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 Deciding on a New Bike

    Ok, so I used to race BMX competitively but then I joined the military and moved to Maryland where there were very few opportunities for me to ride BMX. I bought a road bike and got used to riding that for 2 years, but just recently sold that when I moved down to Charleston, SC. I've been reading up on the area and there are 2-3 different trails within 30 min of my house (Marrington Plantation is 10 min away from me) and I'd like to pick up mountain biking since it's closer to my roots with BMX.

    I'm trying to decide on what bike (and really even what type of bike) to buy. From my research it seems like a 29er hardtail would be best for Marrington and the SC trails, but I move often in the military and will be going to a variety of places. Within the next year I'll either be in southern Georgia, northwest Washington state, or upstate New York. I know those are quite different terrains and I'm lost as to what to buy.

    I've narrowed my selections down to either an Airborne Goblin or Hobgoblin or a used full suspension Yeti (probably an alloy ASR-5). Would I be screwing myself by getting a hardtail if I'm headed to the Pacific Northwest/Upstate New York? I won't ever be bombing huge jumps, but I'd like to try some freeride/downhill and technical stuff if given the chance.

  2. #2
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    I'd go with more All mountain geometry and a bit more travel 5"-6" travel than XC 4" FS bike. You'd feel more at home with smaller 26" bike than big 29" bike. I like Giant Trance, Ibis Mojo, Yeti SB66, they are more "fun" than 29er.

  3. #3
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    You should probably tell us what budget you've got set in mind. I'd go for a 26" as well, but apparently 29ers have been blasting the market lately.

  4. #4
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    I guess if you are doing freeride/dh a fs is sensible. Personally, I prefer a hardtail for its handling, climbing and general maintenance.
    I would imagine a 29 would be an easier transistion for you as you have been used to riding a road bike.
    You can get a pretty good 29 hardtail for about a thousand bucks, not sure if thats the case with a fs.
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  5. #5
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    If I only had one bike, it would be a full suspension. Just more versatile. The ASR-5 gets my vote. Say hello to Wet Willie's for me!
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    You guys suck im all bummed now

  6. #6
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    My suggestion would be to try and demo a few different styles of bikes if at all possible. Given your BMX background you might enjoy one of the newer style 'all mountain' style hardtails (which generally have shorter chain stays and slacker head angles than traditional cross country frames like the Goblin).

  7. #7
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    I rode a 26" hardtail in New York and the Pacific Northwest. It was fine. I have a FS 29er too, recently. It's a smoother ride, but it hasn't turned MTB into a different sport.

    Get whatever bike you think you'll have the most fun on now. If you have time and opportunity, demo days are great. But, don't let the nicest part of the season slip away overthinking this.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    I'd like to stay under $1500 if possible, but I'd still like to get a bike with at least X7 components. If that's not possible I'd be willing to spend a little more.

    I might look for a demo day in my area, but I don't want to wait more than about 2 weeks or so because I'd like to get out there and ride.

    I bought my last road bike on ebay and got burned so I'm a little hesitant to buy another used bike like that. The top tube had a dent in it that wasn't disclosed and the derailleurs would skip gears.

    Can someone either explain or give me a nice link with an explanation as to some of the finer points of 4" vs 5" vs. 6" suspensions and some of the differences between the hobgoblin and other frames (like the ASR-5)?

  9. #9
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    More travel = more weigh . 4" is cross country territory, 5" is all mountain ,6" is freeride /downhill .You probilly are not going to get a new 5" or 6" for 1500$ The differences of the designs are to much to get into here . The best thing you can do is test ride to see if you like how it works. I ride 4" 29er ,it does anything I want it to, then again I use to ride some trails on a rigid
    bike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rangeriderdave View Post
    More travel = more weigh . 4" is cross country territory, 5" is all mountain ,6" is freeride /downhill .You probilly are not going to get a new 5" or 6" for 1500$ The differences of the designs are to much to get into here . The best thing you can do is test ride to see if you like how it works. I ride 4" 29er ,it does anything I want it to, then again I use to ride some trails on a rigid
    bike.
    What do the inches refer to? The size of the fork? Do the inches refer to the mm of shocks available? (ie 80mm, 100mm, 120mm, etc?)

    And I've also ridden a few trails on my bmx bike back in the day and while I did it, it was kind of rough.

  11. #11
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    Inches refers to the amount that the wheel will travel due to suspension.
    A nice 120mm travel bike should be able to ride most everything that a beginner can handle. If later on you decide that downhill is more your style you can look that direction.

    Sounds like you have a lot of research ahead of you
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  12. #12
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    120MM = about 4" 140mm= about 5" of travel

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rangeriderdave View Post
    120MM = about 4" 140mm= about 5" of travel
    That is not exactly accurate...
    80mm = 3.1 inches
    100mm = 3.9 inches
    120mm = 4.7 inches
    130mm = 5.1 inches
    140mm = 5.5 inches
    150mm = 5.9 inches
    2008 Redline Monocog 29er SS/Rigid
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by moefosho View Post
    Inches refers to the amount that the wheel will travel due to suspension.
    Just to clarify, it refers to the travel on the rear wheel when talking about a X" bike or frame. Most frames are designed to use a fork with similar travel as the rear shock.

