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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    Help me choose a bike

    I know there are already about 20 threads with people asking mainly the same questions, but here is mine. It is going to be a long post, because I want to get as much information out there as possible so you pro's can help me decide.

    What type of riding I am interested in: I live in Michigan and we have a decent amount of trail riding available near where I live. Some of the places near me are Maybury Park, Potawatomi, etc. I think they are mostly intermediate type trails: climbing, hills, roots. So this is the terrain I will be riding most. I'd love to live in CA or CO where I could actually ride down a mountain... but right now I am in Michigan. If there are jumps - I would probably hit them. I come from a BMX background (but stopped riding when I started driving). My main interest in Mountain Bike riding is having fun and getting in shape/workout.

    Bikes: I don't need a FS, so a decent hard tail is what I am looking for. I stopped by the LBS yesterday and the lady pointed me in the direction of the Giant Rincon and the Trek 4300. Both seem like decent starter bikes, but she mentioned that some of the components are very "entry level". I am looking for something that may be a little better than "entry level", but don't want to get into the $1000+ bikes.

    Things I do want:
    - front forks with lockout
    - disc brakes


    So like I said, I've looked at the Giant Rincon and Trek 4300 in person - they seemed ok. The Giant Rincon doesn't have lockout shocks but only costs $500. The Trek has a lockout shock but costs at least $600 if you want the disc brakes.

    Then I was looking on the REI website (I'm a member) and came across a few bikes that I thought looked decent (here is where I need your guys' opinions). Keep in mind that I have a $50 dividend from last year, and since I'm a new member - I get 20% off all purchases up until April 19th (I'm pretty sure I can use the 20% off on a bike):


    http://www.rei.com/CompareProduct/User?storeId=8000


    Looking at those bikes.... what would you say is the best bike for my needs, while also not being at the "bottom of the barrel" with components?

    I've read the reviews on this site and on other sites online... and I can't seem to gauge the real quality of the bikes. Some people say "this bike is awesome", and some say "I wouldnt ride this if it were free". Some of the bikes are more expensive than the $500 Rincon, but I'd rather have something that I can ride without the urge to upgrade as soon as I get it.


    So... sorry for the long post. Let me know what you guys think, and I'll answer any other questions you have for me as a rider.

    Thanks
    Steve

  2. #2
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    Ok.... a couple of quick edits.

    1. I cannot use the 20% REI coupon on any bike brands other than Novara

    2. To add to my "component want list" - I think I should add double-walled rims. Or just decent wheels in general.

    3. The link I provided only shows up on my computer for the bikes I have check marked, so I'll add the direct links below:


    Raleigh Mojave 8.0 (2009): http://www.rei.com/product/784067

    Novara Ponderosa (I could get the 20% discount here): http://www.rei.com/product/791128

    Marin Bobcat: http://www.rei.com/product/795498

    Cannondale F7 (there is also an F5, but it cost $200 more, is it worth it?): http://www.rei.com/product/796395


    GT Avalanche 3.0 (GT makes good BMX, what about MTB?): http://www.rei.com/product/796416

    Scott Aspect 55 (big difference from 45?): http://www.rei.com/product/797337



    I know this is a lot of bikes...but im just trying to get as much info as possible.


    Thanks again
    Steve

  3. #3
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    The Novara is the best specced bike you listed. If you can use the 20% coupon and they have one that fits you I'd say it's a no brainer.

    David B.

  4. #4
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    You sound like you pretty much know what you're doing already. You just have to make up your mind.
    GregRidesTrails.com--An informational and instructional mountain bike blog.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbGreg
    You sound like you pretty much know what you're doing already. You just have to make up your mind.

    OK well if it were you.... which of those bikes (or any other $500-700 bikes) would you choose, and why?


    I guess the things I don't know yet, are which of those components are good enough, and which would probably need to be changed in the future because they are not as "good".


    Forks for example: on the list, almost every bike has a dif. set of forks:

    Rockshox Dart 1, 2, and 3
    Suntour XCM
    RST Gila Pro

    Brakes:

    Most have Avid BB5, some have Tektro, some have Shimano


    I'm heading up to REI after work today, so I'll get to see these in person (hopefully they have them in stock) and I can ask the staff what their opinions are as well.

