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.
Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
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    Helping Female Beginner From a Distance

    Hey forum...yes, standard signed up to ask a ridiculous question n00b here. That out of the way:

    I have a friend in Seattle that is trying to get a her first mountain bike. Basic description - she's an athlete, 5'7", routinely involved in standard tri's and heavy into road cycling. She'll probably take whatever she gets in the next few weeks, ride on the weekends, and sign up for Xterra tri's occurring in Aug/Sept. So she needs a something that can get some mileage on it reasonably quick, but is still on a college student type budget. She'd like to stick around $500 for this first bike. I've told her to stay HT, unless something magical pops up on Craigslist. That said, I've been out of the scene for a while because I just ride my SC happily since 08 and haven't looked around since and I'm not that deep into the community. So, should we be primarily looking CL at that price point? She's looking for a 17" and will be XC only for the foreseeable future. I won't be around to help build anything, although I think she can do basic things like put the tires on...that's probably it if I'm honest, so I'm pretty hesitant to get her anything out of area/online.

    I've thought about having her take this bike to a shop to have it gone through, and offer him $500 cash...all that said, I think she needs something in great condition, disc brakes, 3+" travel front, wheel size matters less, and she can swap a seat out for a women's seat so no need to look at women specific bikes, she's pretty serious, and actually got mad at me for suggesting a women's bike ("why, you think I want something shitty that's also pink?"). I'll end up in Seattle in a few months to help swap bars if it needs it.

    Normally I'd say go to a shop and find a previous year model, but I don't think she can find even that for $500...

    Thoughts appreciated very much! As it stands, I'm just rummaging through the Seattle CL listings...and yes, I posted that link just in case you're so utterly bored you might end up posting some suggestions from there for me out of your sheer enjoyment browsing CL looking at bikes. But no, I don't expect responses to actually include CL links.

  2. #2
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    Grab that bike, for her!
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  3. #3
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    I really like that bike also at that price. Probably slightly on the burly side for what she's likely to 'need', but the overall quality will most likely make up for any sort of weight or 'efficiency' losses as compared to a hardtail at the same price.

    Some other possibilities that might work:

    2008 Specialized FSR XC

    2013 specialized hardrock sport

    2013 Trek Marlin 29'er (15") - Brand NEW!!!

    2010 Cannondale F5 size small mountain bike

    Specialized Enduro FSR

    Hardtail 29er Mountain Bike

    Gary fisher sugar 2+ disk

    17" Specialized Hardrock Comp Mountain Bike

    I HAVE LOTS of Bikes!! Check out my list. I BUY, SELL or TRADE
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  4. #4
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    Re: Helping Female Beginner From a Distance

    That superlight would be a great way to get into the sport.

    Maybe a tad heavy for her needs but for five or six hundred dollars I don't know how you can beat that. I'd grab it in a heartbeat assuming the fit is correct and the fork and shock function properly.

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Does she not ride with a team? If not, why not? There are a ton of teams, with a lot of different emphases, in Seattle and the area. Having people to train and race with is great and as a side benefit, it'll give her an inside line on gear, including whatever mountain bikes are getting passed around within the group.

    Seattle has an embarrassment of good bike shops. Rather than messing around with Craig's List, which can be a good way to do it, that would be my starting point. Recycled Cycles, Second Ascent, and the Play It Again near REI are good places to look for a used bike. Any of their bikes will have been tuned up, which is a nice way to start. I still like CL better than retail or a catalog for a $500 bike, but it has its pitfalls. Other bike shops often sell customers' bikes, but don't do a heavy business. So some phone calls may be merited too.

    For $500, I think I'd be trying for a bike with a Tora or maybe Recon on the front, but Rebas, SIDs and Fox forks are a bit unlikely unless the bike is quite old, maybe pre-disc brake. Disc brakes are nice here.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
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    Re: Helping Female Beginner From a Distance

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Does she not ride with a team? If not, why not? .
    I think you have put the cart before the horse.

