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.
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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
    Machine
    Reputation: agarner59's Avatar
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    Looking to upgrade from Trek 3500

    I'm somewhat new to the MTB scene, and I love it. I bought my Trek 3500 with the mindset of primarily road, sidewalk, and paved trail riding with the ability to go off-road if need be. The Trek 3500 filled that role admirably. Now that I've left the paved roads, I'm looking to upgrade my off-road capabilities. I'm looking for a solid, durable package in the $700 range that is solid enough to handle any moderate level single track, small jumps, and can also be easily upgraded.

    I've looked at Cannondale F4 & F5, Trek 4300 disc & 4500, and an IBEX Alpine 550. I've done a little homework on components and their quality, and I've even considered building a bike. I just don't think I could build one of comparable quality for the same price as the bikes I've mentioned. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    My first bike was a 4300, and absolutely loved it. Had it for a bit over a year before I upgraded to a Fuel EX 8. I don't know if you'll see MUCH of a difference between a 3500 and a 4300, they're both considered entry level recreational mountain bikes.

    My suggestion: save up more, a good amount more, and go BIG.

  3. #3
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    If the Trek is still working for you, replacing it with a $700 bike would be replacing one entry-level MTB with another entry-level MTB.

    The fit on Trek 3- and 4-series bikes is a little funny. So you'll feel a definite difference between that and a Cannondale. I'm going to be a fanboy for a moment and say you should hop on a Specialized Hardrock too. Really, though, one $700 mountain bike is much like another, and they're not enough unlike the 3500 to justify throwing money at, unless you don't have a choice.

    Here's another idea - for $700 you can get a nice hardtail frame on closeout somewhere and a reasonably good fork new or very nice one on closeout. Finish building up the bike by cannibalizing the 3500. The drivetrain, brakes, etc. will still be fairly meh, but the fork makes a really big difference, you won't find yourself wanting a new one until you wear it out, and you'll also already have the frame you'll be keeping, so it won't be stupid to replace worn and broken parts with good ones.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  4. #4
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    Yep, i'd save up a bit more. If your current bike is working still you have time.

  5. #5
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    I have the same bike and I'm also new to mountain biking. To me it would be pointless to upgrade from the 3500 to another entry level bike. Its a good bike and let me tell you I have taken it throughout the most rough trails here in colorado and it has performed like a champ. Haven't had any problems with it and I have even taken hard falls with it. The only thing that I hated about it, were the darn pedals, so I just got clipless pedals and nowt looks way better. My advice would be that if you really want to upgrade then do it, but If I was you ill spend my money in upgrading the trek, new shocks, different brakes, pedals or whatver should make a big difference on it.

  6. #6
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    To # 3, I devoted some thought to your suggestion to buy the frame and fork and use old parts. But, the quality of the parts of my 3500 would just be slowing me down.

    To # 2, I visited the Trek dealer in Chattanooga and looked at some bikes and talked to some guys. I had to agree with the earlier feedback and say that the 4300 isn't much of a step up, and the Trek guys predict I'd "outgrow" it faster than I have the 3500.

    After some consideration, shopping around, online research, etc, I'm going to expand my allowance and probably go for the 2011 Trek/Gary Fisher Cobia. MSRP is $1159, but I found it new for $949. I'm 6'0" and 165 lbs, so I'll be on the 19" frame. It's got some great reviews and is quality from the get go. The Promax Hornet hydraulic brakes get some so-so reviews, but they'll do for a start. I also like the geometry of the Cobia. The Trek posture is a blend of recreational and aggressive. I think it's lighter overall than my 3500 too. I'm also pretty confident the Gary Fisher reputation carries some weight, with respect to quality. Thanks for the input guys.

    And to # 5, I don't hate the 3500. It's a nice bike for urban riding and light, flowy trails. I just want something more accomodating to the deeper wilderness. I'm keeping it for now, to lend to non-bikeowner buddies and to ride paved trails with my old lady.

  7. #7
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    You may want to also consider Specialized Rockhopper Expert.
    If there's a Specialized dealer in you area see if there are any close outs yet.
    Or an X-Cail on closeout.

    Spending a little more now could get you nicer components and save you from upgrading later.

    Also, if you have a bike savvy friend, check ebay or craigslist, good way to get way more bike for you money. There are good deals to be had.

    I bought my $4600 compulsion 1 for $2000 after only one season of use. Was almost perfect expect for a few cable wear spots.
    Last edited by TwoTone; 08-10-2011 at 08:21 PM.
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