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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    Help Clear My Head

    So, I'm looking to buy a new bike, but I want to make sure I'm making a smart decision on my purchase. Who isn't, right? I currently ride a 2002 Giant Boulder SE, and it has served its purpose pretty well. It's been about a year since I've actually ridden on the trail, and my first time back on the bike last week was pretty miserable. I'm thinking a new bike will give me motivation to get back into riding.

    A few cold hard facts about myself. I'm about to turn 31, I'm a little overweight, and out of shape. I'm fairly athletic, but clearly not what I used to be. I don't plan to compete with anybody besides my friends, who are in the same shape as myself or worse.

    MTB is not overly popular in my area, and there are only a few decent trails that I would be riding on a regular basis. This means two things to me:

    1) Even though the testosterone in me wants to spend the money and buy a full suspension bike, I know it is way overkill for the riding I will doing.

    2) My local selection of bikes are pretty limited both new and used.

    So, I have been to my 2 local shops and ridden a Giant Revel and Talon, also a Specialized Hardrock and Rockhopper. All 29er versions. They were all in a parking lot, and I don't believe they will allow me to take anything to an actual trail.

    Out of these bikes, I believe I felt the most comfortable on the Rockhopper, and my local shop has a close out on 2013 model Rockhopper 29er Comp for $950plus tax.

    Here is my curveball, I've been reading the forums, and have seen the Airborne bikes recommended several times. It seems like the Guardian is comparable to the Rockhopper, even though I believe they built it to compete with the Hardrock line component wise. Am I wrong on this?

    So, at about $400 less I can get a comparable bike to the Rockhopper? I'm also thinking that I could put a little more money into it if the time comes, and outperform the Rockhopper. Of course, being that I've never seen, much less, slung a leg over the Airborne, I'm completely clueless as to how the geometry of it would feel.

    Sorry for for the long post, and I welcome any advice that can be given.

  2. #2
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    I disagree with 1). If you're mountain biking on trails that are actually mountain biking, the right FS can be pretty nice. It's not about need. And it's not overkill until it compromises something that matters. Something with a modest amount of travel (I ride 100/100) doesn't necessarily give up anything to a hardtail anymore.

    An '02 Boulder should have relatively contemporary geometry and a crappy suspension fork. All the bikes you're talking about have relatively contemporary geometry and crappy suspension forks. Granted, the Guardian leaves you with $400 more in your pocket. But not buying any of these bikes leaves you with $950 more in your pocket.

    So unless you have a specific problem with the Boulder that you think can only be addressed by a new bike - like if the frame is the wrong size for you - let me propose a new option.

    1) Take another look at the setup of your Boulder. Take your time and tune it up. (Or have a shop do it, I don't know how busy/handy you are.) Fix whatever's broken. I bet you have enough money left to put a real fork, disc front wheel, front disc brakes, and nice tires on it. You get neither a nice fork nor nice tires on a retail bike until you're willing to spend a lot more. You'll end up with a bit of a frankenbike, but IMO, that beats making a series of incremental upgrades that each cost money and keep you on mediocre bikes.

    2) Keep looking for used. I prefer local, but there's also EBay, visiting a larger town, etc. And, when I had something specific in mind, it took me a couple weeks to find it on CL. I set up a saved search. I'm glad I did, I didn't feel comfortable spending the money to get the bike I wanted if I had to buy it new, even on a team form. It just takes more time and leg work.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply! I guess I never really thought about upgrading my current ride, and I have to agree that the cheapest option would be to keep what I have. I just had my bike tuned at my LBS, and they didn't find anything they could charge me for. So, I would say it's in pretty good shape to be almost 12 years old.

    There are a few reasons I felt like a new bike would be advantageous for me. I believe I have outgrown the frame, and that an upgrade to 29" wheels would be a pretty good step forward. Also, while I agree that the bikes I'm looking at are entry level, I'm assuming entry level 2002 compared to entry level 2014 are completely different bikes. Of course, I realize that I could be wrong here.

