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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Thread: Introduction

  1. #1
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    Introduction

    Hello everyone.

    Mick here. I've been following this forum for a little while (2+ months) and decided to register. I see a wide range of experience on here, from total beginner (me) to total pro (kinda). As for me, I'm an IT consultant in the Houston area full time. I am 26, happily engaged to my fiancee, Sarah, and a proud father of our 11 month old son, Noah. I live in the Missouri City / Sugar Land area. Oh yeah, I'm also addicted to Silverchair and all types of Dubstep, especially deadmau5 (of course)

    I am a total beginner of all things mtb! I rode BMX all my life until I was around 16 years old, and then it got stolen right out of my parents' front yard! Yes, shame on me for leaving it outside Well, here I am, 10 years later, trying to get fit again. I am 5'11 and approximately 195 lbs. I tried going to the gym, but it just wasn't my thing. Running, not my thing either. I have a set of nice Bauer blades, but it just gets boring as I have too many limitations right now.

    I've been Youtubing the hell out of mtb videos for the past 3 months, and I decided I'm going to try it out. My birthday is coming up on August 27th, and I told my fiancee I really want a mtb so I can decide if it's something worth getting in to. She is pretty reluctant, as most of my attempts have failed thus far in trying to get back in shape. I was spending nearly $70 a month at Lifetime Fitness with little to no results, mostly due to lack of motivation. For some strange reason though, I have really taken an interest in the mtb category.

    So, you guys can all start to see my dilemma here. We've decided that a reasonable budget for "experimental mtb riding" would be capped at $250. I really want to get something that, if I decide I like, would be able to withstand some decent trail riding and crashes (expected, I already know!), for a few years of learning to ride properly until I can reach a respected experience level to spend some extra money on a nicer bike.

    I've researched all over the internet, and I'm pretty set on getting a Jeep 29er Comanche. From what I understand, the way 29ers work vs. 26ers, is that the 29ers are slower from a stop, but maintain speed better than a 26. That was my first reason on choosing this bike. The second reason is that I've read that Shimano Tourney derailleurs are pretty good and harder to find on bikes less than $500. I think the 18.5" frame will fit me ok. I did sit on a Mongoose XR-75 (I think) at our local Academy which has an 18" frame and 26" tires, and it was pretty comfortable. I don't see a 3" bigger tire making that much of a difference, but correct me if I'm wrong. The Comanche is listed on Amazon for $233.88 right now, and I could probably ask for a helmet and gloves to go with it since I'm under budget.

    Before I start getting slammed about saving up for a better bike, let me just tell you, I am not sure if mtb is my thing or not. I just want something half-way decent, in the event that I do catch on that will last me a few years (i don't mind upgrading parts if I need to), until I reach an experience level that would make it necessary for me to get a better bike. Do you guys have anything against this specific bike, or do you have a recommendation on a better one?

    With that being said, thank you in advance for your replies, and I hope to make as many riding friends as possible!

  2. #2
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    I'd recommend checking out the demo days when they roll around. We have 3 different companies in the spring and fall.

    Each is two weekends, sat and sunday for like 5 hours. So thats about 120 hours of free ride time each year if you hit em all.

    That would be a good way to decide if its for you or not. You have to wait awhile for the fall ones to come, but I consider it worth it. Its even zero liability.

    We have specialized, trek, and niner.

    Other wise I'd really recommend doing the opposite of what you plan on.
    Buy the crappiest cheapest bike you can find, as long as it all "works".

    The most fun I ever had was on a P.O.S walmart bike that was 15 years old from the trash.
    You dont need even a remotely decent bike to have a good time and decide if you like it.

    I knew instantly. Literally, the first mile after my wheel hit dirt.
    I rode that bike for two years.


    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    joshman,

    Thank you for the reply. It makes perfect sense! Maybe I'm just over-analyzing things, mostly being paranoid that I am just going to break the bike in the first couple of rides. Then again, I'm not doing 10 ft drops, and I would probably be too scared to ride through mud at first.

    Do you have a link for previous demo days so I can see what it's all about? I guess the wal-mart special isn't looking too bad right now for testing purposes.

  4. #4
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    Dont even get it from walmart. Those suck now. I mean, 15 years ago, there werent half bad. The less bling they have the better. If it looks ugly, good. If it has a suspension... BAD.
    Mine was rock hard rigid.

    My old magna, now like 20 years old and also thrown away, shifted almost perfectly every time.

