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  1. #1
    TJM
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    Need a good frame - getting frustrated by the search

    I've been looking for a good bike in my price range, and that is a profoundly frustrating experience.

    From local bike shops to craigslist to general sports stores like REI, I have learned enough to know I know nothing, and haven't found the one yet.

    The bike will be used for urban commuting from time to time, but I don't need something set up for that really. Mostly I will be hitting the trails, mostly fire roads and singletrack, but nothing that warrants a full suspension rig.

    I can spend about $800 or so; I know it's more costly in the long run to upgrade the components later, but it's the only route I can go for now. So my question is, does anyone know a good set up in that price range that has a frame worth upgrading on? Is the Cannondale Trail 4 a decent buy or this purpose (even though it's nearly $1000 around here)? If not, what can you recommend?

    Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
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    Frame focus points..for me.
    Size ~ I am 6' 205 and ride a 19" L
    Light & Strong ~ Each brand has different models, each model has diferent build packages, get the "top of the line" for that model as sometimes there is a frame switch, like in my case with the Hardrock. The HR SPORT Disk came with a lighter frame than the base model HR Disk so keep your eye out for that. BTW look at the Specialized HArdRock Sport Disk 29 if you haven't yet..it's in your price range and comes with Hydro brakes!!
    Steer Tube size ~ ...alot of high end bikes..well most all have the "tapered 1.5" steerer" the "recreational size" 1-1/8" steerer wich works fine too and most high end air forks come in both sizes so just as easy to upgrade.
    Disk Brakes ~ not all frames can be upgraded to Disk if not originaly equip..
    Wheel Size ~ I love my 29er..rolls over just about anything
    What "type" of riding you want to focus on can change the type of frame/bike you buy...another pile of details to weed thru there...LOL
    Good Luck
    TEST RIDE EVERYTHING!!!
    Ride MORE = Live Longer
    Love Dirt / Hate Pavement

  3. #3
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    Honestly while it's frustrating, I would keep looking and expand your search online to places like ebay or local riding clubs. A lot of guys are likely to have an older hard tail in their garage that is well equipped and has been maintained that they will sell to a new rider cheaply. You can buy bikes a couple years old that have much better components and really wouldn't need upgrading for less than $800 that would require you to throw half the parts away, especially when it comes to the fork.

    I purchased an older Specialized Hardrock several years ago that was rideable for $160. I've since added a used Fox fork for $60 ($500+ new), Formula hydraulic brakes for $90 ($400 new) and SRAM X-9 drivetrain. I have around $700 in it total, but to purchase that level of bike new today would cost around $2,000.

    While its ideal to be able to ride the bike you purchase, when it comes to hard tails, if you get the right frame size, the ergos can be adjusted with the bars/stem/seatpost, all very inexpensive parts. Something like this stands out as a good deal to me with a rock shox fork (better than sun tour) SRAM drivetrain (their lower end stuff is very similar to higher end, just a bit heavier), and Avid BB5 brakes (great mechanicals).

    Specialized Rockhopper Comp 17 Mountain Bike | eBay

    Even the ones that say "local pick up only" could probably be persuaded to drop the bike off at a LBS, who will disassemble, properly package, and ship bikes cheaply.

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  5. #5
    TJM
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    Not overly familiar with Marin bikes - whats the consensus on their quality?

    Good info to have, Burt4X4, thanks for that. I will keep the details in mind

    Never thought about Ebay but it looks like there are some good deals to be had there.

  6. #6
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    Although not as popular as brands such as Specialized, Trek or Giant...Marin bikes are on par with them in terms of quality and reputation. They're not some cheap company so it would definitely be worth a look. I still have a HT Marin Team Scandium that I absolutely love.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Not overly familiar with Marin bikes - whats the consensus on their quality?

    Good info to have, Burt4X4, thanks for that. I will keep the details in mind

    Never thought about Ebay but it looks like there are some good deals to be had there.
    Marin Bikes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Marin Bikes | About Marin Bikes | Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, and City/Commuter Bicycles | us
    The quality is top notch. Normally they are more expensive than other brands. But here they are selling stuff much cheaper to make room for a bunch of new 2014 frame designs. They have been on the cutting edge of rear suspension design for about the last 20 years. I have only test rode one of their hardtails an it was an older Titanium frame. Pretty awesome.

    Not saying they are the best, but right now these bikes are some of the best bang for the buck out there.

  8. #8
    TJM
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    Quote Originally Posted by moefosho View Post
    Marin Bikes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Marin Bikes | About Marin Bikes | Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, and City/Commuter Bicycles | us
    The quality is top notch. Normally they are more expensive than other brands. But here they are selling stuff much cheaper to make room for a bunch of new 2014 frame designs. They have been on the cutting edge of rear suspension design for about the last 20 years. I have only test rode one of their hardtails an it was an older Titanium frame. Pretty awesome.

    Not saying they are the best, but right now these bikes are some of the best bang for the buck out there.
    Thanks - very solid info. I don't think they are sold around me; how do I go about sizing? Their website says go to a bike shop, but I get the feeling my size in a Specialized or Trek won't be the same as Marin... if it helps, I'm 6'2, 215, with a 32 or 33 inch inseam.

  9. #9
    TJM
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    And thanks everyone for the links - super useful for info and just seeing what else is out there. Cheers!

  10. #10
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    I purchased one of their Palisades Trail bikes last October (paid $640 out the door) from that seller. Bike came in a box, had to put some parts on myself (I've always done my own work so this was easy, if you haven't you could take it to a shop to have assembled). This is my second Marin and I have been very happy with both (previous one was an Idian Fire trail that I am still kicking myself for getting rid of). I checked the geometry on Marin's web page, made sure it was in line with my previous one, and ordered the same size. So far so good!

