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 or used, $400 range.

    Looking into picking up biking again this spring. I used to have a Cannondale F1000 which I loved but long story short REI lost it when I took it in for a tuneup.

    Currently I'm having a hard time deciding if I should go new or used. I've been keeping an eye on craigslist and have seen some decent FS bikes (Rocky Mountain Switch, older Kona Stinky, Etc.) in my price range. However, when it comes to hardtail, it seems like it's all pretty low end GT, Trek, Specialized, and Giant stuff and if that's the case I'd just as soon go with a new Airborne or something along those lines.

    I live near Galbraith and a ton of other great biking spots with some pretty technical trails so a FS would be a plus but at my level I think a hardtail with a decent fork would do just fine.

    What are your thoughs?

  2. #2
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    $400 is way too low for new. It's too low for used. Try to bump budget to $450-600 as there are some screaming hardtail values in this range. Avoid fs in this pricing range. they come with crappy fork, crappy rear suspension, and heavy components.

  3. #3
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    Look on ebay for pricing info, this will get your started
    Sporting Goods > Outdoor Sports > Cycling > Bicycles & Frames > Mountain Bikes| eBay

  4. #4
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    Re: New or used, $400 range.

    Airborne Sky hawk? Something like a hard rock disc 29er or a diamondback response?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    $400 is way too low for new. It's too low for used. Try to bump budget to $450-600 as there are some screaming hardtail values in this range. Avoid fs in this pricing range. they come with crappy fork, crappy rear suspension, and heavy components.
    I agree on $400 to low for new. You won't be able to get anything other than a walmart special at that price. Used $400 is pushing it and you might be able to get solid bike, but you will need to do your homework an know what you are looking at and be able to tossing some $$ for potential repairs. A few hundred more and you are probably in much better shape new or used.

    I also agree on FS. Don't even think about a new FS at $400 and used FS bike at $400 are either junk or well worn.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  6. #6
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    I'll definitely keep this stuff in mind. The issue I'm running into with craigslist is it's mostly people who bought an entry level bike, rode it a few times and are now trying to sell it for $50-$100 below what they got it for because it's "brand new." That being said, I'll see if I can stretch the budget a bit more and keep on the lookout for used. Also considering the Skyhawk and possibly Guardian.

  7. #7
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    At $400, there are really two approaches I think can work, to varying degrees.

    You can get a nice older bike and maintain it more-or-less as is. It may be older enough to keep you on Vs, and while I bet you can get something that has suspension, you probably wouldn't want to go past 80 mm or 100 mm. I live in Seattle and ride Galbraith on occasion. I'm happy enough to ride there with an 80 mm fork but I mostly stay off the woodwork and I'm not as fast as some on some of the DH.

    The other approach is a newer lower-spec bike. The idea would be to have something that has a bit more travel, more tire clearance, disc brakes, etc., and put nicer parts on it later. That has the disadvantage that you're planning to spend more money later and you probably won't get as much bang-for-the-buck on the individual components.

    Bear in mind also that most prices on Craig's List are pretty soft. I think I took about $200 off the asking price for the track bike I bought that way last year.

    I don't know how big you are and haven't thought a ton about how these bikes are valued. But, here are some bikes that seem at least in the range of feasible, as an example.

    Cannondale Mt. Bike
    2003 Kona Scab - freeride cromo hardtail
    Specialized Rockhopper 2003
    specialized hard rock
    Specialized Hardrock Sport (great condition)
    Specialized Rockhopper Ultra
    2003 Rocky Mtn. Edge
    Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo
    Specialized HardRock
    Kona Fire Mountain

    A bit of a list, but like I said - I just gave them a cursory look.

    In walking around downtown Bellingham, I've seen a fair number of used bikes on offer. I don't know if there's a specialty shop, but I'd be a little surprised if Bellingham doesn't support one. I know that Fairhaven Bike & Ski also resells bikes for customers sometimes.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    At $400, there are really two approaches I think can work, to varying degrees.

    You can get a nice older bike and maintain it more-or-less as is. It may be older enough to keep you on Vs, and while I bet you can get something that has suspension, you probably wouldn't want to go past 80 mm or 100 mm. I live in Seattle and ride Galbraith on occasion. I'm happy enough to ride there with an 80 mm fork but I mostly stay off the woodwork and I'm not as fast as some on some of the DH.

    The other approach is a newer lower-spec bike. The idea would be to have something that has a bit more travel, more tire clearance, disc brakes, etc., and put nicer parts on it later. That has the disadvantage that you're planning to spend more money later and you probably won't get as much bang-for-the-buck on the individual components.

    Bear in mind also that most prices on Craig's List are pretty soft. I think I took about $200 off the asking price for the track bike I bought that way last year.

    I don't know how big you are and haven't thought a ton about how these bikes are valued. But, here are some bikes that seem at least in the range of feasible, as an example.

