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
    mtx
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    Just getting started...looking for new bike...suggestions?

    Hi,

    I'm 20 years old, I'm 6'1", 140lbs, I reside in Toronto, Canada, and I started " seriously " biking only a few years ago. By " serious ", I mean biking through the limited bike trails in Toronto, to and from downtown, and the occasional off-road trails here and there. Nothing really too serious about it, but each ride generally ranges from 40km-90km. In addition, I practically go everywhere with my bike because there's simply no good reason not to (less pollution, fun/free exercise, very reliable and way faster than public transportation ). I guess that makes me kind of a commuter-biker in also, although I don't take the bike to school every day (I might).

    So what am I here for? Plain and simple - I need advice, suggestions, and comments on a new bike.

    I will be the first to admit that I am not a bike expert, or even an amateur in any sense, but I simply have a passion for biking and I really want to learn the ins and outs of biking (not only riding, but also maintenance & performance tune-ups).

    So with all that said, I'm currently riding an old, crappy CCM bike that I paid $230CAD for 4 years ago at Canadian Tire. Back then, I bought into all the " CCM is good " BS but of course I don't believe in that now. after 4 years of using this bike and going through a life-threatening accident that almost killed me and most certainly damaged my bike (which has not been properly inspected to this day), I think it is time to buy a new one. Besides, I have ~$600 I'm itching to spend . I figured $600CAD, or roughly $500 USD should be good enough to buy a decent entry level bike for an almost-everyday rider (but not a hardcore rider).

    So then, here are my questions:

    1. What type of bike should I get? Mountain, hybrid, or commuter?
    1a. In fact, what is the main difference between Mountain and hybrid? Is it just the wheel width? Mountain can be used on all terrain, but can hybrid be used on slight off-road trails or even curb jumping?

    2. Which one's the best? How do I know which parts are the best? I am looking at several specialized bike shops and here are all the bikes that are within my budget:

    Specialized Hardrock Sport 2007 $500CAD
    Specialized Rockhopper 2006 $600CAD
    Trek 3900 2007 $420CAD
    Trek 4300 2007 $470CAD
    Norco Scambler 2006 $400CAD
    Norco Bushpilot 2007 $560CAD
    Norco Katmandu 2007 $455CAD
    Norco Mountaineer 2007 $370CAD
    Devinci Cameleon 2007 $500CAD
    (Will try to find post up some more models under $600 tomorrow)
    (all prices excl. tax)

    3. Why are there different models with a DISC for $100-$150 more? What is so important and special about having an additional DISC in the front wheel?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    The disc simply refers to disc brakes which some feel modulate and stop better. Looking at your list i would suggest the Rockhopper. or you might look at EBAY or even the classified here on MTBR..

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by J_Sims
    The disc simply refers to disc brakes which some feel modulate and stop better. Looking at your list i would suggest the Rockhopper. or you might look at EBAY or even the classified here on MTBR..

    I personally would avoid eBay or an onlline vendor unless you try the exact bike at a local shop. I was looking at a few Iron Horse and GT bikes I almost bought an new i-drive online but their sizes are strange, usually I ride a large or 19" bike but when I looked at one at my local shop I found that I needed a small frame in the GT's.

    If you are going to ride any single track you want a XC "Mountain" bike if you are on pavement and maybe some dirt paths you can go hybrid but they are not very good in the woods.

  4. #4
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    I agree with NoVA_JB's advice. I would got to a bike shop and have them get a bike that fits you before checking out ebay. I would also suggest doing a lot of research on the components you want to have because eventually you will want to upgrade.

    I just started mtbing about 8 months ago and i really got into it. I got good enough do some races some I had to upgrade. Had I bought the components I wanted in the first place I would be spending so much money now. If you really see yourself mountain biking for a good part of your life, buy nice to avoid buying twice (aka buy quality stuff).
    "hit hard, hit fast, hit often HOOAH!!!!"

    Blog of mine: http://mtnsprts.blogspot.com

  5. #5
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    I think the hard rock would be a good choice. I may be wrong but I think the rockhopper is made more for just mountain, and the hard rock is made for concrete also.

