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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    Looking for the best bike around $800

    I have been flipping between a 29er and a 26er and I may have settled on a 26er. I have rode for years on a old ironhorse warrior disc, but it is old and worn out.

    I originally was looking at bikes in the $500 range, but quickly ruled them out. $800 is going to be closer to my max and I have a few options in mind.

    I have demoed a few 29ers and honestly I don't see the reason for the hype. I'm thinking I would rather go with a 26er with better components than a lesser quality bike with big wheels.

    I have been looking at the trek 4500, specialized hard rock disc sport, and the cannondale sl4. These are the only bike brand at my three LBS'.

    I haven't demoed any of those yet, but I plan to soon. So far I have tried the specialized hard rock sport disc 29er, trek marlin, and the cannondale trail 5 29er. Of those I like the cannondale the best.

    What would be my best bet for a 800 and under bike?

  2. #2
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    I also found a 2011 SL4 26er locally for $550. It looks clean and well kept. LBS wants 679$ for the sl5 29er + tax.

  3. #3
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    Unfortunately, bike demos in a parking lot are pretty meaningless except to perhaps get a rough sense of the fit of the bike to your body proportions. To truly demo a bike, one needs to go to a dirt demo which bike shops and bike companies sometimes sponsor at a local trail; only then will one truly get a sense of how a mountain bike rides in its natural element.

    What bike you purchase is a matter of the proper fit, bike availability, willingness of the bike shop to make a deal, right components, overall weight, color preference, brand preference, and recommendations from other riders, not necessarily in this order. At $800 price tier, I'd recommend purchasing the bike with the best components that fits you properly; any of the 3 big brands you mentioned will come with a markup compared to comparable bikes from lesser-known manufacturers just because of name on the bike frame; a portion of the price you pay is going towards advertising and sponsoring race teams. Nonetheless, they all make competent bikes.

    Don't give up so quickly on 29ers; borrow one to ride on the dirt or demo one at a local dirt demo and you might change your mind.
    Go on ahead, I'm gonna take a breather.

  4. #4
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    Bike emporium has the trek 4500 for $579 (+shipping I assume). Of course I will have to put it together.

    So far out of the 29ers I tried the cannondale fit the best, but the components didn't feel that great.

  5. #5
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    I like the Rockhopper better than the cannondale. It has tektro draco brakes which have made solid improvements and the drivetrain is that comparable to the Cannondale that is 1k. I also think the stock components that specialized makes are better, for instance the body geometry seats are very nice. I like the trek better than the rockhopper in the fact that it has upgraded drivetrain, better brakes IMHO (easy to bleed and same stopping power).. and as you can see on mtbrs homepage they are highly touting bontragers new line up of tires and seats.

    Rockhopper v 4500 I think they are comparable so you should choose the one that FEELS best to you. Feel is a big thing in picking out bikes.. no one can tell you what feels good to you.
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  6. #6
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    I will try to get some seat time on both.

  7. #7
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    if you get something used, get a better price. I got a sid xtr equiped 2008 (needs worth though) for $470.

    Read this thread for ideas on what used bikes should cost Post your less than $400 mountain bike

    for a new bike, bikesdirect has a reba x9 equipped bike for $800 shipped to your door.

  8. #8
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    I have a quick question. I found a used, well condition 2009 Jamis Durango 29er at my local bike store for $700. Is this a good price? I had my intentions set on buying a 2012 Giant Talon 1 for $800 including tax at the same store. The sales representative also said that the Durango was comparable to the Talon 0.

    Here is the specs of the Durango 29er:

    Frame Kinesis Superlight 7005 triple-butted aluminum main tubes,
    extended seat tube with support strut, goose-necked down
    tube, straight-shot seatstays, replaceable derailleur hanger
    Fork Rock Shox Dart 29er, magnesium sliders, lockout, external
    rebound adjust, 30mm stanchions, 100mm travel
    Headset Zero-stack internal cup threadless, 20mm shim stack, 1 1/8
    Wheels WTB Speed Disc eyeletted rims, 32H, Formula alloy disc hubs,
    14g black stainless steel spokes
    Tires Maxxis Ignitor, 29 x 2.1
    Derailleurs Shimano Deore rear, SR XCR-414, 34.9mm top pull front
    Shiftlevers Shimano Deore RapidFire-SL, 27-speed
    Chain KMC Z9000
    Cassette Sram PG-950, 9-speed, 11-32
    Crankset Shimano Deore M442 Octalink, 44/32/22,
    170mm (12-15.5), 175mm (17-21)
    BB Set Shimano ES25, Octalink, 68 x 118
    Pedals Alloy platform with steel outer cage
    Brakeset Tektro Auriga Comp hydraulic disc brakes with 6 wavy rotor
    Handlebar Jamis XC alloy riser, 6˚ sweep x 13mm rise x 620mm wide
    Stem Jamis XC alloy threadless, 10˚ rise x 75mm (12-14W ),
    90mm (14M-15.5), 100mm (17), and 120mm (19-21)
    Grips WTB Moto, medium diameter
    Seat Post Jamis alloy micro-adjust, 31.6 x 350mm, with alloy QR clamp
    Saddle WTB Speed V Sport SE with SL top
    Sizes 16, 18, 20, 22
    Color Gloss Black/Ano Silver
    Weight 30.30 lbs

    I need advice from others. Thanks in advance!

  9. #9
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    Do any of the diamondback response bikes compare well with the trek or specialized bikes? I happen to have a bunch of ***** sporting goods gift cards...

  10. #10
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    I work at ***** as the bike tech. Started out riding on a response. Their geo is kinda recreational like the top tubes come a Tad shorter and they feel a Tad smaller. Great bike for the money. Especially if you get the comp with hydro brakes.. forget what the fork on it is... Used to be a tora. But like any retail chain it's kind of hit or miss depending on what the bike tech knows. But it's a good option
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  11. #11
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    The guy who assembles the bikes at my local ***** sporting goods is legit. He owned one of the best ships in the area, but decided to retire and work at *****.

    So it should be assembled correctly. I'm just worried about the weight and geo.

  12. #12
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    You could always use the gift cards for sweet biking apparel.. you're gonna need gloves and shorts!

    Depends on how tall you are. The top tubes all look shorter than what is considered traditional XC geo. If you're more leg than torso that necessarily wouldn't be a bad thing to have a shorter top tube that most bike makers. The weight is going to be a tad bit heavier than the models you are looking at but not by much. Mainly because the frame is so burly and bombproof.

    It definitely has value and is a great starter bike and something you can build off of in the future. We also currently have the credit card where you can get an additional 10% off and 6 months same as cash 0% interest. That with your gift cards would be a huge savings on your part.

    Again feel is more important than savings in the end. I encourage you to go and sit on the response xe model if it's a smaller store. The geo will be the same as the comp.

    Patrick
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  13. #13
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    I'll go check them out this week. I may also pickup a like new 2011 cannondale sl4 26er for $500 this weekend.

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