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  1. #1
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    "I'm not going to do anything crazy"

    "Bicycling pop culture is a world of unrealistic extremes that are portrayed as normal. ... normal bicycle pursuits are often relegated to the shadows cast by the highly-publicized, extreme versions of bike-riding." thus writes Jim Thill in On Bicycle Touring in Issue 1 of Bunyan Velo*.

    It comes as no surprise that I hear this "nothing too crazy" sentiment frequently from new riders who are looking for a new bike. Working at a bike shop and volunteering at a co-op, I often meet people who want to cobble together a co-op bike from donated parts for $30 and then ride the rocky, fast trails around here, or compete in a triathlon. People who want to keep up with group rides and start racing have a budget of $600 for a road bike and can't understand why that won't cut it in the market today. I would like to better understand what this means.

    usually I hear this from people who have a limited budget, whether that budget is imposed on them by outside forces (nagging spouse, small income, bills, obligations to kids, etc), or they are just plain cheap. many are legitimately skeptical of the prices they see on bikes, but experience has shown me that you usually get what you pay for, even if all those prices (LBS and mail order alike) are a bit over-inflated. regardless of what you think of the cost of bike gear, you have to pay to play one way or another. if cycling is too rich for your blood, get into competitive chess or running. sneakers are cheaper than bikes.

    before this becomes another "mail order versus LBS thread," that topic has been discussed to death, so let's not go there.

    Thill is writing about bicycle touring in the quote above, but I think the same applies to mountain biking as well. people tell me that they want to ride legitimate mountain bike trails, but their budget only allows them a bike with Tourney components (junk) and a noodly coil spring fork with no damping (aka a "lousy pogo stick fork). if they have been watching Red Bull's Rampage events, reading Decline Magazine, or watching videos of Whistler bike park freeriding, I can see why the "crazy" bar has been set pretty high for them. they think, "I am not doing THAT, so I can just buy the cheapest bike possible and plod along the trails on it and it will be fine.

    but most mountain biking is NOT like the rowdy stuff you see in these videos, yet it's demanding enough on your equipment that most of the bikes in the lowest end of the price range are not going to hold up. I might not be flying off 10 foot drops at 50 mph after being helicopter-dropped off the top of some Rocky crag, but I want to maintain traction while climbing long hills, flowing through the trees at pace that gets my adrenaline pumping, and get a little loose on some downhills that might have some rocks and roots on them. a rider might be limiting the amount of challenge and fun he or she is going to get out of mountain biking by limiting the amount of bike they are willing to buy.

    I think a rider should consider what kind of terrain they have available to them, what kind of riding they want to do, then ask some trusted, experienced riders (or your favorite message board) "how much bike" they will need for that. then generate the money needed to accomplish that goal. sell some stuff, make some compromises, give up some wasteful habits, etc. if you want it, you will get the money somehow.

    if you want a mountain bike but you know you're not really going ride trails, don't fool yourself. you will be much better off with a solid $600 hybrid than a flimsy $600 mountain bike.

    *Awesome magazine by the way, Issue 2 just came out, for free to read online. check it out.

  2. #2
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    Sometimes it takes riding a piece of junk to fully understand why spending a little more coin on a better bike makes sense.
    It's such a fine line between idiocy and genius.

  3. #3
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    Interesting view. Then there's the other side of things, like how many people buy much more bike than they're ever going to need, or how many people think they're taking up a new hobby and want to put their best foot forward to, in the end, never take it up for whatever reason and it sits in the garage.
    Like they say, you can lead a horse to water but ......
    In the end everyone learns what's right for them, some learn the hard way.
    And if it makes some people happy to get all decked out and show off their latest and greatest in the parking lot, who am I to judge what tickles their fancy. Just makes for a better used market for me.
    Live and let live.
    Round and round we go

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    Condescending crap ? ... You don't have to spend thousands to have a good time, and you don't need to spend thousands to be as good as someone who spends that kind of money thinking they will perform better because of it.

