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  1. #1
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    Im looking for a good hardtail 29er for around $600

    Hello everyone.

    Im new to biking and could use some help picking out a decent mountain bike to start with. Iv done a little research but I still don't think I know enough to pick out the best I can afford.
    What do yall think about the GTs around $600 like the karakoram, avalanche or timberline??

    Any help would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Based on my extremely limited knowledge and research, I would recommend watching Craigslist for a lightly used Trek, Cannondale, Specialized or Giant. For that price range you can find a pretty decent 26" but don't expect top of the line components. If you want a 29er, they are bit harder to come by used and they seem to be holding their value better than 26ers so the deals aren't as abundant. I had about the same budget as you and for that money I expect one of two things... a good starter bike that will let me see if I fall in love with MTB and then upgrade to something a bit better later on or a good starter bike that I can easily resell and recoup most of my investment if I decide that it just isn't for me. Either way, buy used and find a good deal and you won't be out much if you upgrade or decide to bail.

  3. #3
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    Im looking for a good hardtail 29er for around $600

    For that price, it's going to be very hard to find a *new* 29er. The cheapest Gt 29er I would go for is the Overdrive XC, the 2012 model is currently going for around 800 or so... if I could make a recommendation, get a good new 26er, you'll get better parts and a bike that could really take you into mountain biking. I started with a trek 4 series myself. Then you can upgrade to something in the $1200 range(or better) once you have enough experience. That's the best way to go. Plus, the switch from 26 to 29, especially if you're experienced, is like seeing a whole new world!


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    2013 Rockhopper 29- The hot rod fun bike
    2013 Stumpy HT Comp 29- The racin' machine

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  5. #5
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    ^Treed me. +1 on the Guardian.
    Earnest Hemingway once said "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by icouch View Post
    This is an awesome idea as the bike is dirt cheap and has an amazing set of parts for the money, BUT it doesn't come fully assembled. Once you get it you'll need to install the wheels and handlebars, check everything is tight, which requires a half dozen special tools(casette socket, crank puller, BB tool chain whip, spoke wrenches...), hope that wheels are true, center disc brakes, and adjust the front and rear derailleurs... Now for an experienced biker this is nothing, but for a beginner, building your own bike can lead to a very displeasing experience.simply because you lack the knowledge and skill to do the tasks, which can lead to a poorly performing bike. And if you took it somewhere to get it built it'd be at least another hundred so you would be over budget...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cenzobear View Post
    This is an awesome idea as the bike is dirt cheap and has an amazing set of parts for the money, BUT it doesn't come fully assembled. Once you get it you'll need to install the wheels and handlebars, check everything is tight, which requires a half dozen special tools(casette socket, crank puller, BB tool chain whip, spoke wrenches...), hope that wheels are true, center disc brakes, and adjust the front and rear derailleurs... Now for an experienced biker this is nothing, but for a beginner, building your own bike can lead to a very displeasing experience.simply because you lack the knowledge and skill to do the tasks, which can lead to a poorly performing bike. And if you took it somewhere to get it built it'd be at least another hundred so you would be over budget...
    Not to mention the $75 shipping.

    If your shopping from a LBS...all the 'name brand bikes' are going to have about the same parts in that price range. So the main decider would most likely be the fit and feel of the bike, and which one is most visually appealing to you. Go test ride a few in your price range and pick the one that feels the best would be my advice. Also look for last years bikes, some shops may still be trying to get rid of them and they usaully have killer deals on them.

  8. #8
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    Im looking for a good hardtail 29er for around $600

    Not to mention that if you buy from your LBS, and ever have any questions or issues, they'll be more than willing to help you out and if its a repair or adjustment that's nothing major, it'll most likely be free too. Any reputable shop will stand behind their product and never hesitate to inform a newcomer on what he needs to know.
    2013 Rockhopper 29- The hot rod fun bike
    2013 Stumpy HT Comp 29- The racin' machine

  9. #9
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    ^ Disagreed. Unless the sale expired very recently, shipping is free. The assembly is very easy...the wheel and handlebars are nothing, for anyone. Honestly if you can't install these things, how can you handle ANY problem on the trail?

    As far as a professional inspection/tightening/checking for true, I actually think that's a good idea. It should be much cheaper than $100 though...I just paid $60 for a full tune up for my Skyhawk and probably paid too much. Others are reporting as low as $30 for the service.
    Earnest Hemingway once said "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.

  10. #10
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    Re: Im looking for a good hardtail 29er for around $600

    I'm an owner of a first generation Airborne Goblin which has the same frame as the Guardian. Assembling a Guardian requires a couple metric Allen wrenches and that's it. If you have any issues with your new bike, they'll take care of you quickly. Jump over to the Airborne manufacturer forum here on MTBR. The user "BigDaddyFlyer" is Jeremy, their product manager. You can also call them up and speak to them directly. They're very helpful. I've put over 1,500 miles on my Goblin since August and it's always been a fun bike.

  11. #11
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    I don't see where it says free shipping on the airborne site. Also add the cost of pedals because it comes with none...the guardian easily comes up above $700. Even if you don't have a shop assembling it, a decent pair of pedals are in the $25 plus range. But then again it does allow you to pay with bill me later so you don't have a very large cost up front...so it still seems cheaper than anything you could buy from a bike shop.

