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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    Need a new Bike, need advise

    I purchased my current bike, a Diamond Back, about 9 or 10 years ago. Was roughly $450~$500 at the time and has been a decent bike till this past month. I've gotten into better shape and have been doing a lot more off trail riding. This past weekend I destroyed my rear wheel going off a 4 foot drop. Instead of investing in a new set of wheels I thought it might be time to invest in a bike more fitting to my current riding.

    Budget: I'd like to stay less than $1500, preferably under $1000

    Type of riding:

    I use my bike as my primary transportation around town. Being west virginia that means lots of BIG hills. So i need something that is light enough to get up them, and can handle 40 to 50mph down the long ones. I've had the breaks start slipping on my current back trying to stop, so good breaks is a must. In the city, i am hopping curbs and descending stair cases, so i need something that will hold up to that.

    I'm also starting to get into more off trail riding on the weekends. Lots of steep descents, rocks, roots, some unexpected drops (3 to 5'). Also 6" mud and muck, crossing streams, etc ... Not too many actual jumps, but they do happen.

    Hard Tail or Full Suspension:

    I suspect that I am looking for a full suspension bike, though i've never ridden one before. Obviously the local shops won't let me take on of theirs down a mountain to try it ... But i'm guessing i'll have a lot less broken rear wheels with full suspension.

    Age: 30
    Height: 6'
    Weight: 210~ish.

    I'd like to try to buy from a local shop, but I'm willing to travel up to an hour. The local shops seem to stock mostly cannondale and gaint.

    I was in the local shop yesterday and they were showing me Cannondale Rush 5 & 6 bikes and a Giant (forget the model) that was $750 with full suspension.

    I'd like to find my "last" bike in this deal. Something that will last 15 or more years ... I want the next bike i get to be when i'm turning 50 and too old to be going off trail .

  2. #2
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    an fs rig in this price range is going to be "entry level" for a quality rig. I would look at fishers, trek fuel (moderately equipped per trek website) or specialized (epic i think). If you are doing some drops, fs is the way to go. You might find some shops that have demo bikes you can use for a short period of time to see if you like them. Good luck in your decision.

  3. #3
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    Downhill/ Free Ride bikes don't generally make good Trail bikes, they're pretty soft and heavy, makes for tough pedalling especially uphill. Trail bikes generally don't have the suspension travel or the strength for large drops. Not only that but you want a bike that will survive 50 mph 5ft drops into 6" of mud and you want it to last 20yrs?!!!!!!!!!!!! Not only does it have to do everything, it has to do it forever? And for under $1000... preferably. Can't help you, but Ive got the first goose in the world that lays platinum eggs if you'd be interested.

  4. #4
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    50mph is on the street, not on the trails. And if i find 6" of mud in the street there is a more fundamental problem at hand (like what the hell am i doing riding a bike in a hurricane? ;-)

    I expect to have to replace wheels at some point, they don't stay true forever, but i don't want to have to do it right away.

    My understanding of the rear suspension is that it can be locked out to make riding up hill easier. That is always an option on the street but out on the trails it might not be (mountain biking around here is literally that. long uphill climbs happen).

    So, whats a good medium ground, all around bike?

    I'm willing to entertain thoughts of up to $2000, but i'd rather not. But if thats what it takes ...

  5. #5
    There's no app for this.
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    A commuter that hucks stairs?

    the only bike (I can think of) that might work for you is a Santa Cruz Heckler; you can get the D-AM model built for $2099.

    Keep up the urban tricks and most bikes will break quickly, like that Giant Yukon FX you were looking at, or the Cdale Rush.

    Good luck, Jim

  6. #6
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    With out a serious coctail of meth and steroids you're not hitting 50 mph on the street on an MTB, you also cant get one bike that does everything well so what are you willing to give up? Not only do wheels not last forever but nothing lasts forever. You're not just going to lock out the rear suspension and have it be just like a hard tail xc bike at climbing or be as fast. Wide tires dont roll as fast, most dont climb as well, skinny tires wont handle large drops. From everything you've said THIS is what you want! Sorry, it's $6k. Hate to sound so cold but it's just not going to happen like you want it so you're going to have to decide what you're willing to give up.