    The trails I ride are pretty flat, and probably pretty smooth compared to other areas of the country. There are some small roots that I think the 29" wheels would make far easier to traverse. Other than that, there are no drops or really anything that would get both wheels off the ground unless I hop over a downed tree. This is why I think the FS bikes are a little overkill.

  4. #4
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    If you mean "outgrown" in a figurative sense, you've also outgrown a new Rockhopper. Or you've outgrown neither. If you mean it in a literal sense - like you got a couple inches taller since '02, well, that's what I meant about a frame being the wrong size.

    Entry level hardtail frames haven't changed much. Disc brakes are ubiquitous now. That's about it. Some still run short in the top tube, some don't. That's a size issue too.

    29" wheels are nice. But they haven't changed what I can and can't ride. Certainly they'd be a reason for a do-over, but I don't believe it makes as much difference as the fork and tires. So I think you also need to look at what you want to spend on this over the next five years - do you want to buy a cheap bike now and spend the next couple seasons replacing all the cheap bits? It's an expensive way to get a mid-priced bike. Or were you hoping to buy a bike now(ish) and ride it without replacing any big-ticket stuff for the next five years? I think that's not really about money for most people. I suspect the people who upgradeitis their bikes would still do it if they came out of the box really awesome. But cheap bikes do back one into spending a lot on replacement components.

    Smooth would be a reason not to do FS. But flat actually isn't. Suspension travel isn't about landing jumps. It's about smoothing chatter. DH guys may define larger things as "chatter," but when they land those ridiculous 20' table tops, that's about timing and what they do physically. You see dirt jumps kids on big stuff too, and they ride tiny hardtails with 60 mm forks.

    Anyway, get your demo on. Give a 29er a try on trails and see if it really does rock your world. Try a FS bike on trails and see if it really is overkill. Maybe put away a bit more money, if it's feasible for you. One of the biggest last things an entry-level mountain bike can do for you is give you the time to try some things and really nail your second bike. Hopefully none of us is on his last bike ever; I decided recently that I'd be relatively content if I get about five years (though I usually get more) out of each bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    I've outgrown it size wise, I don't imagine I'll be outgrowing anything skill wise for a while.

    I'm more specifically asking about an upgradeable platform if I decide to do so. From what I have read, unless a person spends a few thousand dollars, upgrades are recommended. Which, I believe, you are saying in your last post, and I agree. Guys that are going to upgrade will upgrade regardless of their starting platform.

    I have a a pretty old bike without a single upgrade. So, in the next 5 years, slight upgrades are possible, but not extremely likely. I ride for fun and to stay active, if I advance more than that I will upgrade to a new platform.

    Is a Rockhopper a good starting platform for mild trail riding, and if so, is the Guardian a comparable platform at $400 less? If not, any suggestions on where to look? I can spend the extra money if there is good reason, but I would like to keep price down considering I don't need to be competitive.

  6. #6
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    You don't have to upgrade. Part of my goal with my own new bike was to avoid getting into that again. It's expensive, inefficient, and often wasteful.

    If you want to buy a bike and not throw parts at it, keep watching Craig's List. Also phone all your local shops and ask about it. I think used from a shop is a great way to go because I do think shops add some real value to the process and you also get to stretch a buck. If you can visit a shop specializing in used bikes, you can still ride a few bikes. Since you've grown out of your Boulder, being able to try a few sizes all at once could be really helpful.

    I don't really like reading spec lists. It's boring, and it's nothing you can't figure out on your own. Put them side by side with bikepedia.com or Excel and research the stuff you don't recognize. Usually the catalog bikes are better on specs. They sometimes have weird geometries and cheaper frames. If you know what size you need, they can be a good deal. They're usually still more expensive than used, and you get a chance to test ride used bikes. That's important to me.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    You can also pickup a new bike on jenson or crc this time of year or even just a frame. Lots of sales going on, I just bought spare cassettes and chains off crc as they were 50% off. You can also check pinkbike for used bikes and components, I have bought en lots of used stuff off there and no complaints.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bencatchot View Post
    I've outgrown it size wise, I don't imagine I'll be outgrowing anything skill wise for a while.

