Noob Buyer's Guide
Looking for a new bike? There are lots if experienced people here who can help. You may want to answer these questions as a starting point when looking for advice:
What region of the country do I live in?
Where do I plan to ride my new bike?
Are there any YouTube videos of the trails I plan to ride?
How much time do I plan on devoting to this hobby?
What is my previous cycling experience?
Have I participated in other hobbies, sports or activities that may give me relevant skills?
What are my mechanical abilities?
Do I currently own a bike?
Do I currently own a helmet, gloves, padded shorts, proper shoes, Cyclocomputer, Finish line bike wash, Finishline brush kit, shop rags, chain lube, chain stay protector (I like Shelter), Gloves, good socks, solid tire pressure gauge, floor tire pump, on trail tire pump or cartridges, shock pump, good three way hex, mufti tool, spare bottles, cages, backpack to put all your gear in?
Why do I want to buy a new bike?
How much research have I already done and do I have an idea of what I want?
Do I have friends who are into the hobby? What's their mechanical and riding experience?
What kind of bikes do my riding buddies ride?
What kind of bikes do I see on the trails I plan to ride? (Full suspension, hardtail, rigid, single speed, geared)
Can I really afford this hobby? Are my credit cards paid off? Do I have savings in the bank and money to burn?
How much money do I want to spend on this hobby over the next year?
What am I trying to accomplish by participating in this hobby?
How do I expect my life to be different a year from the day my new bike arrives?
Please do not reply to this post with your answers. Just start a new thread and answer the questions with as much detail as possible. This will help us help you get the most value for your investment!
There is a lot of talk about the quality and durability of components and the quality an durability of the different components need to be put into context. For example, I have an original Acera drivetrain and rigid fork on a 1998 Univega Zig Zag. It easily has thousands of miles on it ranging from road commute to beginner to advanced trails. To say it is poor/fair not durable, is only to say it is poor/fair not durable compared to the higher level components - not poor/fair for a specific use case.
The below is a modified version of Lucin999s fantastic post:
As a comparison the ranking for component levels generally goes like this (from least expensive to more expensive):
SIS/Tourney/No name at all (least expensive possible) - Recreational use to ride around the neighborhood with your kids.
Altus - Ride on the road or on paved trails fairly often
Acera - Recreational trail riding commuter/hybrid on a regular basis
Alivio - Recreational trail riding and beginner/intermediate trails on a regular basis
Deore/Deore Shadow - Beginner-advanced trail riding on a regular basis
LX/SLX - Race ready
XT - Lighter than SLX - race ready and great durability
XTR - Lighter than XT - there are two versions for durability's sake - trail and race. Race version is ultra light weight and shows wear after a season or two of a racing. Very expensive to replace parts.
The further up the ladder you go, you are paying for the reduced weight through higher quality and lighter weight materials and higher precision manufacturing.
SRAM follows the same basic principles with a number system with XX being the highest.
In general, Shimano Deore or SRAM X5 are considered the lower threshold for "decent quality" components for frequent intermediate to advanced trail use and will shift faster and smoother in continuously changing terrain better than lower level ones.
As to the forks on these bikes, as of 2012, the RST Omega and Saturn and Suntour XCR, XCM and XCT forks which come on the majority of bikes under $700 are designed for recreational trail use (smooth dirt trails, well groomed single track, gravel roads, paved trails) and are fine for use on beginner level single track. They will make it through just fine.
The next level up from the entry level Suntour forks is their line of XC designed forks, The Axion, Epicon, and Raidon. RST also has a very capable line of forks for XC use. Rock Shox is a brand owned by SRAM and they also have recreational trail use coil shocks along with a line of high end XC and beyond as well. Rock Shox is considered a premium brand along with FOX, Marzzochi and a few others because they typically do not have supply agreements with the under $700 new bike price point and thus do not have a negative reputation Suntour and RST have picked up as a result of supplying coil shocks to the popular manufacturers.