    Right now I feel like it is between the Novara, Cannondale F7, and Raleigh Mojave....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbospartan
    OK well if it were you.... which of those bikes (or any other $500-700 bikes) would you choose, and why?


    I guess the things I don't know yet, are which of those components are good enough, and which would probably need to be changed in the future because they are not as "good".


    Forks for example: on the list, almost every bike has a dif. set of forks:

    Rockshox Dart 1, 2, and 3
    Suntour XCM
    RST Gila Pro

    Brakes:

    Most have Avid BB5, some have Tektro, some have Shimano


    I'm heading up to REI after work today, so I'll get to see these in person (hopefully they have them in stock) and I can ask the staff what their opinions are as well.

    Right now I feel like it is between the Novara, Cannondale F7, and Raleigh Mojave....
    If it were me, I'd go with a Rockshox fork over the other options by far, and would go with Avid brakes. But I'd recommend BB7's over BB5's, but that would kick up your price tag. The nicer the components, the more you're going to spend.
    GregRidesTrails.com--An informational and instructional mountain bike blog.

  7. #7
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    I'm shopping in the same price range. My order of preference (from the bikes on your list) looks something like this:

    Scott Aspect 55
    Scott Aspect 45
    Raleigh Talus 8.0
    GT Avalanche 2.0 Disc
    Marin Bobcat Trail

    That Raleigh Talus 8.0 is an awesome bike for the money. You can also get a pretty nice deal on last year's model for cheap on the website. (It was called the Raleigh Mojave 8.0.) They'll ship it to the store for you for free.

    I took the Cannondale F7 off my list because that RST fork is supposed to be crap. I figure I can get a better bike for the money. (And they raised the price on the F5 this year.)

    Concerning the difference between the 55 and the 45, everything on the 45 is a little better. Suntour XCM versus XCR. A step up in the derailleurs. Hydraulic brakes, nicer rims. Etc. etc.

    I have no knowledge of the Novara bicycles, but I might look into them now.

    If you'd like to see my whole list in order just for a frame of reference. (Also, you'll see that I have a lot more narrowing down to do than yourself.)

    Fezzari Kings Peak
    Felt Q620
    Scott Aspect 55
    Scott Aspect 45
    Raleigh Talus 8.0
    GF Wahoo Disc
    Trek 4500
    Mongoose Tyax Elite
    Kona Blast
    Sp Rockhopper Comp Disc
    GT Avalanche 2.0 Disc
    DiamondBack Response Comp
    Marin Bobcat Trail
    Sp Hardrock Sport Disc

    EDIT: Also, my requirements are almost exactly the same as yours. I want a front fork with lockout and disc brakes. I want decent rims that I won't have to immediately replace (tires too, but rims take priority). I want something a step above entry level but still under $800.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsmosher
    I'm shopping in the same price range. My order of preference (from the bikes on your list) looks something like this:

    Scott Aspect 55
    Scott Aspect 45
    Raleigh Talus 8.0
    GT Avalanche 2.0 Disc
    Marin Bobcat Trail

    That Raleigh Talus 8.0 is an awesome bike for the money. You can also get a pretty nice deal on last year's model for cheap on the website. (It was called the Raleigh Mojave 8.0.) They'll ship it to the store for you for free.

    I took the Cannondale F7 off my list because that RST fork is supposed to be crap. I figure I can get a better bike for the money. (And they raised the price on the F5 this year.)

    Concerning the difference between the 55 and the 45, everything on the 45 is a little better. Suntour XCM versus XCR. A step up in the derailleurs. Hydraulic brakes, nicer rims. Etc. etc.

    I have no knowledge of the Novara bicycles, but I might look into them now.

    If you'd like to see my whole list in order just for a frame of reference. (Also, you'll see that I have a lot more narrowing down to do than yourself.)

