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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    Noob needing a sub $700 29er MTB

    Hello. I was hoping to get some advice from those that know a lot more about bikes than me. I've been riding a Trek 4300 for a few years now and want to upgrade to a 29er. I have enjoyed my Trek but my wife wants to go riding with me and I planned on giving it to her and upgrading to something that can handle a little more aggressive riding. This bike will be mainly used on trails. I found the Noob buyers guide thread, so I'll just answer the questions here. Might make it easier for y'all to help me out. Thank you for your time.

    Q. What region of the country do I live in?
    A. Midwest/Oklahoma

    Q. Where do I plan to ride my new bike?
    A. On trails locally. Draper is one, and there are a few that are more local to me.

    Q. Are there any YouTube videos of the trails I plan to ride?
    A. draper trail bike - YouTube

    Q. How much time do I plan on devoting to this hobby?
    A. 2-3 days a week

    Q. What is my previous cycling experience?
    A. Mainly trails with my Trek, but I used to be into BMX stuff a LOT when I was a kid/teenager.

    Q. Have I participated in other hobbies, sports or activities that may give me relevant skills?
    A. Again, I was really into BMX when I was younger.

    Q. What are my mechanical abilities?
    A. I am mechanically inclined. I used to work on my own bike all the time. Completely stripping it down to paint it, and fully putting it back together. Worked on my friends bikes as well. Again, this was when I was younger.

    Q. Do I currently own a bike?
    A. Yes, a Trek 4300

    Q. 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?
    A. I have all of the above. However, I would like to buy a better helmet. Right now I'm running a Protec, but would like to look at other options.

    Q. Why do I want to buy a new bike?
    A. I feel it's time to step into something new. I also want an opportunity to share a common interest with my wife. I think it would be cool/fun for her to get into it with me.

    Q. How much research have I already done and do I have an idea of what I want?
    A. I've been doing a lot of research on this forum and via google trying to figure out just that. And there seem like there are quite a few options out there.

    Q. Do I have friends who are into the hobby?
    A. Just one that is really into it. I hope to meet more on the trail when I get into it more.

    Q. What's their mechanical and riding experience?
    A. He used to race bikes, and was sponsored, and all that stuff. He's a good source of information, but has been out of the game for long time.

    Q. What kind of bikes do my riding buddies ride?
    A. He has, and suggest, a specialized.

    Q. What kind of bikes do I see on the trails I plan to ride? (Full suspension, hardtail, rigid, single speed, geared)
    A. I would like a hardtail 29er, that is geared.

    Q. Can I really afford this hobby?
    A. A $5-700 bike, yes. A $1k+ bike, no.

    Q. How much money do I want to spend on this hobby over the next year?
    A. I would like to buy a $5-700 bike that will have good quality parts for the most part, out of the gate. However, I don't mind spending money to upgrade things as I see a need for them.

    Q. What am I trying to accomplish by participating in this hobby?
    A. I enjoy the outdoors, and this gives me another way to experience it. Riding on the roads is no fun to me. I enjoy flying down a dirt trail and catching some air from time to time. Makes me feel like a kid again.

    Q. How do I expect my life to be different a year from the day my new bike arrives?
    A. Hope to be a little healthier. Hope to make new friends while out on the trail. I expect I'll have some new scars along the way too.

    Here are some of the bikes that I have been looking at. Mainly from what I have read on this forum and other websites. I don't have experience with any of them. My local shop deals Specialized, the other are direct buy anyway and I would have to put them together. Not a big deal, and if it is, my LBS can help me out. Also, I tried out some bikes at my local shop (hardrock 29er) and a 17.5" fit me very well. Thought I might add that if it helps.

    I have read good things on this bike, not a big fan of red though: Airborne Bicycles. Guardian

    I can't afford this one new, but I can shop around for a used one, or find overstock at a local shop:
    Specialized Bicycle Components

    I can buy this one new locally:
    Specialized Bicycle Components

    Read that his one has good parts and frame, especially for the price:
    Mountain Bikes - MTB - Dawes Haymaker 1500

    Seems like a good price:
    Save up to 60% off new Mountain Bikes - MTB - Motobecane Fantom 29COMP

    Also, seems like a good bike and I'm really digging the bronze color:
    Save up to 60% off new Mountain Bikes - MTB - Motobecane Fantom 29COMP

    I apologize that there are so many, but I don't really know which one is the best bang for my buck. If you have another suggestion, feel free to suggest it. Thank you again for your time and helping me out with this. I really look forward to buying a new bike in the next week and hitting the trails.

