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 to MTB and need some input on bike choice

    First let me introduce myself. I am 46, 30" inseam, 6' 256 lbs., just quit smoking a week ago losing weight on Medifast and find the gym boring. I am willing to work on my fitness at the gym over the winter to improve my stamina / strength and shortness of breath. I have spent hours researching bikes and trails near me (Indiana), went to several LBS and rode a few bikes. I think a FS bike is what I want with a budget max of $3,000. I love the outdoors and do a lot of off-roading now in a Polaris RZR 900 about every 5-6 weeks in KY / TN. My thought is MTB can be done every weekend and some work nights as there are lots of MTB trails close to me. I did try a Specialized Carve and their FSB (lots of pedal bob on the FSB) Then I tried the Giant trance 1 and loved it. I found on the 27.5" bikes I need a size large frame and 29" I'm a medium. Here are some bikes I have found, have no idea on components other than prices. 2013 Giant Trance X 29er 2. Size medium (18). $1,400 used
    Trance X 29er 2 (2013) - Bikes | Giant Bicycles | United States 2014 Giant Trance 27.5 1 new $3,200
    Trance 27.5 1 (2014) - Bikes | Giant Bicycles | United States 2014 Giant Trance 27.5 3 new $2,000
    Trance 27.5 3 (2014) - Bikes | Giant Bicycles | United States

  2. #2
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    First off, I would recommend reading this before you rush into buying a full suspension:

    The Angry Singlespeeder: You?ve got too Much Bike | Mountain Bike Review

    Maybe FS is the best option for you, but don't by a FS thinking that's the best bike for someone new to mountain biking.

    There are some fantastic builds available for less than $2K currently if you're willing to look at HTs. Airborne's X0 sale is pretty ridiculous right now: Airborne Bicycles. Goblin X0

    If you are looking at 29" hardtails, factor in the cost of a spring for the fork that will better match your weight, but you'll still be looking at an amazing bike that fits into your budget.

    If you're more interested in 27.5 and full suspension, you're going to pay a bit more. (You still want to make sure you're accounting for the expense of modifying the suspension to support your weight regardless of wheel size or suspension type.)

    My last piece of advice is try to get some real trail time on both frame types and both wheel sizes before dropping that much money on a bike.

  3. #3
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    The first decision sounds like it should be 29in wheels or 27.5in wheels (test ride on trails if possible). Once that is figured out the rest is fairly easy (ie how much are you willing to spend).

  4. #4
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    Try a 29er first, for your size. Congrats on the smoking cessation. I have seven years myself.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  5. #5
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    Also, I know this is unsolicited advice, but I've shared the following two videos with friends I've gotten into mountain bike riding because I find them very easy to understand and very helpful:


  6. #6
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    He has other videos in the same vein, but the basics of straight lines and cornering are the most practical things for a beginner to focus on.

  7. #7
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    Welcome Baditude. I Am a noob just like yourself, I ride pretty much all over the western side of ky and southern Indiana. I Ride a 2012 trance 26" and find It to be about perfect for our area. There are better bikes for some places but much like yourself I can only afford one so I have to have one that works well everywhere and the trance is a very good trail rig. I got the x4 which knowing what I know now I should have got the x1 cause the parts are much cheaper when you buy good all at once then buying ok then upgrading. As for wheel size cant help you there, I ride 29ers and feel like I am all over the place. Been thinking about demoing a 27.5 but scared to buy another bike so soon lol. Where are you out of?

  8. #8
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    Local knowledge rules.

    I'm about to turn 46, been riding for a pretty long time, and know all about the damn butts. Stick with it. You can do it, and riding will help. Doesn't seem to work so well on the beer drinking, but that's a whole 'nother story.

    I ride with a few guys that have slightly shorter inseams than you and are (or were) in your weight range - I also wouldn't rule out a 26" bike right off the bat. At least throw a leg over one. Given that I live in New England and we've got a lot of somewhat technical trails, but myself and a good amount of the guys I ride with run 26" bikes. My oldest riding buddy The Stork is 6'-5" and has been riding strong for over 20 years; he just spent a few weeks kidnapping 29er demo bikes from our LBS (this is where a relationship with a shop can really pay off) and ended up deciding to stick with 26". I would throw a leg over a couple if you have the chance before you make your final decision.

