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 help starting a bike search

    This forum is great for information--but there's so much of it searching for specifics can be daunting. I'm hoping to buy a bike in the next few months and want to put in the research now. I used to ride (like 15 years ago), but coinciding with a move to the city my bike was stolen and I got out of the hobby. It was an American Cannondale hardtail with Judy front suspension and shimano components. As a result, I'm partial to rock shox and shimano stuff on the bikes I'm considering, but that's just bias and ignorance of SRAM and RST.

    So that being said, my hope was for a bike in the $750-850 range with a dart 3 fork and deore components. Is that possible? If not, the top of my list right now is the 2010 Marin alpine trail 29er, which has the rock shox but only deore rear derailleur. I know nothing about Marin, however, and my LBS won't give me a sense where they stand in terms of frame geometry, weight, and construction.

    I'm tall (6'3) but light, and the 29ers so far have felt good in the saddle. But I'm open to other suggestions. The main criteria--what can I upgrade in the future. I'm sure I will want to add gear. so I want a frame I can live with for a while.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I will let others throw in their two cents on the pluses and minuses of buying from Bikesdirect, but they have several 29ers that meet your criteria and price range. The Motobecane Fantom 29 Pro has a Tora fork, deore FD, and Deore LX RD and is $695 with free shipping and no tax. The Windsor Cliff 29R Pro comes in at $799 with a Tora and Dynasys SLX/XT derailleurs.
    Quote Originally Posted by STT GUY View Post
    Screw the search function... you're new, ask the question(s). If anyone gets thier undies in a bunch it's thier problem.

  3. #3
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    I'm a little skeptical about the bikesdirect thing, but could be convinced otherwise. It seems moto is just their brand of MTB, which means there are no local shops who specifically service the brand. Plus you have to assemble it yourself.

    Is the moto brand recognized as a serious frame builder? Not that an $800 bike is "serious," but I guess I just assume that companies like Trek and Cannondale are using the best materials and best geometry, even in their lower end offerings, and stand behind their work for years. My concern with moto would be that the components are good, but the stuff I won't upgrade (ie the frame) is not the strongest part of the package.

  4. #4
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    You might watch your area Craigslist for a used bike. You will get better components, and you can probably get a really nice HT for $850. I would NOT get a Dart fork. I have one on my entry level Felt and it is really not very good. It flexes so badly under heavy braking and in really rutted out sections that the bikes steering is difficult to control. I think most guys here recommend at least a Tora. I just bought a Reba Team to replace the Dart, but I do not have it on the bike yet.
    I bought a really nice Felt Q629 off Craigslist for $250 with Disc Brakes that are not the greatest, but they work. The Alivio trigger shifters and derauillers work amazingly well considering how cheasy they look. Frame is a really good stiff aluminum design that I can upgrade as things break, so the money goes out a little at a time.
    If you buy a new bike for $700-$800, you are gong to probably be faced with some of the same upgrades and if you do that, you may as well spend more up front and get what you want to begin with.

    At your height, you are going to probably need a XL frame.

    Just my .02 cents!

    Wayne

  5. #5
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    I'm looking at craigslist everyday. Maybe my expectations are too high, but people seem to think very highly of their heavily used, 10 year old bikes. I don't want to spend $750 for a 10 year old bike that was $1200 new. Plus I do want to have a LBS to help me out, if possible.

    But I take your point--I'm not going to find what I'm looking for new in the $800 range, I guess.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by eastcoastrider View Post
    I'm a little skeptical about the bikesdirect thing, but could be convinced otherwise. It seems moto is just their brand of MTB, which means there are no local shops who specifically service the brand. Plus you have to assemble it yourself.