  2. #2
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    You cam cut the list down to two by dropping any bike with a Suntour fork. The Dawes is 26". You may notice Spec doesn't list the RHopper or HRock as XC or trail bikes but as recreational. Not for trails because of the fork. The Airborne and the second Fantom have the minimum for a fork, something with adjustable rebound damping not found on Suntour. Cuts down on pogoing on multiple hits at speed. You can upgrade those Suntour bikes with forks at good prices from bluesky or used off ebay.
    .A RockShox Reba or Manitou Tower Pro would be top and a RockShox XC 32TK would be fine at a lower rprice but heavier.by 1.5 pounds.
    BlueSkyCycling.com - Rock Shox XC 32 TK 29er Coil Fork
    BlueSkyCycling.com - 2011 Rock Shox Reba RL Dual Air Fork OE

  3. #3
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    Since you're mechanically inclined you would be comfortable purchasing a bike off the internet. Get the Motobecane Fantom X5 or the Airborne Guardian. Pick whichever one you like more, they are pretty much comparable to each other, and much better than a name brand bike you could get for the same price.

    The Fantom X5 has better drivetrain than the Fantom Comp (30spd instead of 27spd) so get that instead.

    If you're thinking of doing more "extreme" riding or "rougher terrain" DO NOT get a suntour fork!

  4. #4
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    According to your statements (yes I read everything) and after watching a couple of videos of the trail I strongly suggest the Airborne Guardian, it fits right into your budget and even allow to buy a set of clipless pedals.

    Hydraulic brakes and fork are decent for the budget, also have read Airborne have great customer relationship management.

    If I were getting the Guardian I might get the clipless pedals and set the wheels tubeless

  5. #5
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    Here's a couple a technique vids for warmup.
    Cornering with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Straight Lines with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    I prefer platforms with trailrunners for technical terrain at less than DH speeds. The heel down technique in the vids will keep you on the pedals after a short learning curve.

  6. #6
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    I own an airborne guardian, and I would say it's perfect in your price range ($675 with shipping). If you're pretty heavy, you can probably upgrade the fork as well but I've been using this bike with stock parts for about 3 months and I have no complaints.

  7. #7
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    Great information from everybody. Thank you all for helping me with this. I had no idea on the suntour forks. That really does narrow it down. I'll spec the parts on the Fantom and the Airborne and make a choice from there.

    Also, thanks for the vids. I'll definitely take a look at those before hitting the trails. And thank you for taking the time to actually read this thread. I know it was a lengthy one. I'll keep y'all posted on what I end up getting. Thanks again for all the info/help. This has been a great community.
    Last edited by Proud_Noob; 10-28-2012 at 07:43 PM.

  8. #8
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    +1 for the guardian. I will step out and say that it's going to be VERY important to make your wife as comfortable as possible right out of the gate if you want this to stick. An ill fitting frame can make her ride very uncomfortable and will squash any enthusiasm she may have.

    So, what I'm saying is, make sure she has good padded shorts, gloves, proper fitting helmet and a women specific seat that is fitted for her sit bones. I'd also take a step back and measure her and your frame's geometry to see if you would have purchased that bike for her if you were looking to buy her a bike. Otherwise, sell your bike and buy her one that fits.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the heads up wmac. I definitely want her to be able to experience this with me and have it be fun for the both of us. It's actually very important. I will most likely take her up to my lbs and have them fit her for a bike. If my soon to be "old" one will work, great. If it won't, then I will be selling it and buying her a bike that she can enjoy.

    It's hard to read her sometimes though. She bought a $80 walmart bike and says she is happy with it. It's a piece.... I've been trying to explain to her that there is a big difference in a quality bike vs the one she bought from walmart. Just like anything else you buy. She is close to seeing the light. Spending a ridiculous amount of money on a jacket or pair of shoes would be no problem for her. Spending a decent amount a on a bike is tough for her to grasp.

    Also, I went back to the "noob buyers guide" and checking the parts that it suggest in that thread, it looks like the Fantom 27 speed has better parts than the Guardian. Both have the same shocks, but the Fantom looks like it has better drive-train parts. Am I reading that wrong, as most people are suggesting the Guardian?

    Thanks again for your time.

  10. #10
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    Get the Fantom X5, it's 30 speed. The Fantom Comp 27 speed is, well, 27 speed. The 27 speed Shimano components are older components (newest Shimano SLX is 30 speed).

    In my opinion the Fantom X5 and Airborne Guardian are so closely matched it's up to personal preference.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proud_Noob View Post
    Thanks for the heads up wmac. I definitely want her to be able to experience this with me and have it be fun for the both of us. It's actually very important. I will most likely take her up to my lbs and have them fit her for a bike. If my soon to be "old" one will work, great. If it won't, then I will be selling it and buying her a bike that she can enjoy.

    It's hard to read her sometimes though. She bought a $80 walmart bike and says she is happy with it. It's a piece.... I've been trying to explain to her that there is a big difference in a quality bike vs the one she bought from walmart. Just like anything else you buy. She is close to seeing the light. Spending a ridiculous amount of money on a jacket or pair of shoes would be no problem for her. Spending a decent amount a on a bike is tough for her to grasp.

    Also, I went back to the "noob buyers guide" and checking the parts that it suggest in that thread, it looks like the Fantom 27 speed has better parts than the Guardian. Both have the same shocks, but the Fantom looks like it has better drive-train parts. Am I reading that wrong, as most people are suggesting the Guardian?

