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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    Not (quite) that same old cheap FS question

    I'm new hear and have gotten a lot of info from you guys already, which I appreciate a lot. I have read a bunch of these posts where people want someone to tell them that the Schwin they sell at target is an overlooked steal and they should rush out and buy it. I'm sure I'll get lit up a bit here, but I am really interested in some input on which direction I should go as I am just starting out.

    So I'm trying to find a bike to get into riding. I rode a little back when I was younger but am looking at it as I'm stating from scratch now.

    Was going to try fixing up the bike I had back then, but I'm pretty sure the 50+ lbs I've gained since then and a real trail will destroy it in a flash and maybe me too.

    Would love a quality FS at some point, but am willing to build towards that. So I'm looking for opinions on which direction to go.

    I found used Jekyll for $650, but that's pushing my budget.

    I discovered the Iron Horse Sinister for sale on Walmart's website, 4 models from $299 through $479. (I'd have to pay to have once properly set up)

    I would be open to a hardtail with components worth transferring to a fs build in the future, likely next summer, if someone can recommend one (i did see a Trek 3700 for $300)

    I'm in the middle of a complete renovation of my house, so I would love to save money where I can and love watching ebay and searching for deals, so I am not against going with an Iron Horse and keeping an I eye out for better forks or a better rear shock. I'll likely be riding fire roads and light trails to begin, so upgrading over time shouldn't be too big of a problem. More interested in a usable fixer-upper than a cheap throw away or braking the bank on a bike that's overkill.

    If it matters I'm about 5'11" and weigh around 220 so the One-size fits most sizing on the Iron Horse can work for me.

    Thanks in advance for any input you can give me, as a n00b I'll take all I can get.

  2. #2
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    It's not hard to find a good used FS under $600 on either Craigslist or eBay. It's always a gamble of course, if you don't know what to look for, but there are certainly deals to be had. I would go this route rather than a department store bike because even after being ridden for several years the quality and durability will be better. A Jekyll for $650 doesn't seem like a bad deal at all.

    You can also put up a "want" ad on craigslist and state your budget and desired type of bike. Also check with local bike shops. Sometimes they have bikes in the back that are owned by employees or are on consignment.
    "Got everything you need?"

  3. #3
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    Pretty common questions, so I'll hit them quick and let me know what you think:
    • In your budget, immediately disregard anything that is new with rear suspension. No joke, just forget it.
    • Used bikes are a minefield; unless you know exactly what you want and how to identify what is and is not good then be very careful shopping for used bikes. I have seen far more complete duds bought and advertised as used bike than I have seen good deals. The good deals are out there, but they are the minority.
    • Before you can even consider buying a used or internet bike, you need to know what size you are. An LBS is a great resource for this, plus you can test ride some bikes that are near your price range so you have a point of comparison if you do decide to brave the used market.
    • I hate to say this but online resources such as bikesdirect.com and direct to consumer brands like Fezzari (actually a locally based company for me, so I feel less animosity) are much better options than trying to go with the evil empire ____mart sold bikes. LBS and online companies have a certain level of expertise in providing mountain bikes whereas ____mart bikes are made to appear as if they were mountain bikes. Frequently bikes like the Iron Horse you mentioned or the Mongooses will look like FS mountain bikes but carry a warning that they are not for off-road use. If you're going to need to pay someone to look over your bike once you buy it, at least make it a bike worth looking over.

    Full suspension bikes at your price point will carry very cheaply made rear suspension modules. The springs that come on them are made to fit lighter riders and will basically offer nothing to your riding experience. On the contrary, they will make it harder to pedal and give you one more thing to break on the bike. Hardtail bikes (ones with no rear suspension) should be preferred for entry level price points. Less parts to malfunction and more robust frame construction will lead to longer life.

    To use your own words; I would think of a lucky find used bike, an online-only bike manufacturer (I would count performancebike.com here as well), or a bikesdirect bike as a "usable fixer-upper" or more to the point a "functional starting point" while any bike purchased from walmart would be a cheap throw-away and only suitable to on-road gentle use.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  4. #4
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    I agree. You don't need FS when starting out and one reason I still run a hardtail is that a good FS bike costs so darn much. I have alot of fun on my hardtail and since this is about fun am ok with nice 26" hardtail bike. I am not sure I would have any more fun on a FS bike. My riding style is an XC type, but I will also ride anywhere. I like the climbs, I like the flats, I like the rocks. If I need slow down on downhill a bit I am ok with that.

    This weekend I did a ride with friends. I beat both of them on the up hill climbs both smooth and steady and nasty and technical. Only when the road point downhill I lose any ground. My friend on his 29er hardtail simply beat me down every downhill. The smooth ones and the rocky ones. Part of that is the 29" wheels, but the larger part is that he is a very good rider and just flys over down hill terrain. He could be riding a rigid 26er and still beat alot of guys on downhills. I know this since I used to ride with him when a rode a rigid (no front or rear suspension). The other factor is that I simply don't push 100% on the downhills. I feel no need, but I do push hard up every up hill.

    Anyway point is that you don't need FS to get out and have fun and ride. Far better to get solid entry level hardtail than a cheaply built FS bike that only "looks" like mtb.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  5. #5
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    I agree with the others.

    I have tried out a couple FS BBB bikes over the years as ~well~ as some of the sub-$1000 LBS models and I personally would not want to ride any of them. They are just to loose and bouncy for me at 210#.

    IMO anyone over 150# should avoid FS bikes which don't have higher end suspension components.