    Fezzari Kings Peak
    Felt Q620
    Scott Aspect 55
    Scott Aspect 45
    Raleigh Talus 8.0
    GF Wahoo Disc
    Trek 4500
    Mongoose Tyax Elite
    Kona Blast
    Sp Rockhopper Comp Disc
    GT Avalanche 2.0 Disc
    DiamondBack Response Comp
    Marin Bobcat Trail
    Sp Hardrock Sport Disc

    EDIT: Also, my requirements are almost exactly the same as yours. I want a front fork with lockout and disc brakes. I want decent rims that I won't have to immediately replace (tires too, but rims take priority). I want something a step above entry level but still under $800.

    Thanks for you input.

    You basically want the same thing as me.... so what do you think you'll go with?

    The Raleigh Mojave and Novara both seem pretty good..... can anyone state whether or not they think those 2 are at the same level or better than the Trek 4300 and Giant Rincon?

    Thanks

  9. #9
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    Currently, I'm going to be consumed with work (working 6-7 days per week) for the next three weeks or so. So I am in no rush and am watching eBay/Craigslist for a nice used deal on one of the bikes I listed. I am hoping to find a decent bike for $200-300 and go from there. (Especially since I'm not even sure I'm going to enjoy mountain bike riding.)

    If I was going to buy a bike new... depending on the return policy, I would probably get the 2009 Raleigh Mojave 8.0 from the REI website. It is an excellent bike specs-wise, but I would be leery about buying the bike without riding it first. (They don't carry Raleighs in the store by my house yet.)

  10. #10
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    So I went to REI and they didn't really have anything in stock.

    I wanted to see the Novara but they only had the 29er, and they don't carry the Raleighs in this store.

    Can anyone comment on which bike has the better components, the Raleigh or the Novara?

    I'm leaning towards the Raleigh. The good thing about buying from REI is that you can return the bike if it doesn't fit....so I could switch to the Novara if I wanted.

  11. #11
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    It's not cut and dry.

    The tires are a wash between the two.

    The Novara has a better drivetrain (and is 27spd) and better rims.

    The Raleigh has a better fork.

    At the MSRP, that Novara seems way overpriced to me. At $680, it seems like a very good deal.

    Also, it's relatively easy to get a new fork. Getting a new cassette, rear derailleur (to make the Raleigh 27spd), front derailleur, etc. etc. is going to be more costly and more work. Another consideration.

    I don't think anyone's going to be able to choose for you. If you can't test ride them, you're going to have to bite the bullet on one of them.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsmosher
    It's not cut and dry.

    The tires are a wash between the two.

    The Novara has a better drivetrain (and is 27spd) and better rims.

    The Raleigh has a better fork.

    At the MSRP, that Novara seems way overpriced to me. At $680, it seems like a very good deal.

    Also, it's relatively easy to get a new fork. Getting a new cassette, rear derailleur (to make the Raleigh 27spd), front derailleur, etc. etc. is going to be more costly and more work. Another consideration.

    I don't think anyone's going to be able to choose for you. If you can't test ride them, you're going to have to bite the bullet on one of them.

    Ok....I'm really thinking of going with the Novara then.

    From what the rep at REI said, the Novara comes with SRAM 7 components (which are 3rd best from SRAM, under levels 9 and 10).

    The RockShox Dart 2 is basically the same as the Dart 3, just a little heavier (found this info online) - and both are basically entry level shocks. If I were really basing it on shock quality... I'd have to upgrade either anyway.

    If the Novara has better rims, drivetrain, pretty much the same shock, and equal everything else.... it's only $50 more.

    It's just too bad that they didnt have any in stock so I couldn't test one out. They had a 29er that was size Large, but I'm only about 5'6", so the rep said I'd be best with a size Small.

  13. #13
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    Save some money and just buy the Target bike: It's specs look almost equal to the Novara at less than half the price.

  14. #14
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    Noya's really been pushing that bike. Even if you upgrade the fork, it's still cheaper and not a bad deal, I suppose.

    Not to steal your thread, but I bought a bike today off eBay!

    new 2009 Scott Aspect 45 ($525 with shipping)

    http://www.bikepedia.com/quickbike/B...t+45&Type=bike

    I can't wait to ride it. It has everything I want- I just want to get a little bit nicer of a front derailleur.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsmosher
    Noya's really been pushing that bike. Even if you upgrade the fork, it's still cheaper and not a bad deal, I suppose.