    But the added benefit of the parts that come with it might not outweigh the benefit of having your LBS to back up your purchase with free maintenance and what not. I know people say airborne has great customer service, but some people just want that service in person.

    However, that being said...if it were me, and that were my budget, I would go with the guardian. But I already know how to work on my own bike, have a good set of pedals I can transfer over, and wouldn't mind waiting for one to arrive in the mail. And I will be buying a Goblin at the beginning of the summer for myself.

  12. #12
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    To clarify, there is no free freight on the Guardian. We are only offering free freight on a few of our other models that we are closing out.

    Good luck with your search! Whatever you buy, like others have stated the important thing is to get a bike that you like and that fits you well. That way you are more apt to ride it more often and enjoy it.

    Jeremy
    Please Note: I no longer work for Airborne. If you have an Airborne question or problem please contact them directly.

  13. #13
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    ^ I sit corrected. Still a great choice if you can swing it.
    Earnest Hemingway once said "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.

  14. #14
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    Im looking for a good hardtail 29er for around $600

    Quote Originally Posted by bleedinblue View Post
    ^ I sit corrected. Still a great choice if you can swing it.
    Definitely, by far the best deal on parts and quality if you can get it all set properly.
    2013 Rockhopper 29- The hot rod fun bike
    2013 Stumpy HT Comp 29- The racin' machine

  15. #15
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    Im looking for a good hardtail 29er for around $600

    Quote Originally Posted by bleedinblue View Post
    ^ I sit corrected. Still a great choice if you can swing it.
    Definitely, by far the best deal on parts and quality if you can get it all set properly.
    2013 Rockhopper 29- The hot rod fun bike
    2013 Stumpy HT Comp 29- The racin' machine

  16. #16
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    Cool-blue Rhythm $627 Tax Incxluded

    I caught a 15% off sale, regular price is $689 + tax

    Scott Aspect 940 29er HT with wet brakes.
    Rides great and at that price I got a really good seat.

  17. #17
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    Thanks everyone for all the ideas. I am leaning towards the Guardian now for sure. I won't have trouble putting it together but I am a little worried about the size. I liked an 18in that I test rode but aren't all bikes different? Or should any 18inch fit if one fits?

  18. #18
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    Also do yell have a suggestion on pedals??

  19. #19
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    As far as the size, ask BigDaddyFlye about it, may get him your measurements. He'll take care of you.
    Earnest Hemingway once said "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.

  20. #20
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    Alright thanks

  21. #21
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    I don't know a lot about bikes and I was wondering if you could tell me what makes the Guardian $250 better than the sky hawk? I've also never tuned a bike so is that something I can learn over the Internet or should I take it to someone the first time?

  22. #22
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    Just saw the pedal question. I just bought some Wellgo MG-1's from Ebay ($40), I haven't tried them yet, but they seem to be well liked. I had tried some cheapies but they didn't have much of any grip.

    The Guardian is obviously a 29'er, where the Skyhawk has 26 inch wheels. The Skyhawk has SRAM X4 components and the Guardian has SRAM X5's. The Skyhawk has a Suntour XCM fork, where the Guardian has a RockShox. Basically, all of the components of the Guardian are about a step above the Skyhawk, and the 29 vs. 26 accounts for a good bit of the price difference.

    I know there are other differences, but this is whats at the top of my head, and since I'm a noob like you, I think we probably have very similar perspectives.

    I bought the Skyhawk (Just a week ago) and debated heavily between the two. Ultimately I was just impatient and the Guardian wasn't in stock at the time. The price difference would have been hard to explain to the misses, too. I'm not 100% sure I made the right choice, though I'm absolutely new to this and I'm loving the Skyhawk so far.

    I had never tuned a bike either. There are youtube videos that show how easy it is. The hardest part, IMO, is hanging the bike (Without a stand) so that you can spin the pedals and change gears while watching the way they track. After that, simple tuning really is as easy as turning a screw one way or the other. Take a look through some Youtube videos, you'll see.
    Last edited by bleedinblue; 04-11-2013 at 09:28 PM.
    Earnest Hemingway once said "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.

  23. #23
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    One more option. Trek has a spring sale on the Wahoo for around $575. I bought mine in Feb. and have rode the snot out of it and love it! I did swap out the Novella brakes with bb7's and the pedals with mg-1's off my 26" GT. The Scott Aspect seems like a heck of a deal too with hydros. if you feel more comfortable having your bike already set up at the LBS. vs. online?

  24. #24
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    Oh okay I didn't notice it was a 26. And I appreciate the help a lot. I'm thinking I'll go with the Guardian unless I find a 29er that's as good for the price at a shop

  25. #25
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    Yeah I would prefer it set up but my local shop doesn't have a very big variety. I might drive to Dallas pretty soon and look for one there before I commit to the Guardian

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    Would you say the Wahoo is as good as the Guardian??

