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 Some Buying Advice

    Hey there! Newbie here, hoping to learn from this wonderful resource. I'm in the market for a mountain bike. I've searched around the forum and found that everyone suggests hitting up their LBS. I will! I was hoping to get some preliminary info here from you guys so I have some semblance of a clue about what I'll be looking for. So first, a little background.

    I have been riding my fathers Gary Fisher Mamba recently. I want to respect the fact that it is not my bike, so I want to buy one for myself. I have just recently started getting more into the sport, riding some more exciting singletrack trails. (Fountain Head in VA) So far this is about the extent of my experience, and where most of my riding would take place. I'd like a bike that wouldn't leave me looking for an upgrade in a few months. I have a budget of $1000-$2000 (Aiming for the lower end of that spectrum). I am also not a large person, which is another reason why I'm looking for my own bike (the mamba has a 19in frame and feels a bit big). 5'11" at around 170 pounds.

    Initially I was looking into FS bikes, but I honestly don't know whether or not that would be overkill for what I'll be riding. All I know is that I do want something that has a bit more travel up front and some more responsive brakes. As for wheel size, I do enjoy the 29's, so I'll probably want to stick with those unless anyone convinces me otherwise. My LBS is thebikelane and the few experiences I have had with them have all been positive. They seem to be a Trek dealer, which had me initially looking at their offerings. The Superfly (FS and Hardtail) and the Stache in particular.

    So I guess my questions would be as such, would a FS bike be too much for the riding I'll be doing? I'd like to have the ability to ride more technical trails as my skills progress. Preference being a FS if that suits my needs, but I'm not against hardtails at all! New or used? FS or hardtail? What would my riding be categorized as? Brand and bike suggestions?

    Oh and I saw this on craigslist and was curious what someone else thought about it. Bike Seems like a good deal to me, is there anything to be weary about with used bikes? Carbon ones in particular?

    Thanks again in advance, I hope I posted this in the right place! Let me know if there's anything else I can provide that would help you help!

  2. #2
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    It's close to impossible to find a new, decent full suspension bike for less than $2,000 and when you do find one closer to that budget, it will have pretty low-end components. For that budget, you would be able to get a pretty nice hardtail with good component spec. You can certainly ride more technical trails on a hardtail...I did it for years before I upgraded to my current full suspension...so don't be too hung up on that.

    Most, not all, 29ers will have less suspension travel up front than some 26ers will have...also check out some 27.5" bikes. I recommend test riding as many bikes as you can so you can note what you like and don't like about certain models and go from there. Once you figure out what you like the feel of, go for the best component spec you can afford, which will make it so you won't be wanting to upgrade it so quickly. I suggest going for a bike with at least Shimano SLX/SRAM X7 and air suspension if you can afford it.

  3. #3
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    Awesome, great insight. Thanks so much! I'd rather have a higher quality HT over a mediocre FS, HT it is! I'll look into some 650b's for sure. I've got a friend who recently bought a Raleigh Tokul 1, could probably give that a try to get a feel for 27.5" wheels.

  4. #4
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    We currently have a Tokul 1 at the shop I work at and I like the way it feels. The Tokul 3 comes in at the low side of your budget and has a pretty decent part spec. I like the Tokul 4130 a lot better because of the much nicer spec, but it hits the top end of your budget.

    Another bike in that price point that I've ridden and liked is the Specialized Rockhopper Pro Evo 29er. Around $1,400 gets you a 120mm Rock Shox solo air fork with a 15mm thru-axle, type 2 clutch rear derailleur, and a good part spec otherwise.

  5. #5
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    I'm completely willing to spend the extra money if its worthwhile. Obviously I'm not very knowledgeable about any of this so I really do appreciate hearing your opinion and getting your suggestions! I'll have to give his Tokul a try. So the straight headtubes don't detract from the appeal for you? Just doing a little research and that had me curious!

    Found this, seems to fit into what you were suggesting as far as the derailleurs go. Diamondback Axis Pro Bike 2014 > Complete Bikes > Mountain Bikes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Thoughts on that?

    The Rockhopper is pretty appealing too! Wonder if I can find a dealer in my area to give one a little test ride...

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
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    I've owned bikes with straight headtubes in the past and had no problem with them personally. My current bike has a tapered headtube and I like it as well. Some guys really prefer the stiffness that the tapered headtubes offer, but I'm a lighter weight guy and don't notice it.

    The Diamondback looks pretty nice for the price. It has pretty nice components, I just have no first-hand experience with that bike.

  7. #7
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    Does your Dad need his bike back in the near future? Does he care if you make setup changes?

