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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    MTB Beginner in Orange County, CA: First Bike

    Hello all. I just moved to Aliso Viejo, California (right near Laguna Beach in SoCal). There are some awesome trails out here that I am really not prepared for!

    Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park - Mountain Biking - 2012 HD - YouTube

    I want to purchase a mountain bike that is suitable for a beginner on this terrain, but also won't be outgrown quickly. I'm open to upgrading in the future when finances allow.

    I plan on using it both Saturday and Sunday each weekend since I work late during the week. My priorities are recreation and fitness. I also have a touchy back (herniated disc).

    A fellow I met out here while biking the trails, showed me around and recommended a Full Suspension bike with at least 5" of travel for what we rode. I've read that the FSR's are easier on the back and offer a pretty hefty maneuverability advantage on rough downhill rides. I've also read that they are more forgiving of undeveloped technique. I'm not overly concerned with this as my primary focus is fun.

    I've read that 29ers are more suitable for beginners and help with climbing. Supposedly the advantages of a 26er are usually only appropriate with more experience and developed technique.

    I'm on a tight budget but willing to spend more on a full suspension bike if it's more suitable for my needs.

    My Criteria (correct me if any of these aren't appropriate!):
    29er
    5"-6.5" of travel
    MSRP: <= $3k
    Lockout so I can take it on the roads to work without it being slow as molasses

    My Considerations:

    2013 Fuji Reveal 29 1.3 (Better parts at the cost of front and rear shock?)
    2013 Scott Genius 940 (Scott DT M3: Proprietary rear shock? Haven't read good things...)
    2013 Specialized StumpJumper FSR Comp 29 (better front and rear suspension at the cost of other parts?)

    2013 Trek Stache 7/8 (Only well-reviewed hardtail I could find with 5" of travel)

    Comparison Chart

    Sorry for the wall of text! As I said, I am a newbie and many of the assumptions I'm basing my search on may not be appropriate. All help is appreciated!

  2. #2
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    i live in the same area. ride the trails on the otherside of the 133 3-5 times a week. take my kids to Aliso to run Coyote a couple times a month. For 3K you can get a Tallboy with the SLX set up. It has 4" of travel which is more than enough for many. i ride the LTc version. it is a great fit for the area. that said there are other options. Garrett at Laguna Beach Cyclery is a great source of information. Also, both LBC and The Path will apply rental fees toward any bike purchase.

  3. #3
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    Thanks so much for the information. I have visited the path in Tustin. It's good to know the rental cash can go towards a purchase. The fellow I met showed me the downhill singletrack, Meadows right by Laguna Beach which was a blast but really tore up my hybrid.

  4. #4
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    When I started riding there wasn't any 5" bikes ,what was out then were rigid . I had a lot of fun on those bikes .Go test ride ,find demo days ,rent or borrow you will find something you want.

  5. #5
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    A 6-6.5" travel 29er and a 6-6.5" travel 26er are two somewhat different animals. Personally, I wouldn't recommend over 5" of travel on a 29er to anyone just starting out. It's way more bike than they to be lugging around just to use only a fraction of it's potential. Even 6" of travel on a 26" bike is more than what most people really need. You could grow into it in time, but remember that you'll be lugging that load up the hill too.

    The Stumpjumper FSR is is very capable, but still a LOT of bike if you're not really riding somewhat gnarlier terrain. The Camber is plenty of bike for most riders, and not as much to lug around. OTOH, the Epic is more of a race bike and not tuned so much for comfort. JMHO.

    Another bike I would recommend you check out is the Giant Trance X 29er. I normally don't recommend bikes that are so expensive to new riders as they are usually on more of a budget and will not likely stay with their first bike very long since they usually gravitate to a more specialized type of bike once they find what type of riding they prefer.

