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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    How much to spend on the first MTB?

    I've been struggling on how much I should spend on a MTB, I haven't ride for a long time, but I really enjoy and now that I recently moved to a place with lots of outdoor space with trails an hills I think it's time to come back to the sport.

    I have tried lots of bikes lately from $600 to $1500 so far, even though I pretty much can say which one feels better for me I start to think how much money I should spend on the bike! Don't wanna go for the cheapest which would make me look for something else a couple months later, but I also don't think I have all that money to spend $3000 on a bike...

    I'm currently looking for a 29er, and so far the Scale 29 Elite is the one I'm looking at, but I also have tried Cobia, Mamba, even 26er that are also good but for sure have lower quality components...

    I wonder if going to a better bike would keep me away from spending more money on upgrades longer than if I go with a cheaper one...

    What do you guys think? I really don't have my budget set yet, but probably won't be going much over $1500, and actually still thinking if I should keep under $1000

  2. #2
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    I'm no expert but I love my Giants. Just traded a 26" Yukon for a Talon 29er 1. Just be sure to budget for all the stuff you need. Helmet, spare tubes, saddle bag, basic tools, pump. if you want also, computer, camelback, lock, rack, and so on. It adds up real damn quick.

  3. #3
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    It's always a rule of thumb to get the most expensive bike that you can afford at that time that way you will start off with a good platform and the upgrade bug won't bite you as quickly... not saying it won't at all because it seems to bite everyone at some point! But if you get the most expensive one you can afford from the beginning it will actually be worthy of any kind of expensive upgrades you may wanna throw at it.

  4. #4
    T.W.O.
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    To a rider who's new to mountain bike the difference between a $1000 HT and $3000 is very little. Spend the same $1000 on the FS especially used one he/she can tell the difference right away.

    It's best if you can do a few demo rides on the trail before you make your purchase, check if there are some that offer by bike companies in your area. Try to do a few at least to familiarize the trail once you know the trail you can tell how different bike react in the corner, climb, descend, and obstacles.

  5. #5
    bi-winning
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    Get something decent in the $1000-1500 range. Below that, the OEM suspension forks especially tend to leave many riders unimpressed, leading them towards an expensive upgrade.

    FWIW, my first non department store bike was $1100, and it went for a few years without getting any significant upgrades.
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.


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  6. #6
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    I would get this bike for the money you cant beat it. You get a sid fork elixer r brakes a good wheel set good crank and cassette and shifters the whole bike is top and its 21.9 lbs

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/.../fly_pro_x.htm

  7. #7
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    I have been thinking alot and I dont think I will ever purchase anything but a BD bike for a ht as long as the prices stay good. These other companies are gouging us because they know we will pay. Unless you need a special race geometry or paint scheme you don't need to purchase trek or specialized. My opinion is only for the ht bikes I dont think the bd fs bikes are good but so what the ht bikes are the best price.

  8. #8
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    just look at the prices you cant beat it for a HT
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mountain_bikes.htm

  9. #9
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    As the others have said, get the best speced bike that you can possibly afford. You will save money in the long run. It's always cheaper long term to get the best you can afford, it forestalls the want or need to upgrade components for quite a bit longer.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpeters
    just look at the prices you cant beat it for a HT
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mountain_bikes.htm
    Wow, sounds like a sales pitch for Bikesdirect... It seems like there are a lot of sales pitches on the forums these days.

    Anyway, to the OP... If you are new to mountain biking and dont own a bike I would look for something very cheap on Craigslist like an old Specialized Hardrock or Rockhopper that has low miles. Just make sure you buy new tires as tires have a shelf life. I have a couple of friends that have found decent bikes for roughly 100 bucks... you can't beat that. This will allow you to realize what you really want from a bike and what type of bike would work best for the trails in your area. From there I would look at something around $1200 as it should get you something decently spec'd. The best time to buy a bike is also towards the end of the year when everything goes on clearance for the new models... You should be able to find some great deals on name brand bikes that Bikesdirect cannot match.

  11. #11
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    Another thing to consider while you are contemplating where to purchase.

    -Bike fit, hard to do from an online retailer and not all bike shops are created equally.
    -Bike Maintenance. How comfortable are you in building/maintaining your ride. Most LBSs give you 1 year worth of tuneups
    -Gear. Plan for extras... Hydration, Helmet, shoes, tire repair etc. Most LBSs will discount anything purchased same day as the bike.
    -Price. Talk to the LBS, you may get a deal, especially if there is leftovers from the previous year or it is a Demo bike.
    -New or Used. If you are patient, you can get quite the deal through Craigs List or eBay.


    In general max out what you are willing to spend, Pay close attention to component specs. Sucks to break a low end wheel set and have to drop extra after the fact. Steer away from Sub $1000 ( or sub $1500 in my opinion ) FS bikes, they are junk unless this is a much nicer bike at a used price

    Me, I like to ride whatever I am going to purchase before I sink $$ into it. Online retailers are not for me.

