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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    Gary Fisher Tarpon vs Advance

    Ok...so I'm sold on the Gary Fisher Genesis 2 geometry, and I want my next mountain bike to be a Gary Fisher. Yesterday, I test rode a Gary Fisher Advance and I really liked it - even better than the Trek 4300. Technically I CAN afford the $570 pricetag, but honestly, I really don't know if I want to spend that much on a bike...and I'm not a huge fan of the orange color.

    So...there is the Tarpon for $100 less, minus the disc brakes and Alivio derailur (although I have a $25 eBay gift card I got from work so I could purchase an Alivio derailure on eBay basically for free). The Advance has 8 speeds, compared to the Tarpon's 7 speed, and the Advance has a better fork.

    Honestly, how much difference would I notice between the two models? I'm pretty much a novice mountain biker and I live in Nebraska, so there's nothing too technical here, and so far, even though disc brakes "look" really cool, I like V brakes better, at least on the low end, because they don't rub against the hub, and because they are easier to pull the lever.

    That said, would I be an utter moron for buying the Tarpon instead of the Advance?

  2. #2
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    i scooped up the advance last wednesday, and i couldnt be happier. i really hate orange aswell but ive really grown to like it. Atleast its a matte orange, which kinda helps. i tried out the felt q520 and the 4300 and this. Easy pick in my opinion. If you can eat the color go for the advance, but if you can eat not having lockout forks, discs and a couple other minor under tweaks then tarpon it is. The question is do you wanna look cool while riding or have a cool riding bike? its all the same color covered in mud and dirt anyways

    G2 does Fn rock though

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback! Honestly, I might just work overtime and upgrade to the Wahoo - 10 hours of OT gets me another $200 (or about $150 after taxes), so all I lose is time, and I get an even better bike! But I think you are right in that the Advance would be a better option than the Tarpon. Glad you like the bike!

  4. #4
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    The Tarpon has a freewheel, not a cassette.

    For me, a 7-speed threaded rear hub is an unacceptable part on a mountain bike. The reason that the standard changed is that that kind of hub tended to bend axles, and this was on road bikes. On a MTB - very silly part to spec.

    A materialistic-sounding piece of advice I happen to agree with is to try to buy the best bike you can afford. Those of us who actually work for a living can leverage other people's money by buying used. That can more-or-less double your buying power, but it can be frustrating to comb through Craig's List and deal with sellers' jacked-up prices. When I bought my current mountain bike, I was in a bit of a hurry and working a lot of hours, so I just got a new one from a shop myself.

    Honestly, the brakes on the Wahoo make me a little nervous - I didn't know Promax did hydraulic disc brakes. I have a Tektro IO disc caliper kicking around, and while it's heavy, it at least worked consistently for me. I don't know the Novela. Promax has historically been the even-cheaper option for bikes that are priced too low for Tektro.

    Bikes often come with pretty crappy housings from the factory. You can improve braking and shifting performance tremendously by refinishing the ends, so if you're having trouble tuning or you're not getting the performance you'd like from the bike, that's something to look at. However, I do think some mechanical brakes just have a heavy pull.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by heathcoat
    i scooped up the advance last wednesday, and i couldnt be happier.
    Not really - you overpaid for the spec and they scooped up your cash. A non-hydraulic XCT fork, Tourney crank, EF51 8-speed shifters, and Tektro Novela mech disc brakes?

    Once you shop around and learn components, you'll soon realize how over-priced the low-end models from Trek and Specialized are. For similar money or less when caught on sale at Performance, the GT Avalanche 2.0 Disc or 3.0 Disc provide way better components; XCM or XCR hydraulic lock-out fork, RapidFire shifters, 31.8mm bar with a 4-bolt stem, replaceable triple rings, etc. Plus, Performance offers a 100% satisfaction guaranty and 90-day price protection. Ask for that at Trek or Specialized and you'll be laughed out of the store.

    Not that the Advance or Rockhopper are bad bikes - they're just over-priced for the spec and their dealers don't have much say in it. In the assumption that consumers aren't educated in their entry-level bike purchases, Trek and Specialized know that they can get away with pricing high. Their higher-end bike are far more competitive.

    I heard a rumor that REI was having a 20% off bike sale this weekend. Be worth a look if true.

  6. #6
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    Cool. Not sure what all that yabber was about. I'm a newb, so I bought a newb bike. When I destry this one and/or get a new one and and actually spend some real $ ill take that in consideration. I am only limited to my lbs which is a trek/felt dealer. Not sure I wanna drive 2 hrs to atlanta to find other wise. But thanks for shitting on our parade

  7. #7
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    Keep in mind the value of your time and gas when you consider driving around looking for deals. It sounds like you already have. Keep in mind the amount of time and gas other people spent looking for the deals they got. Who comes out ahead is a matter of opinion.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the replies - I guess I'll have to take Mr Swith's advice about the rear hub, so I think the Tarpin might be out, although its still a bit tempting since I now know I can get about $50 off the price, so it would only be $410 before tax.

