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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    Howdy from a mtb newb.

    Hi. I'm Pete. I own a Trek 1200 roadie on which I mostly commute, therefore the trekker pete nic.

    I am finally getting in to the MTB game at age 50. Not sure why I waited as breaking frames on old banana seat columbias was a favorite pastime as a kid.

    A short while back I found an older hardrock, well, about half of one actually, at a tag sale for a few bucks. It needs wheels, RD, RD hanger, v-brakes, seat, seat post. In my CL search to complete this thing I came to the conclusion, with the assistance of a very helpful genleman (Al) I met during this quest, that it might make more $$$ sense to just find a complete bike on CL.

    So, I have. For a wopping 20 bucks I found an old Raleigh Talon that was complete, but, had been sitting in the weather a while and had a badly tacoed RW. I replaced the rear wheel with Al's help and I now have a functional bike. I took it on a local trail with my riding buddy (Abbott the dog) for a short spin and had more damn fun than I have ever had on the road. I am pretty sure I am hooked.

    BTW, dogs make kick ass riding partners. They are always ready to go and they won't judge you for your ride, seeing as they don't have one themselves, other than paws. Abbott absolutely killed me on the uphill and rough stuff and did a decent job staying with me on the fast downhill dirt road parts.

    So, onto my questions.

    I will likely stay with the Raleigh for a bit. Does anyone have any comments regarding it? It is 21 speed, shimano components, canti brakes, 4130 cromoly frame. I did some paved trail riding on it with hybrid tires and it was very nice. How difficult (expensive) is it to find a front shock for it. The hardrock has one, but, I don't think it is compatible. Does a front shock necessarily mean losing the cantis? I have discovered on one short ride that fast rocky downhills are probably more fun with a front shock, especially with 50 year old wrists. Would also likely improve tire/rim life.

    On to the Hardrock. I suspect this will make a better trail bike. It seems quite robust, has a front suspension (RST capa t4), what looks to be a pretty decent crank set (truvativ x flow). My main concern is it might be a bit small. It is a 17 inch frame. I am a fairly shortlegged 6 ft (31" inseam). My son is a bit shorter than me, but, at 15, that could change. I might just have him use this. So, if anyone out there has a derailleur hanger or 30.9 seat post for this thing they are willing to give away cheap, let me know. The rest of the stuff I have/can get from Al.

    I have been looking at elderly FS stuff on CL. Being a ridiculously cheap SOB, this stuff appeals to me as a ten year old 1500 dollar bike is now worth slightly more than scrap value. I realize that the new stuff has twice the suspension travel and weighs 8 lbs less, but, I can't see dropping the $$$$ on it. Also, I am a electro-mechanical technician in real life. I clean/grease/replace bushings and bearings every day. So, I feel very comfortable with tackling worn out rear suspension jobs even if the replacement bushings are no longer available from the maker. I can't imagine that with a little bit of research and maybe a lathe or drill press I can work something out, or better yet, maybe even upgrade it to sealed bearings.

    There are 2 bikes I have looked at on CL that interest me. An 02 KHS FXT Comp, described by the seller as somewhat worn out but still very ridable and a Giant ATX 970 from the late 90s. I really like the hydraulic disc brakes on the KHS.

    Any comments/advice is much appreciated.

    Pete

  2. #2
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    If the hardrock is too small for you, it doesnt make sense to get it up and going unless you are going to have someone else ride it. Old hardrocks are a dime a dozen in fully functional form. The RST fork is pretty much junk as well.

    Sounds like you have a great starter bike in the Raleigh. I don't think it is worth upgrading anything. Just ride and enjoy.

    I love riding with my dog. He is a great partner and he loves it even more than I do. He is a Hungarian Vizsla and has more stamina and speed than I can usually endure.

    Of the 2 bikes on CL you are looking at, I think the KHS is the best bet. Pretty old suspension design, but it has above average components and would still be fun to ride. I might suggest looking for a newer/ more high end hardtail because you can probable find them cheap on cl.