  7. #7
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    I have to be honest, you arent going to find something that will do EVERYTHING that you want.

    If you want it to last 15 years, its probably better to go with a steel frame if you can - this limits things a bit as most steel bikes are hardtails - then again, hardtails can be used to ride pretty much anything if you know how to use them properly.

  8. #8
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    My current bike is an aluminum hardtail, and the frame is still in good shape after 10 years. As such I don't suspect aluminum would be an issue.

  9. #9
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    Okay .. the general common thread i'm hearing is that I'm asking way too much out of a bike. Especially in my price range.

    I'm going to try to narrow it a little bit more.

    Lets do it like this:

    75% Street and "Rail Trail" (paved and/or packed limestone) riding.

    12% off the walking/jogging/biking trail mountain biking. Roots, Rocks, some drops/jumps but nothing too crazy on a regular basis. Weekends back in the woods on both known and new trails.

    3% Curbs, Stairs, pot holes on the shoulder. With the way cars don't move out of your way around here, you sometimes get forced onto the sidewalks in in the ditches.

    I could be happy with a compromise like that I think. Something that will get me from point A to B, but still let me have fun in the woods when I want to.

  10. #10
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    Hardtail - travel adjustable fork - 100-130 or 140...


    You might have to custom build for that...

    But what you really want is a hardtail (steel or alu, but for something thats likely to last a long time steel)... But you want one which will handle a travel adjustable fork like a RS Pike or Revelation (u-turn), or a 32 Talas.

    That way you can lower the travel for street riding, and put it back up again for when you hit the trails.

    If you get something burly enough, you shouldnt be underbiked at all.

  11. #11
    spec4life???..smh...
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    Im gonna have to agree. Id say get a nice hardtail. I dont know so much about the steel part id stick with alm. for all the hills you say you have to climb.

    I might even suggest a spec rockhopper comp disc. It is in your preferable under 1000 range and has a good frame that should last a while. It is more of an xc/am bike so it should handle those hill climbs well and has a good front shock to take the off road riding.

    Just a thought but id stick with a quality hardtail.

  12. #12
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    Okay ... so there are more posts for hard tail being better than full suspension for my needs.

    Well, i currently have a decent hard tail frame. At least it hasn't had any problems in the 10 years i've had it, is still straight with no cracks, no visible rust/corrosion, etc ...

    Is the best path for me to just upgrade my current frame? Get some good quality wheels put on it? Maybe see if i can upgrade to disc breaks as well while the wheels are being switched out? I have RockShox in the front, maybe just get them looked at and serviced if needed?

    If that sounds like a good course of action, what type of wheels should i be looking at? I want something that would be strong and would last several years at least.

    Is upgrading to disc breaks an option? If so, what should i look for in those?

  13. #13
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    Throw up a picture - and try to add as accurate a spec list as you can.


    Also, what frame is it you have now? and overall weight would help too.

  14. #14
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    I don't have a digital camera with me today.

    Diamond Back Topanga, 1998 or 1999 model. Everything on it is stock right now except the pedals.

    Frame says "Aluminum Flat Oval 7005"

    Derailleurs and breaks are Shimano. I would assume whatever their entry levels were at the time.

    Rock Shox front suspension, didn't see a model number on them.

    This is my current list of wants:
    New Wheels, something that can take rooty/rocky/rouch mountain bike trails and the bunny hopping/light jumping that goes along with it. Occasional drops.

    Disc Breaks, to help with the breaking since the trails around here get develop up to 6" of mud/muck

    I really like the gear-shift levers i have now, but I think i am due to get some better derailleurs (and a new chain).

    The idea of adding a bike computer to track speed/miles for when i'm on the road crossed my mind since i'm getting new wheels ... but i'm not sure how well that would go over with my off trail riding ... might end up breaking the thing pretty fast.

  15. #15
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    I'd buy a nice hardtail for the mountain biking and curb hopping and an entry level road bike to hit 50 on the road with.

    Computers hold up pretty well off road and you can find some that are around $20, so if you break it no big loss. I think you'll be surprised to see how fast you are actually going (or possibly how slow)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbond
    I don't have a digital camera with me today.