    A couple of questions:

    I'm considering the Trek 4300 (non disc) since it is the same price as the Advance (and it turns out both would be $50 off the MSRP), BUT DOESN'T COME IN THAT AWFUL ORANGE COLOR! LOL

    Outside of frame geometry and the disc brakes, how much different would it be than the Advance? Since they are priced the same, the Trek SHOULD have better components since it doesn't have disc brakes - does the Trek have better components? A lot of the components look the same. Here is the link:

    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes.../4_series/4300

    Also, my only concern about the Gary Fisher frame geometry is the stretched out position because of the longer top tube, especially for long term lower back damage. What do you guys think about that?
    Last edited by getagrip; 03-16-2011 at 08:05 PM.

  9. #9
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    If it feels stretched out to you when you're riding at the intensity you use trail riding, it's too long. It might not cause long term damage, but it'll hurt, and the problem will keep dogging you in one way or another as long as you own the bike.

    You said "next mountain bike" in your original post. Can I take that to mean you own one now, and already do some mountain biking? In that case, how bikes feel on test rides is going to be pretty good information. The first bike is the hardest, I think. People getting their first don't have a good context for evaluating bike feel, or an idea of what one should feel like, or at least what it shouldn't.

    4300 vs. Advance... The drivetrain on the 4300 is clearly better. I'm not sure how the forks compare, so I won't try to guess. I think the wheels on the Advance are slightly better, but the difference is marginal. If the 4300 works better for you when you're riding the bike, though, that's the most important thing.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    I've owned three mountain bikes since 2008. I started with a Baracuda A 2 Z I purchased on eBay, then moved up to a Trek 820, which I really liked. After I sold the 820, I purchased a 3700, which was ok, but I didn't like it as much as the 820, and the fork always squeaked when I hit bumps, so that kind of drove me crazy, and I ended up selling it once I reached 500 miles on it. I purchased a Giant Roam 2 at the end of Janaury - great bike for a lot of the riding I do, but not quite rugged enough for off road riding.

    Honestly, I'm pretty much a novice, and have done almost zero mountain biking. Just before I sold the 820, I took it off road and really enjoyed it. I never took the 3700 off road, but I've really had the itch to go off roading again, hence the reason I want to buy a mountain bike. That desire to purchase a mountain bike actually increased after I purchased the Roam, oddly enough, and I really really really want to hit the trails, which, technically, I could do with my Roam, but I don't want to beat it up.

    My experience with my latest test ride was a little weird, because instead of driving, I rode my Roam to the bike shop (the Roam is like a 29er mountain bike with skinnier tires). When I rode the Advance, it felt different, but I also liked it. The Trek 4300 Disc felt a lot more upright compared to the Advance, but I didn't like the shifters and it did feel a little odd, but I'm not too concerned about that because its not too different from the 820 in terms of geometry, and the non disc model has the same shifters as the Advance. Also, after my first couple of rides on the 820, it didn't feel right, even though I liked it when I test rode it, but it didn't take long for me to really like it, so I'm not too concerned about how the 4300 felt, as I'm sure I'd get used to it.

    So, that's kind of where I'm at. Its amazing how much juggling around I've done. I almost purchased a Revel, but went with the Roam instead - almost purchased from Bikes Direct, but now I'm kind of down on them and am really high on Gary Fisher and possibly Trek again. I might be able to get a really really really good price on a 2010 Advance, but that involves driving quite a few miles to a different city, and I'm at least 1 or 2 paychecks away from doing that, so that may not be an option if they sell out by the time I'm ready to buy.

    How long have you been riding?

  11. #11
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    On and off, for a pretty long time. I started riding a bike to school when I was 14, then started riding trails when I went to college in 1999. That time, it actually didn't last that long - maybe a year and a half. A knee injury and a different set of priorities stopped me from riding as a sport for a couple of years, although I kept commuting. I started getting some road miles again in 2005 or 2006, picked up the current mountain bike in 2007, and had another shot at rehabbing the knee, which worked out a lot better that time around. I didn't get to ride off-road much, though, because I was in Manhattan. Manhattan sucks for mountain biking, at least for a guy who fell in love with cycling doing cross-country and riding country roads in Northern California. I started getting a lot of miles again in 2008, on- and off-road, including resuming some cyclocross racing, and I started competing in mountain bike races (I'd already done a few 'cross races on a MTB - soul-destroying to do run-ups that way compared to with a real 'cross bike) in 2009.