  11. #11
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    I should add, I got a 15.5" (I'm 5'6") and it fits great. The bike weighed in at 29 lbs stock, I replaced the wire bead X Kings with kevlar folding ones (on sale at Performance for $25 each thank you) and added lightweight tubes which knocked it down to 28 lbs. When I swap out the XC 30 fork this summer for a Manitou, I should be down to 26.? lbs, and only plan to replace other parts as they wear out.

  12. #12
    TJM
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    I don't mind assembly, just don't know what size I need... might have to find one around here and judge it off of that.

  13. #13
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    For what it's worth, at 5'6" the 15.5" fits me nice, but if I was much taller I would go up to a 17.5".

  14. #14
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    If you are 6'2", most likely a large would be the right fit. 19-21 inch

  15. #15
    TJM
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    Cool - I'll check it out. I really hope I can find someone nearby with a Marin so I can get an idea...

  16. #16
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    I'm 6'1 with a 32.5" inseam. I currently ride a 19" frame, although ideally, I would probably fit a 19.5" frame much better. The next size up is a 20.5" for most companies which is too big for me, so you generally want a bike a little too small than a little too big. With a full suspension, I can probably ride a 20.5" full suspension frame with all the modern frames having a dropped top tube. Your best bet is to head to your local LBS and just try a few bike sizes to see which works for you.

    For $1000, and if you don't mind putting the bike together yourself, then you should look at Airborne bikes. More specifically, the Seeker.

    Airborne Bicycles. Seeker

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Cool - I'll check it out. I really hope I can find someone nearby with a Marin so I can get an idea...
    quality is first rate
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Need a good frame - getting frustrated by the search-dsc01836.jpg  

    2014 Nail Trail 29...

  18. #18
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    ^^^
    Dude that's nice!

  19. #19
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    thanks...been fun so far!
    2014 Nail Trail 29...

  20. #20
    TJM
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    Can you just give me that one?

    What? Never hurts to ask, right?!

  21. #21
    TJM
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    Well, I test rode a Marin today, and it was a 19" frame which seems like it would be the right size... it kinda felt like the seat needed to be at least 2 or 3" further back though. Can you even move them that far, or do I need a larger frame?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    Well, I test rode a Marin today, and it was a 19" frame which seems like it would be the right size... it kinda felt like the seat needed to be at least 2 or 3" further back though. Can you even move them that far, or do I need a larger frame?
    The seat could be moved back a little, but probably not 2 or 3 inches. What you can do is get a longer stem or a bar with less rise maybe even a flat bar. Thomson also makes a setback seatpost that can help as well. But, you may also want to try a 20.5 and see how the stand over is on it.

  23. #23
    TJM
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    The stand over on the 19 was awful close. There wasn't much room at all. I did find a local CL deal though. Give me a sec to find it...

    here we go

    2009 Trek fuel ex 8

    Looks good to me... What do you guys think?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJM View Post
    The stand over on the 19 was awful close. There wasn't much room at all. I did find a local CL deal though. Give me a sec to find it...

    here we go

    2009 Trek fuel ex 8

    Looks good to me... What do you guys think?
    Its suppose to be pretty close. A general rule of thumb is to be able to lift the front wheel off the ground at least an inch. If you get closer to the 2" mark, then the frame is too small. Also, the stand over on a 19" of a 26er is going to be a lower than a 19" in a 29er. If a 19" is cutting it close, then a 21.5 (XL) is going to be way too big. Although I know the Trek seems like a good deal, its more important to find a bike that fits you properly so that you can enjoy it. Plus its hard to trust a buyer on CL that can't even put a picture up of the actual bike and not just some picture they plucked off the web.
    Last edited by Shakester; 03-13-2014 at 02:59 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
    For $1000, and if you don't mind putting the bike together yourself, then you should look at Airborne bikes. More specifically, the Seeker.

    Airborne Bicycles. Seeker
    Absolutely. Same frame as their more expensive Goblin (I own the first generation Goblin). Tapered head tube, hydraulic discs, nice drivetrain, Rock Shox air fork with lockout and damper. I don't think anyone comes even close to this in terms of value and, seriously, it's a nice, stiff, yet still compliant aluminum hardtail frame.

    As far as putting it together, the bikes are mostly assembled and chances are, the drivetrain is already tuned well. You attach the handlebars, wheels and saddle. That's it for assembly, then make sure that the bolts are snug (give it a safety-check, basically).

    Hop over to the Airborne manufacturer forum here on MTBR. User "BigDaddyFlyer" is a co-owner there. They will walk you through sizing, etc., and give you great, very personal and thorough, after-sales support.

  26. #26
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    Dang, those bikes come set up pretty nice for that price range!

    Quote Originally Posted by perturbo View Post
    Absolutely. Same frame as their more expensive Goblin (I own the first generation Goblin). Tapered head tube, hydraulic discs, nice drivetrain, Rock Shox air fork with lockout and damper. I don't think anyone comes even close to this in terms of value and, seriously, it's a nice, stiff, yet still compliant aluminum hardtail frame.

    As far as putting it together, the bikes are mostly assembled and chances are, the drivetrain is already tuned well. You attach the handlebars, wheels and saddle. That's it for assembly, then make sure that the bolts are snug (give it a safety-check, basically).

    Hop over to the Airborne manufacturer forum here on MTBR. User "BigDaddyFlyer" is a co-owner there. They will walk you through sizing, etc., and give you great, very personal and thorough, after-sales support.

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