    I know the allure of full suspension sings it's siren song and it's sweet sound is hard to resist, so if you're jonesing for it, you may as well give it a go. On that note, I have been riding a Trek Stache 8 for a couple of months now and my (full suspension) Giant Anthem X 29er has been pretty lonely as of late. The 120mm fork (with it's 51mm G2 offset) and the 68.6 head tube angle is a really fun combination. It soaks up a lot of hits, and doesn't steer like a dump truck. If you're trying to decide between the Stache 8 and the Stache 7, I think it's worth it to go for the 8 (and add a Rock Shox Reverb Stealth adjustable seatpost) if you have the budget for a very trail worthy hardtail that doesn't really beg for any other upgrades.

    I highly recommend that you go for some demo rides before narrowing your search so you can not only find the bike you like, but you probably need to narrow down the type of bike you're liking so you can pick from a group of similar bikes.

    If you're in OC, you have a couple of excellent bike shops very close by: Fullerton Bikes, and The Path are both very good shops among others in the area.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the info, Jeff. I've only really been looking at between 120 and 130mm of travel on the 29ers. I guess it's important to note that the person who told me this was on a 26" with about 5" of travel. I guess the issue is, I'd like to get into riding gnarlier terrain, the paths from the youtube video are exactly what I'd be riding on. I just don't know exactly what's appropriate.

    Sadly, the Trance is beyond my budget. What makes you dig your Stache over the FSR Anthem these days?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by IronCOOKARU View Post
    Thanks so much for the information. I have visited the path in Tustin. It's good to know the rental cash can go towards a purchase. The fellow I met showed me the downhill singletrack, Meadows right by Laguna Beach which was a blast but really tore up my hybrid.
    drop by Laguna Cyclery... talk to Garret. unbelievable local knowledge and will make sure you dont buy to much bike. i am not affiliated with them. just great experience every time.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    A 6-6.5" travel 29er and a 6-6.5" travel 26er are two somewhat different animals. Personally, I wouldn't recommend over 5" of travel on a 29er to anyone just starting out. It's way more bike than they to be lugging around just to use only a fraction of it's potential. Even 6" of travel on a 26" bike is more than what most people really need. You could grow into it in time, but remember that you'll be lugging that load up the hill too.

    The Stumpjumper FSR is is very capable, but still a LOT of bike if you're not really riding somewhat gnarlier terrain. The Camber is plenty of bike for most riders, and not as much to lug around. OTOH, the Epic is more of a race bike and not tuned so much for comfort. JMHO.

    Another bike I would recommend you check out is the Giant Trance X 29er. I normally don't recommend bikes that are so expensive to new riders as they are usually on more of a budget and will not likely stay with their first bike very long since they usually gravitate to a more specialized type of bike once they find what type of riding they prefer.

    I know the allure of full suspension sings it's siren song and it's sweet sound is hard to resist, so if you're jonesing for it, you may as well give it a go. On that note, I have been riding a Trek Stache 8 for a couple of months now and my (full suspension) Giant Anthem X 29er has been pretty lonely as of late. The 120mm fork (with it's 51mm G2 offset) and the 68.6 head tube angle is a really fun combination. It soaks up a lot of hits, and doesn't steer like a dump truck. If you're trying to decide between the Stache 8 and the Stache 7, I think it's worth it to go for the 8 (and add a Rock Shox Reverb Stealth adjustable seatpost) if you have the budget for a very trail worthy hardtail that doesn't really beg for any other upgrades.

    I highly recommend that you go for some demo rides before narrowing your search so you can not only find the bike you like, but you probably need to narrow down the type of bike you're liking so you can pick from a group of similar bikes.

    If you're in OC, you have a couple of excellent bike shops very close by: Fullerton Bikes, and The Path are both very good shops among others in the area.
    who makes a 6.5" 29 er? Niner WFO, TB LT, and Intense Comp are the longest travel 9ers i am aware of.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LB412 View Post
    who makes a 6.5" 29 er? Niner WFO, TB LT, and Intense Comp are the longest travel 9ers i am aware of.
    The Lenz PBJ has 7" rear travel. Also, the new Specialized Enduro has 155 (rear) and 150mm (front) travel.

