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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Thread: Mountain Bikes

  1. #1
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    Mountain Bikes

    What can you expect from a sub 500 dollar mountain bike? What about sub 750? Sub 1000?

    Is there a dollar amount that you can expect to see a definite change in the specs of a mountain bike?

    This thread is just a discussion of what you can expect to get from a mountain bike in a specific price range.

  2. #2
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    Shopping in a LBS with no sales, I'd have a hard time even finding a mtb sub 500, but on such a bike I would expect to get something that can barely handle my singletrack trails. Fork and components will probably be bottom rung alivio componentry or worse. Sub 750 I expect to get a decent entry level bike with X5 or deore components, probably tektro disc or v brakes, and a low end fork either sr suntour or a rockshox dart. Sub 1000 gets a little better drivetrain and possibly some low end hydraulics. Unfortunately it seems like you still have to spend over 1000 in my LBS to get anything better than a suntour or dart for the fork though.

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    sub 500 is not worth your time. Bikes starting at $500 will be good for frames but the components wont be top of the line. A sub $750 bike's components will be just fine!

  4. #4
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    It really depends on how much and how rough of trail riding you will be doing. I agree that a sub $500 MTB isn't really meant to see real trails. You will see marked differences at the $750, $1000, $1500, and even $2000 price points. Not just in quality and in features, but mainly in durability of the components as the price gets higher. The question is, where are you riding, how often, and how long are you keeping the bike.
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  5. #5
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    One thing worth pointing out is that the answer of your question would change considerably based on whether you're talking about a hardtail or a full-suspension bike (or even a rigid, for that matter). A 1000-dollar hardtail and a 1000-dollar full-suspension would be very different in terms of quality. (The hardtail at that price would be pretty respectable, whereas the full-suspension would be inadequate in most respects.) Since a full-suspension bike needs to include an extra shock absorber, some more frame linkages, extra bearings, and involve the labor to put those together, it's going to have more cost overhead. So, a full-suspension bike would occupy a substantially higher price category compared to a hardtail bike of "comparable quality level".

    As a general rule of thumb, at least based on my own perception, I wouldn't take any full-suspension bike under $1500 seriously, if I intend to ride it for a long while. I would place that same threshold somewhere around $700-800 for a hardtail, and possibly as low as $500 for a fully rigid bike. For others, these ranges might be higher or lower slightly.
    Looking for local rides? You'll find plenty on my website: Bay Area Mountain Bike Rides.

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    I would say for that amount I would go used. I got a used Cannondal F1000 for $380, it is awesome and came with some cool Spin Carbon wheels and also pretty decent component mix). Or even better than that, you can check garage sales (found a Barracuda A2R for $30, Trek 990 for $25, so there are deals to be had)

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    I have a 300 dollar DB Response with Alivio stuff, RST fork and I keep up AND passed a 1,000 dollar plus Specialized bikes all the time on our local groups.

    Just today I blew a tire(valve ripped off the tube and she went down quick.

    My big, heavy Diamondback just seems to keep going and going....

    She owes me nothing.

  8. #8
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    It's all BS and go get a 500 dollar bike and hit the trails..

    Trust me....you don't need a 800 or 1,000 dollar bike to get your feet wet....

    Sure it won't shift as quick or soften the bumbs as well, but hey, it'll make you a better rider IMO.

    When you can ride with dudes on 1,000 dollar haros and specialized....then think about more expensive bikes.

    I get tired of people making you think you have to get 800 + bikes....you simply don't have to for your first time...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ganymede_Illusion View Post
    It's all BS and go get a 500 dollar bike and hit the trails..

    Trust me....you don't need a 800 or 1,000 dollar bike to get your feet wet....

    Sure it won't shift as quick or soften the bumbs as well, but hey, it'll make you a better rider IMO.

    When you can ride with dudes on 1,000 dollar haros and specialized....then think about more expensive bikes.

    I get tired of people making you think you have to get 800 + bikes....you simply don't have to for your first time...
    This is completely all true, but at the same time, if you want to get a bike that will last, you might as well spend $700+ on a good HT instead of $500 twice because the bikes too heavy or inadequate for your needs when you are a better rider.

