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 wants to upgrade to a Giant Boulder SE... worth it?

    I bought a bike for less than $100. It was a rigid frame Giant Rincon. I have been riding 10 miles at least 3 times a week on some paved and semi paved trails and enjoying it! I upgraded the seat and got dual pedals. I went through good ol' C-list and found this:

    Giant Boulder SE Mountain Bike



    It''s a Giant Boulder SE it says and is only $150. It's 43 miles away from me and I just want to know if it's worth the trip. Is this good enough for a newb? I'm not a hardcore off-road biker, I just want to have fun around the neighborhood and "manicured" bicycle trails.

    Thank you mtb gurus!

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Is there anything wrong with your current bike? How's the fit?

    My instinct is that any improvement will be incremental at best.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Is there anything wrong with your current bike? How's the fit?

    My instinct is that any improvement will be incremental at best.
    Thank you for your reply! Well... I have this as a current bike:



    It works fine! I am having fun with it! Except that... since it's rigid, it feels like it wants to throw me off on rough roads. But not much now because I learned how to use my legs to absorb the impact.

    Why am I looking? Well... I saw that my cassette has some parts with layers peeling off. I just thought that perhaps getting a another bike would be better than spending on it. My son kinds of like it, so I might pass it on to him. And... I just thought of having a hard tail might give me a smoother ride and be a bit updated...

    I was looking at a brand new Trek 3500 at the LBS priced at $399. But... $150 for the Giant Boulder SE on C-list is better on the pocket... even if I have to give it a tune-up I guess.

    So, what do you think?

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Wow, for once someone on this forum is actually learning to ride.

    My guesstimate is that the bike on CL is from right around this period. The paint doesn't quite match, which means I've got the model year wrong. So call it circa 2004.

    BikePedia - 2004 Giant Boulder SE Complete Bicycle

    I think my instinct if I had your bike in hand would be to stick with it, and not buy more bikes. Each additional bike is another opportunity to have mechanical problems that cost money to fix. But if you want a second bike so your son can have one, that's another story.

    If you're not experiencing functional problems with your cassette, don't stress out about it. Maybe clean off whatever seems to be coming off. Some maintenance and parts replacement tasks are going to be a little trickier because of the age of the bike you have, so if you're not sure about something, ask before you spend money on it.

    For a smoother ride, experiment with tire pressure. For example, I weigh about 165 lb right now and ride a hardtail with 2.1" tires. I put 30 psi in the rear tire and 25 psi in the front. Actually it's a little harsher than I'd like sometimes, but I pinch-flatted at lower pressure. You have to use higher pressure in smaller tires, so I'm thinking about bigger ones for me. How this applies to you is that if you've been inflating to the tire pressure printed on the sidewalls, you may be making the bike ride a lot more harshly than it has to.

    I've come to expect that the best kind of tire for gravel roads is something high-volume with a low tread. High volume for less chance to roll an individual piece of gravel, low tread so the rolling resistance isn't too terrible, since you shouldn't need much of a tread/get much help from it anyway on that surface. But I haven't had a chance to experiment with it, so this is me speculating.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Thank you for your advice AndrSwitch!

    The story is, I will be definitely be buying another bike. We sold my bike's pos department store bike because he also feels the difference in riding a real bike. I'm not sure why this is so. So, it's either he gets my old Rincon or gets a new (used) bike or I get a new (used) bike. However, I still do love riding my old rigid Rincon!

    Oooo, I found another one on C-List selling for $175 and closer to me. The frame is odd though, post says it's a 12.5" frame. I wonder if that would be small for me at 5'7". I can't seem to find the frame shape match when I try to look it up. It has the same color with the Fall '06 models but different frame shape but almost the same. See below:

    From C-List:


    Fall '06 model from Giant's archive website

  6. #6
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I don't like to do the "how tall are you, here's your frame size" thing because it's unreliable. But, at 5'7", you're probably going to be riding something in the range of 15"-18", depending on even vs. odd nominal sizing. I don't know how old or how big your son is, though.

    As you learn your way around bikes better, you'll find that basically everything about department store bikes is inferior in some way, frequently in ways that do make a real difference in the ride. There's a whole thread about it with some good posts at the beginning before it devolves into people accusing each other of being snobs.

    Anyway, it makes things a little easier that you have two people and want two bikes - when you find a second one that seems like it will be viable for one or the other of you, you also have the possibility of switching if you got it backwards.