    That's kinda why I made my forum title "Fat-tired roadie." I've made a commitment to spending more of my ride time off-road this season, but except for college, being able to walk out the front door and ride my road bike vs. taking the subway or my car somewhere first has made it hard to be as much of a mountain biker as I'd prefer. I'd still like to get the Schwinn Mesa I started on back from the friend I sold it to, but it's been kind of a back-burner project because he's in a different city, and it's in a far enough reach of his parents' garage that I doubt he'll sell it before I can at least make an offer.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    First time posting, glad I stumbled across here.

    I am just getting back into biking after a long break. I haven't really ridden since 1998.

    I am looking around the same price range you are talking about and actually I am looking at the same models.

    I have narrowed things down to, I think, the 2011 Tarpon, 3900 and a 2010 Advance. Only thing with the Advance I have to drive a little bit, but the good thing it is the same chain as my LBS, so I should be able to get the servicing done locally. I could pay $25 to have it shipped here, but I don't work too far away from the one with the 2010 Advance in stock.

    Are the components in the 2010 Advance that much better than a 2011 Tarpon?
    I am not up to the new stuff. but the main things I see different are :

    Forks
    Advance has SunTour SF10-XCM w/G2 offset, 100mm-travel
    Tarpon has SR SunTour S11 XCT, 100mm-travel

    Rear Derailer
    Advance has Shimano Alivio
    Tarpon has Altus

    Rear Cogs
    Advance has SRAM PG830, 8-speed: 11-32
    Tarpon has Shimano, 7-speed: 14-34

    Shifters
    Not sure what Advance has, just says Shimano
    Tarpon has Shimano ST-EF51

    Hubs
    Advance has Shimano RM30
    Tarpon has Formula

    Crank
    Not sure Advance
    Tarpon has Tourney
    Looks the frame, brakes, tires and some other things are the same.

    I am still looking at the local Craigslist to see if anything pops up, but I am not known for patience... lol.

  13. #13
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    At risk of being "that guy," I'm going to quote myself...

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    The Tarpon has a freewheel, not a cassette.

    For me, a 7-speed threaded rear hub is an unacceptable part on a mountain bike. The reason that the standard changed is that that kind of hub tended to bend axles, and this was on road bikes. On a MTB - very silly part to spec.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    At risk of being "that guy," I'm going to quote myself...
    Andrew, yeah I saw that. I am guessing the Advance, even the 2010 has a cassette?

    At being the risk of being that guy (the clueless) what is the difference between a cassette and freewheel?

    So would you go for the older Advance vs a new Tarpon. They are pretty much the exact price.

    Or what about a 2010 Trek 4300?
    I have read that I should pretty much stay away from the 3 series, if I want to do anything offroad.

    Or Maybe a 2010 Wahoo, if I can deal with the Green...
    Last edited by Sandman69; 03-17-2011 at 07:51 PM.

  15. #15
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    From Sheldon Brown's extremely informative web site. (sheldonbrown.com - read it, when you're not going to be late for something. It's very absorbing, at least for a geek like me.)

    The problem's not actually the freewheel itself. It's the hub. You can see that the one on the left exposes quite a few spacers. They provide minimal support to the axle, so it's easy for it to get damaged. The hub on the right accepts a cassette. The freehub is the part containing the ratcheting device, and it's attached with a big-ass hollow bolt (depends on model, but most manufacturers do some variation of this.) So the load of the bike is put on the axle much closer to the dropout. The hollow bolt would take a fair amount of load, but it's a lot bigger than the axle.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    This site explains the difference. http://www.sheldonbrown.com/free-k7.html

    The last sentence in the third paragraph sums it up nicely, "Most decent-quality bikes made since the late 1980s have used this greatly improved design [cassettes]".

    edit Andrew beat me to it.

  17. #17
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    Very cool information. That pictures says a lot. And thanks to both of you for the site link. I will definitely check it out.
    I have been away from biking for quite a few years, and even when I was biking I wasn't knowledgable of the different component types. I had a crap beater that worked fine for me. I did upgrade quite a bit on it, but nothing outrageous.
    Now I can afford something and want to make sure I get something that is decent. Stopping at the shop in the morning and hopefully I come out with one that I can use for many years.
    Hoping the 2010 Wahoo Green isn't too much for me, since it seems to be a good price.
    I think it will be either that or the Advance, which I like the blue much more.

    I am hoping that the guy above bashing the Advance is overstating things. I am not a serious biker or that worried about getting the best, I just want something that I can have fun with and will take minimal abuse. I don't plan on doing anything too serious.

    Thanks again.

  18. #18
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    Interesting. A couple of questions:

    How much abuse would it take a break a hub, specifically a formula hub? In other words, would single track be ok, but only if you did not do any jumps? Or would the hub break only on two to four foot drops and that kind of a thing? What about "bunny hops"? After so many would the hub just break?