Keep in mind, you can ride any trail with any of the drivetrains or forks mentioned above - you will likely not be able to ride as fast with the recreational trail use equipment as you would with professional race circuit designed equipment, but you can make it. Just ask the guys who are likely riding your same trails on rigid single speed bikes :)
If you plan to buy a bike for recreational trail use, buy equipment designed for recreational trail use or higher. If you are planning on riding intermediate or advanced trails for more than 500 miles a year, you'll be well suited to go with Shimano Deore or SRAM X5 and an air shock with rebound adjustability or better components if you can afford to do so. If your budget doesn't allow you to buy a more expensive bike, you will be best off sticking to training on the beginner trails and on the road/paved trails until you can afford to upgrade the components or the entire bicycle designed for the types of trails and riding you'd like to do.
This is a repost of mine that I thought could be useful/entertaining as well. It discusses whether or not a $3k bike is really worth $3k.
Ceramic bearings, carbon this and carbon that, XTR all equals less resistance and less weight which equals less energy output which equals faster lap times.
Most people upgrade as a shortcut to going faster because they don't have the time or motivation to train more or they have goals that require certain equipment. What I've found is this is exactly how an "arms race" occurs.
Imagine two buddies about the same age and same fitness level are at a bar one night drinking beer and eating onion rings. One starts complaining about how fat he is and the other nods in empathy. They both raced BMX as kids and agree that MTB riding would be a good way to get fit, so they each buy a bike and start riding together.
One has $350 bike already and the other comes onto this forum and gets advice and decides to buy an $800 bike. In the beginning, they are both having a blast. Neither of them can make it more than 3 miles without taking a fitness break. They take pictures, go back on the trail in certain sections, try the rock section three or four times before moving along and high five each other when they finish the trail regardless of how long it took to get through.
They are each losing some weight, having fun and not paying much attention to the fact that there is such disparity between their bikes.
Then, they do a group ride. They are with the slow group and this time it's just a little more intense. No stopping, pedal, pedal, pedal. The friend on the $350 bike is puking by mile three. The friend on the $800 bike hangs back with his buddy. He feels fine. Then the fast group laps them. Defeated, humiliated and realizing they are in terrible shape, they both decide to train harder.
The guy with the $350 bike is married and drives an hour each way back and forth to the office. The $800 bike guy is single and works from home. 350G also has a lot of family commitments during the week and MTB is his way to relax, have fun and get away from the wife and kids on Saturday mornings. His calendar doesn't have a lot of openings during the week. 800G goes for a 10 mile road ride everyday after work.
They show up to the trail the next week and the difference in fitness really starts to show. 350G is frustrated, not having fun and over the next couple of months the gap gets worse and worse. 800G is having a great time, 350G is having an awful time. They both agree that 350G's bike is holding him back.
He goes and drops 3k on a lighter, better equipped bike. Now he can keep up with his buddy again. They are having fun together again.
They decide they want to enter an amateur race together in 6 months - just for fun. 3kG with his renewed vigor decides to get up early, ride 10 miles in the mornings and finds a way to put in another 10 each day after work. He's seeing the pounds melting away. His wife wants to bang him more often because he's no longer a fat slob. His confidence goes up. He's got more energy, he's more alert at work. Things are going well for him in a lot of areas. He finishes ahead of his budddy at the race. His life is better ever since he bought that 3k bike.
Then his buddy goes out and drops 4k on a bike ... Wash, rinse and repeat.
Higher end suspension forks are marginally faster, enables a higher level of control at higher speeds and marginally more comfortable depending on how the spring rate is adjusted.
If none of these things are standing in your way of having a good time, then you are not a good candidate for anything beyond a coil fork designed for recreational trail use.
If you weigh more than 175 lbs, it is unlikely you will get full benefit of a stock coil fork as it is unlikely it is set up properly for you. I will also say most people who replace recreational trail use forks were unhappy with them because they did not have them set up properly or were using them in a way in which the fork was not designed. These forks are designed for low grade climbs and descents and well groomed single track, or, to put it another way, beginner to intermediate XC trails.
RTR forks come with a spring inside that is sent from the manufacturer. That spring was spec'd based on an average person's weight. If your weight is above average, it is likely that when you sit on your bike, the spring compresses a certain amount beyond what it was designed to compress during static use, or "sag rate." If you are heavier, it compresses beyond the ideal "sag" rate.