    Also, the more travel a frame has, it usually is built and designed for rougher terrain. This generally means more weight (as stated above), but also slacker geometry. Slacker=more stable, but steers slower.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    You guys suck im all bummed now

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helios Black View Post
    What do the inches refer to? The size of the fork? Do the inches refer to the mm of shocks available? (ie 80mm, 100mm, 120mm, etc?)
    They refer to the length of travel of the fork (how far down it can go). Inches and mm are interchangeable depending on the location of the market and its target buyers. Europeans like mm, Americans like inches. If you get mixed up, just type in "100 mm to inches" on a search engine like google. You will find that the conversions are not exact--ie, 160 mm is about 6.3 inches.

    As far as what bike to get, I was in your shoes a little over a month ago, though my budget was $1000. I went with a 4" travel 29er (Trek Mamba), and it does most things I want it to. The most fun aspect to me is its "monstertruckability". It rolls over everything and climbs up steep technical terrain like a mountain goat. It is pretty sketchy to jump it though, and at speed, things can get pretty bumpy and I feel like I'm riding a bucking bronco. Also, it isn't the quickest bike through tight corners. I have no regrets though--I'm just happy to be on anything at all.

    I am saving up for a FS now, probably 26er, just cause I found out that I really enjoy haulin' @ss downhill, with jumps and technical terrain. I am definitely not planning on getting rid of the 29er when I do though, it definitely has its purpose for me.

    So in summary...spend some time really figuring out what kind of trails you want to ride and how often you want to ride them. Any travel left unused is a pure waste of both energy and money.

    If I had a larger budget and only room for 1 bike, I'd go with something 650b and 5".

    Hope that helps!

  16. #16
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    OP, I've bought a few new bikes and a few used bikes. Never via the internet, however. While my used bikes have always required some maintenance and parts replacement, it has yet to catch me up to the cost of a comparable new bike. Really, not even close.

    Buy local, so you can give the bike a good look and a test ride.

    $1500 is a tough pricepoint. At least, in retail bikes. It may get you a semi-okay drivetrain, but IMHO that's pretty overrated. It won't get you into a fork or brakes you're likely to want to keep long-term, and it goes even less far on FS.

    Though, at the beginning of the thread you were still considering used - the ASR-5, if it fits you and it's not too chewed, would probably give you good versatility. It's not really a DH or freeride bike, but neither are the Airborne hardtails or most 29ers. It's closer, anyway...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helios Black View Post
    Can someone either explain or give me a nice link with an explanation as to some of the finer points of 4" vs 5" vs. 6" suspensions and some of the differences between the hobgoblin and other frames (like the ASR-5)?
    There are all kinds of FS design at all travel, some are exception to the rule. But in general, it's about intended use and geometry. First thing first, low travel does not translate to better climbing bike and higher travel does always not translate to All Mountain type riding. For example the best climbing bike in my stable is a 6.5" Maverick ML8, it can out climb any bikes in my stables including hardtails.

    4" are usually XC, the geometry is more geared toward climbing(for the purpose of easy explanation) steep-ish head angle, low bottom bracket pretty much great for xc type riding. Usually position the rider in a more stretch out than more upright. There are a few exception to the rule like Transition Double a 4" FS that specialized in Dirt Jump, many of MX version from many companies such as Santa Crux Blur MX, Cannondale, they are more MX type riding.

    5"-5.5", this has become the sweet spot. You get so many choices and options that would make your head spin. Definitely more relax geometry than XC a bit more upright. There's one bike with your name on it, meaning you can find one that's more XC, or one that's more FR. Yeti 575 is a good example to this class, more travel than most but yet definitely more XC, very unique feel.

    6"-6.5" This usually the most fun of the bunch, because they are more travel and more forgiving. More slack head angle which can flatten steep descend. Higher Bottom Bracket mean you can pedal thru some rocks w/o fear of pedal strike. Many of the bikes in this category can definitely climb and can weight as little as 25lbs, but I found the sweet spot to be around 28-30lbs it a good balance of intended use components.

    Don't worry too much about the suspension design, if you stick with big brands you would not be disappointed. Most would climb and descend well. Some really stand out in terms of value, for me it would be Giant Trance X, and Trek Fuel EX7 or 8, both should be in your budget. If you can spring more my favorite would be the "Ibis Mojo special blend" at $2500 you are getting an exception value out of that popular lightweight do anything carbon FS bike.

    I posted some bias review on my club page so feel free to look around.http://forums.mtbr.com/groups/t-w-o-...g-new-bike-10/
    Hope this help, Good luck.

  18. #18
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    Thanks to everyone for the help and information! I didn't realize it was quite as complicated this. Gonna see if I can't try out a variety of bikes at my local bike shop some time this week and continue looking/reading online.