    The OP stated she is looking for her first mountain bike to get into the sport. Kinda hard to ride with a mountain bike team when you don't even have a mountain bike.lol

  7. #7
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    The Spec XC and Trek Marlin look to be a good staring platform along with the Superlight.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the great comments, she is already picking her way through some of the suggestions, both the specific bikes and the shops. I'm clueless about the Seattle scene, so I had no clue about all the shops there, especially ones selling used or consignment type bikes. Those bikes would come with the 'likely to be low maintenance for a good while' box checked, which I think really matters. I'd hate to have her pick something up and have it need major repairs/replacements within a few months. She'll have to check a few of those shops out soon.

    Do any of you have a concept of how to use a local shop to evaluate the condition of a used bike, CL bike for instance? I've only ever had a friend in a local shop do this for me, but I always assumed you could walk in and have a mechanic give the bike a once over for some fee. Is that reasonable?

    On the team thing, it's not a bad assumption given that she is into tri's, and a lot of those people get on teams, serious or more weekend warrior ones. She moves around a lot and is fairly young, so I think she just hasn't really considered this option for normal tri's. If she was on a team for normal tri's, I do think it's a good suggestion to shake that tree for mountain equipment. So good suggestion, thanks!

    And just generally, thanks all around, all the input is great and greatly appreciated!

    I'm the idiot that didn't realize that even though she's looking, and I'm talking to her, she's actually currently in AK for 2-3 more days, so this coming weekend will be the major push through all the bikes/shops.

  9. #9
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    If she's got shops that sell used stuff around, that's a great way to go in her case. Best of both worlds - no MSRP and still get shop back-up. Can't beat it.
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  10. #10
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    If she doesn't find a good local option, I've put this bike out as something to compare to. It has a good Raidon air fork with a maintenance free sealed oil damper. The drive components are decent Shimano Alivio/Deore.
    Look up Marin Bobcat 29 on ebay.
    They also advertise the bike under Hot Deals.
    I've mentioned this bike a lot of times this season. It's kinda getting repetitive.
    I don't have any connection with the ebay listings for this bike.
    I have no connection to Crosslake or Random Bike Parts.
    And I don't get any benefit for mentioning it.
    Imo, because of the poorly spec'ed 'X' series Suntour forks on the $1k and less bikes people are being sold by their local shops this $600 bike is a good deal for a real entry level trail ready bike.
    If someone else can link to more options with better forks, please add them.
    Last edited by eb1888; 06-18-2014 at 09:57 AM.

  11. #11
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    fit is the most important, dont go by standover (17") use top tube length instead. there are some good calculators where she can figure out a good toptube length based on her torso, legs and arm lengths.

    Also I would think for xc style racing, a hardtail would be better with a steeper head angle.

    There are deals out there. For example I have a chinese carbon hardtail that weighs 21lbs that I was trying to sell for $650 but didnt get any good offers. I built it out of take offs as I upgraded my main bikes. I think there are probably a lot of bikes like that out there. Well maintained, decent parts etc.

  12. #12
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    As an update, she's back from AK and checking bikes out starting tomorrow.

    On the SC, what's y'all's estimate for cash in hand price on that assuming the fork/shock/etc checks out? It's been sitting now for a bit, so I'm thinking he'll bite on a bit less. $550?

    Santa Cruz Superlight, full suspension, disc brakes, 29 1/2 LBS

    Thanks again for all the help. Although after reading the thread, she claims I've made her sound like a transient weirdo.

  13. #13
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    I know the Specialized Myka 29" has disc brakes and is around $520 new. I was just looking at them yesterday for my wife.
    2012 Specialized Carve Comp 29
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  14. #14
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    Just as a follow up, she nabbed the SC for $550. Bike shop mechanic checked it out for her and said it should be good to go for a while and just sold her some plain peddles. She swapped the bar/stem out for a smaller set the guy had. So far she hates logs, but is otherwise loving it, so thanks for all the help!

  15. #15
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    Nice. Game on!
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  16. #16
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    Great outcome. Hope it clicks for her.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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