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 to get into the sport

    I wanted to make a first post before I left work today, you can see I have my priorities straight. I've been doing a little reading on this site and ridemonkey, and decided to join here right now because there seems to be a bigger group of users.

    Just out of high school I was riding a decent amount. I guess I'd call it mostly XC in the hills of southern California. Mostly just fire roads, hiking paths, that sort of thing. I was riding a bike my sister wanted for her bday which was decent, for the time, I think. In the past week I've been to two lbs. One is performance bicycle, the other is something called old towne bicycles. What prompted these trips was going out on an 8 mile trail (Fountainhead) with a friend and having a blast despite the nasty checked out bike he let me use. He just got an Iron Horse from performance and seemed to like it.

    So my questions. I don't see a lot of people raving about how good GT, Mongoose, or Schwinn are. Is this backlash due to the corporate structure or what? I'm asking because besides Iron Horse, it seems that Pacific Cycle brands are all that Performance carries and they have some really good deals at the moment (I have nothing to compare that to, really). The other bike shop has brands like Specialized, Giant, and Cannondale. Brands that seem to get a lot of play here, but my impression was that I would end up spending a lot more at Olde Towne, because the bikes look to be more to start, and they aren't having a sale at the moment.

    So what I am looking for at the moment: Probably a hard tail (I don't like the idea of a rear suspension sucking up any of my pedaling power), decent travel on the front suspension but not extreme (I doubt I need more than 5 inches), disk brakes (are the mechanical, non-hydrolic ones really so bad, or how do I tell the good ones from bad ones?), and spending limit of $700, but $550 would be way more comfortable and let me get a few other things as well. I say $700 because I'd rather add those other things over time than upgrade this bike (assuming it doesn't brake). Is fit of the bike the first and only thing I should be looking for?

    I think I'm suffering from an information overload at the moment! But the current sale ends on the 30th, so I need guidance soon.

  2. #2
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    GT, Mongoose, Schwinn have decend bikes. The brands got hurt by some stupid marketing errors such as selling really cheap bikes through grocery stores. What you get at Performance is really good beginner/intermediate stuff.

    Good idea to keep your spending limit at $550. You should be able to get a nice hard tail in that range. The other $150 should go into (in my personal priority order):

    - helmet (never ride without)
    - patch kit and pump (don't walk home)
    - gloves (protect your hands)
    - water bottle/hydration pack (ride longer)
    - riding pants (chamoise to padd the butt)

    As for the specific brand of bike: Not important. At a given price range the bikes have more or less identical quality components. The market is so competitive. Important is that the bike seems to fit you and the trails you want to ride. Ask the staff for guidance, to setup the bike for you and take at least a short test ride. Buy what feels right.
    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit." - And I agree.

  3. #3
    No good in rock gardens..
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    Brand snobbery my friend. Just 'cos GT and Mongoose make low end bikes that are sold in dept, stores doesn't mean their mid level or high end bikes are rubbish. In fact IMO GT can squeeze more gear into an entry level bike than the likes of "cooler" brands like Specialized, Cannondale of Kona can

    Look for a hardtail in your price range that has a 100mm fork and cable discs - 27 speed is nice if you can get it as it makes the bike a lot cheaper to upgrade if you desire.

    IMO GT, Giant and Fisher seem to be really good bang for the buck at the moment.

    Kaba Klaus is on the money with the accessories you'll need for the trail - a set of Allen keys or multi tool would be handy too for things that shake loose or need adjusting.
    My Cannondale Lefty keeps failing....

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the input, guys. I've been using a Camelbak mule for years running, and bought gloves right after my most recent trip when I got some crazy blisters. The rest seems to be pretty good sense as well. Now I just have to go back to the store and see what I can talk myself into spending.

    I can't believe I'm about to spend more that I paid for my snowboarding setup. Of course I've had that for almost 5 years, so many years of something to do in the summer seems like a good idea.

    Does anyone use those plastic tire inserts to protect the inner tubes anymore?

  5. #5
    No good in rock gardens..
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    Quote Originally Posted by msummers80

    Does anyone use those plastic tire inserts to protect the inner tubes anymore?
    I don't think they are that commonly used by more experienced MTB'ers - though for a commuting bike that might encounter borken glass and other suburban crap they can be handy.

    TBH I don't get too many flats offroad, and I generally run lighter tubes and tyres.

    In any case, a flat isn't the end of the world and is a 5 minute fix anyway - who wants to muck around setting up tyre liners and carryng the extra weight all the time, to guard against the occasional flat?
    My Cannondale Lefty keeps failing....

  6. #6
    spec4life???..smh...
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    ill never forget pulling out of the parking lot after buying my first bike and my freind saying you just spent more on a mtb than on your last pair of skis. It was a sad realization as I am far more skilled on the snow than the dirt.

    As for your first bike id worry more about the componets and geo rather than the name written on the frame. In this price range most bikes are fairly simular. A bike that feels like it was made for you is far more important than a fox fork etc.