    I'm more specifically asking about an upgradeable platform if I decide to do so. From what I have read, unless a person spends a few thousand dollars, upgrades are recommended. Which, I believe, you are saying in your last post, and I agree. Guys that are going to upgrade will upgrade regardless of their starting platform.

    I have a a pretty old bike without a single upgrade. So, in the next 5 years, slight upgrades are possible, but not extremely likely. I ride for fun and to stay active, if I advance more than that I will upgrade to a new platform.

    Is a Rockhopper a good starting platform for mild trail riding, and if so, is the Guardian a comparable platform at $400 less? If not, any suggestions on where to look? I can spend the extra money if there is good reason, but I would like to keep price down considering I don't need to be competitive.
    I feel like a broken record, but I have some frequently offered advice that applies here:

    1. Buy a bike because you like riding it, not because you perceive it as a "good deal". A bike you like to ride will get ridden more and enjoyed for longer than a bike that you got a good price on and therefore will become a better purchase.

    2. If you have physically outgrown your current bike then you should be looking for a new bike. Upgrading a bike that doesn't fit is not a good plan. If you had a multiple thousand dollar frame but it did't fit, I would still recommend getting rid of it and getting a bike that fits properly, even it wasn't as "high end" as the bike it was replacing.

    3. Buying a bike to upgrade it, especially with high dollar parts like suspension, is not cost effective. Unless you get a very good deal on your bike or the parts you are attaching to it you will almost always end up spending more money upgrading. Now this might be ok with you, spreading out the higher cost over more time, but it is worth mentioning that it will take you a fair amount of effort not to spend more money on the upgrade path as well as you needing to be able to identify the right parts for your bike and how they will affect the ride without actually being able to try most things out. If you're going to spend $600 on a fork, you better be sure it's the fork you really want!

    4. I don't know what the type of riding you're going to be doing is nor do I know what type of riding you might be doing in another 5 years but try and plan for anything you can see happening. If you and your group is starting to get faster or try some harder trails in your area, maybe that trend is going to continue and maybe that means you might want a different bike in a few years. Or maybe that means that FS is a good investment (I'd recommend not spending less than $1000 on an FS bike for various reasons). Or perhaps you'll keep having fun doing what you're doing and a simple refresh at the Rockhopper level would be perfect to keep you out there. See how hazy your crystal ball is, maybe it can help pick a bike.

    5. The Guardian isn't a Rockhopper that costs $400 less, is it a bike that costs $400 less than the Rockhopper. They're not gifting you $400 worth of free stuff, you're paying for it (or loosing something) one way or the other. Bikesdirect is famous for this business practice of overstating value (compare to a Trek bike which costs $18,000 more!!! They both have the same tires, it must be the same bike!) and all the major brands have been hiding lower end drivetrains behind the higher end derailleur (the part you can see easily) for many years. You get nice parts in one place (usually a fork or derailleurs) while something else suffers (very often handlebars, stems, seatposts, wheels, tires). When they tell you the superblender on TV is a $99 value and they're selling it to you for $10, it really means it's a $10 value.

    6. Does that mean the Guardian is a bad bike? No it does not. You should consider all the options in your price range. Ideally with test rides, but that's just me. Why not consider the Seeker as well? Pretty good set of specs on that one. The Goblin Evolution is more my type of bike, less race and more play. Of course, comes with a hefty price tag. You have lots of great options from something from major manufacturers like the Rockhopper to other stuff like the On-One Inbred (The 456 is only a couple hundred more too).

    7. Do you know enough about bikes to look at a geometry table and know what that bike will ride like? If not, do some research until you can and if you still don't get it, don't buy a bike you can't ride first. Likewise if you can't identify how a bike has been treated then don't buy used.

    I could keep going on and on (I usually do) but it comes down to this: buy a bike, don't buy a collection of parts. Buy something that matches with what you like to do on a bike, buy something in your budget, but don't be afraid to put off the purchase for a little while if you can save up for something that would really make you happy. After all, if it's not fun you won't ride it.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  9. #9
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    Man, this thread was supposed to clear my head, not add to the mushiness. Haha

    I understand and agree with the first 4 points made in the above post. Great points by the way.