Some coil forks have a "preload adjustment" to compensate by compressing the spring to reduce the sag distance, but it can only compensate so much before you are completely compressing that spring during normal use. This will reduce your effective travel from 100mm to something less. The best and only way to fix this is to get a new, different, coil with a higher "spring rate." If you weigh less than 130, you probably would benefit from a softer spring.
The higher end shocks use air pressure to set the "Spring Rate." It gives you the ability to be much more precise when setting your sag rate. Some people like to adjust their sag rate based on the terrain to give them a firm ride whereas others like a plush, soft ride. You should always have a high enough spring rate so as not to bottom out during normal riding conditions.
High end suspension also gives you the ability to adjust how quickly your wheel "bounces back" after it is compressed. This is where the recreational trail use designed, entry level, forks get the bad reputation for being "Pogo Sticks of Death." With many of the entry level coil forks, if you are traveling at a high rate of speed down a very bumpy slope, your front wheel starts to act sort of like a car tire being rolled down a bumpy hill if you've ever seen that happen. The coil energy gets translated into, to use a scientific term, a boing-boing-boing effect.
This can be and should be avoided by, again, using a scientific term, slowing the F down.
Now, if your goal is to go faster down steep slopes, then a suspension system designed to go fast down bumpy slopes should be retrofitted to your bike or you should buy a bike designed to go fast down bumpy slopes.
If you upgrade your fork, it is VERY important that the distance between the ground and the bottom of your head tube not change unless this is something you desire. The longer the fork travel, the more it will ride like a "chopper" motorcycle - slowing response, making it more stable going down hill. Some higher end forks allow you to adjust the "travel" in the fork, which is the total distance the fork can compress. Some do it with spacers and some do it with a dial.
Some forks have lock out features. Some even have "remote lock out" features. This gives you a switch to hit so you can make the fork completely stiff, which is an advantage when climbing.
An advantage of a higher end fork is reduced weight compared to an entry-level fork. A highend fork usually weighs more than 30% less than an entry level fork. A lighter bike translates into less effort expended during climbs. Now, you will have to spend some bank to get there, but these usually come with a lockout that has a blow off valve to protect the fork if you forget to unlock it and hit a big bump, the ability to set your spring rate, and rebound rate and some with other adjustments that are more like fine tuning those two adjustments.
For most beginners, they can tell a difference, but don't know why it is a big difference other than they feel like they have more control at higher speeds - which they do. But you've got to ask yourself, how and why is that important to my enjoyment of this activity?
I recently bought a 26 inch bike, but have my own reasons why I chose to stick with 26 inch wheels over 29 or 650b. The more I read about 650b, the more sense it makes. The more I read about 29er, the more it makes sense. The more I read about sticking to 26 inch, the more sense it makes. There is a lot of heated discussion about wheel size right now. It really boils down to choice for you. There are a lot of people saying 650b is just a bunch of hype so the bike companies can sell more stuff. There may be some truth to that, buy the reason so many people are playing the "hype card" is because so many companies have tried to force consumers to buy something that they thought the consumer wanted.
A good case study is New Coke. Here's a company that had a tried and true product until its own diet drink began to erode market share of the global leader in soft drinks. The pie chart showed Pepsi catching up in market share compared to what was then just referred to as Coke. The execs were in a panic, "people prefer a sweeter drink, have you seen the taste tests? We've got to change the formula to make it taste more like Pepsi and Diet Coke! Holy shiz, we're going to lose our jobs - somebody DO something!"
So they created a product that tasted more like Diet Coke and Pepsi. It won taste tests hands down. It was concluded by everyone in charge that it was a superior product to the current product. And then they launched New Coke.
I think we all know what happened. But why? What the marketing execs didn't take into account was what they learned in the post mortem: people didn't care what it tasted like because it didn't taste like what they grew up drinking. Coca Cola would do taste tests and people would pick the New Coke and then when they found out, the execs would say, "See, you prefer New Coke - you should buy New Coke!" The consumers would say, "I don't care about your taste test, I'm not buying that crap. Please give me back my Coke."
Coca Cola forgot that they spent billions of dollars for decades drilling into people's heads that "Coke is Life." The remaining Coke consumers who hadn't switched to Diet or Pepsi would rather consume an inferior product because of the nostalgia. This is completely irrational.