    Not to steal your thread, but I bought a bike today off eBay!

    new 2009 Scott Aspect 45 ($525 with shipping)

    http://www.bikepedia.com/quickbike/B...t+45&Type=bike

    I can't wait to ride it. It has everything I want- I just want to get a little bit nicer of a front derailleur.
    Nice, that's the closeout price I got from a quick google.

  16. #16
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    http://www.rei.com/product/780962

    I was willing to go that high. $560.

    At REI though, they only have small sizes.

  17. #17
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    How is the suntour fork compared to the rockshox dart series?



    I am all confused now asto what I should do....stick with the Target bike on a budget, go with a deal like this Scott or Novara, or buy an even better used bike online.

    Has anyone ever bought off of pinkbike.com?

    I found a 2008 BMC Fourstroke 03 for $850ish

  18. #18
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    From the reviews I've read, the Suntour XCM is supposed to be on par with the Dart 2.

    And the Suntour XCR is supposed to be on par with the Dart 3.

    As others have pointed out to me though, if you really start to enjoy mountain biking, all of these forks are very entry level and will be replaced as your skill improves.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbospartan
    How is the suntour fork compared to the rockshox dart series?

    I am all confused now asto what I should do....stick with the Target bike on a budget, go with a deal like this Scott or Novara, or buy an even better used bike online.
    They're both crap forks that can be bought for like $60-80 online, they're basically a steel spring in a tube- pogostick. The cheapest fork with some adjust-ability and strength (32mm stanchions) are variants of the Rock Shox Tora ($180-250). When you get into the higher end forks ($350+) they have all sorts of adjustments to suit your weight, riding style, riding surfaces, etc. Forget about having lock-out on an entry level fork (Dart Suntour) it just doesn't matter and certainly isn't worth paying an extra $50 for unless all you're doing is riding 45 degrees or greater uphill for an hour at a time (and in that case you're going to go back down the mountain and you'll want something better than a Dart/Suntour).

    Let me ask you a few questions:
    -When is the last time you rode a bicycle?
    -Have you ever been mountain biking before? cross country? downhill? If the answer is no, just buy the cheapest new bike you can along with a helmet (yes, like the Forge @ Target.com sign up for a Target Visa for 10% off) and go out and ride it for the summer. You'll have buckets of fun, learn what kind of mt. biking you like and don't like and then buy a good bike that suits you next spring/summer.
    Last edited by Noya; 04-09-2010 at 05:49 PM.

  20. #20
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    I just bought a bike. I'm brand new to the sport but it is Addicting. I got the Specialized Hardrock Disc. Picked mine up for 500. I looked at reviews and all were 4-5 on a 5 point scale. Don't know if it helps. But the bike is amazing, I've done a lot of downhill rides and Xc so far, and I haven't had any problems. (except stock tubes are crap).
    I have also jumped my bike a little, I live in Utah so there is jumping all over they say. I don't really know though because i just started.
    The bike shops say go with a bike that has a solid frame and you can upgrade later on for better components.
    Lock out shocks really aren't that big of a deal, so if a bike has them great if not then your not going to miss out on anything. Would you turn the suspension in your car off? That's how I looked at it, I want a smooth ride at all times, even if i have to pedal a little harder while riding up hill.
    Hope this helps. Beginner to beginner.

  21. #21
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    I just bought a Windsor Cliff 29er Pro for $700 from BikesDirect.com. Took it out for a ride yesterday and it just blew my mind. For that price you get a really great component set:

    SRAM X-7 Front and Rear Deraillers
    X-7 Shifters
    Avid Juicy Five Hydraulic Brakes
    RockShox Tora Race Air fork (awesome!)
    Truvativ FiveD Crankset

    They have other great deals there too, but I can only speak on this one. The Cliff 29er Comp also seems like a very solid deal for $500 which may be closer to your target price point.
    Here's a review I just posted of the whole build and first ride report:
    Windsor Cliff 29R Pro - Build Thread and Ride Report

    Product Page: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...cliff29pro.htm