    For $400-600 you can get a fairly decent entry level hardtail new. Nashbar has the Overdrive Expert for $450,

    Diamondback Overdrive Expert 29er Mountain Bike - Hard Tail

    ...and Bluesky has the 2011 Karakoram 3.0 for $320 and the 2.0 for $520.

    29er parts, 29er wheels, twenty-niner, twenty niner, twentyniner, 29er frames, 29er tires, 29er forks

    BD has several 26ers and 29ers in that range:

    Save up to 60% off Mountain Bikes, All Mountain Bikes, Full Suspension SRAM and Shimano Mountain Bikes and Hardtail Front Suspension Mountain Bikes from Bikesdirect.com

    None of these will be a "perfect" bike but any of them should be more than sufficient to get you back up on two wheels again.
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luclin999 View Post

    ...and Bluesky has the 2011 Karakoram 3.0 for $320 and the 2.0 for $520.

    29er parts, 29er wheels, twenty-niner, twenty niner, twentyniner, 29er frames, 29er tires, 29er forks
    holy chit thats a good deal...kind of regret buying from my LBS.
    "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." -Back to the Future

  7. #7
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    bikes direct has the best deals when it comes to components i think... if you're really interested in doing a frame swap down the road, i'd look into getting the best quality components at the lowest price, in the best condition. because its kinda pointless to be throwing old beat up components onto a new frame. going that route, a bikes direct bike would probably fit your budget the best, and you'd at least have something decent to swap out later. that is of course, if you end up wanting to go fs. i've toyed with the idea, but a lot of me says eh. its not worth it. so much more to break, and they do have their disadvantages. a lot of people don't ride well, and the fs compensates for it, so they're less sore. but it doesn't make their riding style any better, it just makes them feel their mistakes less.

  8. #8
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    At $520 the closeout Karakoram 2.0 will basically be a match (or better) component-wise for any similarly priced 29er from Bikes Direct however the GT name will add a few dollars to the bottom line over the "Gravity" and "Motobecane" generic bikes from BD if later on you try to sell it.
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  9. #9
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    You could also check out airborne bikes, I have read alot of good reviews.
    Airborne Bicycles. All Mountain (AM)

  10. #10
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    Looks like one step up from a "Walgoose" honestly...although it may indeed be better. Design looks similar to bikesdirect FS offerings, but with a longer fork.
    "Got everything you need?"

  11. #11
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    their name is a lot better than the bikes direct names lol.. i hate their company names

  12. #12
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    What's your old bike? Depending on what is was it may be fine for you to get back out riding and you already own it.

  13. #13
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    WOW, thanks for all of the great feed back, especially the links. I figured the Iron Horse would be similar to the other Wallmart offerings. It's hard when {once} respected companies sell their name or make products that are Mountain-Bike-styled bicycles.

    As for my old bike, I still might throw a new chain and tires on it, but I'm sure it was a big box store special itself. I've never even heard of the company, Anaconda or something like that.

    As for LBS, and I'm sorry if you are associated with one near me, I'm not a huge fan. I get that, 'this sport is expensive, maybe it's not for you' vibe. The warm welcome here has definitely pumped me up a little about pursuing mt biking. I'll be checking out some of the suggestions and getting back to you all soon.

    Major Thanks

  14. #14
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    BTW, forgot to ask RockShox XC28, I know it's lower end but is it worthwhile or not (just noticed it on one of the airborne offerings)

  15. #15
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    The Rockshox XC28 is basically the same as the Rockshox Dart (they just changed the name of it in 2012).

    Last Year's Dart Range Essentially Turns Into The XC 28 For 2012. Photos | Cyclingnews.com

    It is Rockshox cheapest shock, coil spring based and retails on its own for about $125-130 for the 29er version.

    It compares to the Suntour XCR shock which sells for $100ish (for the 29er version) new however between the two of them the nod generally goes to the XC28/Dart.
    ~ 2011 GT Avalanche 2.0
    ~ 1993 Diamondback Topanga
    ~ 2012 Diamondback Overdrive Expert

  16. #16
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    I would look hard at the $520 GT. Looks like a fair deal...

    I decided to stay with a 26er until forks become cheaper and more plentiful for the 29er. You can get a RS xc32 for a 26er dirt cheap...best price I found (for a friend) on the 29er xc28 was almost $170.

  17. #17
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    I forgot to say that I guess, I'm not dead set on a 29er for that reason. I know it's what everyone is switching. Figured people might be dumping 26ers to move to 29 or 650b

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by roccopeterbilt View Post
    I forgot to say that I guess, I'm not dead set on a 29er for that reason. I know it's what everyone is switching. Figured people might be dumping 26ers to move to 29 or 650b
    Well, not everyone is dumping their 26" bikes. I, for one, really like the smaller wheels; though that Krampus looks amazingly fun and I've yet to get a chance to ride a 650b bike.

    Ride as many bikes as you can and pick the one that you enjoy riding the most. That's really the problem with buying online, you don't get a chance to know what you're buying. I always advocate riding at the LBSs because at least you'll have a reference point if you decide that online is better for you. I think we're spoiled in my area because we have an easy dozen really good bike shops including one that is world known for DH but I've been to plenty of awful bike shops in my day, so I know how you feel.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  19. #19
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    Well, I finally bought a bike. I picked up a 2006 Specialized Rockhopper Disc for $200. It's a 17" with the dart front fork. I don't think I'm eligible to post pics, but I will when I am. I wanted to thank all of you who gave me feedback. You helped direct my focus towards the used market and away from the box stores that I am sure would have left me disappointed.
    Thanks again

  20. #20
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    thats a good deal, definitely a step in the right direction.

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