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
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    Merida TFS 500-D 2011 vs Specialized Rockhopper Pro 29er

    Hi,
    Like many others here I am new and just starting out. I have done quite a bit of research on buying my first mountain bike, with the intention to use my bike for recreational purposes. Taking on trails, weekend rides, adventure races etc, and perhaps a few small jumps here and then if they happen to get in my way

    Currently I have a small budget of $1,500 AUD and was looking in my local bike stores when I came across two different MTB's, one a 26er and the other a 29er. As I said im pretty new to MTB's so hoping someone on here could give me some good advice and recommend which would be a better buy out of the two options (below). I know 29er are set up different to some extent, and a few of my mates are raving about how good a 29er is to ride. But that aside, how do the following specs compare? Again, any expert views/recommendations would be much appreciated. So here are the choices (solely based on what is on offer to me at my local bike shops in Perth, Western Australia).

    Specialized Rockhopper Pro 29er - ($1,499)
    FRAME Specialized M4SL fully manipulated alloy frame, 29" geometry, fully butted, integrated HT, forged dropouts w/ replaceable derailleur hanger, disc only
    FORK RockShox Recon Silver SL 29, magnesium lower, 1 1/8" alloy steerer, 32mm Cr-Mo stanchions, air spring w/ external LO & rebound adj.
    HEADSET Integrated 1-1/8" threadless, Campy type full cartridge bearings
    STEM 3D forged alloy, 7 degree rise, 31.8mm clamp

    HANDLEBARS Butted alloy riserbar, 25mm rise, 8 degree back sweep, 6 degree up
    GRIPS Specialized Enduro, dual compound Kraton, no flange, 131mm
    FRONT BRAKE Avid Juicy 3 SL hydraulic disc, alloy backed pads, 160mm G2 Clean Sweep Rotor
    REAR BRAKE Avid Juicy 3 SL hydraulic disc, alloy backed pads, 160mm G2 Clean Sweep Rotor
    BRAKE LEVERS Avid Juicy 3 SL hydraulic

    FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano Deore, 34.9mm clamp, top swing, dual pull
    REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano SLX 9-speed Shadow Long cage
    SHIFT LEVERS Shimano SL-M590 Deore trigger
    CASSETTE Shimano HG30, 9-speed, 11-34t
    CHAIN KMC X9L w/ reuseable Missing Link
    CRANKSET Shimano FC-M521, Hollowtech, Octalink spline
    CHAINRINGS 44A x 32S x 22S replaceable
    BOTTOM BRACKET Shimano BB-ES25, Octalink spline, cartridge bearing, 68mm x 118mm
    PEDALS Alloy 1pc. body and cage, reflector kit, 9/16"
    RIMS DT-Swiss 485, 29", alloy double wall disc, pinned w/ eyelets
    FRONT HUB Forged alloy, hi/low flange, double sealed, ground race, machined disc mount and flange, QR, 32h
    REAR HUB Forged alloy, mid flange, double sealed, ground race, machined disc mount and flanges, cassette, QR, 36h
    SPOKES 2mm (14g) stainless

    FRONT TIRE Specialized The Captain Control, 29x2.0", 60TPI, tubeless ready aramid bead
    REAR TIRE Specialized The Captain Control, 29x2.0", 60TPI, tubeless ready aramid bead
    INNER TUBES Presta valve
    SADDLE Specialized Rockhopper XC, Body Geometry, 143mm width, front and rear bumpers
    SEATPOST Alloy two bolt, 12.5mm offset, micro adjust, 30.9mm
    SEAT BINDER Forged alloy QR, brass washer

    http://www.specialized.com/au/gb/bc/...cname=Mountain

    Compared to : ----------

    http://www.bikeforcesouthernriver.bi...e/wa/100182533

    Matts TFS 500-D (2011)
    Type: Mountain
    Brand: Merida
    $1,499


    Description / Specification:
    Speeds 27
    Frame Matts TFS Pro-D-Single
    Color White/Blue
    Fork Rock Shox Dart 3 100 Poploc
    Front Derailleur Shimano Deore low 34.9
    Rear Derailleur Shimano XT-9
    Shifters Shimano Deore Rapidfire
    Brake Levers Shimano M445
    Brakes F/R Shimano M445 180/160 mm
    Crankset Shimano Deore 44-32-22
    BB Set attached
    Chain Shimano CN-HG53
    Hubs F/R Shimano M435 centerlock
    Rims Matts Pro D
    Freewheel Shimano CS-HG50-9 11-34
    Spokes Black stainless
    Tyres Merida Race Lite 2.1
    H-Bar FSA XC 282L OS R18 660
    Stem FSA OS-190 6
    Head set M10 Neck
    Seat Post FSA SL280 SB25 31.6
    Saddle X-Mission Side-3
    Pedal XC Alloy

    Any help would be massively appreciated. Cheers

    James
    Last edited by digi-trekker; 05-01-2011 at 06:44 AM.

  2. #2
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    Not a single response? Gutted, surely someone out there is willing to help out a newbie find his first mountain bike?

