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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    New here and looking to get a bike...

    I have done a search and tried to get more recent information than the Sticky thread.

    I have not owned a bike in almost 3 decades. Back then, you went to KMart and picked one up. I went to my local bike store and they were nice enough to try to get me to buy a $3000 bike. I told them I would just buy a cheap used car instead and walked out. Not to take away from those that have expensive bikes and that this is more than just a hobby. I understand the need for great gear that lasts. Just not in my budget now.

    I am looking at getting a bike that complements my New Year's workout program and to be able to start riding with my 6yo daughter. We have a greenway trail that borders our neighborhood and want to start riding it. I am not doing any mountain biking like most people here would do. It would mostly be riding across some grass to get to the greenway, riding on neighborhood roads, and a paved greenway. It traverses through the woods, so there could be any number of things on the ground. I would guess I would be doing about 15 miles 2-3 times a week.

    I am looking for some advice on what to get. My budget is around $500 (I am from the buy once, buy right group and not the buy once, need to sell then buy right group). I know it is not that much for what many have, but it is about all I can afford at the moment. I would spend $600-$700 if it would get me a much superior bike, but I would need convincing that it would.

    I am not even sure about bike sizes either. I am 6' tall, about 240Lbs (need to get to 200). Here is what I have seen at some of the local bike shops that I think fit my bill (I do not know though). I do not know where else to look or what to look for, but noticed Bikesdirect.com here and saw many options there.

    Any guidance or help is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance from a new biker in Raleigh NC.

    Trek Bodega
    Trek 4300 Disc
    Trek Marlin SS
    Motobecane
    Dawes

  2. #2
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    for $500-600, you can get a brand new specialized rockhopper or a trek/gary fisher wahoo hardtail. Those would be what i would buy if i were going to buy new for $500.


    With that said, if you look at the used market, you can get much more for your money. For $350, I got a 2005 Giant VT2 full suspension. Since then, I've replaced the entire drive train, but am still only in for around $750 for pretty much a brand new bike. Before that, I was riding a 2005 Trek 4500 hardtail that i got for $175. I've regularly seen gary fisher marlins for between $300 and $400.

  3. #3
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    thanks for the feedback. If I knew what I were looking for in a used bike or even where to look, that could be an option. Right now, I am too noob to know. I will start to look around at CL and other classifieds to see if there is anything local.

  4. #4
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    If you're not going to ride on dirt then you don't need a mountain bike per se. You ABSOLUTELY do not need to buy one of those god awful bikesdirect full suspension bikes. They are poorly designed, very inefficient and heavy. If you were looking for a mountain bike, I would still be exactly as opposed to your purchase of one of those pieces of junk.

    Here's what you need to do; go to a bike shop and talk to someone. Have them size you on a bike and take a few in your price range out for a ride. Even if you don't end up buying at a shop (and I think that you should) at least you'll know what size you're looking for and have a baseline of how the bikes you're interesting in might feel.

    A hybrid bike (like the Bodega) would be very good on paved surfaces, adequate in the occasional grass crossings dirt roads or rough pavement, and not suitable to off road trails (mountain biking territority). A mountain bike (like the 4300) will be slow on pavement and will get better the rougher the surface becomes. A mountain bike can be fitted with more narrow tires to emulate a hybrid but a hybrid can not usually be fitted with tires to make it suitable to off-road. The Marlin SS wasn't quite the bike you linked to. SS means single speed, and that has its merits but you should really make sure that you're ready to have only one gear to pedal in. However, the larger diameter wheel of the Marlin (and Marlin SS) means that they will usually roll faster than a standard 26" mountain bike.