    I'm also personally a fan of full suspension for the vast majority of trail riding. In my 20's, hardtails were great (of course, the suspension at that time wasn't exactly adequate) but I think you'll find a higher level of control and comfort off the bat with a properly set-up FS bike. IMO, this ends up equating to less of a learning curve and more fun sooner. The more fun it is, the more you'll do it. And the more you do it, the more fun it is.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    First off, I would recommend reading this before you rush into buying a full suspension:

    The Angry Singlespeeder: You?ve got too Much Bike | Mountain Bike Review

    Maybe FS is the best option for you, but don't by a FS thinking that's the best bike for someone new to mountain biking.
    I gotta disagree with the article in a way. I appreciate the whole luddite thing to a point, but this is mostly just a case of some old guy giving the 'back in my day, we didn't even have feet - we walked around on bloody stumps! AND WE LIKED IT!!" spiel. I was riding same stuff at the same times, and it really didn't make me a 'better' rider. It only made me a more beat-up rider. Period. It's like recommending someone that their first car shouldn't have power steering or ABS IMO. Suspension definitely can ease the initial learning curve, no reason at all not to take advantage of that. Even if the crusty old 'purists' didn't have that option.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by pruitt1222 View Post
    Welcome Baditude. I Am a noob just like yourself, I ride pretty much all over the western side of ky and southern Indiana. I Ride a 2012 trance 26" and find It to be about perfect for our area. There are better bikes for some places but much like yourself I can only afford one so I have to have one that works well everywhere and the trance is a very good trail rig. I got the x4 which knowing what I know now I should have got the x1 cause the parts are much cheaper when you buy good all at once then buying ok then upgrading. As for wheel size cant help you there, I ride 29ers and feel like I am all over the place. Been thinking about demoing a 27.5 but scared to buy another bike so soon lol. Where are you out of?
    Indianapolis At least 5 decent trail systems within a 1 hour drive, 3-4 within 30 mins

  11. #11
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    Thank you all for the responses. I have watched all the videos I can find and research daily on forums for several sites. What I have found is a few of the LBS people I have talked to recommend a decent hardtail for learning skills, others have said if you don't enjoy it you won't keep it up (ride quality). I have no conception of ever racing, just along for the ride and scenery.

    I would prefer to buy the bike I plan on keeping for awhile upfront, I don't have the room for several bikes. By the time I price decent HTs, I'm close to the price of the Trance 3 and then I look at the difference between a Trance 3 and Trance 1.

    Should I be considering used? I do like the 27.5" wheel size from the demos, but have not rode on trails at all yet and looking forward to it.

    My reasons for getting into mountain biking:

    I'm bored on weekends / weekdays after work and I hate tv
    I love the outdoors - especially the woods
    I need to get fit and the gym is boring to me. According to my blood work last few years I need to improve my cholesterol both good and bad.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baditude View Post
    few of the LBS people I have talked to recommend a decent hardtail for learning skills, others have said if you don't enjoy it you won't keep it up (ride quality)...
    I do agree with this statement. The point of sharing the article was not to steer you towards a rigid fork mountain bike, but there is some truth to learning skills on a hardtail. I even saw a big difference when I upgraded my current bike to a nice 120mm fork from a low end stock 100mm fork, and I can ride a bit lazier over the same terrain. (Your body is the best suspension you'll have on whatever bike you're riding.)

    Where and what you're riding is important. And while you can get a lighter, higher end hardtail for less than a full suspension, if the trails you're going to ride just won't be fun on a HT, absolutely, go FS. As you're a beginner, I was making some assumptions with recommending a HT, as I assumed you aren't doing anything rough enough that HT would be noticeably less enjoyable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Baditude View Post
    Should I be considering used?
    For the amount you're willing to spend, and considering you're new to the sport, I'd recommend new, if just for the warranty and recourse available if something goes wrong with the bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by Baditude View Post
    I do like the 27.5" wheel size from the demos, but have not rode on trails at all yet and looking forward to it.
    Trails are where 29" wheels shine, but they are not for everyone, there are definitely people who will prefer 26" or 27.5" due to personal preference and where they're riding. Again, nothing anyone can write here is as useful as getting on a trail and demoing the different size wheel on trails you'd actually ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by Baditude View Post
    My reasons for getting into mountain biking:

    I'm bored on weekends / weekdays after work and I hate tv
    I love the outdoors - especially the woods
    I need to get fit and the gym is boring to me. According to my blood work last few years I need to improve my cholesterol both good and bad.
    I can't promise you'll enjoy it as much as I do, but mountain biking is a phenomenal hobby/sport, and there's a reason there's so many passionate people here.