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jdenney
    I just bought a bike. I'm brand new to the sport but it is Addicting. I got the Specialized Hardrock Disc. Picked mine up for 500. I looked at reviews and all were 4-5 on a 5 point scale. Don't know if it helps. But the bike is amazing, I've done a lot of downhill rides and Xc so far, and I haven't had any problems. (except stock tubes are crap).
    I have also jumped my bike a little, I live in Utah so there is jumping all over they say. I don't really know though because i just started.
    The bike shops say go with a bike that has a solid frame and you can upgrade later on for better components.
    Lock out shocks really aren't that big of a deal, so if a bike has them great if not then your not going to miss out on anything. Would you turn the suspension in your car off? That's how I looked at it, I want a smooth ride at all times, even if i have to pedal a little harder while riding up hill.
    Hope this helps. Beginner to beginner.
    Way to go man. You are well on your way to mountain biker-epicness (or something like that)
    GregRidesTrails.com--An informational and instructional mountain bike blog.

  23. #23
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    Ok I wanted to give an update as to where I am at...

    I've found that BMC Fourstroke 03 (2008) for a pretty good price, now I just need to know if there is anything I should look out for.

    My 2 main things I'm worried about:


    1. Size. I am 5'6" and the guy says his wife (thats whose bike it was) was 5'7" and she had no problems on this bike, and its a 15". I went to the LBS today and tried a 15" and a 17" bike out.... the 17" felt a little tall, and I was basically sitting on the top tube.

    I just don't want this thing to be too small. I know I will ride it before I make a decision, but its a few hour drive from where I am, so any advice in advance would help.

    (I also started a thread in the "custom build and other manufacturers" forum, where I found other BMC threads).


    2. Life-span of components. The guy said the bike frame and some of the components have at most 80 hours on them, and his wife averaged 7mph.

    Would that mean this was a heavily used bike, average, low, etc? I've been told that although these are quality components (mostly LX or XT) - as they get more miles they can start to break down.



    Hopefully you guys can help give me your opinions on those 2 questions.... everything I've read about the bike basically says it rocks, and it has a lot of upgrades too (such as the Fox R-32 front fork, will less than 5 hours on it, and all new rims/tires).

    Thanks again.
    Steve

  24. #24
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    The only reason I didn't get a used bike, although yes you can save a little up front. But you will have to replace parts faster. LBS also offer discounts and will help if the bike breaks right after you get it.
    Also I don't really know how many hours is a lot of hours. I just got my bike a couple weeks ago and I have around 10hrs on it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbospartan
    1. Size. I am 5'6" and the guy says his wife (thats whose bike it was) was 5'7" and she had no problems on this bike, and its a 15". I went to the LBS today and tried a 15" and a 17" bike out.... the 17" felt a little tall, and I was basically sitting on the top tube.
    From what I've read, your inseam (as opposed to your height) is a more accurate means of estimating bike frame size. Place a book between your legs firmly pressed against your pelvic muscle (i.e. right under your balls) and square off the book against a flat wall. Mark that off and measure from the floor up. Obviously do this barefoot. That's your inseam.

    However, this is only an estimate, and only you can tell how you like the fit and feel of different frame sizes.

    Top tube size is also (supposedly) the most important measurement. (Top bar going from seat to handlebars. "Effective top tube" is an invisible line from seat to handlebars.) And this is something that is different from manufacturer to manufacturer even within the same frame size.

    So... just try it out, I guess I'm saying.

    Quote Originally Posted by turbospartan
    2. Life-span of components. The guy said the bike frame and some of the components have at most 80 hours on them, and his wife averaged 7mph.

    Would that mean this was a heavily used bike, average, low, etc? I've been told that although these are quality components (mostly LX or XT) - as they get more miles they can start to break down.
    It sounds like she barely rode it. 7mph? Also, if you think about it, 80 hours is something like an hour a week (over the course of 2 years). She obviously didn't get into biking as much as her boyfriend had hoped... or something. I'm just not sure why she (or he) bought such a nice bike?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jdenney
    LBS also offer discounts and will help if the bike breaks right after you get it.
    Don't underestimate the value of this above all. This was one of the primary reasons that I was very reluctant to buy used from Craigslist/eBay. However, my thriftiness got the best of me in the end.

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