    Buying an Indy car doesn't make you a World Class racer anymore than spending thousands to own, what a factory rider is given, can make you a better MTB'r.

    But I do get what you're saying about the bottom dollar bikes that are available.
    I guess that's why we all read, so often, the suggestion (@ MTBR) that a new rider buy used, and thus get more bang for their buck.

    There are many good USED bikes in the $300-$1000 range that would suit many riders.
    And,
    There are a lot of FREE - $300 bikes that will also suit many riders.

    What you ride don't mean squat

  5. #5
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    Well said... do the same people go for a jog in their Keds? Doubtful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LB412 View Post
    Well said... do the same people go for a jog in their Keds? Doubtful.
    Some jog barefoot, and some run ... Hey it's exercise, don't knock it.

    Shoes don't make you an athlete

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    Some jog barefoot, and some run ... Hey it's exercise, don't knock it.

    Shoes don't make you an athlete
    Better for the body to go barefoot than run in a totally inappropriate shoe.

  8. #8
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    Yup, I'v said this before up in here but it's so true and obvious I have no problem saying it again.
    I just love it when a guy shows up on a beat up old clunker and all the folks with their shiny new state of the art rides are snickering, talking behind his back, or at least thinking how much better they are. Until that guy out skills and performs them without question. Then comes the inevitable, oh my shock wasn't tuned right, or my psi was off. Just gotta love it.
    Round and round we go

  9. #9
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    That clunker was probably a quality bike in its day. Now you have big box crap that literally falls apart on the trail. Different story.

    A guy I ride with is on a 1992 Gary Fischer HT and does great.

  10. #10
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    I ride with a guy occasionally that happily rides single track on his pos single speed road bike fitted with cx tires. Funny thing is, he can drop 99.9% of the riders out here on any given day. It ain't about the bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LB412 View Post
    Better for the body to go barefoot than run in a totally inappropriate shoe.
    Especially on a gravel road

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    That was a fun read, thanks for the link. As for the topic at hand, you pretty much hit the nail on the head...working in a shop, whether I'm on the sales floor or wrenching, the first question I ask is almost always 'what kind of riding do you [want to] do?'

    My personal experience talking to people is that (generally) they want a mountain bike to 'try out' mountain biking, and then wind up riding it around town. A year or two later, if they're still riding the bike, they invariably want smoother tires. Not that I have a problem with that--most 'entry level' mountain bikes tend to be set more towards an upright position, and make fairly good street/around town bikes--but rather that the original desire for the bike could have been better served, as you said, by a completely different one.

    As an aside, the author of the article says that, contrary to this, you can tour on whatever you want--this is true. The penalty for failure of components (barring total handlebar/stem/wheel) on the road is pretty low, other than having to hitch a ride. The penalty of failure on the trail, trying to clear an obstacle, or on a loose slope/off camber, is far higher.

    Anyhow, I tell people this (and stand by it). Any mountain bike in the shop will be capable of most of the trails here, and certainly all of the ones you should be riding as a beginner. The catch is, you will outpace your bicycle very quickly, and to keep advancing your skills, you will need to buy another bike. So, suddenly that $200 walmart bike (or $300-something shop bike) isn't such a good bargain anymore. Yes, in most cases, you could upgrade the bike, but you'll spend the cost of a bike with better components on it than what you'll be getting, in almost every case.

    There's nothing wrong with a first mountain bike, just make it one that you don't throw in the trash can when you move on

  13. #13
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    Good insight in the original post.

    A cheep bike can ride easy trails, even if it means hike-a-bike over some sections. That may be all the rider cares to do or can afford to do.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirty $anchez View Post
    I ride with a guy occasionally that happily rides single track on his pos single speed road bike fitted with cx tires. Funny thing is, he can drop 99.9% of the riders out here on any given day. It ain't about the bike.
    for 99% of the population a better bike improves their riding...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    Good insight in the original post.