  12. #12
    DynoDon
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    You seem to be answering your own questions just fine, a better bike now will save you from upgrading later, getting the best bike you can afford will help keeping you happy and away from upgraditis, that gets expensive real fast,
    If you can get demo/rental rides on different types of bikes that would sure help with what will keep you happy, HT,FS,DH,29/26,race bike, it would be nice to have a garge full, the more you ride the easier it will be to get the one that will work for the longest, before the upgrade or different type bike bug will bite you, then you can start a collection like most people do, the more the better.. LOL welcome back, good luck, Happy Trails

  13. #13
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    Not a sales pitch I live in Germany I can't even get a BD bike I just looked at the parts and know from experience with a ht better parts matter. Everything on the bike is good so you decide later you want a FS so you get a Giant or a BMC frame for 600 dollars and you got a bomb bike for less than you can get one new. Save the ht frame for a single speed

  14. #14
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    I bought a Access XCL 9r 9.5 from Performance last May for $600. Since then, it's been an expensive learning process to understand what I really needed and wanted:

    Dart 3 29er fork: I really should have started with an air fork and damping more sophisticated than RockShox's 'TurnKey" damper as used in the Dart 3 and most Tora forks. Also, since shortly after get my bike I started admiring bikes with handlebar-mounted remote lockouts. I have an air fork now with remote lockout.

    Avid BB5 brakeset: There is a huge difference in feel and modulation with a good set of hydro's - I should have looked for a bike with SLX or better brakes to start with. I have XT brakes now.

    SRAM X.5 shifters: These have a lot of play and are almost entirely plastic. X.7 or even X.9 shifters would have been much better as I've since noted on numerous trail demos. I have a X.9 rear shifter now for a 1x9 drivetrain which I vastly prefer over 27-speed or 30-speed setups.

    Truvativ FiveD crankset: This basic crank with square-taper cartridge BB worked well enough but I couldn't resist getting a hollow-spindle crank with external BB - should have bought that to begin with. I did goof though and buy a 175mm Deore M590 crank - the 170mm crank arms my bike came with were a better length (far fewer pedal strikes).

    Sunrace 9-speed 11-32T Cassette: A nicer SRAM or Shimano cassette to begin with would have saved me some money. The SRAM PG970 11-34T cassette I upgraded to shifts much better.

    Handlebar: Not long after I bought, I realized that a 620mm bar with a skinny 25.4mm clamping area was just lame - signature of a cheap bike. Now I have a wider, 680mm (26.75in) bar with a standard-size 31.8mm clamping area and a shorter stem to match.

    All these issues and upgrades could have been avoided had I been wise enough to spend a few hundred dollars more on the Access XCL 9r 9.7 or, better still, the Sette Razzo 2.0. As it is, I've spent well over $1,000 upgrading the bike I bought. Live and learn, I guess.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clones123
    I bought a Access XCL 9r 9.5 from Performance last May for $600. Since then, it's been an expensive learning process to understand what I really needed and wanted:

    Dart 3 29er fork: I really should have started with an air fork and damping more sophisticated than RockShox's 'TurnKey" damper as used in the Dart 3 and most Tora forks. Also, since shortly after get my bike I started admiring bikes with handlebar-mounted remote lockouts. I have an air fork now with remote lockout.

    Avid BB5 brakeset: There is a huge difference in feel and modulation with a good set of hydro's - I should have looked for a bike with SLX or better brakes to start with. I have XT brakes now.

    SRAM X.5 shifters: These have a lot of play and are almost entirely plastic. X.7 or even X.9 shifters would have been much better as I've since noted on numerous trail demos. I have a X.9 rear shifter now for a 1x9 drivetrain which I vastly prefer over 27-speed or 30-speed setups.

    Truvativ FiveD crankset: This basic crank with square-taper cartridge BB worked well enough but I couldn't resist getting a hollow-spindle crank with external BB - should have bought that to begin with. I did goof though and buy a 175mm Deore M590 crank - the 170mm crank arms my bike came with were a better length (far fewer pedal strikes).

    Sunrace 9-speed 11-32T Cassette: A nicer SRAM or Shimano cassette to begin with would have saved me some money. The SRAM PG970 11-34T cassette I upgraded to shifts much better.

    Handlebar: Not long after I bought, I realized that a 620mm bar with a skinny 25.4mm clamping area was just lame - signature of a cheap bike. Now I have a wider, 680mm (26.75in) bar with a standard-size 31.8mm clamping area and a shorter stem to match.