    Number 5 is a bit unclear to me. I'm not sure if you're saying that the guardian is a good price considering its specs, or if it only appears to the untrained eye that it is fair priced. Also, are you saying that the Rockhopper is worth the extra $400, or is that price over inflated? I guess the real question is, if the bikes were the same price, which one should be chosen? Keeping in mind that by using the term "these bikes", I'm not only talking about the guardian and the Rockhopper. I'm definitely open to plugging any two bikes in that formula.

    To me, the untrained eye, the guardian looks to have similar quality specs as the Rockhopper. I have also read that the guardian geometry is similar to the Rockhopper, but clearly that is speculation or opinion from most people. I am definitely not familiar enough with geometry specs to understand what they mean in person.

    Also, I am considering the seeker as well, which means that for only a couple hundred more I can just get the Goblin. And, if I'm spending the little extra, why not just go for the Hobgoblin. This is the issue I'm trying to clear in my head. It's not that I can't spend the extra money, it's that is there a need for me to spend the extra money, where do I draw the line?. What would "I" gain for "my" skill set by spending the extra?

    My local trails, south Alabama, are fairly mild, and I likely won't outgrow them for some time. I have no false aspirations that I will be in any competitive races, nor will I be pulling any red bull rampage style stunts. So, I'm only trying to optimize my fun level with the purchase of a new bike. I'm definitely not opposed to buying something used, and I'm pretty skilled with a wrench in my hand.

    I want to say that I do not intend for any of my words to be taken as disrespectful as the internet often can spin questions. I appreciate any and all feedback from this forum.

  10. #10
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    People always say "I won't ride any crazy trails" or "I won't be in any competitive races."

    Why not?

    I think the fastest category in my local series is 35-44 Expert. If you've been athletic, you should get it back relatively quickly. You're going to get comfortable on your bike, then start getting faster then the other people on your trails, and then start wondering if you're ready to race. About the same time, you're going to get bored of riding the same old trails and get curious about the ones higher up the mountain. Hopefully you'll also be losing weight, though portion control is important for that too, not just getting a bike that works for you.

    Now that we know your Boulder physically doesn't fit you and given its age, you're basically starting from zero, bike-wise.

    So, ride a bunch of bikes and buy your favorite. Try to hop on something too small and something too big, so you know what that feels like. That should help you narrow it down to a good size for you.

    If $950 is representative of your budget, I still like used for you if you can ride several of them at once.

    There are a couple ways catalog bikes are cheaper than the name-brand bikes whose specs they compete with. To begin with, the frames are usually cheaper. Sometimes that means heavier, sometimes it's weird or dated geometry. One thing I've always appreciated about my little Hardrock is that it let me have a good, athletic riding position, even if it was at the very bottom of Specialized's line. What zebra is saying is that catalog bikes have a ton of places they can economize, so they often do it some place they think people won't notice.

    Catalog bikes also cut bike shops out of the process. I think bike shops can add a lot of value, and I think I've generally benefited by buying bikes through that channel when I have. When I bought my newest one, for example, I thought I should be on a 16" based on the geometry charts. But I was able to demo one and found I wanted something with more room within the frame - I use bottles - and I could afford to lose a little weight over the front wheel. So I bought the 18", and I'm very happy with it. My 'cross bike is the first road bike I've owned that's actually the right size for me, and it was because I bought it from a shop that I finally got it right.

    Not every shop is on a traditional new bikes/retail model. Make a few calls and see if you've got a used bikes, or even general sporting equipment shop near you. Ride a lot of bikes there and you can keep a lot of the value-added from the retail route but also stretch your dollar.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
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    I guess I won't say never, just that if I get to that point, I'll be overly enthused to upgrade to a better bike. As far as going higher up the mountain, I'm sure you mean that figuratively, but without driving several hundred miles, higher up the mountain is pretty limited for me. So, as I get better, I will definitely make a few trips to those trails, but it would only be a few times a year.