    I ask because you're bigger than the average American and 19" is a really popular frame size, and often recommended for people your height. I think bike fit is really important, and having one on hand is something you can leverage to get something really you.

    Here's an article on bike setup I like.
    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm

    Give it a shot and see if you still feel a 19" is too big for you.

    As far as bike type, I don't think a XC FS is ever overkill for actual mountain biking. Rear suspension isn't ever a necessity either, though. It's all about what you think you'll have the most fun riding, and can afford.

    I'm not familiar with your trails. What's your favorite thing about riding them? Any downhill-only trails or man-made features?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    I think the fact that it feels so big is that I went from a small giant that I got when I was a kid straight onto the Mamba. I don't feel like I'm riding a boat or anything, I guess it just feels different than what I had been accustomed to for so long. I'm sure he'd be okay with me changing a few things, I'll take a read and change what I can. I suppose my motivation for buying myself a bike comes more from a desire not to muck up something that isn't mine.

    Here's a little info on one of my local trails. Fountainhead Virginia Trail Reviews

    Aside from that I have a nice little area within riding distance of my house that offers much of the same as Fountain Head, though not groomed in any way and covered with fallen logs.

    That's about all that I'm aware of in my immediate area. There are ski resorts within a reasonable distance, and assuming they offer such trails in their off seasons, I'd definitely be interested in that given my skills and bike were up to scratch. But I by no means want to buy a bike for that purpose, seeing as most of my riding will be at the two previously mentioned areas.

    I was about to head to my LBS, anything specific you think I should remember to ask them?

  9. #9
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    Bike Lane is a good shop. I would pick up a HT 29er at this point in your cycling "career"..it will give you more for your money and be perfectly suited for the riding you describe.

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  10. #10
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    Your money will always go farther with a used bike.
    In your price range, with some searching and a little luck, you could easily score a nice FS ride.
    Last edited by slapheadmofo; 12-03-2013 at 06:47 PM.

  11. #11
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    I'm leaning towards a HT more and more now, a FS would be nice, but I don't think I really need it. Nor would I be able to get the quality I want in components. I will keep an eye out though for something used in that realm.

    I explored a few trails near my house today, maybe this will give you guys a better idea of what I'm going to be riding most often. I realize that there's nothing impressive here but I had some fun with it. :P

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9dMPbKluL8&hd=1

    I have some other videos up from Fountain Head if that matters.

    Thanks again to everyone for the responses, I can't say I'm decided as to what exactly I'm looking for, but you have helped me consider my options!
    Last edited by Delusions; 12-03-2013 at 06:05 PM.

  12. #12
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    Sounds like you'll be good on a XC or Trail bike.

    Try to demo a FS bike before you make your decision. Drag your feet for another month or so too, and get that Mamba dialed for you. Someone should be riding it. And you'll give yourself a little more time to see if it's a good size.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    More questions! I was curious whether or not building a bike myself would be a beneficial endeavor in terms of saving money. I would love to have a more intimate knowledge of bikes in general, and I feel like building a bike up myself would give me that. It would be a fun project for me to boot.

    So I guess I was wondering if it would save me money or end up costing more in the long run. I'm assuming the latter, but it might be worthwhile for me regardless. Time is a non issue for me and I really do love projects!

    I saw a thread about carbon 650b frames, what other options should I consider in terms of frames? Price ranges for each of the main components to try to stay within my budget? Is there anything else I should consider when thinking about taking on something like this?

    Now this is just an idea I've had, not set on it or anything. So please if anyone else has any other bike suggestions in my price range, or would like to offer any advice, please feel free! Leaning more and more heavily towards a 650b bike.

    Thanks again!

  14. #14
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    Complete bikes are better deals. Whether you do retail, catalog, used, whatever.

    I also think it's a bit silly to launch into a custom build project without a little context. Ride what everybody else is riding and then decide what you want to do differently, and what you can't even tell has been done differently.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  15. #15
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    IMO, your far better off starting out with a bike that is ready to ride. First of all, you can get out and ride, which is the main objective. As you ride and do some maintenance/repairs/upgrades along the way, you'll get a lot more familiar with what you want out of your bike and how things work. Knowing your way around a bike mechanically is indispensable on the trail, but spec'ing out and building one up, particularly as a beginner, is very likely to cost more $$ and guaranteed to keep you off the trails and in the shop or in front of a computer a lot longer.
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  16. #16
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    Fair enough! You have disuaded me for the time being with that reasoning. It makes sense. Maybe later on down the line!

    Anyway, thanks again Andrw for sharing that fitting article with me. I have set up the mamba to suit me much better, though I have yet to ride it with all this rain!

    Thanks to both of you!

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