  6. #6
    mtx
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    So mountain bikes are pretty much useless unless you ride up and down mountains a lot? Cause in Toronto, there are no mountains at all. Most, if not all of the trails here are for feet/rollerblade/bike, with the rare off-road side path here and there...and then there's the sidewalks I usually take to and from places....So with that said, do you think I should get a hybrid instead? Because Toronto is just too urban, about 95% sidewalk and only a few trails here and there....to experience "true" mtb I would have to drive up several hours north or east and right now I don't have the luxury to do that

  7. #7
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    If your thinking of getting a bike to just commute, then a hybrid would be good. But if you are wanting to do some more extreme stuff (up/down stairs, jumps, etc.), I think you would have more fun on a more aggressive bike.

    edit: I don't know a whole lot about hybrids, someone else will probably show up and help some more.

  8. #8
    mtx
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cypher32x
    If your thinking of getting a bike to just commute, then a hybrid would be good. But if you are wanting to do some more extreme stuff (up/down stairs, jumps, etc.), I think you would have more fun on a more aggressive bike.

    edit: I don't know a whole lot about hybrids, someone else will probably show up and help some more.
    I rarely ride down stairs and the highest jump I've done is 2 feet or so.....

  9. #9
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    some Toronto thoughts

    as an ex Tirronnoian, I'd suggest a mountain bike over hybrid for a few reasons:

    1) fat tires: you can get slicks at MEC that won't get stuck in grates and streetcar tracks. (commuting)
    2) you can swap tires and ride the Don Valley dirt or venture up to Haliburton or Barrie or Orangeville to some nice trails.
    3) IMHO an MTB is simply more fun.

    I'd suggest a trip to an LBS and figure out your proper size: make sure the cockpit fits, that is with your butt on the saddle and hands on the bars, you should feel comfortable. Not too far upright, not too far forward with too much weight on the handlebars. Get it right, regardless of what bike, fit is the key. Like shoes, get the wrong size and you will pay for it in pain.

    Lastly, discs are becoming defacto standard. They work in the rain and mud, Vbrakes (rubber rim stoppers ) don't. They cost a bit more, but require less maintenance, and will make it easier to sell the bike should you have to or wish to move to another model later on. If you can swing it, it's worth it. this board is loaded with newbies trying to upgrade for cheap, and that's hard. The time to do it is when you buy the bike. At the very least, make sure the hubs are disc ready if you get a Vbraked bike. Then it's cheap to upgrade later.

    There are quite a few Cdn. bikes you can check like De Vinci, Kona, Norco, and more.

    I'd like to suggest that you use the Norco Storm Here as a benchmark to start your search.

    I stress all of this is what I would do, so if you have a feeling I'm not on the money with your needs, then please disregard the above.

    Good luck, Jim
    Last edited by JimC.; 05-15-2007 at 06:08 PM.

  10. #10
    mtx
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimC.
    as an ex Tirronnoian, I'd suggest a mountain bike over hybrid for a few reasons:

    1) fat tires: you can get slicks at MEC that won't get stuck in grates and streetcar tracks. (commuting)
    2) you can swap tires and ride the Don Valley dirt or venture up to Haliburton or Barrie or Orangeville to some nice trails.
    3) IMHO an MTB is simply more fun.
    You mean I should have different tires for different rides? Isn't there an all-in-one out there ?

    What is the Don Valley dirt? I've only been to the East Don Parklands...

    I'd suggest a trip to an LBS and figure out your proper size: make sure the cockpit fits, that is with your butt on the saddle and hands on the bars, you should feel comfortable. Not too far upright, not too far forward with too much weight on the handlebars. Get it right, regardless of what bike, fit is the key. Like shoes, get the wrong size and you will pay for it in pain.

    Lastly, discs are becoming defacto standard. They work in the rain and mud, Vbrakes (rubber rim stoppers ) don't. They cost a bit more, but require less maintenance, and will make it easier to sell the bike should you have to or wish to move to another model later on. If you can swing it, it's worth it. this board is loaded with newbies trying to upgrade for cheap, and that's hard. The time to do it is when you buy the bike. At the very least, make sure the hubs are disc ready if you get a Vbraked bike. Then it's cheap to upgrade later.

    There are quite a few Cdn. bikes you can check like De Vinci, Kona, Norco, and more.

    I'd like to suggest that you use the Norco Storm Here as a benchmark to start your search.

    I stress all of this is what I would do, so if you have a feeling I'm not on the money with your needs, then please disregard the above.

    Good luck, Jim
    Does paying +$150 more for a disc brake (~25% of the bike cost) really justify the differences that you will see in extenuating circumstances? I can see them being useful if I was riding in the rain or mud, but if that was the case, I wouldn't be riding to begin with ...and one more thing about disc brakes, is it only the front that comes with the additional disc brake while the back still uses Vbrakes?