  3. #3
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    They're very similar in specs, including the forks(that Tora is only better if you're a heavy rider). You should ask the shop or your mates for a 26er and a 29er to test ride and compare.

  4. #4
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    Thanks Lucky L for that. Does it come down to which is more of a better brand then in terms of Merida vs Specialized? I have been told that the 29er would be better for a newbie like me when going for a hardtail instead of dual suspension. I'm quite a light rider, well in the medium range anyway (80kg), so interesting comment about the forks. Thanks again for your time and advice on that.

  5. #5
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    Dooohhh! Just realised that I had copied and pasted the wrong bike spec. Should have been Rockhopper Pro instead of Rockhopper Expert. Now corrected...

  6. #6
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    Some thoughts.....

    Hi Digi-trekker, I'm in Perth WA too, and have just been thru the process of choosing a hardtail at about the same price point you're looking at.

    I'm new to MTB (tho have been a road/trail cyclist for more years than I care to remember), so can't claim to be an expert, but some of my thoughts may be of interest to you..

    First, I was very keen on the Merida 500D, but felt the Dart shocks let down what was otherwise a very good bike. The forks are such an important (and expensive) part of an MTB that you want to get them right from the beginning rather than looking to upgrade in a few months time. Darts have had bad reviews, and seem to be very much entry level, and when I tested spring shocks against air shocks, the air ones were so much smoother. So, here the Specialized has the upper hand. However, I also feel Octalink BBs have had their day (though I still run one on my other bike) and wouldn't buy a new bike that doesn't come with the oversize bearings these days - and they start at Deore level. So here, the Merida wins out over the Specialized.

    In general, I felt that the different brands around this price point were very similar, but noticed you seem to get slightly better spec on the Taiwanese brands - Giant and Merida - than the American ones - Specialised, Trek etc. I guess the latter can afford to charge a slight premium for the name, but it all comes down to personal preference in the end, and finding a brand/bike shop you trust and will give good service (for example I had a bad warranty experience with Trek, and won't buy Trek again). Some local shops offer extended warranties, a couple of free services, and just know more about mountain bikes than others, so I'd take this into account as well as the brand and price. Talking of which, the prices you quoted are RRP, but you probably already know you can get a better deal by shopping around - the best price I was offered on a 500D was AU$1,150.

    The debate about 26" versus 29" veers into the religious. 29ers are the latest fad, and all the bike shops I visited tried to get me into one, partly because they are more expensive than the equivalent 26" me thinks! My opinion, for what it's worth, is that I'm buying an MTB for the small frame/wheel maneuverability on a trail, rather than the more stable large frame geometry of a hybrid/road bike. To then stick what are basically 700c road size wheels on it and adjust up all the dimensions to acommodate them, seems to defeat the purpose. I'm 6'4", but after test riding a few 29ers, I stuck to a 26".

    By the way, I ended up getting a Giant XTC, and am very happy with it. All the others I looked at had at least one component I wanted to upgrade immediately, but the XTC comes very well specced from the start. You may want to check it out if you haven't already. I paid AU$1,300.

    Hope these ramblings are of some help to you, and whatever you end up getting, I hope to see you up in the hills sometime soon. I had my new bike up in the Dell and Mundering Loop this weekend and I still haven't been able to wipe the smile off my face - Perth is truly MTB heaven!!

  7. #7
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    Hi PerthMTB,

    Thanks for the advice, I certainly appreciate your response and found your comments both interesting and valuable, from which I mean that I will now check out the Giant XTC as I was certainly starting to get caught up in this whole 29er hype. Thankfully your good self and a few others offered good advice so I will now look at the 26" (not that the 29er is a bad option, just not the right one for me right now - so not to offend any 29er riders out there).
    I've had a look at the XTC spec, and it looks great.

    I found one that is local to me, so will pop into the shop and have a look.
    XTC (2011)
    Brand: Giant
    Size: Medium and Large
    ON SALE $1,350 (Was $1,699)

    Latest
    Description / Specification:
    XtC - 27 Speed
    Colours Black/Red
    Frame Fluidformed™ ALUXX SL butted alloy, w/press fit BB
    Fork Rockshox Recon Gold TK SL Air w/alloy steerer & PopLoc, 4”/100mm
    Shock NA
    Handlebar Giant Connect oversize alloy 670mm x 19mm rise
    Grips Giant lock-on
    Stem Giant Connect oversize alloy, 4 bolt, 8 degree
    Seat Post Giant Connect oversize alloy micro-adjust 30.9
    Saddle Giant XTC
    Pedals Shimano M505 SPD clipless
    Shifters Shimano SLX rapid fire 27 sp.
    Front Derailleur Shimano Deore 9 sp. 34.9
    Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore XT Shadow 9 sp.
    Brakes Shimano M445 hydraulic w/6” 6-bolt rotors
    Brake Levers Shimano M505 hydraulic
    Cassette Shimano HG50 9 sp. 11-34T
    Chain Shimano HG73 9 sp.
    Crankset Shimano Deore 22x32x44T
    Bottom Bracket Shimano BB71, press fit
    Shift/Chain Guide NA
    Rims Giant S-XC2 Sport, double wall, alloy 32H disc
    Hubs Fr: Giant Tracker 9mm | Rr: Shimano M525 9sp disc
    Spokes 14G stainless
    Tyres Maxxis Crossmark 26 x 2.1

    Is there anything on your bike that you would change? Is the above spec the same as yours? Or does it vary from shop to shop?

