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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    Rating the components

    In my comparison of sub-$850-ish bikes, I see the same components on a variety of bikes.

    So, my query to the group is how would you rate the different components commonly seen on these bikes, i.e. fork, brakes, gears, derailleur, shifters, etc.?

    For instance shifters: Shimano Acera or Alivio or Deora or SRAM X5 or X4, etc., how would you rank them? Forks, brakes etc...

  2. #2
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    SRAM and Shimano list their series, in order, on their websites. In general, as price goes up, weight goes down, and features improve (crispness, adjustability, etc).

    SRAM vs. Shimano is largely personal preference, especially in shifters. If you're asking about difference b/t specific items, you'd probably have to narrow down your question a little more, as comparing features in entire groupsets is a pretty large question.

    The component quality in any given price range of bikes will be largely similar. Ride a few and figure out which one feels the best/you like the best. Stay away from FS in that price range. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Ride or die
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    When it comes to the sub $850 price point, I would not focus on the components too much because they are generally low quality and will be replaced/upgraded fairly quickly. What I would focus on is the quality of the frame. Many companies like Canondale and Specialized offer decent frames with low-end components that are perfect for beginners. You get a good frame that you can upgrade as needed. However, do beware of lowend online companies that hype the components, for these bikes often feature sub-par frames that, even with upgraded components, will remain subpar.

    Long story short, when you buy a bike, first focus on a quality frame.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbikeloco View Post
    When it comes to the sub $850 price point, I would not focus on the components too much because they are generally low quality and will be replaced/upgraded fairly quickly. What I would focus on is the quality of the frame. Many companies like Canondale and Specialized offer decent frames with low-end components that are perfect for beginners. You get a good frame that you can upgrade as needed. However, do beware of lowend online companies that hype the components, for these bikes often feature sub-par frames that, even with upgraded components, will remain subpar.

    Long story short, when you buy a bike, first focus on a quality frame.
    I agree, but I will say the Cannondale Trail SL2 can be had in both 26 and 29er for roughly this budget or less and represent a good value at their respective out the door prices.

  5. #5
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    Keep in mind it costs much more to upgrade part by part than it does when you buy your bike.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tyler71385 View Post
    Keep in mind it costs much more to upgrade part by part than it does when you buy your bike.
    A bizillion times this.

    A beginner bike is to see how much you like the sport, after a couple years on that, go for the bike you really want. Don't take expensive half steps, just two purchases and you're done.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by richde View Post
    A bizillion times this.

    A beginner bike is to see how much you like the sport, after a couple years on that, go for the bike you really want. Don't take expensive half steps, just two purchases and you're done.

    Did you just go through my budget? 3 yr old Cragslist Hardrock Sport + just enough part to keep it going + saving for a new HIFI = A Plan

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainbikeloco View Post
    When it comes to the sub $850 price point, I would not focus on the components too much because they are generally low quality and will be replaced/upgraded fairly quickly. What I would focus on is the quality of the frame. Many companies like Canondale and Specialized offer decent frames with low-end components that are perfect for beginners. You get a good frame that you can upgrade as needed. However, do beware of lowend online companies that hype the components, for these bikes often feature sub-par frames that, even with upgraded components, will remain subpar.

    Long story short, when you buy a bike, first focus on a quality frame.
    With this in mind, if I were to find a quality (Cannondale/Trek/Giant/Specialized) frame used/cheap. Hypothetically, how much would it cost to upgrade the key components, i.e. shifter/fork/brakes/etc.?

    By the way, what are the most important components?

    Thanks to all who have posted and will in the future...I am really new and conducting a little, probably a little too much, research and exploring options. I appreciate the guidance...

  9. #9
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    For $850 you can get one heck of a bike on Craigslist or eBay.

    #1 - FORK (i.e. it cost big money to upgrade)
    #2 - Wheels/brakes
    #3 - Deraillers

  10. #10
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    What about the crank?