    A cheep bike can ride easy trails, even if it means hike-a-bike over some sections. That may be all the rider cares to do or can afford to do.
    my six year old rides easy single track on her 20" Marin. good times

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LB412 View Post
    for 99% of the population a better bike improves their riding...
    lol
    Round and round we go

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by LB412 View Post
    for 99% of the population a better bike improves their riding...
    For 99% of the population just *riding* improves their riding. A better bike merely hides their inadequacies as riders. Far fewer people are held back in skill development by their bikes.

  18. #18
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    Watch this then see if you still feel the same
    RIDE LIFE GRAVITY EDITION - Supermarket Bike Video - Pinkbike
    Tantrum incoming
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    For 99% of the population just *riding* improves their riding. A better bike merely hides their inadequacies as riders. Far fewer people are held back in skill development by their bikes.
    However you can reach a point where cheap equipment is holding you back
    Tantrum incoming
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    Watch this then see if you still feel the same
    RIDE LIFE GRAVITY EDITION - Supermarket Bike Video - Pinkbike
    It's always the rider ... Dude does some amazing riding on a Supermarket Bike, thus proving it ain't the bike that makes him good.

    I mean really,
    He got that good on a Supermarket Bike ... And he rode it for 6 years before it broke.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    However you can reach a point where cheap equipment is holding you back
    Sorry, but the video you posted shows this to be a myth.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    Sorry, but the video you posted shows this to be a myth.
    It's not a myth. I know through personal experience it can be very true.
    Tantrum incoming
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    Watch this then see if you still feel the same
    RIDE LIFE GRAVITY EDITION - Supermarket Bike Video - Pinkbike
    Just absolutely awesome. His parents gave him what they could, and he APPRECIATED it. And he used it.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    However you can reach a point where cheap equipment is holding you back
    True. And a supermarket bike is not an entry level bike store bike.

    The fellow in the video was exceeding the capabilities of the bike. To do what he was doing required a much better bike. If he could not afford one, he should have been doing different riding.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    However you can reach a point where cheap equipment is holding you back
    I do agree with this in Filp's case, because the integrity of the frame and the suspension etc. was able to handle what he has the skill to put into it.

    Watch the next vid where he wins the Giant and watch him torque the bike into manuals while coming out of hard turns to redirect the front wheel. That bike's feedback is definitely helping him push his riding (that his mind is the only limit of) to be able to do that.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    The fellow in the video was exceeding the capabilities of the bike. To do what he was doing required a much better bike. If he could not afford one, he should have been doing different riding.

    ????? Bike seemed to be keeping up with him just fine.

  27. #27
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    I have been having this argument with my roommate. He wants to get a mountain bike, but literally wants to spend $175. I've talked to him over and over about, and he says he doesn't need the $4900 steed that I am building right now. He just doesn't understand what crap components are. He's thinking of buying a GT palomar, I told him not to, but part of me just wants him to get it, ride it, break it, and see why I have been telling him he needs to spend ~$600 to get a ridable bike.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    I have been having this argument with my roommate. He wants to get a mountain bike, but literally wants to spend $175. I've talked to him over and over about, and he says he doesn't need the $4900 steed that I am building right now. He just doesn't understand what crap components are. He's thinking of buying a GT palomar, I told him not to, but part of me just wants him to get it, ride it, break it, and see why I have been telling him he needs to spend ~$600 to get a ridable bike.
    When someone wants to spend $175 on a ridable bike, I point them in the way of a full rigid used steel frame bike from the early 90s. It will make them a better rider if they have to learn on a 18 speed full rigid Kona. Now, if they want to ride gravity on a $175 bike I laugh in their face.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    I have been having this argument with my roommate. He wants to get a mountain bike, but literally wants to spend $175. I've talked to him over and over about, and he says he doesn't need the $4900 steed that I am building right now. He just doesn't understand what crap components are. He's thinking of buying a GT palomar, I told him not to, but part of me just wants him to get it, ride it, break it, and see why I have been telling him he needs to spend ~$600 to get a ridable bike.
    And if he ends up riding like Filipe Perestrelo (see video link above) ... Then you'll look like a financial fool who wasted all your money

    There will always be people who are hard on bikes ... Landing hard and/or at a bad angle can destroy any bike, quickly.
    Having the skill to land softly and pick good lines will allow amazing things to occur without spending astronomical amounts of money to survive ... But, eventually, when pushed to the limits, they all break.