    I would suggest visiting as many bike shops as you possibly can, test riding every bike in and around your price range, and purchasing the bike you enjoy riding the most. If you don't have a ton of options for rides, then buy the one you like the best out of what you can test ride. I would avoid buying a bike online until you know exactly what you're buying.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the feedback. I do have to go look at LBS. I will not get one from WalMart. I just listed some things as examples in the price range I am at. I just need to find a store that has more bikes in my price range and a sales guy that is not forcing me into a $3000 bike. I found a few more places near me that I can take a look at.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigRedNole View Post
    Thanks for the feedback. I do have to go look at LBS. I will not get one from WalMart. I just listed some things as examples in the price range I am at. I just need to find a store that has more bikes in my price range and a sales guy that is not forcing me into a $3000 bike. I found a few more places near me that I can take a look at.
    I had a LBS (Authorized/Exclusive Trek Store) say and try to do the same thing to me. He asked if I would ride any trails, I said yes, he said, don't look at any of these bikes,, 3, and 4 series, that they are not real AM bikes. Then pushed me toward the higher end bikes that he didn't carry, but could order, and to look online.

    I left.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by db09jku View Post
    I had a LBS (Authorized/Exclusive Trek Store) say and try to do the same thing to me. He asked if I would ride any trails, I said yes, he said, don't look at any of these bikes,, 3, and 4 series, that they are not real AM bikes. Then pushed me toward the higher end bikes that he didn't carry, but could order, and to look online.

    I left.
    So you are mad because the sales person was trying to save you from buying a bike you would ruin? I don't get it.

    Did you continue the discussion after he said you should buy a higher end bike? Maybe mentioning that you weren't looking to spend that kind of money and actually talking about why the sales person was telling you to look at a higher end bike? Did you discuss the pros and cons of purchasing the 3 and 4 series bike vs a more expensive one? Or did you just storm out assuming they were trying to con you into a bigger sale?

    A lot of people under-buy their first bike and put a lot of money into keeping an inferior bike running when they could have saved money down the road by spending for the more expensive model up front. Maybe a lack of tact got in the way, but it is possible the sales person wasn't actively trying to screw you.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    So you are mad because the sales person was trying to save you from buying a bike you would ruin? I don't get it.

    Did you continue the discussion after he said you should buy a higher end bike? Maybe mentioning that you weren't looking to spend that kind of money and actually talking about why the sales person was telling you to look at a higher end bike? Did you discuss the pros and cons of purchasing the 3 and 4 series bike vs a more expensive one? Or did you just storm out assuming they were trying to con you into a bigger sale?

    A lot of people under-buy their first bike and put a lot of money into keeping an inferior bike running when they could have saved money down the road by spending for the more expensive model up front. Maybe a lack of tact got in the way, but it is possible the sales person wasn't actively trying to screw you.
    Not mad at all. I had told him what price range I was looking in as well and after that he said go look online at the higher end bikes and we will order something for you, he walked off and ended the conversation, leaving me standing there. I don't think he was trying to actively screw me, I think, since I balked at a $1000 and up bikes, he wasn't interested and didn't "have time" to show me around the 3 and 4 series bikes. So not really mad or offended, I was willing to listen and learn, he wasn't willing to advise or teach. His loss.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by db09jku View Post
    So not really mad or offended, I was willing to listen and learn, he wasn't willing to advise or teach. His loss.
    It's sad there are so many bike shops out there that this would be a common story at. Pretty spoiled where I live, there are dozens of shops and there are only a few that I don't consider to be good shops.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    It's sad there are so many bike shops out there that this would be a common story at. Pretty spoiled where I live, there are dozens of shops and there are only a few that I don't consider to be good shops.
    I did find another one, that is closer to me anyway, that seems to be the place to go. They sell Cannondales, and the two guys there that talked with me, asked the questions, what my preferences were and showed me around. Their supply was limited as well. During our conversation, one of the guys did say, and don't worry if you get your bike with us, used, online, wherever, and it doesn't matter what kind, we will help you anyway we can. I've only been in once, but I will be going back to order/buy some other stuff, accessories, etc, and possibly get it tuned if I have any issues with my build. Might need a little help with the derailleur. I've built several bikes from scratch, but never dealt with a derailleur.