    Thanks for the suggestions, I will definitely head to a LBS to check things out. That Norco Storm looks sweet but it's too expensive.....$1000CAD after taxes is like 2x my budget

  11. #11
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    some answers

    Quote Originally Posted by mtx
    You mean I should have different tires for different rides? Isn't there an all-in-one out there ?

    ...yes, use a mountain bike tire and forget city commuter slicks (no tread, low rolling resistance.

    What is the Don Valley dirt? I've only been to the East Don Parklands...

    ...DV dirt is a Don Valley bike path with dirt on it.



    Does paying +$150 more for a disc brake (~25% of the bike cost) really justify the differences that you will see in extenuating circumstances? I can see them being useful if I was riding in the rain or mud, but if that was the case, I wouldn't be riding to begin with ...and one more thing about disc brakes, is it only the front that comes with the additional disc brake while the back still uses Vbrakes?

    ...Getting a bike with discs up front for $150 more, or getting a bike with vbrakes and upgrading later for $400+++, you choose. it helps with bike control a lot, it helps resale, and some lower end bikes put a disc in front and Vbrakes in back, to save costs. it works just fine for beginner/intermediate level riders.

    Thanks for the suggestions, I will definitely head to a LBS to check things out. That Norco Storm looks sweet but it's too expensive.....$1000CAD after taxes is like 2x my budget
    ...I suggested you use it as a benchmark. here's a good example of a Kona for $575 CAD, that should do you nicely.

    Jim

  12. #12
    mtx
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimC.
    ...I suggested you use it as a benchmark. here's a good example of a Kona for $575 CAD, that should do you nicely.

    Jim
    I don't know how to use it as a benchmark when I don't know what all the parts are/mean.



    All I see is Shimano and I automatically think it's good, but of course there's varying degrees of goodness...

  13. #13
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    OK then

    the Kona is a well equipped bike that fits your budget. Parts are of reasonable quality, and the bike has a good name. Frankly I think you'd be hard pressed to find better. I'm sure there's slightly better out there but you'll go nuts trying to find it IMHO. And perhaps to save only $50 or so.

    Have a look at the Kona or similar, and ask around different LBSs what they might recommend for you instead that fits your butt and your budget.

    Look 1st for fit, then the best combo of performance, value and service. If the Kona fits, then the performance and value are there, leaving only the LBS to be determined...find one you like and trust.

    Jim

  14. #14
    mtx
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimC.
    the Kona is a well equipped bike that fits your budget. Parts are of reasonable quality, and the bike has a good name. Frankly I think you'd be hard pressed to find better. I'm sure there's slightly better out there but you'll go nuts trying to find it IMHO. And perhaps to save only $50 or so.

    Have a look at the Kona or similar, and ask around different LBSs what they might recommend for you instead that fits your butt and your budget.

    Look 1st for fit, then the best combo of performance, value and service. If the Kona fits, then the performance and value are there, leaving only the LBS to be determined...find one you like and trust.

    Jim
    Thanks for the suggestions, I will definitely take a look. Hopefully all the LBSs have that Kona model otherwise it will be hard to find that exact bike. When you were in Toronto, which LBS did you use? Dornellas, Skiis and Biikes?

  15. #15
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    back in the early 90's

    Skiis and Biikes was good and I knew the owners, but don't know if they are still there. I used Ramsay's' a lot but it went bankrupt and Len Ramsay left the country.

    You can find a Kona dealer on Kona's website. Do a price check on the phone (800#) with wwww.covebike.com, Kona's largest dealer to keep the Ontario dealer honest.

    Sorry, been gone since '95, don't know of any shop I can recommend.

    Good luck, Jim

  16. #16
    mtx
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    Yes S&B is still there.....

    hopefully I can find that Kona model there or maybe I can even find a better deal on some discontinued 2005/2006 models!

  17. #17
    mtx
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    Yes S&B is still there.....

    hopefully I can find that Kona model there or maybe I can even find a better deal on some discontinued 2005/2006 models!

  18. #18
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    from the Kona website:

    Gears Bike & Ski Shops Limited
    176 Lakeshore Rd West
    Mississauga ON CA L5H 1G3

    View Map Distance 3.23 miles



    Telephone: 1-905-271-2400
    Fax: 1-905-271-2207
    Website: www.gearsbikeshop.com

  19. #19
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  20. #20
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    all 3

    are good designs with OK parts and all 3 have really crappy forks. Jim

  21. #21
    mtx
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    What are the differences between the forks?

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