    Is the moto brand recognized as a serious frame builder? Not that an $800 bike is "serious," but I guess I just assume that companies like Trek and Cannondale are using the best materials and best geometry, even in their lower end offerings, and stand behind their work for years. My concern with moto would be that the components are good, but the stuff I won't upgrade (ie the frame) is not the strongest part of the package.
    Motobecane does not make frames, neither do Cannondale, Trek, Specialized, Giant, GT, Schwinn, Mongoose etc. All those brands frames come from the same three factories in Taiwan. Motobecanes frames are branded as Kinesis, Kinesis frames are also used by Diamondback amongst others, and they are completely on par with the big name bikes in frame quality. The only issue I see with Bikesdirect is the fact you gotta assemble it yourself or pay a shop to do it for you. I have read people who paid anywhere from $30 to $100 to have an online bike assembled by their LBS. But really, its not that hard. They come 90% assembled, you just gotta put on the wheels, seat and such, straighten and tighten your bars, and adjust your shifters and brakes.
    Quote Originally Posted by STT GUY View Post
    Screw the search function... you're new, ask the question(s). If anyone gets thier undies in a bunch it's thier problem.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by eastcoastrider View Post
    I'm looking at craigslist everyday. Maybe my expectations are too high, but people seem to think very highly of their heavily used, 10 year old bikes. I don't want to spend $750 for a 10 year old bike that was $1200 new. Plus I do want to have a LBS to help me out, if possible.

    But I take your point--I'm not going to find what I'm looking for new in the $800 range, I guess.
    Mostly my experience as well. Craigslist is full of Wallyrides and over priced name branders, for the most part. But if you have patience and look, their are deals to be had. My Craigslist find was my 2010 Diamondback Overdrive. It doesnt quite fit your component desires, but was a $600 bike new and this one still looked brand new, and I got it for $320. Craigslist is fine if you know what your looking for and have patience.
    Quote Originally Posted by STT GUY View Post
    Screw the search function... you're new, ask the question(s). If anyone gets thier undies in a bunch it's thier problem.

  8. #8
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    Kinesis is one of the big players.

    Motobecane went out of business years ago. Bikesdirect bought the rights to use several older brand names; Motobecane is one they've had longer, and it seems to be getting a little bit of traction. It also seems to be a favorite over at BD for releasing higher-end offerings. While I was (and still am, if I visit) initially turned off by the style of the bikesdirect.com site and their deceptive claims about the retail values of the bikes they offer, if you just look at the spec., the value is not bad. In addition to doing a little bit of final assembly, I think it would be highly beneficial to a new owner of any of BD's bikes to be able to tension and true the wheels. The big names are often not great about sending wheels that are finished either.

    For me, the big dealbreaker with a BD bike would be the wonky geometry. I'm used to a bike with a 590mm ETT and a 120mm head tube. Since I ride with my stem flipped down and one smallish spacer under it, bigger than a 130mm head tube would make it hard for me to get "my" riding position.

    If I went out and bought a Moto, I think I'd have to size up. But I'm not really sure, because their geometry chart's a bit unclear. Looks like the head tube angle would also be even steeper than the head tube angle on my current bike, which is a little steeper than I'd like it to be. And they don't even list the length of the head tube, which is a relatively minor concern but if I had to size up, it might become more important. They also have something pretty vague to say about the effects of the specific fork on the geometry of the bike, but don't give the axle-crown height of the one they used to make the geometry chart.

    On the other hand, for $700, I'd get to start with something that has a nice (though not really as nice as the advertising suggests) spec and a fork that will accept a more serious damper down the road.

    If you're thinking Moto, make sure you do your homework. People I've talked to who've bought them have been pretty stoked on them, which is the real bottom line. You just need to understand that you're not getting something that would actually list for $1700, but it probably would list for north of $1000 (and come with local dealer support) if it was sold by a traditional brand.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  9. #9
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    Andrw,

    Completely with you on the dislike of BDs bogus "MSRP" claims. Since they are the only place to buy the bike, their price is the real MSRP. However, this tactic is common place in many fields of sales and I am willing to overlook it because the bikes appear to be very good and Mike appears to be a pretty straightforward guy. How many other manufacturers reps are as available to regular customers as he is around here. Other than the geometry issues you pointed out, there are a few other oddities in some of their specs. Almost all of their MTBs have cassettes that only have 30 tooth big sprockets, other brands usually go up to 32 or 34. Years prior to 2011 most BD bikes only had 28 tooth, so they are coming closer to "normal".