    I agree that an LBS purchase is optimal, and definitely adds value to the transaction. Unfortunately, I only have 2 shops that are local to me, and I rode everything that I considered to be within my price range, some out of my price range. As far as used bike shops go, I'm unaware of any in my area. I have been to the few used sporting goods stores around town, but the best they had were some older name brand bikes and mongooses.

    I have scoured craigslist for about 2 months now, and have found a few good deals on relatively newer FS bikes, but they were more than I wanted to spend. I've also looked at pinkbike and this site for used, but I couldn't find anything that interested me within driving distance. So, if I'm going to have something shipped to me, I may as well buy it new right?

    Im a pretty patient guy, and I don't buy much of anything without researching to the point of nausea. However, I'm ready to get back in the game, and I'm not sure if my LBS adds $400 to the value of the purchase. This is what has made me look to catalogue bikes. That said, Airborne has been the only company that, in my opinion, is strongly recommended by a large number of people. I have seen people talk about getting good deals on other sites, but it is usually followed by "if you know what you're looking for".

    So, I think that I am pretty set on buying from either Airborne or my LBS, unless I can find a used bike pretty soon.
    Last edited by Bencatchot; 12-30-2013 at 08:13 PM.

  12. #12
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    It sounds like you are around the Mobile AL area? I live in Mobile and we have more then 2 LBS's.. There is Cycle Therapy that deals with Treks, Adventure Earth that deals in Jamis and Cannondale. The Giant Dealer is Cadence 120. I just picked up a Jamis Dragon Chromo from Adventure earth at a awesome price. I would search around more at all the LBS's and test ride, test ride , test ride until you find something you really like. You will know it when you feel it.. Buying local does have its advantages as most of them will do tune ups and maintenance for you. I am still a newb to riding as I have been out of the game for several years.

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    I live in Spanish Fort, but I work in Mobile. I haven't heard of cycle therapy or adventure earth. I thought the shop on hillcrest had gone out of business years ago, but I will definitely be checking them out.

    Am I missing anything else? I know about Spoke N Trail, but I just don't like the store. I've never had a bad experience there, and the people have always been friendly and eager to help, I just don't like it. Weird I know?

  14. #14
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    Older name-brand can be a great way to do it. I'd want to stick to bikes recent enough and high-end enough to have disc brakes, 80 mm or more of suspension travel up front, and a threadless headset. That'll give you good cross-compatibility with all the current aftermarket parts, which means good maintainability without getting backed into replacing half the bike when something breaks.

    That gives you a window of a little over ten years.

    Incidentally, two of my current bikes are bikes I bought secondhand. I even race one of them.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bencatchot View Post
    Number 5 is a bit unclear to me. I'm not sure if you're saying that the guardian is a good price considering its specs, or if it only appears to the untrained eye that it is fair priced.
    What I'm saying is that if you're looking at any two bikes (let's ignore the Rockhopper and Guardian specifically) with a $400 difference in price that they will not have the same specs. So while they might have the same shifters or suspension attached to them something else will be different to make up for that $400 price difference. Sometimes it's worthwhile, sometimes maybe not; it all depends on what you're looking for. I'd probably happily pay more for a better fork if it came with lower end bars and such but I wouldn't be quite as happy if it meant I'd have to deal with really heavy and weak wheels.

    The big brands get amazing prices on components because they buy in massive quantities so how are the online brands charging less for the same thing? They'll tell you that they cut out all the overhead, but I don't buy that in the quantities both business models operate in that there can be such a large difference. I find that more often they put the money into either the more obvious parts or the more functional parts than most major brands do. The bigger brands spread the money across more parts where the small companies opt to put a handfull of nicer parts on with the rest (and usually the frame) at a lower level. It's all a tradeoff, just be aware of what you're buying and don't get tricked into thinking you're getting something for nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bencatchot View Post
    To me, the untrained eye, the guardian looks to have similar quality specs as the Rockhopper. I have also read that the guardian geometry is similar to the Rockhopper, but clearly that is speculation or opinion from most people. I am definitely not familiar enough with geometry specs to understand what they mean in person.