    As said before you probaly want a fork with a 100mm of travel and maybe my most important tip is to watch out for those grip shifters. DO NOT get them a set of rapid fire shifters are worth their weight in gold. I dont know how I lived 19 years without them.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by msummers80
    I can't believe I'm about to spend more that I paid for my snowboarding setup. Of course I've had that for almost 5 years, so many years of something to do in the summer seems like a good idea.
    I was just the opposite of you, and took up snowboarding as something fun to do in winter. The initial investment in biking may be more than snowboarding, but you don't have to drop $50-70 in lift tickets every time you want to ride your bike either.

  8. #8
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    Performance has some killer closeout deals on 2007 Iron Horse bikes. You can easily find a $800-$900 bike for $500-600 right now. Prolly one with hydros too. Juicy 3's or the like.
    But good mechanical discs work very good when setup properly.
    Look, whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bstyle74
    I was just the opposite of you, and took up snowboarding as something fun to do in winter. The initial investment in biking may be more than snowboarding, but you don't have to drop $50-70 in lift tickets every time you want to ride your bike either.
    You could have just let me figure that out come winter! Very good point. Add to it the fact that I don't even have to drive to find some trails to ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by spec4life
    A bike that feels like it was made for you is far more important than a fox fork etc.
    I've sat on a few bikes now, and they feel pretty damn similar to me so far. I mean, I can tell the difference, but one doesn't feel better than another really. Anyways, I've noticed that components are all about the same in what I'm looking at as well (brand names aside). Forks with 100mm travel, mechanical disc brakes, 27 or 24 gears, rapid fire shifters. I'm gonna go check out performance again today between work and school, and see if they have a killer deal I need to snatch up. Which brings me to my next question.

    Bike pricing. I know MSRP isn't what you pay for most items, but I noticed a pretty substantial difference in MSRP on a Trek I looked at and what the store was selling it for (Like a 20% difference), and the salesman said they don't do sales there. This made me think of another industry from which I just bought a product where MSRP is rather marked up and you can haggle on price a little. Right now I feel like when I see MSRP listed, or the "was" price it will be a worthless number used to generate an impulse reaction. So is Performance going to have another sale a week after this current sale with similar prices because they can't move GT's and Iron Horse's at the MSRP?

  10. #10
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    Ok, so I'm looking at three bikes now. I don't know if there is a rule about posting prices, but I'll give a general amount.

    Cannondale F5 - Low $600's, SRAM X7 in back and X5 in front. Shimano BR-415 Mechanical disc brakes and Rockshox Dart 3

    Trek 6000 Disc - Low $700's, SRAM x5 front and back, Avid BB-5 Mech disc, and rockshox dart 3

    Iron horse warrior 5.5 low $700's, SRAM x7 front and back, Avid Juicy 3 hydrolic disc, and Marzochi bomber fork (or something like that), and clip in peddles to boot.

    They all felt about the same on the road, in the store, and you can be sure I'm not gonna get on dirt before I buy. I'm thinking I go with the Iron Horse for the nicer components. The Trek is too much for what I get compared to the cannondale, but I think the extra bucks for the components in the Iron horse might be worth it. Now I just need to see if I can open my mouth wide enough to swallow the cost....

    So are there any components here that will bite me in the ass? Did I get anything wrong?

  11. #11
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    OK, since no one replied I decided to go with the Iron Horse. So new question. When I'm picking it up, what should I check before I leave the bike shop?

  12. #12
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    Sorry for not replying on the last question. Was too busy to pay attention to the forum. But looks like you picked the bike with the best specs anyway. And if they all felt good...

    Picking it up... Do another test ride. Check for:

    Bike fit ok? Saddle position ok (height, forward position, horizontal)? Bar rotation (hand position) ok?

    Go through all sensible gear combinations. (Chain parallel to rings - not 44/34) Shifts ok?

    Brakes dragging? Do you hear pads rubbing the rotor even when you do not even touch the lever? - If so: Have it fixed.

    Tires inflated to your liking? Caps on the valves?

    Clipless padals... do you have the cleats for the pedals? If not ask for them.

    Quickly check all bearings for play: Headset, pedals, cranks, wheels. Alternatively ask the mechanic to do that.

    Quickly check the wheels for lose spokes and trueness.

    .... Having said all this: I would assume the shop does this before they actually hand you the bike. But you never know who is on duty. Event the best shops have bad days.
    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit." - And I agree.

  13. #13
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    Not really the obligation of the bike shop:

    Do you have shoes for the clipless pedals?
    Do you own a helmet and biking gloves?
    Do you posess a patch kit and a pump?
    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit." - And I agree.

  14. #14
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    Good call on the IH. It should serve you well.
    Do as Klaus says and you'll be 100%.
    I'd get a set of pedals that aren't clipless so you can start right away without buying shoes. Performance has some decent sealed bearing pedals on sale for under $20.
    When you are comfortable, look at getting some clipless shoes if that floats your boat.
    Look, whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

  15. #15
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    Ok, thanks for the list of mechanical stuff to check, Klaus. I'll bring that when my bike comes in.

    Good advice on the pedals, Savage. I plan on trying a couple pairs of shoes when I get the bike (they need to call those something else. I was so confused for a couple hours). I also ordered some of the old platform pedals (don't know what to call them, clipless is already taken). I figure I can just do a quick swap depending on the type of riding I'm doing. Something about the "campus pedal" just didn't sit right with me.

    I guess I'll start a new thread when I have a new question I can't get an answer for. Thanks for helping break me into the forum!

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