    It seems like if I'm looking for a full suspension bike taking a little more time and saving up a little more money would be the best idea also.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by fat_tires_are_fun View Post
    I guess if you are doing freeride/dh a fs is sensible. Personally, I prefer a hardtail for its handling, climbing and general maintenance.
    I would imagine a 29 would be an easier transistion for you as you have been used to riding a road bike.
    You can get a pretty good 29 hardtail for about a thousand bucks, not sure if thats the case with a fs.
    I ride 26" hardtail and have road bike. There is nothing on the road bike that will lead toward liking 29inch wheels. The two bikes are very different you cannot compare wheel size on them. I think my 26" wheels with 2.25 tires are the same OD as my 700c road bike tires with 23 mm tires.

    To be honest a solid hardtail will work just about anywhere. There is little that you can ride on FS that that you can on a hardtail. The issue is that a FS might be faster on downhills, but that is about all. I am not one for big speed on the downhills so prefer a lighter bike that climb up a hill with and then pick my way down the trail rather than bombing down. I ride mtn not for the "thrill", but for the satisfaction of completing a challenge. I like a maneuverable bike that I can place where I want on the trails rather than plowing through stuff. This is why I enjoy my 26" hardtail and have no desire to change it for something newer and shinny.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  20. #20
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    Much as I favor the supremacy of the athlete over the toy, I have to admit that the latest FS bikes can make me faster on some climbs too. And I don't ride mountain bikes for purposes of getting beaten up; I think FS and big wheels can both make for a smoother ride on trails that tend to chatter.

    I think people tend to overuse words like "need" and underestimate the ability of a 26" hardtail as ridden by a good rider around here. But bigger bikes and bigger wheels do have some legitimate advantages. Though I agree that they're more in raising the speed limit.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  21. #21
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    Help Deciding on a New Bike

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Much as I favor the supremacy of the athlete over the toy, I have to admit that the latest FS bikes can make me faster on some climbs too. And I don't ride mountain bikes for purposes of getting beaten up; I think FS and big wheels can both make for a smoother ride on trails that tend to chatter.

    I think people tend to overuse words like "need" and underestimate the ability of a 26" hardtail as ridden by a good rider around here. But bigger bikes and bigger wheels do have some legitimate advantages. Though I agree that they're more in raising the speed limit.
    I'm so happy I could cry AndrewSwitch finally gets a FS. Though I like a 29er I'm not sold on the technical riding, it feels slower and sitting "in" the bike feeling plus the lack of need to lean the bike makes me feel lazy. On the other hand lofting front wheel and unweighting rear wheel feels like I really have to muscle the bike.

    I also think that most trails were made with 26er in mind as far as the twisty-ness are concern. I have much harder time doing the switch backs on the 29er where much less effort on 26er.

    Unless I'm racing I don't care about the actual speed, I only care about perceived speed. If the bike makes me feel faster at slow speed I'm game. Best is to feel like I'm going 20mph when I'm only doing 10 but not good on the shared trail when it's the other way around.


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  22. #22
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    LOL, I moved to a place with bumpier trails. And, I'm not racing off-road much anymore. My assumption when I started looking at FS bikes again was that I'd be giving up some uphill speed, and some average speed on most circuits. So I find myself pleasantly corrected.

    I even thought I might do a trail bike. But no, it's another race bike. I actually don't feel that different on it. Probably it helps that Kona put some effort into keeping it compact and Specialized doesn't care much about the Hardrock.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I think people tend to overuse words like "need" and underestimate the ability of a 26" hardtail as ridden by a good rider around here.
    I don't know where I'd rate my riding abilities. I've never done much mountain biking just a few trails on my BMX bike. I will say that I was pretty good at racing BMX and have all the fundamentals of riding and maneuvering a bike from that. Although it has been 4 years since I rode BMX. I've never been super comfortable hitting huge jumps and getting lots air so I can't see myself doing that on a mountain bike either. I did love taking my road bike down bridges and tucking down to go as fast as possible - matching cars at 35-40 mph. I also loved pedaling and pumping as fast as I could around the BMX track.

  24. #24
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    I think your level of ability is actually a bit of a tangent. Good riders are good on any functional bike. Bad riders are bad on the nicest bikes. The equipment can change the speed limit a bit, but I think it's fairly rare for that to have a big effect on what they can and can't ride cleanly.

    I think it's more about trying to balance the kind of riding you want to do - it tends to be more fun if one doesn't have to fight the equipment too much - and the budget you have. Which is actually a fine budget as long as you're not insistent on a retail bike, which you're not.

    Make some phone calls, ride a bunch of bikes, and buy your favorite. Don't let whether or not you can buy a shiny new FS be a barrier to your entry to the sport. Buy one that someone else has already paid for the depreciation on. Or if your local market is just refusing to yield any nice FS bikes, go for a hardtail. As long as you've got a suspension fork that can be reasonably well tuned (rebound damping is important, IMO) and that tracks straight, the rest is details.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  25. #25
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    Thank you very much.

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