    Here's a whole bunch of broken, expensive when compared to what Filepe rode, bikes - Frame breaking - who's done it? « Singletrack Forum - And there's quite a few documented on this forum, also.

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    I regularly cross paths with kids on bikes pretty much pulled from the trash who ride better than the majority of mountain bikers. I've had a number of 'handmade in the USA' big-$$ frames break on me under far less demanding riding than what the kid in that video was doing. I have a few friends that have put together fully functional DH bikes for under $400. Are they loaded up with the 'latest and greatest' overpriced and soon to be outdated components? No. Do they get down the mountain fine? Sure do.

    Mountain biking is saturated with marketing victims.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I regularly cross paths with kids on bikes pretty much pulled from the trash who ride better than the majority of mountain bikers. I've had a number of 'handmade in the USA' big-$$ frames break on me under far less demanding riding than what the kid in that video was doing. I have a few friends that have put together fully functional DH bikes for under $400. Are they loaded up with the 'latest and greatest' overpriced and soon to be outdated components? No. Do they get down the mountain fine? Sure do.

    Mountain biking is saturated with marketing victims.
    I agree that you can make is down the mountain on a $400 bike, but at what cost to yourself? There is a thrill in seeing where your hard earned money goes. I can tell you that every bike I have had over the years has been more and more expensive every time, and the ride has gotten immensely better each time. Sure, I could save a lot of money, and ride budget bikes (which I would do if I didn't have the money), or I could accept that this has become my obsessive hobby, and enjoy it to the best that I can.

    The inflation on bikes is ridiculous sometimes, but the performance difference between a $800 and a $5000 is as immense (if not more) as the price gap. I am not well off by any means, maybe I will be when I pay off my student loan debt, bust most people who knock others for riding high end bikes, probably cannot afford to ride high end bikes.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    I agree that you can make is down the mountain on a $400 bike, but at what cost to yourself? There is a thrill in seeing where your hard earned money goes. I can tell you that every bike I have had over the years has been more and more expensive every time, and the ride has gotten immensely better each time. Sure, I could save a lot of money, and ride budget bikes (which I would do if I didn't have the money), or I could accept that this has become my obsessive hobby, and enjoy it to the best that I can.

    The inflation on bikes is ridiculous sometimes, but the performance difference between a $800 and a $5000 is as immense (if not more) as the price gap. I am not well off by any means, maybe I will be when I pay off my student loan debt, bust most people who knock others for riding high end bikes, probably cannot afford to ride high end bikes.
    It can also be argued that people who spend 5k on a bike just need to justify it, especially if you're still paying off loans. It can also be argued that a cheaper heavier bike will build your skills and physical ability more. It can't be argued, or said with any certainty, that today's latest and greatest big $ items aren't going to be much less $ in a few years and become the norm however. In the end it's what works best for you.
    Round and round we go

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    It can also be argued that people who spend 5k on a bike just need to justify it, especially if you're still paying off loans. It can also be argued that a cheaper heavier bike will build your skills and physical ability more. It can't be argued, or said with any certainty, that today's latest and greatest big $ items aren't going to be much less $ in a few years and become the norm however. In the end it's what works best for you.

    What works best for you agreed, but as long as I can afford it, I will ride the best that I CAN afford, because, well I can. If a better damped fork and shox, along with a more efficient suspension design, allows me to ride better, longer, and get more enjoyment, then it is well worth the investment. However, this is a double edged sword when you see people out there who just sank 5k into a bike and you watch them cross chain and cannot bunny hop a 4 inch log.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    I agree that you can make is down the mountain on a $400 bike, but at what cost to yourself? There is a thrill in seeing where your hard earned money goes. I can tell you that every bike I have had over the years has been more and more expensive every time, and the ride has gotten immensely better each time. Sure, I could save a lot of money, and ride budget bikes (which I would do if I didn't have the money), or I could accept that this has become my obsessive hobby, and enjoy it to the best that I can.