    Hope this helps,

    Moe

    Also, check out the used bike buyers guide for noobs:

    Noob Guide to Buying a used MTB
    2008 Redline Monocog 29er SS/Rigid
    2013 Marin Mount Vision XM7
    FS: 26" Black Flag Expert Wheelset (new), Reba 29 Fork

  3. #3
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    I just went and looked at the Giant. Everything works. Suspension seems very tight. Fits me well. I gave him the hardrock frame and 120 bucks. I think this is a fair deal. The only issue it does have is the freewheel is a bit slugish. This should improve with use and maybe a little lube sprayed into it. Should I use WD-40? I have some teflon stuff I bought from my LBS to free up my roadie brifters that worked well enough. Maybe I will try that.

  4. #4
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    Ride the Raleigh for a few more months. As for a fork it depends ,if the fork as a 1" steerer tube it not going to be easy to find a good fork ,a cheep one maybe. On older fork with canti mounts you could run them ,but new forks don't come with the mounts. Tire and rims can handle a lot of abuse ,so don't worry about that. The hardrock is a entry level bike ,you can find more about it on bikepedia.You are most likely right that the frame is too small ,I'm right at 6' and rode a Bianchi 17" at was a little too small ,but I also rode a Merlin that was 17 1/2 and that fit me. Go to google and enter derailleur hangers ,there is a company that makes them. For a seat post check Craigs list or Ebay ,you should be able to find something for around 30$ or less. Older rear suspension designs had there problems some worked well ,some were crap. The bushing aren't the only thing to think about .the fork and shock have parts that you may not be able to get .The rest of the bike has that much use on it also . I have a road bike from 2000 that shifter wore out on , I had to buy one off ebay because Shimano doesn't make 9 speed road bike shifters in Ulterga almore. You should try and find out about Demo days ,that were bikes are availble to test ride ,you would get a idea on sizing and what you would like .Some bike shops also do rentals and apply the fee to a new bike if you buy it from them. They will also let you test ride bikes around the parking lot or down the street. One thing more ,the most important thing is to find a bike that fits ,I didn't do that with the Bianchi and regreted it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekker pete View Post
    I just went and looked at the Giant. Everything works. Suspension seems very tight. Fits me well. I gave him the hardrock frame and 120 bucks. I think this is a fair deal. The only issue it does have is the freewheel is a bit slugish. This should improve with use and maybe a little lube sprayed into it. Should I use WD-40? I have some teflon stuff I bought from my LBS to free up my roadie brifters that worked well enough. Maybe I will try that.
    Define "sluggish". In my head that would mean that the freewheel is stiff and allows the chain to slacken on the top during freewheeling but I want to make sure we're talking the same language here and I'm not just going to throw out a bunch of useless advice for a problem you're not actually having.

    WD-40 is not a lube, but depending on your problem it might be useful here. The Teflon spray is probably a better choice. I'm holding statements for now but I wouldn't just start spraying things into places until you have a good idea of what is going wrong and where.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  6. #6
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    I ended up putting the wheels from the Raleigh for now. I believe the RST 381 fork is pretty well shot, less than an inch of travel. When you pull the fork down, there is another 2 inches, give or take. I unscrewed one cap, pulled out the rod and attempted to squeeze the elastomer to see if it was pliable.

    Bad idea.

    The elastomer pretty much fell apart.


    I can get a rebuild kit for 53 bucks. Sounds a little pricey for a few pieces of elastomer. Is this worth it? Is it possible to find a newer used fork that performs better on ebay or CL? I am sure there are newer ones out there that are perfectly good, but are being upgraded.

  7. #7
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    The issue is that the newer ,better stuff mostly won't fit. The headtube is probilly 1" ,new forks are 1 1/8" ,new forks come in 80mm and more travel ,you would need to try and match whatever the bike came with .

  8. #8
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    According to bikepedia, the '96 Giant AXT 970 has a 1 1/8 headset. Does this mean It takes a 1 1/8 fork? I haven't pulled it yet to measure.

    If anyone out there has a decent cheap used fork, I would be interested. Don't give 2 craps about weight (got better ways of loosing that!). Just want something with plenty of travel and will stand up to an old fat dude (about 230, but hope to get that close to 200 with a lot of riding). And lockout would be nice, as I may do some commuting on it, but, not a necessity.

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