    To me its simple economics, its why i buy sony laptops or bose speakers, not because i'm rich (which i'm not), but because i dont want to waste the money potentially spending double/triple on multiple merchandise purchases cause i was too cheap in the first place.

    But obviously if you cant pony up more buying a $100 walmart special is better than not riding at all.

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    I'm with Ganymede on this, I got into this hobby on a Giant Boulder ($350 on sale new from my LBS). I think they named it Boulder to allude to its weight but really that just strengthened by endurance pedaling that bulk up hills.
    I also feel like it was a smart move because it was a good simple platform to discover riding (not bike building) and if we're honest actually riding the bike should be what we're after.
    As for components they did their job just as good as my "better bike" for four years until I goofed on a tree stump and broke a deraileur, I replaced it with another stock deraileur and it's been working fine again for three years.
    In summary I say a good trail is worth a lot more than a costly bike.

  11. #11
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    I started on a $350 LBS bike

    I destroyed every component in 6 months of moderate riding

  12. #12
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    I started at 1200 and destroyed two hubs two cassettes two chains a head set and a middle deore crank ring. I ride a lot and not to hard but a lot and I am a bigger guy. You can start with what ever you want for me I just wait till a frame is on sale and I get it and just change the frame every so often. I would recommend your first bike be a good one with good parts (if you are sure you will like the sport) because if you want a new bike later for whatever reason you just need to upgrade the frame. That is how I do it if you shop around and upgrade as needed you will always have a fresh new bike. It is also fun getting new parts and if you wait till the year end you can find killer deals on bikes and frames.
    Last edited by jpeters; 07-23-2011 at 06:39 AM.

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    My advice- do you have a friend that knows bikes? If so have them help you look for a used deal on Craigslist.

    My current bike I bought off EBAY, but I knew what I wanted and size, paid $2k for a $4.5k bike that was mint and only a few months old.

    I'm not insulting anyone here, but you have some guys saying go cheap it holds up, well how do we know what they ride.

    I can only pick on G_L here. He says he riding all kinds of tough stuff in another post, but then says in the same post that he rides it all with seat post up in a power position, which really leads one to doubt just how tough and technical his riding is.

    I lasted 1 month on my cheap bike before I know I needed to upgrade.
    13 Lenz Lunchbox punkass

  14. #14
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    my last bike was a trek 3900 which I got for about 325 if I remember right. The components worked alright but I would always bottom out the fork. Now I am looking at 29ers and know that I want to pay for an air shock. The more you pay the better the ride. The lower end bikes can still go on the same trails as others for the most part. Its all about the rider, how comfortable you want to be, and how rough you are on your components.

  15. #15
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    Just buy what FITS you and your riding style , its not all about how much you pay for your bike, you could have a $5k bike and still not know what to do with it . Its all about trial and error , learning what style riding YOU enjoy most and are good at . Once you figured out that your going to ride ,enjoy the sport , and wont quit in 6 months then maybe start looking to upgrade parts as they break or save up for a bike that is made for the riding style you have learned .. Personally a lot of people will say dont bother to upgrade your bike and just buy a new better one , but yet if you buy a new better one im sure there are things you will upgrade on it , so do as you please ,its your bike and money . You can make the bike you have just as good .

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    Your best bet would be craigslist. Just see if any of your friends know bike well enough to help you pick the right one for you.

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    One other thing worth mentioning... MOST people who buy new entry-level "mountain" bikes really need nothing more than a "trail" bike, as they won't actually be doing any real mountain biking. If you are going to be riding mostly single-track trails with the occasional rocks, small drop-offs, etc... you really don't need anything that hardcore. There are lots of sub-$750s that will stand up just fine. On the other hand if you're truly going to be "mountain biking," then you likely need to spend a little more for something that's a bit more robust.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colo Springs E View Post
    One other thing worth mentioning... MOST people who buy new entry-level "mountain" bikes really need nothing more than a "trail" bike, as they won't actually be doing any real mountain biking. If you are going to be riding mostly single-track trails with the occasional rocks, small drop-offs, etc... you really don't need anything that hardcore. There are lots of sub-$750s that will stand up just fine. On the other hand if you're truly going to be "mountain biking," then you likely need to spend a little more for something that's a bit more robust.
    I think you're categorization is a bit off. If you had written "all mountain" where you wrote "mountain", you'd be essentially correct. But, your description is misleading in its current state.