  27. #27
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    Im looking for a good hardtail 29er for around $600

    The Guardian out specs the Wahoo. I've rode both.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sbhanes View Post
    Would you say the Wahoo is as good as the Guardian??
    Guardian seems closer to the Mamba in spec (but cheaper in price even once you factor in shipping).

  29. #29
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    Okay thanks for the help

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    Unless you are mechanically inclined and able to properly size yourself on a bike, I would skip the online dealers and CL/eBay for your first bike. Find yourself a good LBS that takes fitting and after-purchase care seriously. You will wince when you think about the specs on the LBS bike vs what you could have gotten online, but you will silently thank me when you are out on the trail and everything fits and works the way it is intended. There's a natural tendency to become a sheet sheet racer after spending enough time on MTBR, but the simple truth is that specs don't matter nearly as much as tuning when you are first starting out, and if you really get into the sport, you will want a new bike after a year no matter what you buy now.

  31. #31
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    Yeah I'm not sure how well I can tune it myself and it would be nice to have experienced guys helping me if I have problems with the bike. It is hard to say no when the specs are that much better though. Haha

  32. #32
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    And enter the hard part .

    You've heard the pros/cons of buying online vs. buying locally, so now it's just time to make your decision. Honestly though, and this goes for all us newbies, chances are that as long as you get a bike that fits (Or fits closely) I think you'll be happy. Could I tell a difference between a SRAM X4 and a SRAM X5, or X5 and X7? I have no idea. And like someone else said in another thread, if you really get into this sport, chances are you will want to upgrade bikes sooner than later regardless of what your starter bike is.
    Earnest Hemingway once said "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part.

  33. #33
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    I appreciate all the help from everyone

    Thanks

  34. #34
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    I'd get an online bike. you'll still end up ahead after paying sometone to tune. I like finding a bike mechanic on craigslist. The money goes to my mechanic, when I take to LBS, the money goes to shop owner. In my area, you can even find mobile mechanics on yelp who have much higher reviews than shops.

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    How much does a tune usually cost?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sbhanes View Post
    How much does a tune usually cost?
    Adjusting the cables for the front and rear derailleurs is what you can learn in 20 minutes each with YouTube, Park Tool manuals and Pinkbike Tech Tuesday videos.Everything else too. This isn't programing a fuel curve under load for a bigger turbo. You need to spend a little time because the info is not complicated. On trail repairs and adjustments won't be something your lbs can help with when you need them.
    Here's one on the front derailleur. A new bike has a new cable which will stretch over time. Now you can adjust it.
    Technical Tuesday: Setting Up Your Front Derailleur - Pinkbike
    Bikes with a Suntour fork will need an upgrade $175 Raidon from Suntour or $240 RockShox Recon Gold from Random Bike Parts to be setup for trail riding.

  37. #37
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    Re: Im looking for a good hardtail 29er for around $600

    Quote Originally Posted by Sbhanes View Post
    How much does a tune usually cost?
    At a shop it's usually around $15.i would take it there for your first tune (if you buy online) and then tinker with it yourself after watching some instructional vids. Also, see if your lbs run any classes where they teach you the basics of tuning.

  38. #38
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    Yeah for about 15 that definitely sounds worth it for the first time.

  39. #39
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    I was in the same boat as you. Looking for a 29er for around $600-$700. Every shop I went to put me on something with lower grade components (mechanical disc brakes, lower grade fork, and cheaper shifters) than the Airborne Guardian while also adding $200. I looked at Specalized, Giant, and Trek and they were all more expensive than the Guardian. I just ordered my Guardian on Friday and can't wait for it to get here, but based on my research, it's your best bet if you wanna stay below $800. After shipping and some Evo LU-A18 pedals put me right at $700 for everything.

    The only thing that I didn't like is the fact that I didn't get to ride a Guardian before I bought it. I rode other bikes with similar sized frames but there is nothing like getting on the actual bike.

    Tuning isn't that hard. Youtube is packed with TONS of FREE educational videos. I believe it's much better to tune yourself than go to a shop, that way you know a bit about the bike you're riding and have the ability to diagnose problems on the trail.
    2 Hands Working Do More Than 1000 Hands Praying

  40. #40
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    As a cyclist especially MTB riding you need to learn the very basic tune up. Online bikes are about 80 percent ready and nothing to serious once they arrive. You will not have a mechanic when your miles out on a trail. Im all for supporting the local shops but I am also all about self support.

    I had my rear deraluer break last weekend had to take some links out of my chain and single speed it back to the truck you need to know how to perform these kind of tasks.

  41. #41
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    Yeah I'm definitely going to learn how to work on everything myself. I just think it would be helpful to have the people in person for advise

  42. #42
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    I don't know what you have for large chain stores or decent LBS where you live but most of the ones around here offer a once a month in-store bike clinic or workshop that will teach you basics. It doesn't hurt to ask, not everyone that purchases a $10-$3000 bike is gonna run it down to the LBS to have it tuned or repaired.

    eta: when I bought my marlin it came with a 2 free tune ups along with the warranty stuff. I took it in last week and they did a tune up alright, glad they fixed the wheel & RDR, but they messed with my brake lever settings, I like squishy front and grabby rear brakes. I wonder if they found the disc brake quiet stuff on the back of the pads.

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