  11. #11
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    From your description, it sounds like just about anything (except for the bouncy, heavy cheap FS bikes) will do.

    As for the experience with the Trek dealer, based on your initial description you are not riding "trails", as you mention you told him. It's a subjective term, for sure, but to most MTB dealers it implies some sort of frequent, abusive behavior on the bike's components. Grass/pavement/greenway/dirt-path riding doesn't demand high-qualify components... components being the biggest difference between a cheap bike and an expensive one.

    He was correct that the 3000's aren't really "trail-worthy", but I think if you described your expected riding conditions to him more accurately, the 3000 or something similar is ideal. Dealers make most of their money on bikes in your price-range anyway... they're not really out to soak you.

    I would stay away from used or an online bike. In your price range even one trip to the shop will eat up any savings. I would suggest a LBS, who will give you free tune ups for some period of time, help you get fitted correctly, etc.

    Good luck!

  12. #12
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    I don't think you need a mountain bike at all. Poking around the Trek site at least, there are several options that look good for what you want to do. I have no experience with any of them and would suggest trying to find a dealer to try them out. I live in a small rural town with one bike shop so I recognize that can be easier said than done sometimes. Based on your description though, I'd be looking at one of these 4.

    Under $500
    Navigator 1
    7.1 FX

    Over $500 but not by much, has a small amount of front suspension if you are worried about uneven pavement or twigs on the trail
    8.2 DS

    Just over $600, but highly regarded. Reviews at Kent's Bike Blog He's s Trek mechanic, has done the Tour Divide twice and still rides a $600 bike around town.
    Allant

  13. #13
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    BigRedNole, if you are still looking at Bikes Direct this would be better option for your type of riding.
    Save up to 60% off new Road Bikes - Gravity Liberty 2 | Save up to 60% off new road bikes
    Very flexible bike that can setup to do may things.

  14. #14
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    I appreciate all the feedback so far. I went back to the same Trek shop on my way home. Unfortunately, I had my 6yo daughter with me. I spoke to a woman there and described what I was looking to do. Very sweet and knowledgeable.

    She was extremely familiar with what I am looking to do and it is a reason they opened a shop where the did. geographically, it is within about 2-4 miles of the greenway that I will ride. There are about 3-4 feeder paths to the main path that allows the different communities to access. I never thought of that.

    Her recommendation was very clear and she explained the reasons (at least for as long as my daughter was not wreaking havoc). She agreed with me that I need more time to talk with her, but she showed me a few options in their stands. I am meeting with her again tomorrow or Thursday. There is no guarantee I get a Trek bike, but she is going to take me through all of the differences between the options and why a mountain bike is not the right choice. Her recommendations were hybrid and comfort.

    Possibilities she pointed out:
    Hybrid: Trek Bodega, 7.1FX, Neko, Kaitai, DS

    She recommended, without measurements, a 19" or 21". Will know more when I can actually sit on a bike and check them out.

    There is another Trek store I will go to, another that carries Fuji & Raleigh, and Performance Bicycle carries Transit, Fuji, GT, and others.

  15. #15
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    I went to another LBS at lunch since the rain stopped. Talked with an extremely knowledgeable pro there. I explained what I was going to need a bike fore, what my expectations were, and the little bits of info I have read here and other places. He met me at the door, pointed out the showroom, and explained why they had it setup that way.

    1. Kids bikes were at the far corner because it is the lowest part of their business
    2. The most expensive bikes were on the back wall racks. I think bikes over $1500
    3. On the other wall were mountain bikes up to $1500
    4. Road bikes (what I would have called 10 speeds back in the 70s and early 80s) were on the other wall
    5. In the middle were all of the hybrids which is a large part of their business.

    I explained what I was planning on doing. He proceeded to tell me that the part of the greenway I will ride is 1 mile from the store. Since I have never been on it, he proceed to explain what to expect. This is the reason for all of the hybrids in the middle of the store taking up about 60% of the space. They had very few hybrids without disc brakes. I asked about that. He gave me and another customer an education. The reason is that the greenway is often wet with puddles. He said disc brakes are much better suited and they definitely try to steer customers that direction.