    The categories called cross country (XC), trail, all mountain, freeride, downhill, trials, dirt jump, etc., are all "mountain bikes". The term "mountain bike" is the widest generic reference to all bikes with sturdy frames, beefy tires, usually some form of suspension, meant for some form or another of off-road riding. "All-mountain" bikes, on the other hand, are a fairly narrow category of mountain bikes; they're heavier and beefier than XC and trail bikes while still being light enough for extended climbs, and they are meant for riders who'll do some serious jumps and drops during the course of their ride, in addition to some of the most technical trails you can find anywhere (just short of a full-blown downhill course, perhaps).

    You don't have to take my word for it. The Wikipedia article on this is one of the better descriptions of mountain bike categories available online. You'll see that the article describes "trail bikes" as typically having around five inches of suspension, slacker geometry (more suitable for aggressive descents) than XC bikes, and being "built to handle rougher terrain than dedicated XC bikes". No one would say that XC bikes are for "not any real mountain biking". So, trail bikes are plenty beefy. Some examples are Santa Cruz Blur LT or Blur TRc, and Ibis Mojo (among many many others). In fact they're the type of bike most commonly used by the vast majority of mountain biking enthusiasts, and especially by those who own only a single mountain bike. If you're not going to be interested in stunts, a trail bike is arguably all that you need.

    So, you're correct that the poster doesn't need anything beefier than a trail bike. It is also correct that all-mountain bikes are even beefier. But, you were mistaken in confusing the term "mountain bike" with "all-mountain bike".
    Looking for local rides? You'll find plenty on my website: Bay Area Mountain Bike Rides.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by erginguney View Post
    I think you're categorization is a bit off. If you had written "all mountain" where you wrote "mountain", you'd be essentially correct. But, your description is misleading in its current state.

    The categories called cross country (XC), trail, all mountain, freeride, downhill, trials, dirt jump, etc., are all "mountain bikes". The term "mountain bike" is the widest generic reference to all bikes with sturdy frames, beefy tires, usually some form of suspension, meant for some form or another of off-road riding. "All-mountain" bikes, on the other hand, are a fairly narrow category of mountain bikes; they're heavier and beefier than XC and trail bikes while still being light enough for extended climbs, and they are meant for riders who'll do some serious jumps and drops during the course of their ride, in addition to some of the most technical trails you can find anywhere (just short of a full-blown downhill course, perhaps).

    You don't have to take my word for it. The on this is one of the better descriptions of mountain bike categories available online. You'll see that the article describes "trail bikes" as typically having around five inches of suspension, slacker geometry (more suitable for aggressive descents) than XC bikes, and being "built to handle rougher terrain than dedicated XC bikes". No one would say that XC bikes are for "not any real mountain biking". So, trail bikes are plenty beefy. Some examples are Santa Cruz Blur LT or Blur TRc, and Ibis Mojo (among many many others). In fact they're the type of bike most commonly used by the vast majority of mountain biking enthusiasts, and especially by those who own only a single mountain bike. If you're not going to be interested in stunts, a trail bike is arguably all that you need.
    I am an ex-motocross racer and serious mountain biker from the 80s, but I got side-tracked with raising a family and did the career thing.

    I am now 47, 6'3" 225 pounds and slightly out of shape, but can ride strong on rolling trails, but I want to get back into riding up hill and going downhill fast here in Marin County.

    I want a XC bike, right, or do I want a different category? I like light weight bikes with smooth shifting. I am a component junky and looked at BD, but not sure which to buy under $1,000.

    With my ability level, what are the trade-offs between hard-tail and full-suspension? I don't see myself leaping off anything greater than 3' drop-offs.

    Craigslist didn't have anything for me right now. Should I consider a bike on BD for under $1,000?
    Last edited by duffin; 07-25-2011 at 12:26 PM. Reason: edited 3" to 3'

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by duffin View Post
    I want a XC bike, right, or do I want a different category? I like light weight bikes with smooth shifting. I am a component junky and looked at BD, but not sure which to buy under $1,000.