    Another resource I like is bike shops carrying used bikes. So if CL isn't turning up something for you, that might be worth a look. Also, Play It Again Sports, etc.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    Thank you again for your advice AndrSwitch!

    I agree on your thoughts about "how tall are you, here's your frame size". What's important is which size is comfortable for you which may vary on bike model and type. My current one is a 17" which is good for me. I went to a LBS and found out that some Trek models (was looking at 820 and 3500) at 16" is also good for me. I have good space between my crotch and the frame's top bar.

    However, the bike I posted above...

    has its frame's top bar slanted drastically which is why I think the frame is comes up to only 12.5". I am aware that some mtb's are built this way. I wonder what rider heights will it accommodate.

  8. #8
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    Yep, that bike is for someone 5'0-5'5".

    Lots of good advice from AndrwSwitch ... especially regarding tires and tire pressure. Your ol' Rincon might be all the bike you'd ever need with some new rubber. The steel frames on those 90's bikes feel suprisingly nice on the trail and they're LIGHT. The Boulder is probably >30 lbs and the entry-level forks aren't very well damped, i.e. you feel like you're pushing down on your floor pump whenever you get out of the saddle.

    If you definitely need another bike, I'd recommend you be patient and wait for a better deal--and then move quickly. Someone's always clearing their garage via CL and occassionally you'll come across a REAL gem. Search Fisher, Jamis and KHS. The better Treks and Specialized bikes are often relatively pricey.

    In the meantime, I'd suggest you look at some new tires. While the Rincon comes with 26 x 1.95, you might be able to squeeze in a bit more rubber (2.1) which offers a few more options. As suggested, high-volume, low tread is the ticket.
    Last edited by joeinchi; 06-12-2012 at 09:36 AM.

  9. #9
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Bikes are sized proportionally. Sometimes this breaks down on really small frames, because the wheel size only permits building a bike so small. But a smaller bike also has a shorter reach. It can be impossible to set them up for a larger rider without using a ridiculously long stem and turning the bike into an endo machine. Without the longer stem, the rider's going to feel cramped.

    How tall is your son? Maybe it's feasible for him...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    Thank you for advice joeinchi! I'll try to look into that option of changing tires when i wear out my old ones. I hope I'll catch a real gem soon. Summer is coming up and my son is bike-less. For the meantime, we are sharing my bike but we can't ride together that way.

    AndrwSwitch, my son is 14 and almost as tall as I am at 5'5"-5'6"ish. He seems to be comfortable riding my 17" with just a little adjusting on the seat post. Through your enlightenment, I guess I'll pass on the 12.5".

  11. #11
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    Yeah, for a teenager who's already that tall, I think a 14" or 15" bike is about the minimum.

    If you can figure out specific enough search terms, keeping a saved search going on CL is a good way to get stuff - I bought a track bike earlier this year that way. I managed to narrow down my search enough to see only the real, velodrome-oriented ones, and not too many street fixies or components. Good luck!
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Yeah, for a teenager who's already that tall, I think a 14" or 15" bike is about the minimum.

    If you can figure out specific enough search terms, keeping a saved search going on CL is a good way to get stuff - I bought a track bike earlier this year that way. I managed to narrow down my search enough to see only the real, velodrome-oriented ones, and not too many street fixies or components. Good luck!
    Thanks again!

  13. #13
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    i'm actually going to buy one of those for my gf tonight off of cl. its 75 bucks, and she's 5'2 and been riding my old 18" frame and seems to really dig the sport, so i figured i'd get her something that fits her and then see what she really does with it. so in my situation, its definitely worth it. if you're happy with your bike, keep it.

  14. #14
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    My wife has one and loves it. When we ride together it is pretty much street/light trail so it really isn't put to the test. Looks interesting with a Nantucket basket hanging on the handlebars! Haha.

    That said, I broke it in pretty hard and it took everything I threw at it. Great entry level bike in my opinion.

  15. #15
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    another thing with smaller frames is that they generally come with shorter cranks, which can also make riding more difficult if you have longer legs. you lose leverage that you would normally have with longer crank arms. i don't know specifically where giant makes the cut, but i bought the same bike for my gf, its a small frame, and the arms are smaller and harder to give torque to for me. i think she may be having a similar problem as she gets more comfortable with trail riding, so i've been looking for a slightly larger bike for her. considering the lack of abuse the gives the bike, its probably cheaper to sell this one and get her another one, than try to make this one fit her any better than it already does.

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