    Diamond Back Topanga, 1998 or 1999 model. Everything on it is stock right now except the pedals.

    Frame says "Aluminum Flat Oval 7005"

    Derailleurs and breaks are Shimano. I would assume whatever their entry levels were at the time.

    Rock Shox front suspension, didn't see a model number on them.

    This is my current list of wants:
    New Wheels, something that can take rooty/rocky/rouch mountain bike trails and the bunny hopping/light jumping that goes along with it. Occasional drops.

    Disc Breaks, to help with the breaking since the trails around here get develop up to 6" of mud/muck

    I really like the gear-shift levers i have now, but I think i am due to get some better derailleurs (and a new chain).

    The idea of adding a bike computer to track speed/miles for when i'm on the road crossed my mind since i'm getting new wheels ... but i'm not sure how well that would go over with my off trail riding ... might end up breaking the thing pretty fast.
    When your frame is that old, some parts might not be compatible, and to be honest, replacing as many things as you're talking about, you might as well get a whole new bike.


    How about this for a plan:
    Get a new bike for riding the trails, and more agressive around-town blasts...

    And put some slicks on the old hardtail and confine her to town duties?

  17. #17
    spec4life???..smh...
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    sounds like an idea to me EnglishT

  18. #18
    I am a pathetic rider...
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    3 words..

    SANTA CRUZ CHAMELEON
    or you could get a giant STP or a cannondale chase, but the Santa Cruz Chameleon sounds perfect, indestructable frame, It can handle 160mm of fork, AL hardtail for pedaling efficency and lightness. And for 1500 you can build up a pretty nice HT. stay away from any fully's and your frame isn't going to handle 4' drops on any regular basis (read more than ten times if your lucky) and neither will the majority of full susers, especially in that price range. a full susser that can handle that stuff you are looking at at least 2 grand for the frame alone.
    Save the Earth, Ride a Cyclist

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnglishT
    When your frame is that old, some parts might not be compatible, and to be honest, replacing as many things as you're talking about, you might as well get a whole new bike.


    How about this for a plan:
    Get a new bike for riding the trails, and more agressive around-town blasts...

    And put some slicks on the old hardtail and confine her to town duties?
    Thanks for all the help/suggestions guys.

    I've decided to do a combination of EnglishT's advise after talking with the my bike shop.

    I'm getting a new, stronger, wheel set, a new chain, new cables/housings, and a cheapy computer (speed/odo) to fix up my current bike and get it rideable again. Should be about $300 when its all said and done to get it back to where it was.

    I'm then gonna save my money up for something in the $2000-$2500 range (hopefully next summer) ... because, obviously, i'm not going to get exactly what i want for less than that. And even that won't be good for the street riding/commuting i want to do as well. So, it looks like 2 bikes are in my future. Get my current one fixed up for commuting and take it easy on the trails till i can get something better :-/

    Seems stupid to get something for $1000 that won't fill either of my goals properly.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbond
    Thanks for all the help/suggestions guys.

    I've decided to do a combination of EnglishT's advise after talking with the my bike shop.

    I'm getting a new, stronger, wheel set, a new chain, new cables/housings, and a cheapy computer (speed/odo) to fix up my current bike and get it rideable again. Should be about $300 when its all said and done to get it back to where it was.

    I'm then gonna save my money up for something in the $2000-$2500 range (hopefully next summer) ... because, obviously, i'm not going to get exactly what i want for less than that. And even that won't be good for the street riding/commuting i want to do as well. So, it looks like 2 bikes are in my future. Get my current one fixed up for commuting and take it easy on the trails till i can get something better :-/

    Seems stupid to get something for $1000 that won't fill either of my goals properly.
    If you're going to wait till next summer to get your trail bike...

    May I advise that you keep your old wheelset (and put some slicks on it), and put some good trail tires on your new wheelset?
    That way, when you want to hit the trails, you put the stronger wheelset on, and when you just want to bumble around town, you still have the old wheelset equipped with slicks.
    This way, atleast until you get your new bike, you will have two different setups without much real effort to swap over.

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