And I believe that is what we have here. You have a bunch rational of people who ride in a certain way and recognize that one wheel size is better for them in their situation and you have a bunch of people saying, "I don't care that I picked a different wheel size in a double blind taste test, give me my 26 inch wheels back."
I think the important thing for everyone to recognize is that eventually Coke realized that extreme customization is the key to the future. You may have used one of their new fangled soda dispensers recently. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Coke has a touch screen that lets you "customize your drinking experience." You can have Coke, Sprite, whatever. Oh, you want a shot of grape in that? Here you go! You want to put some cherry in that too? Fine, knock yourself out.
For these brands (and I use that term instead of manufacturer because, for the most part, they are not doing any actual manufacturing) to say that they are predicting they will be forced to limit consumer choice by eliminating the 26 inch wheel from their lineup is simply absurd. If these brands had a progressive thinker in their marketing departments, they'd be figuring out a way to deliver a bike to your doorstep with any option you want for less money than the old school guys are able to do it. You want a custom geometry carbon frame? Here you go! You want 650b in the front and 24 inch in the back? That's pretty weird, but I'm sure it's going to be awesome for you. You want tubeless Racing Ralphs on that? Knock yourself out.
There will forever be completely bonkers irrational consumers who choose to purchase products for reasons even they can't explain. The reality is, it doesn't matter. Buy a bike, ride it, smile. Don't buy something because you think you're missing out on something. Only buy something when you know the reason you want to buy it, regardless of what that reason is.
Most bikes that come with pedals come with "test ride pedals." They are cheapo plastic or, in some cases, they are inexpensive alloy pedals. The high end bikes come with no pedals.
There are a lot of reasons why people choose to switch stock pedals. If you're having trouble with your feet slipping off your stock pedals, it may be the shoes you are wearing. If you're new to the sport, there is only one brand I recommend for wearing with flat pedals: 5.10s. This company was founded by developing climbing shoes with the highest friction and lightest weight rubber in the world. They make several styles specific for MTB, but any of their shoes with Stealth rubber soles will be better than running shoes. If you still want to buy new pedals for aesthetics, or performance, Pricepoint.com has shoe/pedal combo deals for a good price. For a beginner, you can't go wrong with any of the flat pedal/5.10 shoe combos.
There is a lot of debate as to when someone should go with clip less pedals or stick with flats. Again, you have to ask yourself, how will my experience be different if I get a new set of pedals and shoes? Why am I considering new pedals?
There are two main reasons: weight and traction. You want a lightweight shoe with a stiff sole and lightweight pedals that keep your energy transferred to the rear wheel. Like all decisions regarding equipment, there are trade offs and you'll have to come to your own conclusions and decisions which pedals are right for you.
Before you decide, here is some science that aims to debunk the clipless dogma: The science behind Barefoot Pedaling | Mountain Bike Training Programs
Check out all the different reason why people chose certain pedal/shoe combos: http://forums.mtbr.com/passion/pedals-814975.html
I'm looking at getting into Mountain Biking but not sure where to really start. I rode with my friend on a KHS Alite150 several times and I'm looking to get my own bike. I'm not sure if I would be better buying used or buying new so I'm coming to you all for help.
This is the bike I'm looking at. It's a 1998 Diamondback DBR Team Issue. I found the original MSRP which says $2,500. A local shop has it and it supposedly has many custom parts but I don't know enough to know if this is a good buy or not. They are asking $500 and it comes with 6months tuneups. Please fill me in and let me know if this is a good buy and what the advantages or disadvantages of going this route are. I would prefer disc brakes but not sure if this would be a better bike for the money. I will mostly be riding singletrack and Cross country trails. I want to get into small jumping eventually 1-3'. Will this bike be a good buy as a newbie to Mountain Biking? I don't have enough posts to post images or links so you will have to insert it into your browser...just add the http.//
I don't have enough posts yet to start a thread either. That's why I posted here.
Okay, since you don't have enough posts, I'll play. If you're looking to spend around $500, that bike may be overpriced. Frame and suspension technology have advanced a bit over the last decade.
I'd suggest you narrow your search to bikes no more than five years old and read the reviews, here, on MTBR to find out what people like/dislike about various bikes. That's the best way to learn.
