? Obviously cracked frames, but what else? My current bike mechanics knowledge is limited, so I only ask to make sure I'm not missing anything.
    I've always bought locally. There are a couple things to check that are fairly comprehensive.

    First, there shouldn't be any play in any of the connections or bearings on a bicycle, except for that little bit before the freehub engages when one starts pedaling. So squeeze the brakes and try to rock the bike fore and aft. You may notice some flex but there shouldn't be any play. This is a little harder with disc brakes because some models allow a little play when they're working correctly, but the fork, at least, shouldn't have play.

    Second, a bike in good shape should go, stop and shift. Try all three of these things when you test ride.

    Third, drivetrain problems can sneak up. A badly maintained drivetrain may function okay even when it's worn out. When you finally put on a new chain, you'll discover that you need to replace the chainrings and cassette too. Very annoying, and kind of expensive. So, measure the chain for "stretch."
    http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#wear

    IME, if all the joints and interfaces are fine, the bike rides fine, and the chain isn't stretched, the bike can't be that expensively screwed up.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  21. #21
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    Thanks again to everyone on this thread!

    I have a bike comparison question - for the last week I've been almost 100% sure that a Stumpjumper FSR would be my bike-of-choice (reading reviews, checking prices and taking into account what ya'll have said in this thread) I do still plan on test driving one when I can but I'm not sure when that will be.

    Regardless,I had a convo w/ my brother over the weekend and he recommended the Trek Remedy 7 as a jumping off point. From what I can tell, its pretty comparable to the Stumpy FSR right? I think the component specs on the Trek are slightly inferior, and the Stumpy would be a tad better climbing - am I correct? Is there anyone that could compare/contrast the general pros and cons of both? I've read up what I can but I'm curious about if there is any major geo differences and a top-down view of what I could expect from either.

    Another big factor is that I can get a deal on the Trek.

    Thanks again everyone.

  22. #22
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    The Remedy and current-model Stumpjumper are competing in pretty much the same class. Try both, buy your favorite. Hop on some others too while you're at it.

    I don't think of those bikes as "trail" bikes - that's the Fuel and the Camber. But when I rode a Remedy, I could still climb singletrack - just took a little more attention. I bet the same applies to the Stumpjumper. So give 'em a shot.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  23. #23
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    FS,29er,Coke.
    I like turtles

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