    At this time of year, with work and my family commitments, Saturday mornings are the only day I can get out to the trails. I enjoy riding my bike to and from work, even when it's in the 30s (like it is now) but it's a poor substitute for trail riding getting out to the local trails and riding with a few friends is literally my favorite part of the week. Check out the sub-forum for your part of the country or ask at your LBS and find some casual riders you can ride with at trails you enjoy. I feel fairly certain you'll find some good people and have an absolute blast riding trails on whatever bike you decide on.

  13. #13
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    I am around your age and I just started to lose weight and Ive tried almost everything on the market and what has got me to lose the weight is portion control...I cup my hands and visualize that size portion on my plate..I say ok...Im only going to eat that much..and Ive lost 25 pounds so far...but that is what is working..Im eating whatever I want to..but not a ton of it.

    I say if you have the means for a full sus..then go for it...your bones will thank you..esp your rear end...I ride a Trek Fuel EX 5 and I love it...its a nice all around bike.

    also riding with people that are better than you are helps as well...Ive gotten into a group ride with guys waaay better than I am and they help out alot...its hell sometimes but worth it..I have become a better rider in the past few months because of them..so give something like that a try..it really helps...also road riding helps as well...its not my favorite thing (cause of the cars)..but it will help with stamina and spinning.
    We Can't Stop Here...This Is Bat Country.
    Out Of Step.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    ...there is some truth to learning skills on a hardtail. I even saw a big difference when I upgraded my current bike to a nice 120mm fork from a low end stock 100mm fork, and I can ride a bit lazier over the same terrain. (Your body is the best suspension you'll have on whatever bike you're riding.)

    As a Devil's Advocate sorta angle on this - IMO, the body is not the best suspension at all (particularly for older riders and beginners.) Otherwise you'd see people racing motocross and DH on rigid bikes. Well tuned suspension will absorb a lot of stuff that othewise gets translated directly to your body, which at this point, has no idea what to do with it. While you can learn to adapt to soak up a lot of medium sized hits through your joints, you're not going to be be able to do much with much more common high frequency "chatter' no matter how dialed your riding is. Also, eating up obstactles with your body uses lot of energy that is better spent in other ways, particularly as a beginner. Highly recommend FS if all around 'fun' is your goal. If racing or 'purity' is what you're after, I would say go with a stiffer, more punishing machine. I personally don't want my bike 'forcing' me to do or not do anything.

  15. #15
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    It's a good idea to really think about the trails you'll be riding this bike on. If the trails are mostly smooth and very beginner oriented...the Trance, and most full suspensions in general, will be overkill and a hardtail a better choice.

    Another thing to consider into your budget is any additional gear you'll need. I recommend planning to get a helmet, gloves, some sort of water carrying system (I personally prefer carrying a hydration pack), and a flat repair kit consisting of a spare tube, tire levers, and a pump at the bare minimum. Also consider ditching the crappy pedals that will likely come with the bike and get some decent ones...they definitely make a difference.

  16. #16
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    GT Sensor elite or Zesty 414

    Hi there everyone , i'm not new to mountain biking and love down hill and general mountain biking in newcastle in the uk , at the moment i have a GT AGGRESSOR 3 , im looking at spending 2,850 on a Lapierre Zesty 414 with all XT gear and breaks , but the problem is i love the new GT Sensor elite but not as good spec , im kinda thinking to sticking with makes i trust and used but im stuck between it , as spec is better also with Thompson on the Zesty , what do you guys think as had my bike since 2006 so time to upgrade but i like thw idea of the AOS etc on the gt
    Last edited by chrisvxr220; 11-27-2013 at 01:13 PM. Reason: More information

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