    Cheers again and enjoy the hills, fantastic trails I know - I'm just jealous that I'm not out there as well mate. Not for now anyway at least

  8. #8
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    Hi digi-trekker,

    Yep, thats the spec of my bike, the 2011 XTC. There's zero variation around the local bike shops, so long as its the same model year. Shops don't like to vary from the manufacturers setup as it complicates warranties, and leaves them with new but used (if you see what I mean) components they can't re-sell.

    For me the best thing about the XTC was that it had all the things I wanted from the get go, although I'm a compulsive upgrader, so I did change a couple of things I swapped out the Shimano chain and cassette for a SRAM PC971 and PG970 respectively. Wasn't really necessary, but thats the same setup I run on my other bike, I've been very happy with it, and I wanted the two to be interchangeable. I also put on a pair of Ergon grips as I get problems with my fingers going numb after a few hours on the trail. Finally, after this weekend's ride I've ordered a quick release saddle post bracket, as I got fed up with getting the allen keys out to adjust saddle height as the terrain changed.

    As you'll see from another post on this forum, I'm also toying with the idea of upgrading the front brake to a 180mm rotor from the standard 160mm. That's an idea I got from the Merida 500D which already has this setup, but it's an ego thing - not really necessary unless you get into some serious DH riding. All just small things based on my personal preferences, but the bike is basically ready to go out of the gate. You'd certainly want to avoid a bike where you need to upgrade anything big like shocks, wheels, or drive train.

    By the way, re-looking at the specs of that Rockhopper Pro 29er, I'd say its quite a bargain for AU$ 1,500. Can't seem to find it on the Specialized Australia site tho - I see a Rockhopper Pro at AU$1,899, or an Expert 29er at AU$1,499. The one you described seems to be a mixture of the two - is it a 2010 model or something? Nothing wrong with that of course if its got the specs you want and at a good discount. And if you do decide to go 29er, there is a Giant XTC 29er out there too that's worth a look!

  9. #9
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    Hi PerthMTB,
    The rockhopper pro 29er was for sale in the Wembley cycles shop at $1499. The guy selling the bike seemed to believe it was a way better all round bike than what I had been looking at else where, but its hard to know if he was being honest or just wanting to sell another bike from his store. I'd like to think he was being honest.... anyway I'm still weighing up between a few bikes. I think you can get to the point of doing too much research and not taking the plunge and actually buying a bike, at the moment though my indecisions and newb attitude is holding me back. I'm catching up with a friend tomorrow who is massively into racing, in fact he owns his own racing team so I am hoping he can give me some good advice as he knows a thing or two about bikes. Will let you know how I go and what I end up buying, as I fully intend to buy a bike this weekend and join you on those Perth hills tracks.

  10. #10
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    Another option has now arisen. The CUBE LTD PRO - http://www.cube.eu/en/hardtail/ltd-s...te-metal-grey/

    Decisions decisions... better spec from what I can see. And I can get it for the same price as the above bikes.

  11. #11
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    Look in your 'private messages' box for my replies

    I've gone off forum as I'm not sure our discussion of what's available in Perth would be of much interest to the general community....

  12. #12
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    Apparently Specialized has a demo fleet of bikes at the Goat Track this weekend. Yes That is in Perth WA
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

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    Well that's three of us - we'll deserve our own forum at this rate....

  14. #14
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    Yeah sorry, way off topic and less interesting to others. Does anyone know how Cube MTB's fair compared to the likes of Giant MTB? I have to admit that I have never heard of CUBE, and only know that the brand is a relatively unknown European brand.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by digi-trekker
    ...snip....have never heard of CUBE, and only know that the brand is a relatively unknown European brand.
    Only in Australia. I think you will find they are very well known in Europe and Germany.
    Same as Focus new to Australia not Europe.
    I would buy a Cube. I like being a little diffferent. I ride a Univega a German brand most Australians don't know of.
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  16. #16
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    Hi Digi-trekker. Sorry, didn't mean to suggest your questions wouldn't be of interest, just thought I'd send my views of specific bikes and prices in Perth direct so as not to clutter up the airwaves.

    Cube are sold by CRC (Chain Reaction Cycles) - the biggest online bike shop (get most of my components from them and Wiggle, both based in the UK), so they'll be popular in England!

    May be worth you putting a post on the Singletrack forum - its the UK equivalent of MTBR http://www.singletrackworld.com/forum/ and I'm sure you'll get a few opinions.

    Good luck....

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    Cheers guys, thanks for the heads up!

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    Hi digi-trekker

    Then Merida matts tfs 500-d you will find is only $1050 from the bike shed in mortdale (jst look up tbsm and u will find it).... Most decent bike shops will sell them for around $1000-$1150.

    Hoping that might help on ur decision

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