    They had a several options without disc brakes on the lower end Trek and Specialized bikes. I do not know which models because I honestly did not like how they looked (compared to the others. He showed me the Specialized Crosstrail and Trek 8.4DS. He went through showing me the exact differences and why one was a little more than the other. He brought over some of the lower end bikes and showed the differences there as well.

    It started to rain, so no test ride. I was not dressed for it anyway. So, I started asking a few questions and asked about cyclocross bikes. He gave me a big education on those as well. He said he only steers people in that direction based on their goals and expectations. The cheapest was $1500 and significantly out of my reach. He did say that people that get the "cross trail" type bikes (8.4DS and Crosstrail) that really enjoy it do upgrade to cyclocross.

    I feel very comfortable with this LBS. I will visit 3-4 others while in my search. I believe that used is definitely out of the question unless it is a recommendation from on of the LBS. I simply do not know enough.

  16. #16
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    The 8.4 DS is a wooooonderful bike and that's coming from someone who has a couple of fairly high end All Mountain bikes. I have a friend who rides it on and off road, on the many trails that criss-cross my area. It stands up to even the more abusive end of his riding extremely well. It sounds to me like it would be just about perfect for what you're wanting to do.

    I think the cyclocross bikes might also be a good fit, but most of them tend to be set up for racing and as such are going to be very much above your initial price point.

    If you haven't gotten a chance to ride the DS I would definitely do so.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately, cyclocross bikes are over my budget by a large margin. The 8.4 DS is at the extreme high end of my budget. If they had the 2011 model in my size at their clearance price of $649, I would have bought it today.

    I am trying to see if I can swing the $900 for the 8.4 DS. If I can find a way to do it, that may be the best route. The only cyclocross I have found at that extreme end of my budget is the one below. I am trying not to spend $900 though. I really want to be at $700 or less.

    Motobecane Outlaw

    Much more in my price range:
    Price Range

  18. #18
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    If it's mostly about riding with your 6yr old, frankly even a big-box bike will do fine. It's all about getting what you want, and feeling good about your decision, of course, but there's really no great reason for spending $900 for bike paths, IMO. What about the 8.3 or 8.2 DS? Even the 3500... which is essentially the 8.2 DS with knobby tires.

    If you get into biking, spending less on a casual bike will give you more funds for a better bike more suited to what you ride (road or mtb). There's nothing wrong with bikedirect, but you won't know if you like the look or feel until it's already on your doorstep. And, again, if you have any issues setting it up, or after you ride it a while (things "stretch" after a few rides and need adjustment), factor in the costs taking it to a shop. They won't help you set up an online bike for free. Think of it as $100 or so of free service included in a LBS bike, or $100 not reflected in price of a BD bike. That's not including any potential warranty issues, in which case you'll have to pay to ship the bike/part back to BD for claim processing... a LBS will handle that for you if you purchase from them.

    Post a pic when you make your decision!

  19. #19
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    Thanks for the response GotoDengo. I will be riding more than just with my daughter. I prefer to be a buy it once buy it right group. I really liked the Trek DS line. The 8.3 was very nice, but sitting next to the 8.4 makes you look.

    Based on what I have seen at the LBS, I think I am going through one of them. It is going to be a matter of finding the best bang for the buck.

  20. #20
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    One of the biggest problems with buying your very first bike as a beginner is that you really don't know what you want out of the whole biking experience even if you say you do.

    Pretty much everyone goes through the process of "I want to only do this and that" but end up needing more or less after they get in to it.

    Most people who get in to it, only for the sake of exercise or to ride with the family often give up after a short while because it's not as fun as they had expected. Only a handful of people will keep going with these objectives because riding for exercise can get repetitive and boring. Riding with family will only happen when your family members want to ride (which won't be all the time).

