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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    Newbie trying to choose a bike

    This has been my experience; I think there are others who have had a similar experience also.

    I haven't really ridden a bike much in 15-20 years. Now I'm looking to get back into it and trying to choose a bike. My original search for a bike took me to Walmart, Canadian Tire, Target, Costco and Sport Chek. While I know one of those bikes will do the job I wanted to check out what the 'real bike shops' had to offer. I went to a few, got some ideas and went online to do more research. What I found online was a lot of reviews that put the entry level bikes down making me wonder if I should even bother with anything more than a big box store 'cheapo' unless I'm willing to spend $2000 or more.

    I plan to keep whatever bike I buy for quite a few years so I'd like to find a decent bike to begin with.

    The bikes I'm considering at the moment are:
    -Specialized Hardrock Sport 29 Disc
    -Rocky Mountain Flare 29
    -Rocky Mountain Soul 29
    -Kona Mahuna
    -Devinci Jack XP
    -GT Karakoram 2.0

    I'd like some opinions/advice about which to choose. I know most of these bikes are quite similar and the differences are pretty minor amongst them. I am leaning towards the Rocky Mountain Soul 29 but have yet to see one in person. It has a Rockshox fork but is also at the high end of my budget.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    If your in the USA airbornebicycles.com are often recommended along with Bikes Direct.
    Duct tape iz like teh Force. It has a Lite side and a Dark side and it holdz the Universe together.

  3. #3
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    Since you're BC/Canada you still can get a fork upgrade from Nick at Suntour. An Epicon(2.5lbs less) for 250 and a ZTR ArchEx front wheel!lb less) for 215 and light tire like a Nobby Nic Performance(1lb less) bump the handling quality of your choice from bike path/entry.
    If you want to upgrade your Suntour fork
    So a Costco Northrock 29 or BikeDirect Gravity Point 1($450 shipped to border) or something else can be good for several seasons of trail riding and goes on your next build.

  4. #4
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    Take a good look at what's available for used bikes.
    Your money can go a lot farther. And I mean a LOT!

    Buying complete bikes anywhere near MSRP is like throwing away $$.

  5. #5
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    Newbie trying to choose a bike

    Thanks. I'll look into bikes direct, airborne is out of stock for a month.

  6. #6
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    Demo and test ride as many bikes as you can, in and out of your price range. Pay attention to chain stay length, head tube angle, top tube length, suspension travel as well as any other geometry measurements you care about. Compare these between the bikes you liked and the bikes you didn't. It should start telling you what you like and don't like about the different geometry options out there and narrow down your list of bikes. Component grades are relatively irrelevant compared to a fit and geometry that fits you and your riding aspirations.

    Once you get your short list find all the shops in your area that carry them, get quotes and cruise CL to get the best deal you can. If you canít wrench on a bike yourself, factor a tune up and/or fitting at your LBS into the price of the CL bike.

  7. #7
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    Newbie trying to choose a bike

    That was going to be my next question. I have ridden a few, the Rocky Mountain felt good, also rode a cannondale trail SL4 and it felt awesome. I'm wondering how much is bike geometry vs how the bikes I rode were set up as neither was actually 'fitted' to me for the brief test ride.

    In addition I'm going to try and figure out how to compare a good feeling bike locally to a mail order bike like airborne or bikes direct.

  8. #8
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    Newbie trying to choose a bike

    Just did a quick comparison on geometry between all the bikes and they are very close to each other.

    The airborne guardian is a good deal at $675 shipped but I can get something locally for around $750.

    The gravity point is $450 shipped but doesn't have hydraulic brakes. While I'm not sure how much of a downside that is, I'd have to compare it to similar bikes locally; all the ones I'm considering have hydraulics

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tbone77 View Post

    The gravity point is $450 shipped but doesn't have hydraulic brakes. While I'm not sure how much of a downside that is, I'd have to compare it to similar bikes locally; all the ones I'm considering have hydraulics
    The Avid hydros on many are some of the worst out there with screeching even when dry the main complaint.
    The best are SLX/XT/XTR all basically the same ceramic 22mm piston and mineral oil. SLX are 80 each wheel from bluesky or less as part of a larger order from bikecomponents.de. Good brakes are very necessary when you are using a poor quality fork. Great fork brakes not so important.

  10. #10
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    I didn't compare prices, but I vote for the Speshy or Devinci. Travel on the Specialized fork is only 80mm, but that should be good enough if you're riding fairly tame stuff. I think the components are better overall on those 2 bikes.