    Thanks again for your time.
    Fantom is also a good choice. Send a PM to BigDaddyFlyer - he works for Airborne. He may have some insight into why one over the other.

    Your wife is like my wife in that she really doesn't give a shiz about bikes. If she's happy on her WalMart bike, keep her on appropriate trails (paved pathways and very smooth single track) until she wants to ride more challenging terrain.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  12. #12
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    Ha. True. I'd like to change her opinion on it, but it's her choice ultimately. I'll take baby steps with her and hopefully she gets into it. If not, oh well. I know she'll never get me into the scrap booking stuff she does. Can't win them all. Thank again to everyone for all the help.

  13. #13
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    +1 on the Guardian. I've had mine since July. Great bike!
    Nathan

  14. #14
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    I don't want to hijack the thread but I don't have enough posts to start a thread and this thread matches up with what I am looking for as well.

    I have about $800 to spend on a bike but would like to keep the cost to $600. In reality I've budgeted $1000-$1200 but that is including winter commuting upgrades I want to make to the bike (nokian studs, headlight etc.) that will cost at least $400. I live in Anchorage Alaska and want a mountain bike that I can use for a short winter commute (about 1.5miles). In the summer I'd use it to ride single track that is not very rocky and not particularly technical but is a lot of fun. I've read the comments on Suntour Forks but I don't think they would be a problem on the trails that I ride. I have a lot of other hobbies that take time and money so shouldn't invest too heavily in a bike, but have really enjoyed riding the new single track trails as they are close to my house and a great, incredibly fun, way to get a workout and because of this I will be biking more and more in the future. In the summer I suspect I'll ride the single track trails at least twice a week. I'd like to bike to work at least twice a week also. My concerns are getting a bike that fits right and is reliable. I hate it when a bike doesn't shift easily and reliably. For the fit, I like the idea of getting a bike at local shop or REI because I know they will fit me correctly and can exchange stems etc. until it fits correctly. All this talk about the Airborne Guardian has got me thinking about a direct order though. I watched a you tube video of an airborne bike being assembled and didn't see anything that I couldn't do but I am no bike mechanic and will have difficulty adjusting the drivetrain to shift properly.....of course, I could take it to a shop for that if I can't figure it out. With my comments in mind, can you please comment on these two bikes:

    1. Scott Aspect 940 at REI. I was surprised to see a Scott 29r with Hydraulic Disc Brakes at REI for this price ($680). Should I be seriously wary of the other components?

    2. Airborne Guardian

    3. Other?

    Thanks.

    Brett

  15. #15
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    As a fellow noob, I would highly recommend going used. I checked Craigslist diligently for about a week and came up with a great deal on my Specialized Rockhopper 29. I drove 2 hours to get to it but it was well worth IMO. I have enough left on my budget to upgrade the fork right away. Good luck on your search!

  16. #16
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    This was highly suggested to me for a "cheaper" 29er

    Save up to 60% off new Mountain Bikes - MTB - Motobecane Fantom 29PRO

    And the Guardian.

    The x7 Motobecane has a nice parts list.
    Last edited by Proud_Noob; 11-05-2012 at 04:20 PM.

  17. #17
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    Thanks. I'll check those out.

  18. #18
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    I hadn't read about the Fantom, but just spent about an hour reading about it. It looks pretty good, but so does the Guardian for quite a bit cheaper. Interesting stuff. Thanks for the tips. I am currently riding an old (late 1970's...maybe early 1980's) Motobecane 10speed around. I enjoy it, though I am really glad we've moved past 10 speeds. Some mountain passes I just can't climb up because it doesn't gear down enough. I'm talking about paved roads here of course- it's a road bike.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskabrett View Post
    I hadn't read about the Fantom, but just spent about an hour reading about it. It looks pretty good, but so does the Guardian for quite a bit cheaper. Interesting stuff. Thanks for the tips. I am currently riding an old (late 1970's...maybe early 1980's) Motobecane 10speed around. I enjoy it, though I am really glad we've moved past 10 speeds. Some mountain passes I just can't climb up because it doesn't gear down enough. I'm talking about paved roads here of course- it's a road bike.
    The original French company filed for bankruptcy in 1981, so figure out the age of your 10-speed from that. I used to see a few Motobecanes come into bike shops I worked in. Cool bikes.

    Motobécane - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  20. #20
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    bike under $700

    I would check out CG, I got a steal on my 2010 Scott Scale 29er. nothing wrong with it. I took the egg beater pedals off and put some platforms on. but for the price i couldn't let this one pass me by. Good luck, be patient! you don't want to end up having buyers remorse.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazmatt480 View Post
    i would check out cg, i got a steal on my 2010 scott scale 29er. Nothing wrong with it. I took the egg beater pedals off and put some platforms on. But for the price i couldn't let this one pass me by. Good luck, be patient! You don't want to end up having buyers remorse.
    cg?
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  22. #22
    lets ride
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    Craigslist.com

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazmatt480 View Post
    Craigslist.com
    CL is probably an easier to understand abriviation for craigslist.com


  24. #24
    lets ride
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    You are right! Thanks, and sorry

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