    All these issues and upgrades could have been avoided had I been wise enough to spend a few hundred dollars more on the Access XCL 9r 9.7 or, better still, the Sette Razzo 2.0. As it is, I've spent well over $1,000 upgrading the bike I bought. Live and learn, I guess.
    Yeah that is what I am saying

  16. #16
    DynoDon
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    Great Post, maybe a thread/sticky on this subject (Mistakes made on first purchaces) for people buying their first MB would be a good idea.
    I had a old HT I had been road riding for years, and started riding trails, I wanted a FS, I bought a good one, but heavy, instead of upgrading when I discovered I should've spent more I bought a 25 lb FS which was the bike I should have bought first, I've since sold the HT and the other FS is my back up/loaner. Lesson learned
    Last edited by manabiker; 04-07-2011 at 07:06 AM.

  17. #17
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    Thanks guys! I`m pretty much convinced that I should go as high as I can afford to avoid regrets in the next month or so. :-)

    I think I will set my budget to $1500 for a HT(just for the bike) and go for it... I was sure that going to a too cheap bike would make me look for something else the next week and I would be just throwing away my money!

    I did see the BD options, but I`m just not comfortable buying something I can`t try before. I kinda have a pretty good options to try on LBS, Trek, Scott, Specialized, Giant, Fuji, GT... and right now I`m leading towards the 2011 Scale 29 Elite for $1450, unfortunately not many 2010 available for a better deal.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfa81
    Thanks guys! I`m pretty much convinced that I should go as high as I can afford to avoid regrets in the next month or so. :-)

    I think I will set my budget to $1500 for a HT(just for the bike) and go for it... I was sure that going to a too cheap bike would make me look for something else the next week and I would be just throwing away my money!

    I did see the BD options, but I`m just not comfortable buying something I can`t try before. I kinda have a pretty good options to try on LBS, Trek, Scott, Specialized, Giant, Fuji, GT... and right now I`m leading towards the 2011 Scale 29 Elite for $1450, unfortunately not many 2010 available for a better deal.

    The bd bike has the best parts and if you dont like it you have 30 days to send it back free.

  19. #19
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    IMO, don't spend a lot on your first bike (unless you can really afford to). When you're just starting out you don't really know your riding style yet, or what you will really like/dislike when you're out riding. Get an good bike - $600-$800 probably, ride it for a while, see what you like, what you would like from another/new bike, and then spend some cash.
    :wq

  20. #20
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    I think that this is the last time that I'm going to answer one of these questions in the Beginner's Corner. I don't like to be dismissive because the hopes for a first bike are really special but I think this whole thing is way over-thought. It is akin to the threads on “what is the best lube.”

    From what I can see the answer to the question of “first bike” is less technical than philosophical. There is a tendency to rely on a technical determination because that's something one can put one's finger on. One can list the variety of objects, their size, their composition, and their costs, and finally their weight. There is a sense that all these things line-up against each other and make smart comparisons. Responses to this question tends to go in that direction is if their list was proof.

    Yet all of this begs the OP's original question which essentially boils down to “I don't know what I'm doing, what should I do?” There is nothing wrong with ignorance. It is the best place to start to learn. If there is some sense from the new rider that adhering to these lists makes up for the lack of experience. And people who respond in this fashion feel that it edifies any decision. Still the new rider is lacking any sense of context, any sense of experience, and any sense of what they understand about what their body, their skill, their stamina, their strength, can manage. And those are the critical things to making this decision.

    The decision to purchase a bike really must be made from experience to match the rider with the bike. That is what is missing in this equation. Substituting some lists instead of knowledge and arguing the merits of these and spending lots of money are no substitute. That is the overthinking that I'm talking about.

    When I start riders on entry-level bikes I tried to get to the essential features of a bike without spending a lot of money. When working with my teams of teen riders we see things in terms of bang for buck. I watch people go through this process every year. Remember, these new riders ultimately become racers. From this day on they are trained, educated, pressed, and developed into some of the finest riders you will ever see. One of my boys just one the opening race at the Redlands Classic and is on his way to Belgium. These riders ultimately develop a National presence.

    Here is what we do. When we buy team bikes, that is bikes that the team owns for use by “scholarship riders”, we buy the most serviceable entry level bike we can. First of all we do business with our local bike shop, who is also our anchor sponsor. This provides a rich relationship for the adjustment, maintenance, and repair of the bike to its lifetime. It doesn't matter what bike you buy but this is the core reason for the place of purchase. Unless I want to be working on this bike, or one of my coaches, which takes away from our training time, the new rider now has a very substantial asset for the care of the bike.

    As bikes have developed, the idea of the entry-level bike has become a remarkable value. I will use the line of Specialized bikes as this is the major maker I know best. Most major makers have comparative equivalents which, as far as I'm concerned the differences are hardly worth considering; they are a wash. People overthink this, too.