    If you've been out of biking for a long time, I highly recommend buying a new bike from a local shop. You will probably have questions or need help with your bike, and a shop will help you for free if you bought from them. If you bring in a used or mail-order bike, they will charge you for every little (or big) repair. This offsets any cost savings, which is not that much anyway in this price range. You'll probably also get discounts on accessories/parts after you buy from a shop.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuglio View Post
    You guys suck im all bummed now

  11. #11
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    Newbie trying to choose a bike

    Been looking at the bikes direct gravity point. I like the $450 shipped price and a few people have recommended it. It's almost half the amount I was planning to spend which is nice.

    So far I've been focused on making sure I get hydraulic brakes but am starting to rethink that now. I can get the Rocky Mountain Flare 29 for about $600 locally which has mechanical brakes and compares to the gravity bike. It might be a better way to go for now. I'll try and take one for a ride this weekend. There is also a norco similarly equipped for around $540 but I don't remember the exact model.

  12. #12
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    Rocky Mountain makes some good bikes and is local. You can always upgrade the fork if you start to ride difficult trails....and you've got them.

  13. #13
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    Airborne, Bikesdirect, and similar direct-to-consumer outlets are only a good deal IF you know what size you need and IF you can wrench on bikes yourself. If you have to drag your new Motobecane down to the LBS to finish assembly, or for a tune up or fitting later on, I guarantee you will not be getting the in-family discount. (Well, maybe you might, but I'd be shocked) And there goes the money you thought you saved by buying on-line.

    If you can wait a couple months to make your purchase, all the shops put their stock on discount in the AUG-SEP timeframe. Most shops have high stock of entry-level bikes, so there's usually plenty available at discount price that revivals the on-line prices. That's my experience at least. Your mileage may vary.

    Don't let on-line reviews get you down. The thing about mtbr, and sites like it, is that they are dominated by bike geeks who tend to get snobby about gear. Makes sense, since that's the demographic that lives and breathes this stuff enough to spend their freetime discussing it on the internet. I love me some mtbr; I'm probably as bad as anyone in my own way. But its no surprise that reviews of entry-level stuff are a little biased. "If XYZ bike doesn't have such and such component or weights more than so and so, its crap." Don't believe it! The entry level bikes from the major OEMs (Spesh, Trek, Cannondale, etc) are good bikes. And LIGHT YEARS better than anything from the big box store. They are not going to win you an XC championship or crush a triple black diamond downhill run like the high $$$ rigs of various sorts. But they will be perfectly adequate at getting you on the trail and having some fun.
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  14. #14
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    Airborne, Bikesdirect, and similar direct-to-consumer outlets are only a good deal IF you know what size you need and IF you can wrench on bikes yourself. If you have to drag your new Motobecane down to the LBS to finish assembly, or for a tune up or fitting later on, I guarantee you will not be getting the in-family discount. (Well, maybe you might, but I'd be shocked) And there goes the money you thought you saved by buying on-line.
    buying an online value brand bikesdirect or airborne + paying LBS to assemble you will save a ton of money. Please source a LBS brand where you get a similar spec bike at the same tier level. If your lbs is unhappy you didn't buy through them, look for another. I wouldn't put up with it from my car mechanic even though I bought a car elsewhere.

    Also, any rider who wants to be serious about trails needs to learn and practice some mechanics for the times you get stranded out there. I've saved myself and my friends many long walks to the car with some knowhow. The level of knowhow needed to assemble a airborne bike is not much, and youtube makes this work pretty painless.

  15. #15
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    Newbie trying to choose a bike

    Well I looked at a Rocky Mountain Soul and its nicely equipped, has a rockshox fork with lockout and rebound adjustment compared to the suntour forks on every other bike at that price point ($750-800). It's also got 27 speeds compared to 24 on the hard rock and mahuna. What I didn't realize is that it only comes in red which I'm not a big fan of. I was sure that the website showed a white one also but am wrong.

    So I am undecided again. I also rode a Norco Storm 9.1 and it rode well. It's got mechanical discs and no front lockout which were the most noticeable differences. The brakes didn't seem as strong as the hydraulic ones but it was also the bikes first ride so they could need time to break in. As for the fork it is noticeable how much it moves riding on pavement and made me realize the purpose of the lockout. Not sure if the lockout is needed but just see why it was recommended.

    The Norco is only $540 which is well within my budget and would leave lots for accessories like helmet, locks, air pump and a bike rack.

    I'll be looking again tomorrow...

  16. #16
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    Still haven't bought a bike. Had another look at the Cannondale SL4 yesterday and it's got me rethinking my budget. It rides real nice and when comparing it to the Trail 5 the weight difference is incredible.

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