    With my ability level, what are the trade-offs between hard-tail and full-suspension? I don't see myself leaping off anything greater than 3" drop-offs.
    The obvious trade off is you get more bike when buying an HT than FS for the same $ spent.

    3" or 3'?

    3" not much need for anything heavier than XC.
    Mike
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by duffin View Post
    I am an ex-motocross racer and serious mountain biker from the 80s, but I got side-tracked with raising a family and did the career thing.

    I am now 47, 6'3" 225 pounds and slightly out of shape, but can ride strong on rolling trails, but I want to get back into riding up hill and going downhill fast here in Marin County.

    I want a XC bike, right, or do I want a different category? I like light weight bikes with smooth shifting. I am a component junky and looked at BD, but not sure which to buy under $1,000.

    With my ability level, what are the trade-offs between hard-tail and full-suspension? I don't see myself leaping off anything greater than 3" drop-offs.

    Craigslist didn't have anything for me right now. Should I consider a bike on BD for under $1,000?
    I agree with Mike, above. Few, if any, of your circumstances lend themselves to any special consideration not applicable to everyone. My advice to you would be the following:

    • At any given fixed price level, you'd be buying a better bike if you buy a hardtail compared to buying a full-suspension. Especially when you're at low enough price level (such as, under $1000) that this difference between the hardtail and FS would spell the difference between "respectable" and "questionable", the hardtail would be the better choice. So, I'd definitely go for the hardtail bike at that price level, unless there's a specific reason that you must buy an FS (e.g., you know you'll be buying a much better FS bike later on and getting into serious racing using that bike, so you need a starter FS just so you can start developing FS-specific riding skills from today). Since you say you were an avid rider in the '80s, you're most likely comfortable with riding hardtails anyway; I assume you weren't riding an FS back then.


    • Your weight is somewhat on the heavy side for a mountain biker (like myself), but probably not enough to be a special consideration. There are some high-end XC racing bikes that come with conditions like "not for riders above 165 lbs", but you don't have much risk of encountering any such model in the sub-$1000 price category. The worst that might happen would be to come across a model that's so cheap that it will under your weight due to sheer low quality, but that can be easily avoided by a basic level of common sense.


    • The riding conditions in Marin County don't constitute any special challenges for most bikes. Most riding there consists of fire roads that are in fairly good shape, though a handful are pretty technical. Even a lightweight XC bike (to the extent that you could find one in that price range) should be easily able to handle that.

    So, I think you can start looking for a hardtail in your price range and safely focus on the component set and the fit of the bike.
    Looking for local rides? You'll find plenty on my website: Bay Area Mountain Bike Rides.

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    So, you are all saying I should not get a Motobecane 2011 Fantom Comp DS, but get something like a Motobecane 2010 Fantom PRO DS to enter into a acceptable FS quality level.

    And yes, I am looking for a new, different riding experience than riding a HT. I also need to try to keep up with my more advanced MTB friends who have FS. I was assuming the FS would help me go faster on up and down trails.

    But, I guess if an HT is really what I need, you are suggesting I get something like the Motobecane Fantom PRO correct?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by duffin View Post
    So, you are all saying I should not get a Motobecane 2011 Fantom Comp DS, but get something like a Motobecane 2010 Fantom PRO DS to enter into a acceptable FS quality level.

    And yes, I am looking for a new, different riding experience than riding a HT. I also need to try to keep up with my more advanced MTB friends who have FS. I was assuming the FS would help me go faster on up and down trails.

    But, I guess if an HT is really what I need, you are suggesting I get something like the Motobecane Fantom PRO correct?
    Generally FS excel on the downhill and HT on the uphill. If all of your riding buds are zooming around on FS bikes and you want a different riding experience then go FS. Your two choices fantom HT Pro and Pro DS are a pretty good choices either way.
    Mike
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    Decisions, decisions...

  25. #25
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    I didn't check the sizes available but inventory could have an effect in your choice. GL
    Mike
    2011 Moto Fly Pro

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