    Quote Originally Posted by IronCOOKARU View Post
    Thanks for the info, Jeff. I've only really been looking at between 120 and 130mm of travel on the 29ers. I guess it's important to note that the person who told me this was on a 26" with about 5" of travel. I guess the issue is, I'd like to get into riding gnarlier terrain, the paths from the youtube video are exactly what I'd be riding on. I just don't know exactly what's appropriate.

    Sadly, the Trance is beyond my budget. What makes you dig your Stache over the FSR Anthem these days?
    Bottom line is that, on my local trails, I'm faster up and down the hill on the Stache 8 than on the Anthem X 29er. Between the 120mm fork travel on the way down, and the efficiency of a hardtail going up, it just works for me. I have ridden a fair number of high end full suspension bikes, and I have yet to find one that is truly as efficient as a hardtail when climbing the average SoCal trails. It's a little rougher in the back when descending, but when I can let the front soak up hits with 120mm instead of 100mm, I just let the back end do what it wants to do and go for it. There is some give and take no matter which way you go.

    I like the Anthem X 29er as it is a very stable bike, and I feel pretty comfortable on it no matter where I have ridden it. The chainstays are 18.2" long, and although that contributes to it's stability, it isn't quite so nimble, even compared to the Trance X 29er which has shorter chainstays (as does the Stache). Most trails I ride are just fine on the hardtail, but there are a few here locally, that if they were the trails I rode most of the time, I would be reaching for the FS more often than not.

    For the record, lest anyone think I am one of those mountain goat types that live for the climb, that is simply not the case. I only suffer the agony of ascending for the pure joy I receive while descending.

  10. #10
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    Cool-blue Rhythm

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    The Lenz PBJ has 7" rear travel. Also, the new Specialized Enduro has 155 (rear) and 150mm (front) travel.



    Bottom line is that, on my local trails, I'm faster up and down the hill on the Stache 8 than on the Anthem X 29er. Between the 120mm fork travel on the way down, and the efficiency of a hardtail going up, it just works for me. I have ridden a fair number of high end full suspension bikes, and I have yet to find one that is truly as efficient as a hardtail when climbing the average SoCal trails. It's a little rougher in the back when descending, but when I can let the front soak up hits with 120mm instead of 100mm, I just let the back end do what it wants to do and go for it. There is some give and take no matter which way you go.

    I like the Anthem X 29er as it is a very stable bike, and I feel pretty comfortable on it no matter where I have ridden it. The chainstays are 18.2" long, and although that contributes to it's stability, it isn't quite so nimble, even compared to the Trance X 29er which has shorter chainstays (as does the Stache). Most trails I ride are just fine on the hardtail, but there are a few here locally, that if they were the trails I rode most of the time, I would be reaching for the FS more often than not.

    For the record, lest anyone think I am one of those mountain goat types that live for the climb, that is simply not the case. I only suffer the agony of ascending for the pure joy I receive while descending.
    So basically you don't think the downhill advantage of a full suspension is equal to the climbing efficiency of a hardtail like the Stache, at least on the SoCal trails you've ridden?

    Maybe I'll go for the Stache then since I will be doing a fair amount of climbing to get to the good downhill stuff .

    Any thoughts on the Thud Buster to relieve some of the back strain?

    Welcome to Thudbuster.com

    Any idea if there would be a way to combine this with a hydraulic seatpost like the Rock Shox Stealth Reverb?

  11. #11
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    I disagree with the hardtail call. If you are concerned about climbing fast stick to a 4" rear travel bike. You will thank me for it later.

  12. #12
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    A bike shop usually wants you to buy a bike today. Rarely would they tell you to go out and try some more bikes before you decide on one. They may want you to get a good bike, but they want you to get it from them before someone else sells you one. Patience is your friend. Measure twice, cut once. I wouldn't tell anyone to get a bike because I like it. Since you asked about it, I'm just saying that I think the Stache is worth considering for you in your situation. You might like it, or you may hate it, or just not love it. You might really enjoy a full suspension. . . . or not. My advice is to get a bike that fits you, handles the terrain well that you ride most of the time, and that just makes you smile whenever you ride it or even think about it. The more bikes you try before you buy, the better chance you have to get the bike that suits you best. Same with finding a shop you feel comfortable dealing with.

