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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    Greetings, Noob Here

    Hey all. Noob to MTB per se, but have wanted to do some off-road riding for years. I played at BMX as a kid and have an early 90s Bianchi hybrid that I have ridden the crap out of.

    I'm 6-1, 33" bike inseam. After snooping around a bit, I ordered a Fantom 29 Sport from BD. Hope I didnt pork up too badly. Beginning to think I might should have gone for the 529HT instead. Thoughts on that choice welcome (yes I know the ins and outs of used, LBS, BD, etc.). The bike should be here Friday, so I guess if I'm going to send it back for a different one, I had better get convinced soon.

    The Bianchi taught me the off-road limitations of a hybrid, but I am not sure how hard core I will ever get. In all likelihood I will probably be pounding a lot of pavement on the way to some fairly mild trails. My sense of self-preservation from the BMX days tells me I probably wont get too hard core.

    Anyway, I look forward to learning and growing.

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I doubt that there's a difference that matters between the bike you ordered and the one you didn't.

    When my brother ordered a road bike to commute on from BD, I told him to check out the new bike assembly checklist on parktool.com. You probably won't have to do everything on it, but you should at least check what each line references. Definitely make sure the spokes have adequate tension and the wheels are true - having a good wheel build before your first ride should help their service life.

    Good luck!
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Cool thanks. Yeah I have bike build experience going back to middle school. The problem is going to be finding my spoke wrenches, etc. I'm not too worried about that. Wheel truing though is something I never got particularly good at. If there's a problem there, its off to the LBS I guess.

    I'm also kind of curious about disc brakes, as that is new to me.

    Odd thing, the bike I ordered has a Suntour FD. Wut? AFAIK Suntour hasn't made derailleurs since they almost failed years ago. The Bianchi has Suntour and their fronts used to generally be better regarded than Shimano on the lower end of things anyway.

  4. #4
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    I believe it's a different Suntour. I think the name got bought. Kind of fits in with the bike you ordered being called a Motobecane, actually.

    I wouldn't have a ton of confidence in it. But I imagine you gave your budget some thought and this is what you're comfortable with.

    If you can't make it work, you can always pick up a Deore front derailleur for about $30 later. I wouldn't buy anything lower-end aftermarket. Not enough difference in the price to go below Deore, IMO, and I think above Deore is where diminishing returns kick in. Not that I don't have some SLX on my bikes, but I'm as vain as anybody else.

    What disc brakes does the bike come with? At the low end, they're not really competitive with good Vs. At the high end, they're a pretty amazing improvement over anything I used in the past.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Tektra novelas? Yeah, I went cheap on purpose. I was very tempted by the Airborne Guardian, but given that I don't really know how deep I will go into this, couldn't justify the relatively small difference.

    Yeah I know Suntour is a different company now, one that hasn't made derailleurs as far as I know. Wonder if it's some kind of NOS.

    The one thing I may regret is the bad fork, but you have to up the budget fairly significantly to get a good one. If I break or find the Suntour fork wholly inadequate, that will be my first sign that maybe a bigger investment is in order.

  6. #6
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    Not sure what the details are, but Suntour does have an upgrade program for their forks. You can get a pretty decent air fork for around $200. Might be worth looking into.

    SR Suntour North America | SR Suntour Customer Loyalty Upgrade Program
    Quote Originally Posted by Psycle151 View Post
    Friggin' coward. Give me a red chiclet instead of debating like a man. You don't deserve your green blocks.

  7. #7
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Suntour's new owners do a whole drivetrain. They just don't show up much on bikes sold in this country. There are actually a few companies trying to squeeze into the niche SRAM has been leaving behind now that they've moved upmarket. There's also Microshift and SunRace.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    Yeah I had seen that, thank you. I will certainly bear that in mind if I outstrip the XCR. I am a bit concerned that I wind up not doing anything beyond what I already do with the hybrid, in which case I'll have a new bike and that's about it.