    In recent years an entry-level bike includes disc brakes, for example.I have no preference at this price point of hydraulic over mechanical. In addition because we race and train hard we have to beef things up just a bit and the front shock goes up a level or two. As such, for the girls we go with the Myka Elite at $940:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...Id=0&gold_ses=


    For the boys we go with the Rockhopper comp at about $880:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...cname=Mountain


    Both of these bikes work very well for our purposes. They hold a tune, they are easy to maintain, are not fussy, and hold up well under heavy use. Further they have a nice resale market when you are done with them. In our case, as we care for our bikes very well, the used bike is a nice value.

    I would like to further qualify this method. Our top Varsity racers race on a Stumpjumper Expert 29er and a Yeti Arc XTR full of carbon bits. What this demonstrates is that as experience and commitment increase the kind of machine desired for this special use gets pretty sophisticated. Years of training and testing and sharing experience help to develop ideas based on what works and what is cool. But a point that I would like to make, and it may be special to the culture of my teams, is that whenever one of these entry-level bikes shows up at practice everyone makes a fuss and throws a leg over it bouncing around, testing the brakes and doing quick sprints and wheelies and letting it out. These riders learn to respect the basic machine and what is essentially needed. It doesn't matter that the bike at they are riding costs four or 5 times the entry level bike. They understand the value of the bikes we choose to start our riders on. Further, the effect of this fuss is charming. It lets the new rider know that this steed that they have been given to start their riding career is worthy of respect and can convey them through all that they'll need to do.

    These bikes generally reside under the new riders for two seasons. At that point they've learned a lot about the sport and the sort of bike that they need for the next level of work. When they make their next step they know so much more about what they're doing. When they're testing bikes they can feel the differences and are much more sophisticated about the entire process. Further as they have demonstrated their dedication, their families put more faith in this next purchase and, with our support, feel confident in spending a chunk.

    I think spending lots of money on a first bike is a waste. But I've had this discussion with people and cameras, too. They ask for my recommendation I show them something and they said "no I want someone who's got more bells and whistles." They don't know what they don't know or not to apply it to getting started and overspend as if that will make up some skill difference. It's a human foible, an ego thing, which I understand. But the point I'm trying to make here is that a solid entry-level bike can be had without spending $1500 and can carry you through your learning process well. At the end of that time you will know more about what you need in a new bike.

    The dirty little secret that manufacturers avoid saying and riders seldom admit to themselves is that a good entry-level bike can take you as far as you will ever go, just fine thank you very much. Everything else after that is a refinement based upon the tastes and skills we have developed over time. I believe in good bikes. I'm not made of money, and I also spend team funds so I have to be cost conscious. Sometimes we just want to treat ourselves. I get that.

    Don't look for shortcuts. Don't depend on lucky decisions. Start firm, smart, strong and cost-effective and take the time to learn about the sport. Show it the respect it deserves. Show bikes the respect that they deserve. Give yourself the chance to learn the values, first-hand, of the sport you're about to engage. Once you come to understand the nature of the bike you need the absolute most important thing is to make sure it is a good fit for your body size and type.

    After that I think the most important choice is color.

    Good luck.
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  21. #21
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    I really liked Berkeley Mike's extensive thoughts on the subject. I remember my first mountain bike over 20 years ago - I think it was a Nishiki that my mom used first. I rode the hell out of it, replacing parts as needed until I broke the fork on a jump/dropoff (luckily without injury.) There was no internet to do all the crazy "research" overthinking like today - what a blessing that was. It was just me and my friends riding and figuring things out as we went along... maybe reading magazines and hanging out at the bike shop some. I do think that we always did try to get the best bike we could by pushing up our budget as high as we could when the time came to buy.

    I mountain biked for 15 years on 3 successive bikes, and it would have been two except one was stolen. Then I got a road bike and ended up getting rid of my mountain bike after a while of disuse. (I bought the most expensive road bike I could afford, and I am extremely happy that I did so - still riding it today.) After 6 years I decided I wanted to mountain bike again. It felt like I was buying my first bike (and I also felt overwhelmed by all the choices and options.) However, it seemed that the more money I could spend, the lighter I could make my bike, while still considering decent quality components.

    At certain level of quality components (I have been completely satisfied with Shimano Deore in the past), a bike is a bike, and I know from experience that a sub $1k bike can give me 90% of the joy that a $2k bike can (maybe more...) But I spent $2k to get a lighter bike (<25lbs was my goal.) I figure that I can climb faster and go farther with a lighter bike - both things that I really like to do. I suppose back in the day when I went and rode 8 mile loops in San Antonio and outside of Nashville, the lighter bike would not have even mattered so much. Now that I live and ride in the SF Bay Area where there are a lot of big climbs and I ride to the trailhead more often than not, trading money for less weight really appealed to me. I think my road riding experience influenced that desire too.

    ...one man's experience. Hope it helps.
    Last edited by FlyingSharks; 04-07-2011 at 12:49 PM.

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