  13. #13
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    Diamondback Bicycles - Mason

    Seriously considering this now. It seems like a much better bang for the buck than the Stache 8. The stock hydraulic seatpost is huge.

    I'm going to start renting this weekend to compare a hardtail, FS and wheel sizes for the trails out here. Since I can't find the bikes I'd actually purchase for rental I tried to find the closest available match.

    29" Hardtail - 2012 Kona Honzo
    29" FS - 2013 Kona Satori

    27.5" FS - 2013 Scott Genius 730
    26" FS - 2012 Santa Cruz Blur LT

  14. #14
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    The Mason is an interesting choice. It's a pretty beefy design compared to the Stache, and the short chainstays are one of the things riders like most about it. It's also made for a 140mm travel fork. The one thing you need to be aware of most is that there may be some limitations to what you can run for front chainrings/front derailleur, which could make climbing difficult on long steep climbs.

    IIRC, the Honzo is a single front chainring bike so it can have those super short chainstays (415mm), so you'd better be sure you can live with that limitation. If you can, the Honzo gets a lot of praise for the way it rides.

    If that is the type of bike you're interested in, another bike you may want to look at would be the Canfield Yelli Screamy.

  15. #15
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    I agree with jeffj you don't want to start with the 6.5" 29er especially at $3k. I love that trail systems. I'll say this, half of those trails would be great/fun on a 29er and the other half 26 would excel. The catch I see is 26 can do all of what the 29 can do but not really the other way around. I've done the rock it and lynx as well as car wreck on both wheel size, 4.5" Niner Rip9, and 5.5" Ibis Mojo as well as other bikes but these 2 stand out. I have more fun on the 26 than the 29 but on the rock it descend the 29 is pretty cool.

    My top pick would be Ibis Mojo 5.5" special blend, it's under $3k at Jenson. Then Giant Trance X, on either wheel size is ok.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rangeriderdave View Post
    When I started riding there wasn't any 5" bikes ,what was out then were rigid . I had a lot of fun on those bikes .Go test ride ,find demo days ,rent or borrow you will find something you want.
    Any idea where the announce demo days?

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    Well, I just rented a Tallboy 29er all weekend. I definitely had to work a little harder on the climbs (couldn't make all of them), and I took a spill going down Meadows the first day. This was likely because I was too stubborn to dismount and lower the seat for the descent.

    The shop I'm renting from is getting rid of a 2012 Stumpjumper 29er demo bike. It's not any particular stock build and the shop has outfitted it with a bunch of custom parts. The biggest thing is the BRAIN for the rear shock (Comparable to the Stumpjumper FSR Elite).

    They want 2400 for it. I think I may pull the trigger. Especially because of the brain.

    My biggest gripe with the Tallboy was that I kind of had to teach myself to ride differently on it. Every time I got out of the saddle I felt like I was losing A LOT of my force, even with the rear shock "locked". Any thoughts on whether or not the brain will mitigate some of this?
    Last edited by IronCOOKARU; 06-03-2013 at 09:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IronCOOKARU View Post
    Well, I just rented a Tallboy 29er all weekend. I definitely had to work a little harder on the climbs (couldn't make all of them), and I took a spill going down Meadows the first day. This was likely because I was to stubborn to dismount and lower the seat for the descent.

    The shop I'm renting from is getting rid of a 2012 Stumpjumper 29er demo bike. It's not any particular stock build and the shop has outfitted it with a bunch of custom parts. The biggest thing is the BRAIN for the rear shock (Comparable to the Stumpjumper FSR Elite).

    They want 2400 for it. I think I may pull the trigger. Especially because of the brain.