    Cannondale Mt. Bike
    2003 Kona Scab - freeride cromo hardtail
    Specialized Rockhopper 2003
    specialized hard rock
    Specialized Hardrock Sport (great condition)
    Specialized Rockhopper Ultra
    2003 Rocky Mtn. Edge
    Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo
    Specialized HardRock
    Kona Fire Mountain

    A bit of a list, but like I said - I just gave them a cursory look.

    In walking around downtown Bellingham, I've seen a fair number of used bikes on offer. I don't know if there's a specialty shop, but I'd be a little surprised if Bellingham doesn't support one. I know that Fairhaven Bike & Ski also resells bikes for customers sometimes.
    Thanks! I enquired about a couple of them but being 6'1 many of them were on the small side. How does Shimano Acera stuff compare to SRAM X5? I'm trying to compare the Guardian to some sub $700 stuff I've seen at REI and the local shops.
    EDIT: Or if I were to up my budget to this range, I could get 20% off the Novara Ponderosa with X7 components and a Raidon fork for just a bit more than what the Gaurdian would cost after shipping. So much to think about...
    Last edited by icouch; 04-02-2013 at 10:56 AM.

  9. #9
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    The Suntour Raidon is supposed to be a "real" fork. I don't have saddle time on it, but if true, that's a little bit of a game-changer in terms of getting an inexpensive bike and being able to happily ride it long-term.

    I have limited experience with Acera. I think the rear derailleur is okay, but not brilliant, and the front derailleur kinda sucks. The shifters work okay, but don't feel great. I don't really like SRAM, and I don't know that I've had any saddle time with X5 - I only ride SRAM at demo days, so I really only know the top end and the old crappy grip shifters. Which kinda bookends the group you're asking about, and doesn't tell you anything useful.

    In your shoes, my three big concerns with the Ponderosa would be the fork, the brakes and the hubs. The hubs are going to quit on you in a couple years. C'est la vie. I don't know how good the Tektro Auriga is - we could be past where hydraulic disc brakes have to be high end, but I don't know. And I don't see a reason that Suntour forks would be intrinsically bad, so if the Raidon is the serious fork a lot of people say it is, it could be a pretty great value. Anyway, those are some things to research. If the fork and brakes are good, it sounds like a pretty good way to get back on the bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    The Suntour Raidon is supposed to be a "real" fork. I don't have saddle time on it, but if true, that's a little bit of a game-changer in terms of getting an inexpensive bike and being able to happily ride it long-term.

    I have limited experience with Acera. I think the rear derailleur is okay, but not brilliant, and the front derailleur kinda sucks. The shifters work okay, but don't feel great. I don't really like SRAM, and I don't know that I've had any saddle time with X5 - I only ride SRAM at demo days, so I really only know the top end and the old crappy grip shifters. Which kinda bookends the group you're asking about, and doesn't tell you anything useful.

    In your shoes, my three big concerns with the Ponderosa would be the fork, the brakes and the hubs. The hubs are going to quit on you in a couple years. C'est la vie. I don't know how good the Tektro Auriga is - we could be past where hydraulic disc brakes have to be high end, but I don't know. And I don't see a reason that Suntour forks would be intrinsically bad, so if the Raidon is the serious fork a lot of people say it is, it could be a pretty great value. Anyway, those are some things to research. If the fork and brakes are good, it sounds like a pretty good way to get back on the bike.
    Yeah from what I've read on the boards the Raidon is a pretty significant upgrade from the cheaper Suntours typically found on entry level MTBs. If I end up getting something wich a cheap Suntour on it I'll probably upgrade to the Raidon pretty quickly so I guess I could take what I would be spending on the fork and add it to my budget if that would get me something with a better fork upfront.

    I found a FS Kona Dawg locally for $500. The owner says it's a 2008 and they picked it up from a LBS in 2011. By the looks of it, it's practically brand new and has a Marzochhi Bomber up front, Fox Float in the back and Deore components. Waiting to hear back on the size but if it fits I'll probably go check it out. Seems like a good deal right?

  11. #11
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    I'll definitely keep this stuff in mind. The issue I'm running into with craigslist is it's mostly people who bought an entry level bike, rode it a few times and are now trying to sell it for $50-$100 below what they got it for because it's "brand new." That being said, I'll see if I can stretch the budget a bit more and keep on the lookout for used. Also considering the Skyhawk and possibly Guardian.
    that's why I provided the ebay link. 95% of bikes on craigslist or very overpriced. The ebay completed listings bikes are usually not. Very easy to see what kind of bike you'll get for whatever pricepoint with it.

  12. #12
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    The Dawg had a major following, though I don't have saddle time on it. If you want to climb the logging roads, bomb the singletrack, and play on some of the features, it should be a really good Galbraith bike, by reputation.

    With used bikes, condition is king. But the price sounds like it's in the right ballpark to me.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    A buddy of mine has the Guardian and absolutely loves it!
    He hits trails hard and its kept up with him every step of the way.
    With anything you like take care of it and it will take care of you.

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