If it's not too far away AND IT FITS YOU, I'd suggest you look into something like this:
2008 Giant XTC 1 (18")
Here are the reviews:
Here ya go ,Clicky here, this is the test forum for noobs to spam 5 posts in without clogging up informational threads. Not that im saying all threads on here are useful :thumbsup:
Originally Posted by hyperlite986
You're getting closer :) I suggested you start a new thread because it could get confusing if a bunch of people posted their answers and were all looking for answers. Use this to boost post count. I don't care. Just answer all the questions and read all four of my posts so you are well informed so we can help you.
Originally Posted by hyperlite986
Not to derail or anything... but is coke zero the same as new coke?? Gawd, I hate coke zero!
Originally Posted by wmac
Trying to get in my 5 posts as well. Asked for some advise in the beginner section and posted a pic of my bike as well. So far I like the forum. It should come in handy, especially when trying to figure out how to maintain my bike.
They really should sticky this :D
They will :thumbsup:
Originally Posted by deke505
+1 very good, and a must read for newbies and experienced riders a like!
Thanks guys! I keep adding/refining.
Any advice? Who knew purchasing a bike could be so complicated!
I live in Raleigh, NC and decided I wanted a bike to help rid me of the dreaded middle-aged spread. I’m 5’3” and 130 lbs. I stopped by a local bike shop to take a look and figured out I need a short bike (duh), probably a 13-15” frame. But after that I see it can be very expensive!! I’m thinking I should get a street bike or a hybrid. The bike store lady suggested that I buy a bike similar to the bike the person I would ride with uses. The guy I’m dating used to ride and has a Specialized Crossroads.
He is in worse physical shape than I am but at 6’5” I’m thinking I’ll probably have trouble keeping up with him.
He lives in Virginia and we travel back and forth every weekend, alternating each time to save the other one from driving so much.. He’s in Martinsville VA where there is an abundance of steep hills, so I’m thinking I’d need 21 gears to have any hope in making it to the top of ‘em. I expect we’ll do some street riding but mostly taking the bikes to local greenways. Soooo, I need a car bike rack too.
My goal isn’t speed, but weight could be an issue with carrying the thing back and forth.
I saw this one at the local bike shop, and liked it because it comes with all the stuff that I thought came standard on all bikes that weren’t made for trails or racing. I like the fenders and rack, a kickstand!, But still have sticker shock from the price of the Felt cafe deluxe 24.
What’s a girl to do??
Since your situation is pretty cut and dry, I'll go ahead and answer within this thread.
Does your boyfriend know how to work on bikes? If so, here are some suggestions to give you some ideas:
Gravity Dutch Hybrid/Comfort
Flat Bar Hybrid Road Bikes - Road - Fuji Absolute 3.0 Flat Bar Hybrid Road bikes
If he can't work on bikes, then you can take it to a shop and they can assemble it for you for $50-$100. You might wan to pay the premium and buy at a shop because they often throw in lifetime maintenance and such.
Here is a place to buy a rack. It depends on the type of car you have: Trunk Bike Racks | etrailer.com
Make sure you buy a helmet. Gloves and padded shorts will make the ride more comfortable. Check that suff out and let us know your thoughts.
Btw, the Fuji will be lighter and faster.
Getting Back into It
I had a MTB about 20yrs ago. Typical rigid frame 15spd Trek. I'm wanting a MTB to do it all. (It will go well with my KTM 950 ADV do-it-all motorcycle) I'd like to do some single track and fire road riding in the mountains and ride the boardwalk at Virginia Beach. I'm thinking a fully suspended bike would be nice. I'm 6' and 200lb with about a 35" inseam. I ride fire roads with my KTM and am no stranger to off-road on motorcycles. I'm looking a some fully suspened bikes on CL, but not sure what I should be looking for. Have set my budget at $500. Any advice would be appreciated.
Vabuckaroo: post enough to be able to start a new thread with your answers to the questions above. In short, you'll have a tough time getting a dual suspension for that kind of money.
Originally Posted by Vabuckaroo
are full suspension bikes a pain in the ass to lug around outside the trail?
I bike to and from work up a three mile, 2.5-6% incline and my current hardtail, an older trek 4900, handles well butbis starting to get a little grey in the beard over time and I'm looking