    Also, I am considering the seeker as well, which means that for only a couple hundred more I can just get the Goblin. And, if I'm spending the little extra, why not just go for the Hobgoblin. This is the issue I'm trying to clear in my head. It's not that I can't spend the extra money, it's that is there a need for me to spend the extra money, where do I draw the line?. What would "I" gain for "my" skill set by spending the extra?
    This is something I see a lot of people in the beginner forum wrestle with, and for good reason. How does one justify spending more when they don't know what they're doing. I think the assumption is that the more expensive bikes are for racing where the less expensive bikes are for recreation and in a very general sense that is a reasonable way to draw a line for someone who isn't familiar with bikes.

    I'm here to tell you that you're wrong. Let's take a simple example like the Rockhopper; the RH comes in three flavors, each more expensive than the others. They all come with the exact same frame (to my knowledge) so each time you spend more money you get better parts all around. So why would you spend more?

    More expensive parts work better for longer.

    You'll spend less money in the long run replacing worn out pieces (unless you buy the absolute highest end stuff which sometimes sacrifices durability for weight, but I'm ignoring this for now), you'll spend less time/money getting tune ups or working on your gear, and you'll have a better experience every day out on the trail because your parts will function better. Shifts will be sharper and faster, suspension will work better, be more tuneable, be serviceable, and last longer.

    It gets a little more complicated when you compare different manufactures to each other. The Goblin, Seeker, and Guardian are all the same frame so it's the same story as the Rockhopper family, better parts on each upgrade which will work better and last longer. When we compare the Goblin to the Hobgoblin then we start to see that the added complexity of the rear suspension means that we give up some higher end parts. A totally reasonable expectation to trade rear squish for parts at that price point and it's up to you and your trails to know if this is a good path to follow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bencatchot View Post
    My local trails, south Alabama, are fairly mild, and I likely won't outgrow them for some time. I have no false aspirations that I will be in any competitive races, nor will I be pulling any red bull rampage style stunts. So, I'm only trying to optimize my fun level with the purchase of a new bike. I'm definitely not opposed to buying something used, and I'm pretty skilled with a wrench in my hand.

    I want to say that I do not intend for any of my words to be taken as disrespectful as the internet often can spin questions. I appreciate any and all feedback from this forum.
    Andrw, as usual, had good advice on this point. Just remember that if you have the money to spend a nicer bike will almost always add to the experience of riding. If you don't have the money, don't worry about it and get what you can get. Riding a bike is better than not riding a bike no matter what. If you are close to affording your "dream bike" then save up a while otherwise get what you think you'll like.

    In your position, I would recommend buying a bike that you can ride before purchasing. Even around a parking lot you'll know a lot more about a bike if you can sit on it and ride it than you can learn by looking at pictures and reviews online. You'll find out if the bike is twitchy or slow, if the handlebars are a big drop from the saddle, it's its comfortable, if the bike shifts or brakes well, and you'll get an overall picture of what the bike is like. Unless you have a wide experience of riding bikes it's hard to make the same assessment of a bike by looking at geometry tables. After you've ridden several options and you still feel like you need to consider bikes you can't ride take a look at the geometry numbers of the bikes you've rode and compare them to the geometry numbers of bikes you're considering online. Research what a degree of head angle will do, research what longer or shorter chainstays do. I'm not sure that you'll gain much from including online options, other than a headache, but it all depends on how you're doing in your bike hunt.

    The ultimate way to pick a bike is to find a dirt demo and go ride bikes out on the trails in your area. Search manufacturer's websites or ask your shops if anything like that ever comes to your area.
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  16. #16
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    Dude get the guardian. All the reviews are great and it'll probably be perfect for what you're doing

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  17. #17
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    JUST REMEMBER that ANY bike you buy is going to be great!

    It's possible you might have got a better deal, or maybe a bike slightly better suited to your type of riding.
    But WHATEVER you buy is going to enable you to have some fun on your local trails.

    Of course you need to make sure you get the right size bike for you, and make your comparisons between the various models in your price range, but do not get too stressed about whether you bought the absolute best bike in your budget (although you probably did when all is said and done)

  18. #18
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    Well, I did something I probably shouldn't have yesterday. I tested out an FS bike, and now I'm agreeing more with Andrew about FS bikes. It was like riding a cloud, and I really couldn't tell much of a difference in pedaling efficiency when riding up an incline.