    Are ALL 7 speed freewheel hubs like that or just certain models?

    If the rear hub is bad, wouldn't the front hub be bad too?

    Thanks for the information you provided. I did find a picture or a broken Formula hub online (see below) - its on several websites, but I've only found one photo.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/drocksays/1260866019/
    Last edited by getagrip; 03-17-2011 at 09:21 PM.

  19. #19
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    I just picked up a Diamondback Response Comp for $499 for my fiancee.
    Tora 289 120mm fork
    X.5 front/rear derailleur with X.5 shifters
    Avid BB5 brakes
    Double wall rims!!!
    Sram Blaze 3.0 crankset

    Much much much better then others in that price range.

  20. #20
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    That's quite the failure. I'd say that all hubs can have parts of the flanges ripped off if you hit them hard enough, although a poor manufacturing process would tend to make it more likely. So I wouldn't worry about the flanges, unless the hub established a particular reputation for failing.

    How much abuse to actually break a hub? Front hubs are generally fairly well-behaved. Sooner or later they wear out, but it's unusual for one to actually fail. I have miles and miles on a worn out front hub on my commuter. I may throw out that wheel in a couple weeks, but I'm not expecting it to break. It just rumbles and wastes some of my energy. Sooner or later, it'll probably seize.

    Rear hubs are more problematic. While I guess age and metal fatigue might matter in breaking an axle, I think it would be more likely to be either a single hard impact, or a single hard impact putting a big crack in the axle and then you're JRA and bang! you need a new wheel. People do report having the axle just suddenly break on Wal-mart bikes, but I suspect that even Formula's cheapest hubs already have a stronger steel.

    I think Formula's loose ball hubs, front and rear, are garbage, but unfortunately you have to spend a lot more money on a bike to get better hubs. They'll get you through your first season or your first couple of seasons, and you don't need to feel bad about not maintaining them. Their higher-end, cartridge bearing hubs are supposed to be fine.

    I'm not sure it's really possible to design a freewheel hub that's sturdy. The problem is that a bearing with really little balls doesn't tend to have a great wear life, so the engineer needs to decide whether to use the little bit of real estate inside the threaded part for a bearing with larger balls, or a larger axle. If the axle were bigger, it would need to taper at the ends to sit in a dropout correctly. So suddenly, a relatively simple design has a fairly expensive part added to it and the bearing is a lot worse. You can also try a solid axle instead of the hollow one, but an insane proportion of the bending strength of a shaft comes from the outer part.

    That being said, I actually have a lot of miles and a certain amount of abuse on a 6-speed freewheel hub. I don't know why 6-7 is the breaking point for this type of hub, because people got a ton of mileage on their 5-speed freewheel hubs too. But it was durability problems that led to the design of the current freehub style.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbfzurowski
    I just picked up a Diamondback Response Comp for $499 for my fiancee.
    Tora 289 120mm fork
    X.5 front/rear derailleur with X.5 shifters
    Avid BB5 brakes
    Double wall rims!!!
    Sram Blaze 3.0 crankset

    Much much much better then others in that price range.
    Hmmm, that is a nice looking bike. Will have to take a look at one of those as well.
    I like that it has a locking Fork for the times I am on the road, and has disc brakes...
    Hmmmm...
    Where did you get the Comp for 499? The couple sites I found it are around 600.

    I am guessing the Sport's SR SUNTOUR XCM 120MM SUSPENSION FORK are not locking.
    Last edited by Sandman69; 03-17-2011 at 09:44 PM.

  22. #22
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    I just found a link to the hub section of the Formula website. Here are links to both the front and rear hubs on the Tarpon:

    Front:

    http://www.formulahubs.com/en/formul...=detail&aid=40


    Rear:

    http://www.formulahubs.com/en/formul...=detail&aid=41

    How close are these hubs, particularely the rear, to the one on the website you referenced? To me, they look different and the ones at the Formula website look a lot more rugged, although I can see similarities (like the threads you mentioned).

  23. #23
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    http://taylorsbikeshop.com/product/d...comp-14801.htm

    only size 16, this is the 2009 model

  24. #24
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    Bummer, I need a 19 or 20.

    Think I will go with the Advance then. No locking Fork or Disk Brakes, but it will be through the LBS so I get the support.

    Though maybe the Response Sport would be worth looking at. Dang, really wanted to get a bike in the morning. Maybe I can wait a couple more days of research.
    No, don't think my patience will allow that... heh...

  25. #25
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    If i were you, i'd do the response sport.
    at least it has double walled rims, so you wont have to true them every ride like with the single walled once. I assume @ 19-20 frame your a heavy guy

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