    No links that I know of.
    They're hard to find even when they are happening. I think they disappear after.
    This is the link to treks...
    Free Bicycle Test Rides Featuring the Latest Products from Trek, Gary Fisher, and Bontrager : Trek Factory Demo

    Nothing right now, unless you live in one of those areas.

    I recommend posting in your regions forum on here and asking when they are for you.

  5. #5
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    Thanks I will definitely post in the regions forum. I have an lbs right down the street from me, Bike Barn. The last time I went in there though, they only had higher end bikes and nothing close to my budget for a beginner test riding type thing. I guess I will just have to go visit them in person again and really sit down and go over my thoughts with them.

    We also have a Sun Ski Sports near my house. I heard that if you buy through them, they give free tune ups and what not. I plan on doing as much work on my own as possible, but in the beginning I would rather have it done right than half-assed without the knowledge.

    Thanks for the link, btw.

  6. #6
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    Nice to see another person from the Houston area.

    Admittedly the used market here has been pretty barren for the past few months but you should still probably look at our local ads and pick up a decent used bike.

    You won't get a fantastic bike for under $300 but if you do your research and pick carefully you can probably get something decent in the price range you are looking at that you can potentially resell for close to what you paid for it if you decide that its just not for you.

    Here's one that popped up tonight in Missouri City on CL:

    Trek ZX6500 mountian bike 27 speed

    Its a 12 year old bike but if it is in decent shape might be worth getting if you can talk the seller down to $150ish. That would leave you with enough cash left over to afford new tubes and a tune-up at Bike Barn.

    That is of course if the bike is even the right size. At 5'11" you might be able to work with either a medium or large depending on how each feels to you.
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by frogstomp View Post
    Hello everyone.

    Mick here. I've been following this forum for a little while (2+ months) and decided to register. I see a wide range of experience on here, from total beginner (me) to total pro (kinda). As for me, I'm an IT consultant in the Houston area full time. I am 26, happily engaged to my fiancee, Sarah, and a proud father of our 11 month old son, Noah. I live in the Missouri City / Sugar Land area. Oh yeah, I'm also addicted to Silverchair and all types of Dubstep, especially deadmau5 (of course)

    I am a total beginner of all things mtb! I rode BMX all my life until I was around 16 years old, and then it got stolen right out of my parents' front yard! Yes, shame on me for leaving it outside Well, here I am, 10 years later, trying to get fit again. I am 5'11 and approximately 195 lbs. I tried going to the gym, but it just wasn't my thing. Running, not my thing either. I have a set of nice Bauer blades, but it just gets boring as I have too many limitations right now.

    I've been Youtubing the hell out of mtb videos for the past 3 months, and I decided I'm going to try it out. My birthday is coming up on August 27th, and I told my fiancee I really want a mtb so I can decide if it's something worth getting in to. She is pretty reluctant, as most of my attempts have failed thus far in trying to get back in shape. I was spending nearly $70 a month at Lifetime Fitness with little to no results, mostly due to lack of motivation. For some strange reason though, I have really taken an interest in the mtb category.

    So, you guys can all start to see my dilemma here. We've decided that a reasonable budget for "experimental mtb riding" would be capped at $250. I really want to get something that, if I decide I like, would be able to withstand some decent trail riding and crashes (expected, I already know!), for a few years of learning to ride properly until I can reach a respected experience level to spend some extra money on a nicer bike.

    I've researched all over the internet, and I'm pretty set on getting a Jeep 29er Comanche. From what I understand, the way 29ers work vs. 26ers, is that the 29ers are slower from a stop, but maintain speed better than a 26. That was my first reason on choosing this bike. The second reason is that I've read that Shimano Tourney derailleurs are pretty good and harder to find on bikes less than $500. I think the 18.5" frame will fit me ok. I did sit on a Mongoose XR-75 (I think) at our local Academy which has an 18" frame and 26" tires, and it was pretty comfortable. I don't see a 3" bigger tire making that much of a difference, but correct me if I'm wrong. The Comanche is listed on Amazon for $233.88 right now, and I could probably ask for a helmet and gloves to go with it since I'm under budget.

    Before I start getting slammed about saving up for a better bike, let me just tell you, I am not sure if mtb is my thing or not. I just want something half-way decent, in the event that I do catch on that will last me a few years (i don't mind upgrading parts if I need to), until I reach an experience level that would make it necessary for me to get a better bike. Do you guys have anything against this specific bike, or do you have a recommendation on a better one?