  9. #9
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    That bike is put together for bike paths and dirt road riding. The primary limiter is the fork. It is a coil spring with grease inside 28mm stanchions. That size stanchion is flexy when going through rocks and leaned in turns. 32mm is more common. It lacks adjustable rebound- at speed over multiple bumps it will pogo. It weighs a lot- 6.2 lbs. 2 lbs. less is common. Inside the bushings are plastic not metal.

  10. #10
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    Absolutely understood. Thanks. I may not ever do bumps at speed, just kind of depends how comfortable I can get with things. I fully understand that upgrades are in my future if I continue in the hobby.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Suntour's new owners do a whole drivetrain. They just don't show up much on bikes sold in this country. There are actually a few companies trying to squeeze into the niche SRAM has been leaving behind now that they've moved upmarket. There's also Microshift and SunRace.
    Sunracer! There's a blast from the past. They (Suntour) don't show anything on their site other than cranks. And there's a vacuum of information on derailleurs on the intergoogles for anything that isnt from the early 90s or earlier.

  12. #12
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    Well, I have now been on two trail rides and enjoyed them immensely, even though I couldn't do crap. The tree gates were quite the experience all by themselves. On today's ride, it rained a little (refreshing!) but quickly made gumbo mud that made things a little exciting.

    I think I'm going to enjoy this hobby.

  13. #13
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  14. #14
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    Thanks for all the feedback and tips. While I am going to enjoy trail riding, the fork, pro or con, was not terribly noticeable. I pulled up to sort of hop some larger roots and the fork did smooth the landing and of course I could roll right over them with the fork. I avoided most of the "technical stuff," in part because I wondered how bad it would be with the fork. In particular, one trail went over some riprap under an overpass and I avoided that, not really knowing what it would be like with or without the fork and it looked painful to fall on and a potential ankle twister if I didn't fall.

    I imagine it will take me a while to get to a point that I feel the need to upgrade the fork.

  15. #15
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    Sounds like I'm following the same path as the OP, more or less. Started with a Trek DS and am waiting for a Motobecane Fantom 29 LTD from BD. I don't see myself going all crazy trying to tackle the hardest stuff out there, I'm too fat and old for that. For the money I have available to me currently, it seemed like a safe place to start.
    We have met the enemy, and it is us. Pogo

  16. #16
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    Here's two vids.
    One on how to stay on your pedals going over rocks and roots- the 'low heels' technique.
    Straight Lines with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    One on cornering.
    Cornering with Fabien Barel - YouTube

  17. #17
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    Yes thanks, i have seen those. I was practicing both techniques during the rides. Especially the corner lean when it got kind of muddy to see if it helped the traction, but I think I was going a bit slow to make much difference.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyguy1001 View Post
    Sounds like I'm following the same path as the OP, more or less. Started with a Trek DS and am waiting for a Motobecane Fantom 29 LTD from BD. I don't see myself going all crazy trying to tackle the hardest stuff out there, I'm too fat and old for that. For the money I have available to me currently, it seemed like a safe place to start.
    I'll say this. I trolled ads for a while and didn't see many large frame 29ers so I gave up on that. Most of the used inventory at the two LBS were more sophisticated (and expensive) than I wanted. There were probably some tremendous deals on some of those, but I'm not in a position to evaluate an FS bike or a carbon hardtail.

    And I found bikes that were quite comparable to the bike I got, but mostly a good bit more expensive and still with the entry level suntour shock.

    I think if I had started looking a couple months earlier, I could have gotten some good deals on 2013s maybe or if I waited a few months more on 2014s.

    I'm reasonably happy with what I got. It rides real nice so far and my only complaint is a stiff front derailleur (getting into big ring, its a dream on the other two).

  19. #19
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    Sounds like your front derailleur's tuned wrong. Are you running up against the high limit screw?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  20. #20
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    No, it just takes a good bit of force to get in the high ring. My old bike is the same way. It's still "springy" up to and beyond the third detent.

    However! Based on your post, I went out and took the upper limit screw out a quarter then a half turn and it may have loosened it up a tad (hard to get left hand over there in riding position, but it seemed a bit looser).

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