    So, back into research mode I go. I also want to say thanks to Wigenout for pointing out the other two LBS near me. I took a few Treks for a spin, and they seemed to have pretty good value for the money. Unfortunately, the shop had been wiped out of inventory for the holidays, and they didn't really have anything in my size (besides the $3000 FS bike) for me to ride.

  19. #19
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    I was avoiding riding FS bikes until a few years ago. People on the Internet can be so bullish about them, and I was in the middle of reinventing myself, so I didn't expect to be able to afford one for a while. Then I started thinking that since demo days travel through relatively infrequently and I was expecting to start having some disposable income again, it wouldn't kill me to ride a few. I wouldn't want to ignore an entire category of bikes that I might like better, and throw a bunch of money at some new hotness that I'd regret as soon as finding out what the fuss is about.

    The thing is that some of the good linkages are now a few years old. So all the same channels that can get you a nice hardtail for less than $1700 can also get you a nice FS for less than $2200. Really, more like several hundred for either.

    Make sure to test ride. Even more so for FS. I was wondering before a recent trip if I'd been unfair to my friend's old FSR, and if I could get it to pedal well now that I've had the experience of tuning my new bike, but I still didn't like it that much. I'd definitely rather ride a mediocre FS than not ride, or go for a run, but I'd rather have had a hardtail. Especially when I blew the shock. :-P The point being, all FS bikes are not created equal, and I don't believe they're categorically better. You need to pick the right one. Sounds like you've already got a candidate, so that's a start.

    It doesn't hurt to ask your shop if they've got a line on a particular model for less money. Sometimes shops with a good relationship with the brand and the brand's local rep can get you bikes that have been sitting in a warehouse for a while or that were on the demo tour. These are still sold with a warranty, so you just lose out on this year's Bold New Graphics and maybe the seat post is chewed from being put at a million different heights. Obviously selection is the other sacrifice here, and IMO you should pass up a bike that's the wrong size.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  20. #20
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    I was considering this Motobecane Gravity before I found my Jamis Dragon. It has some great components on it and I read the Gravity frames are pretty good as well.
    2013 gravity hardtail mountainbike

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    Would you recommend a higher spec'ed HT vs a lower spec'ed FS?

    $1000 can get you a pretty decent HT (for the regular joe) with higher end components, whereas FS bikes start around $1500-$2000 but obviously the components are sacrificed for the rear suspension.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bencatchot View Post
    Would you recommend a higher spec'ed HT vs a lower spec'ed FS?

    $1000 can get you a pretty decent HT (for the regular joe) with higher end components, whereas FS bikes start around $1500-$2000 but obviously the components are sacrificed for the rear suspension.
    Ride your options, pick the one that you like most.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  23. #23
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    Re: Help Clear My Head

    Quote Originally Posted by Bencatchot View Post
    Would you recommend a higher spec'ed HT vs a lower spec'ed FS?

    $1000 can get you a pretty decent HT (for the regular joe) with higher end components, whereas FS bikes start around $1500-$2000 but obviously the components are sacrificed for the rear suspension.
    The answer, as always, is "it depends."

    At a pricepoint where the FS ships with a decent fork and shock, sure. There are hardtails available well up into the wonderbike price range, so almost all of us could have chosen a hardtail with a better fork and/or fancier frame and wheels.

    I think it's a matter of what's sacrificed. I think I'd have been looking at a step higher fork, drivetrain, and maybe a carbon frame. (Maybe not, I didn't really research hardtails this time 'round - I wanted rear suspension.) But at the price I was comfortable with, I was still getting a fork and shock with fairly fancy dampers. So for me, adding rear suspension was a lot more important than adding a damper I might not have been able to distinguish from the one I have anyway, or having a more expensive drivetrain than the already highly functional one I have anyway. I even get a slightly exotic aluminum alloy already.

    On the other hand, if moving to FS means getting a crappy shock and fork, I don't think it would be the right decision.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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