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 question here. New trail riding bike

    Hello, I just recently got into mountain biking after coming up to college to Michigan tech. They've got some amazing trails barely off campus, and the Copper Harbor trails are a mere half hour away. I have been biking before on the Ft. Custer trails, but those are nothing compared to these. I've never had a serious mountain bike, and my current one is a Rhino "full suspension" mountain bike that I got for free from wallgreens. It worked for quite a few years as a commuting bike (terrible for roads due to weight and tires) and I had some fun with it two or three times on trails, so I brought it up with me here.

    After going on the trails two or three times, I'm positive I need an upgrade. Sure, the trails are ride-able with this bike, but after slipping off a boardwalk in copper harbor, two of the three large chain rings have become bent beyond repair (riveted together as opposed to replaceable) and I'm looking for a bike that will let me simply ride more for the energy I have. I have two good friends that are also into mountain biking up here, and we've determined that we'll ride the hell out of the trails once we get capable bikes. We're still doing it now, but it's tough going (the handlebars are solid rubber and the bike is probably 35lbs+).

    I went to the local bike shop, and they have both new bikes and used 'demo' bikes. One of which is a Felt Virtue Expert, used for a bit (scuffed up a tad) and upgraded with new [what I assume to be] tubeless tires. The initial offer is $1300, while my preferred budget is around $600 or so. Even though my bike is cheap full suspension, it's still more cushy (in the rear section) than a HT, which I tried out at the shop. I've read a few posts here about FS and HT, but I'm hearing that HT aren't as suited for rough, technical terrain, which there is loads of up here. I'm also hearing that 29" and HT is a better combo, but the bike shop is currently stocking 2014 and 2013 models, which are pretty high in pricing.

    My main question is whether I should take the initial plunge and invest $1300 (maybe less if I can barter down) on a FS bike, or go with the cheap (sub-500) route and start with a hard-tail. I know that pretty much any bike coming from a specialized bike shop will be lightyears better than my current bike, but I'm not sure if I should get a cheapish one now and upgrade later, absorbing the used-bike-sale cost, or take advantage of the good deal at the shop now and never upgrade. I mainly just want to have fun on the trails with my friends, but racing might be a possibility in the future.

    Sorry for the essay, but I'm really on the fence here.
    Thanks!

    Edit: There's also someone on craigslist that's selling a Kona One20 full suspension bike (20") for $650 obo, but I'm cautious about getting a used bike not from a bike shop.

  2. #2
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    The WallyMart FS bike you have is most likely not suited for offroad riding, it'd say so on the frame. Buying used is great but requires a great deal of research for a noob as there are many variables. Lower budget would put a cap on any good FS deal now, unless you are lucky. There are plenty of smoking deals on classified and CL you just have to find it. Once you know what to get or what to look for, it's just the matter of waiting for the right deal. If you can't wait, then you'd pay premium for the new ones. Unfortunately you can't usually have both.

    I'll help you get started with a few models. Cannondale Rush 4", Cannondale Prophet 5.5" can be found at around $550-800. Same goes to Giant Trance 4", Trance X 5", or Anthem 4" at about the same price.

  3. #3
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    First off, is the bike your size or is the shop just trying to offload something on you? Make sure you know for sure.

    Assuming that the bike is only cosmetically damaged, maybe with a little wear on the mechanical items, the Demo bike is a much better deal. Buying a complete bike is always a better deal than buying a bike and upgrading the parts. Buying a used bike is a better deal than buying new as long as you know the history of the bike or how to identify how well a bike has been treated. Buying a used bike from a bike shop (that you trust) is usually a good deal. They'll be up front about any issues, they will have taken at least decent care of it, and they will usually stand behind it once it leaves the shop.

    Spending more up front gets you components that work better for longer with less fuss. If you compare a new $600 HT to a new $1300 hardtail (for example) you'd likely get better shifters, derailleurs, wheels, fork, and often times a better frame. That $1300 bike will last longer and work better through its life. Adding in a full suspension bike usually makes things a little more complicated, but in your case we're actually comparing a $2700 bike to a $600 bike... not really a contest here.

    Used bikes are only as good as your ability to know if they're well maintained or not. Just because something is clean doesn't make it a good buy. I'd get the demo bike and eat more Ramen.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mimi1885 View Post
    The WallyMart FS bike you have is most likely not suited for offroad riding, it'd say so on the frame. Buying used is great but requires a great deal of research for a noob as there are many variables. Lower budget would put a cap on any good FS deal now, unless you are lucky. There are plenty of smoking deals on classified and CL you just have to find it. Once you know what to get or what to look for, it's just the matter of waiting for the right deal. If you can't wait, then you'd pay premium for the new ones. Unfortunately you can't usually have both.
    I'm very interested in buying used since depending on the usage, decent bikes don't wear out as quickly. In addition, doing that much more research regarding bikes will help me with my overall knowledge. That said, one of my friends already has a nice 29" hardtail and is currently building a new one from parts, so he's going to be an important resource. I've also got a few members of the university bike club that will offer tips too.

    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    First off, is the bike your size or is the shop just trying to offload something on you? Make sure you know for sure.

    Spending more up front gets you components that work better for longer with less fuss. If you compare a new $600 HT to a new $1300 hardtail (for example) you'd likely get better shifters, derailleurs, wheels, fork, and often times a better frame. That $1300 bike will last longer and work better through its life. Adding in a full suspension bike usually makes things a little more complicated, but in your case we're actually comparing a $2700 bike to a $600 bike... not really a contest here.

    Used bikes are only as good as your ability to know if they're well maintained or not. Just because something is clean doesn't make it a good buy. I'd get the demo bike and eat more Ramen.
    The demo bike is supposedly the L version (20"), and I'm 6'1" so I'm pretty sure it's a compatible size.

    What about a used $2700 bike versus a used $1200 bike like the Kona One20? That one seems to be in the threshold of decent mid-end FS bikes while not entirely breaking the bank? The used market is pretty sparse up here (two mountain bikes on craigslist, one on pinkbike for $800) so it comes down to the waiting game, and since we start to get snow up here at the beginning to middle of november, I want to take advantage of this weather while I still can, otherwise I'd end up getting a new bike in the spring and suffering for 2 months with my current wally-bike.

    Thanks for the replies, guys!

  5. #5
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    a used 2.7k bike will certainly be better than the used 1200 dollar bike component wise just check the condition. I bought a 10k bike new for 2.5k, but he was an 24hr racer so the bike was pretty worn. I accepted that had have been slowly replacing the parts. still an awesome bike though.
    do your research, look at the parts, i used the reviews on here to get an idea of what i was letting myself in for when purchasing the bike. as it was a team bike I also knew that it would have been will looked after mechanically. All these factors go into making a decision on what to buy, expecially in the second hand market. yes great deals can be had. I sold a brank spanking new road bike, about 2 months old and few kms on it for just over half its cost because i needed the money. the lucky bastard who bought it couldn't believe his luck

  6. #6
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    I'm coming back with an update on the bike status - I found a used Fat Possum XO on craigslist for $600, and managed to get the price down to $520, and the guy included a bunch of accessories for the bike as well as replaced rear brakes and disk, and some biking gear.

    Thanks for the help guys, I'll be enjoying the trails much more now!

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