    BUT if you're like most of the beginners who come to this forum for advice, then likely you'll end up on the dirt trails and will soon be hooked.

    Even though it's difficult to predict the future, I think you need to consider your personality as a reference for what you may end up doing with this biking thing.

    As an example, I started biking on paths because I wanted to exercise and had absolutely no intentions of hitting dirt. And after several weeks of boredom I was riding less and less with little motivation to keep going. Luckily a friend of mine suggested we try a bit of dirt on a local trail that I didn't even know existed.

    I've been riding dirt as well as paved for around 5 years now and I don't think I'll ever stop.

    ANYWAYS, sorry for the long post but I just wanted to point out that finding that perfect bike NOW, for all your future rides may be unrealistic.

  21. #21
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    Thanks captainjoon. I appreciate any insight I can get. Fortunately, I have a medical necessity to get my weight and cholesterol down. Biking is in addition to a workout program. I definitely will not be biking every day. I plan to get out 2-3 time per week. I also want to get my daughter out more so she is not one of those XBox, cartoon babies eating hot pockets 12 hours a day.

    I wish I could say I would not be doing any trail riding, but I can't. I do know I will not be doing anything hardcore. If I did now what I did growing up, you can spark up the oven now and cremate me: 10' jumps over an empty pool (10' + the bottom of the pool is a long fall), playing knights by throwing broom sticks in each others front spokes (nothing like getting tossed over your handlebars and on your face for "fun").

    The Trek dealer did say that the rims on the 8.4DS can accommodate a different tire that is on one of the Trek mtbs. Another LBS told me that a hybrid is great at nothing but can do a little of everything. They recommended to get a mountain bike and deal with negatives of neighborhood riding.

  22. #22
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    I just thought I would chime in and offer some help, I don't know were you are in the
    U.S. but my favorite local shop sells Masi bikes. Took one of the cyclocross out for a spin,
    and was very impressed, impressed enough to want one now. Very striking frames with
    very sound components, and if memory serves me I believe they are in your price range.
    Don't know if one of your shops close by would have them, but take a look.
    Good luck.Masi Bikes - Cyclocross - CX UNO
    My LBS has this model marked down to 699.00

  23. #23
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    I'm also a noob at mountain biking. I have been looking for the right bike for a while, but my # of lbs is limited.
    My local Cannondale shop is very small and less than a year old. The owner is a really nice guy and he knows that he needs to offer some great service to stay in business.
    I talked to him a couple of times about what I was looking for and he found a nice selection of 2011 closeouts for me. I was leaning toward a Trail SL4 for under $500, which is originally $700 at the lbs.
    I finally decided on the Trail SL2 for $600. The original price was $1000, so I was thrilled with the deal and it had everything I was looking for.
    I can understand why you were turned off by the guys trying to push a $3000 bike on you. I did a lot of reading on this website and then reading more details on specific bike maker's websites.
    Get some ideas of what you like from the comfort of your home and then take that info with you to the lbs. I would definitely stick with the shop that offers the best service and seems to value your business. The biggest lbs that sells a lot of high end bikes may not have much time to help you in the future. The more you can prepare before going into the lbs, the less you will need to deal with the recommendations of workers trying to steer you toward a bike that's out of your price range.

  24. #24
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    Well, last night I took a hit. Wife's computer died. That doesn't necessarily mean my budget has changed.

    I went back to Performance Bikes and there was an extremely knowledgeable salesman that helped me. He started off on the low end and went up to the high end. Believe it or not, I kept eyeing the low end bike. The main reason is that it has all of the capabilities to upgrade in the future.

    Low End:
    Diamondback

    High End (extreme high end of my budget):
    Focus ***The probably do not have my size anyway

  25. #25
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    10 years ago a bike in that $8-9 hundred price range came with XT der.s and better components and now they come with middle of the road Deore and generic stuff.I can`t see buying any of the new bikes. I`d rather find a good clean used bike for so much less money.JMO

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