    The inflation on bikes is ridiculous sometimes, but the performance difference between a $800 and a $5000 is as immense (if not more) as the price gap. I am not well off by any means, maybe I will be when I pay off my student loan debt, bust most people who knock others for riding high end bikes, probably cannot afford to ride high end bikes.
    The $400 bike my friend rides sold for somewhere in the $5000 range new. Works almost as well now as when it was one of the top DH frames in the world. The only 'cost' is a whole lot of extra money not wasted trying to one-up the the shiny-bike internet crowd. Remember, today's $5000 bike is only a handful of seasons away from being an $800 bike itself.

    I own a number of high end bikes that somebody paid WAY too much for a few years back, then sold at a huge loss when it wasn't the 'latest and greatest' anymore. My shed holds some nice rides from Turner, Intense, Sinister, Specialized, Premium and Trek, not to mention classics from Haro, Kona, Bridgestone, Hutch and Schwinn. Only a few of them cost me anywhere near $2k. Most were under $1k. I've got plenty of pennies in my MTB piggybank and could easily throw it away overspending to keep up with the latest trends, but that would be dumb, and leave less $$ for other stuff, like motos and muscle cars and trips and snowmobiles and a million other things that will provide much greater enjoyment than having the latest popular colors and logos under the mud on my bike.

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    Buying used is one of the best ways to get into the sport. But as for what you ride, as long as it works for you, then ride it. I'm not here to spark a debate, and I don't need to justify what I ride. I don't care about other hobbies near as much, riding bikes is a way of life for me and it always will be. If you want to spend $400 or $4000, do it. But my main reasoning behind my posts was for people who want to get into mountain biking who don't understand why cyclists pay as much as they do. Some people don't care about what they ride, some do.

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    Yup, don't think anyone can or will argue that a dept store bike is the way to go for pretty much anyone who's going to actually ride, especially trails, but as far as how you want to spend your money to seek enjoyment, it's only relevant to that rider. Just ask a rigid ss rider.
    Round and round we go

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Mountain biking is saturated with marketing victims.
    Signature worthy material

    F it, time to leave again ... Freak'n audio commercials control this forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    I agree that you can make is down the mountain on a $400 bike, but at what cost to yourself? There is a thrill in seeing where your hard earned money goes. I can tell you that every bike I have had over the years has been more and more expensive every time, and the ride has gotten immensely better each time. Sure, I could save a lot of money, and ride budget bikes (which I would do if I didn't have the money), or I could accept that this has become my obsessive hobby, and enjoy it to the best that I can.

    The inflation on bikes is ridiculous sometimes, but the performance difference between a $800 and a $5000 is as immense (if not more) as the price gap. I am not well off by any means, maybe I will be when I pay off my student loan debt, bust most people who knock others for riding high end bikes, probably cannot afford to ride high end bikes.
    Guy in the video did it for 6 years ... What's that cost ya ?

    Nevermind ... You already admitted to getting a thrill in seeing where your hard earned money goes.
    Spend it as you wish.