    My biggest gripe with the Tallboy was that I kind of had to teach myself to ride differently on it. Every time I got out of the saddle I felt like I was losing A LOT of my force, even with the rear shock "locked". Any thoughts on whether or not the brain will mitigate some of this?
    you might want to try giants then (trance/anthem). The maestro suspension is pretty good for reducing pedal bob. The best are the dw-link bikes (turner czar/sultan, pivot 429) but they are probably out of your price range.

    Also on the bikes you can turn propedal on and then the rear is pretty stiff.

  19. #19
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    You really don't need to stand up to pedal on a FS bike. I rarely come out of the saddle on any type of ascent... Rear shock may not have been set up for your weight too. Did the shop adjust for you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by IronCOOKARU View Post
    Well, I just rented a Tallboy 29er all weekend. I definitely had to work a little harder on the climbs (couldn't make all of them), and I took a spill going down Meadows the first day. This was likely because I was too stubborn to dismount and lower the seat for the descent.

    The shop I'm renting from is getting rid of a 2012 Stumpjumper 29er demo bike. It's not any particular stock build and the shop has outfitted it with a bunch of custom parts. The biggest thing is the BRAIN for the rear shock (Comparable to the Stumpjumper FSR Elite).

    They want 2400 for it. I think I may pull the trigger. Especially because of the brain.

    My biggest gripe with the Tallboy was that I kind of had to teach myself to ride differently on it. Every time I got out of the saddle I felt like I was losing A LOT of my force, even with the rear shock "locked". Any thoughts on whether or not the brain will mitigate some of this?
    The only brain on your bike should be yours. I owned 2 S-Works and never again I'd let the bike decide when the suspension should be active I like what LB412 said about standing up, well even when you stand up it should not effect the suspension bob. It's just not as easy as you'd think. It takes more than twice the effort and energy to pull it off correctly, the more you practice the smoother and effortless you'd be.

    I don't know if there are many spots in that trail systems that avg riders can be benefit from standing up and pedal. I know that it feels like you are not going anywhere soon but keep at it. 29ers are good but don't buy into all the hype, try both. My take on the FS is if you want to have FS then don't use the lock out or propedal, you bought it and carry the extra weight, use it. It takes a little time to transition from hardtail to FS but it's worth it. Traction is at its premium in the middle of a steep loose climb getting out of the saddle and try to muscle your way up may not be a good idea, take the pill and grind it up Just because you may be able to stand up and start pounding on the hardtail, it does not mean it's the right thing to do. Think smooth always.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LB412 View Post
    You really don't need to stand up to pedal on a FS bike. I rarely come out of the saddle on any type of ascent... Rear shock may not have been set up for your weight too. Did the shop adjust for you?
    That's a good point. I don't believe the rear shock was adjusted for my weight. I've been going to Laguna Beach Cyclery and I'm already $90 in from rentals there. I'm definitely not used to FSR although it's not like I hit a climb and immediately stand and start pounding. I shift the gears down and sit for most of it, but there are instances here and there where standing up for a bit is the difference between making the climb and slowing to a stop. Of course, I know my technique is poor as well!

    I just got back from riding an Ibis Mojo 26er. I enjoyed it more than the Tallboy 29er but the Mojo had much better components and was much lighter (carbon) so I don't know that it's fair to compare. Also, I believe the Mojo is considered All Mountain and the Tallboy is considered Trail. Tough to say on the 26er vs 29er front!

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    I would add one other thing. The tallboy I rented was a 2x10 with a 26/38. This really hurt on some climbs as Im used to a 24/32. If you cant make a climb, it may be that the gearing is too difficult for your current level of fitness.

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    So, I'm finally about to purchase a bike. I need help deciding between a used 2011 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert 29 and a new 2013 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29. I thought it was more appropriate to start a new thread.

    2011 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert vs 2013 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp

    Component Comparison

    2011 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert 29er vs 2013 Specialized StumpJumper FSR...

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