    And you are right to point out the wheels, I forgot that one but have also heard that the big names need their wheels trued out of the box, but this is part of standard assembly at the LBS.
    Quote Originally Posted by STT GUY View Post
    Screw the search function... you're new, ask the question(s). If anyone gets thier undies in a bunch it's thier problem.

  10. #10
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    AndrwSwitch and Crash,
    This is really helpful. I didn't realize none of the major brands manufactured frames.
    I'm warming to the BD idea, but honestly still leaning toward a bike from a shop. Being a beginner all over again, I want to test drive a bunch of bikes before I select. There's a lot to be said for a piece of equipment "feeling" right. And of course, as a beginner, learning to true a wheel is going to be essential--but it would be nice if the shop where I buy the bike would teach me that rather than me learning on my own just to get my bike on the trails.

    That all being said, are you both indifferent about the Marin idea? Do they have a reputation?

  11. #11
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    I think test riding is a good way to start.

    Marin is a pretty old company. They've just never been that big. The particular bike you were talking about looks like a pretty good spec. for the money - the Alivio drivetrain is actually pretty good, and while the Dart is nothing to write home about, it's probably better than the off-brand forks that most bikes at this pricepoint come with.

    It doesn't hurt to hop on some other bikes for comparison. But the Marin seems like it would be a good choice.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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  13. #13
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    Just be careful not to get a bike with a low end Suntour fork they are crap. Suntour has some pretty good high end forks but the lower end stuff is poo.

  14. #14
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    From what I understand, low-end forks are generally nothing spectacular. The darts are heavy and oil-filled right? I still think I'm shooting for min dart 3s (though really don't want to hit more than $800 total).

    My old US made Cannondale had a great frame and came with a rigid fork. For the first year just rode without suspension and saved up for a judy. Doesn't seem like that kind of thing is an option anymore.

  15. #15
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    It is, but it's rare.

    The GT Peace shipped as a rigid. Doesn't seem to be a current-year model. The Redline D440 ships with a rigid. The Karate Monkey ships as a rigid, but it's also a singlespeed. Surly and Salsa frames (and others, I'm sure) have matching rigid forks available, but building from a bare frame is typically not very efficient.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by eastcoastrider View Post
    AndrwSwitch and Crash,
    This is really helpful. I didn't realize none of the major brands manufactured frames.
    I'm warming to the BD idea, but honestly still leaning toward a bike from a shop. Being a beginner all over again, I want to test drive a bunch of bikes before I select. There's a lot to be said for a piece of equipment "feeling" right. And of course, as a beginner, learning to true a wheel is going to be essential--but it would be nice if the shop where I buy the bike would teach me that rather than me learning on my own just to get my bike on the trails.

    That all being said, are you both indifferent about the Marin idea? Do they have a reputation?
    Being a relative newb myself (a very quick learning one, reading everything in sight, but still a newb) I can't really say too much about Marin. Appears to be a smaller but good quality bike builder. I am no shill for BD, there are other threads where I have suggested non mechanical newbs go to the LBS for the reasons you mention, fitment and proper assembly. But unlike some BD haters, I do think they are a nice option for the right kind of rider. Better equipped bike at any given pricepoint, especially if you can do the assembly. Myself, I grew up maintaining bikes, dad insisted on yearly complete tear down, cleaning and relubing. I don't have too much experience truing wheels and indexable shifters are quite a bit different than the old friction shifting, but I am getting up to speed and love to learn. So BD would have been my first choice if I hadn't found my Diamondback at a nice price. But its not for everyone and I will never say it is.
    Quote Originally Posted by STT GUY View Post
    Screw the search function... you're new, ask the question(s). If anyone gets thier undies in a bunch it's thier problem.

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