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    One the lower end bike note my spouse is riding a trek 820. She got in collage to use to get from her apartment to class in Florida. it did that Job great. last year we moved up here to PA and we started riding some of the local trails. quickly the found the shifters suck, its heavy the fork was way to stiff ect. I did a little bit of upgrading to slightly better shifters tires pedals and grips so it was more comfortable for her. But at the end of the day its still a commuter bike that she paid less then $300 for. At this point the bike is holding her back because she's not having fun fighting the bike all the time. So we've sat down planed out a budget and are now in the shopping phase for something that she can grow into skill wise and more importantly have more fun riding.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    What works best for you agreed, but as long as I can afford it, I will ride the best that I CAN afford, because, well I can. If a better damped fork and shox, along with a more efficient suspension design, allows me to ride better, longer, and get more enjoyment, then it is well worth the investment. However, this is a double edged sword when you see people out there who just sank 5k into a bike and you watch them cross chain and cannot bunny hop a 4 inch log.
    Or get smoked by someone on a "Supermarket" bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tangaroo View Post
    Buying used is one of the best ways to get into the sport. But as for what you ride, as long as it works for you, then ride it. I'm not here to spark a debate, and I don't need to justify what I ride. I don't care about other hobbies near as much, riding bikes is a way of life for me and it always will be. If you want to spend $400 or $4000, do it. But my main reasoning behind my posts was for people who want to get into mountain biking who don't understand why cyclists pay as much as they do. Some people don't care about what they ride, some do.
    I dunno if it's really a matter of not caring about what you ride. More like a matter of not throwing away a lot of dough for very little, if any, actual performance gains. I've been riding 'seriously' for a couple decades and then some, and I still don't understand why people spend as much as they do on bikes. There's a very serious case of diminishing returns once you get up over the couple thousand dollar range. Not for me to tell people what to spend their money on, but it's also good for beginners to know that a big percentage of a high-end bike's purchase price is going strictly to bling factor. Very important for bike pornographers, less so for those that don't really care about cosmetics as long as the bike functions well enough to do the job they're asking of it.

  42. #42
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    $600 can get you a mountain bike that will handle what most new riders will do on it for the first year or two. It will not hold them back from having fun or progressing as a rider.

    If someone will only try mountain biking if they can start on a $30 cobbled together bike, then get them a $30 cobbled together bike. If they like it, they'll get a better one.

    Heck, the bike that got me hooked was an almost-free 30-something pound rigid bike with cantilever brakes that were more like slow-down suggestions than brakes. It was not that fun on real trails, but showed me enough to peak my interest, so after about a year I got a $250 used bike with front suspension (Mag 21) and slightly better canti brakes. That got me through another year becoming a fully proficient mtb rider. Then I was finally ready to drop some $ on a truly nice bike. But I could have kept riding the older one and I still would have enjoyed the sport.

    I have real doubts that anyone who would otherwise enjoy mtb has ditched the sport because their first bike was not good enough.
    Last edited by kapusta; 06-14-2013 at 08:27 AM.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  43. #43
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    Re: "I'm not going to do anything crazy"

    A good craftsman never blames his tools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GelatiCruiser View Post
    A good craftsman never blames his tools.
    Nice !

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    Quote Originally Posted by GelatiCruiser View Post
    A good craftsman never blames his tools.
    A good craftsman uses the right tool for the job
    Tantrum incoming
    Ibis Mojo 3
    Carver 420 TI

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    A good craftsman uses the right tool for the job
    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    Watch this then see if you still feel the same
    RIDE LIFE GRAVITY EDITION - Supermarket Bike Video - Pinkbike
    A good craftsman doesn't need a gold plated power tool to get the job done, and can express their craft to perfection with basic hand tools.

    You found a most excellent video/story to prove it

  47. #47
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    I would counsel against a very cheep or cobbled bike as posing a risk of falling apart at a critical moment. But, I also counsel against becoming a victim of the law of diminishing returns.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    I would counsel against a very cheep or cobbled bike as posing a risk of falling apart at a critical moment. But, I also counsel against becoming a victim of the law of diminishing returns.
    Well said

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikeabuser View Post
    A good craftsman doesn't need a gold plated power tool to get the job done,
    But...the sales guy at the tool shop and a bunch of gold-plated tool owners on the internet told me it makes a big difference...


  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    I would counsel against a very cheep or cobbled bike as posing a risk of falling apart at a critical moment. But, I also counsel against becoming a victim of the law of diminishing returns.
    I'm not arguing with the underlying point here, but what counts as "very cheap" and/or "cobbled together"?

    Actually, what is the difference between "cobbled together" and "custom build"?
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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