    With that being said, thank you in advance for your replies, and I hope to make as many riding friends as possible!
    I'm about your height, settled for a 18" 29er...but I have a longer legs than torso, 32 inch inseam...you might be better served with a 17inch or 17.5 inch frame depending on how aggressive you are. I will echo what everyone else is saying, avoid Walmart...that and they just suck bad in treating their employees there's a thread about a Costco bike in the 29er section. Last I heard it went on sale for $379 and has decent components...check it out.

  8. #8
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    Welcome man. You sound a lot like me. In IT and previously on BMX and I'm 25. Have Tourney derailleurs on my 29er and I gotta say I'm not a huge fan of them (not that I have much to compare them to), but the shifting is slow and grinds on the chain guides in lowest rear gear (34T IIRC).

  9. #9
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    First off: welcome.

    I think you have two paths that you can choose here; the first being getting a bike at the price point you're thinking of and the second one is getting a less expensive bike. Of course, there are issues to discuss with both paths but you should try and take the most honest approach you can to figuring out if you think you'll keep riding and what kind of riding you will be likely to be doing.

    What kind of trails do you have nearby? How often are you going to ride? What kind of trails are those and what kind of bike is appropriate for the type of riding you are looking to do?

    Let's say you're unsure you'll like mountain biking; then you either have a $300 bike in the garage to get rid of or not ride or you have a cheap (I'd say ideally, used) bike with the same circumstance. Likewise, let's say you actually get into riding and it's your "thing", those bikes you linked to above are marginal; they would probably get you a year or two of hard riding, but at a far lower cost than some other bikes. Some people will suggest used bikes, but beginners don't have a clue what to look for nor what is a good deal. Just because a Trek Y frame is a cool looking bike that retailed for over $4000 doesn't make it a good buy for someone today.

    I would say that if you are unsure you'll take to mountain biking then buy the cheapest bike you can find that fits you. Stay away from ____mart stores but big box sporting good stores might be reasonable. If you want to search the used market, test ride anything before you buy it.

    My ultimate advise is to go to your LBS and tell them about your situation. Tell them that you're not sure you'll like biking but you have a background in BMX and that you're just there to look. If they're not super busy they'll probably show you around and explain what's out there and nearest to your price range. If you ask, they would probably let you test ride a bike or two in the entry level category. If you get to test ride bikes at the LBS before you shop used bikes then you have a good frame of reference of what a bike should feel like, how it should pedal and fit, and how it should function. If you just go out cold into the used market, you might not have a fair comparison point having been away from bikes for a while.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  10. #10
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    The biggest problem that the OP will have right now even after he gets a bike is the same problem that I have.

    All of the daily rain here in the Houston area has rendered the local trails unusable and they will remain that way for at least a couple of weeks after the rain finally stops.

    Some of the best beginner, single track trails we have locally in west Houston (the Ant Hills) are literally underwater right now. So even if he gets a bike today the truth is that he'll be limited to street use for the most part until sometime next month (at the earliest).
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  11. #11
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    I'd probably stay clear of the Jeep bike. Looks like one of the only reviewers on Amazon who actually took it on a trail had bad results:
    Amazon.com: troy's review of Jeep 29er Comanche Mountain Bike (18.5 Inc...

    $250 is a tough pricepoint for a trailworthy bike. Here are some options that I believe would probably be better than the Jeep bike:

    mens trek 4300 alpha

    GARY FISHER HARDTAIL MTN BIKE-17.5"-(FOR 5'7" to 5'11" RIDER) NICE

    FS TREK 4500 (BIKE) (not sure size of this one)

    specialized hardrock (not sure of size)

    Nashbar AT-1 Mountain Bike: Amazon.com: Sports & Outdoors

    Amazon.com: Diamondback 2012 Sorrento Mountain Bike (Satin Black): Sports & Outdoors

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by BeginnerCycling; 07-25-2012 at 11:34 PM.
    I ride at night - see my tips for Night Cycling
    My Blog: Cycling For Beginners

  12. #12
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    Avoid anything branded by a car company.

  13. #13
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    P.S.: If the Scott Aspect 40 bike in this listing is still available (and in good condition, and fits you) then it would seem to be a really good deal, even at $300, but since it's been listed a month I might start at $200:

    Giant and Scott mountain bikes
    I ride at night - see my tips for Night Cycling
    My Blog: Cycling For Beginners

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