    I have always looked for 4 things... forks, brakes, crank, deraillers.

  11. #11
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    Best first bike is a used bike, it takes time to mature into the sport as the learning curve is pretty steep especially when it comes to components. There are so many brands and trim lines to choose from. Avg rider takes 1-2 years to really gets in to the sport. The process is shorten significantly if you ride in a big local group.

    Almost all of the riders go thru stages when it comes to bike purchasing first bike Price, Looks, Weight, Performance, intended use, in that order. More experience riders or multiple bikes owners tend to buy them in the reverse order, somewhat.

  12. #12
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    Here's a rough breakdown:
    Shimano XTR = SRAM XX/XO
    Shimano XT = SRAM X.9
    Shimano SLX = SRAM X.7
    Shimano Deore = SRAM X.5
    Shimano Alivio = SRAM X.4 (Anything below this level is recreational grade components.)

    You may run into SX.5 or SX.4, these are just older version.

    and here's road components....
    Shimano DuraAce = SRAM Red
    Shimano Ultegra = SRAM Force
    Shimano 105 = SRAM Rival
    Shimano Tiagra = SRAM Apex (Anything below this level is recreation grade flightdeck)
    2009 Access 9.5 29er
    2010 Diamondback Insight RS (700c hybrid)
    Velorazzo frame build (26)

  13. #13
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    thanks for the comparison between sram and shimano. That helps a lot.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxkimber View Post
    In my comparison of sub-$850-ish bikes, I see the same components on a variety of bikes.

    So, my query to the group is how would you rate the different components commonly seen on these bikes, i.e. fork, brakes, gears, derailleur, shifters, etc.?

    For instance shifters: Shimano Acera or Alivio or Deora or SRAM X5 or X4, etc., how would you rank them? Forks, brakes etc...
    Let me clarify my question a bit, this is what I meant.

    With the frames of name brands being considered equal, in regards to quality. The only thing different are the components, so which brands/models are better than others? For instance, a Rockhopper Comp vs. SL2 vs. 6000, component-wise:

    Fork:
    SR Suntour SF11-XCR-DS-26-LO-SP, 1-1/8" alloy steer, mag. lower, 30mm stanchions, hyd. damping w/ lock out and custom tuned spike valve
    --OR--
    RockShox Recon Silver TK, 100mm, Solo Air, lockout, rebound, 1.5"
    --OR--
    RockShox Tora TK w/coil spring, rebound, TurnKey lockout, alloy steerer, 100mm travel

    Brakes:
    Shimano BR-M445 Hydraulic Disc
    --OR--
    Tektro Draco Hydraulic disc brake, dual piston, 160mm rotor
    --OR--
    Avid Juicy 3 hydraulic disc brake (these sound the sexiest)

    Front Derailleurs:
    Shimano Alivo, 34.9mm clamp, top swing, dual pull
    --OR--
    Shimano Alivio
    --OR--
    SRAM X.5

    Rear Derailleurs:
    Shimano Deore
    --OR--
    Shimano Alivio, 9sp direct mount Long cage
    --OR--
    SRAM X.5

    Shifters:
    Shimano Deore
    --OR--
    Shimano Alivo SL, rapid fire trigger
    --OR--
    SRAM X.5, 9 speed

    ETC...

    I hope this refined my question enough to get the desired responses...

    Thanks in advance.

  15. #15
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    Here's what I would go with...

    Fork:
    RockShox Recon Silver TK, 100mm, Solo Air, lockout, rebound, 1.5"

    Brakes:
    Avid Juicy 3 hydraulic disc brake

    Front Derailleurs:
    SRAM X.5

    Rear Derailleurs:
    SRAM X.5

    Shifters:
    SRAM X.5, 9 speed

    Since X.5 is on the same component level as Deore, it's better to get the X.5 instead of the lower components.

    Note: If you have SRAM Shifters, you have to use SRAM Rear Derailleur. If you go with Shimano shifters, you have to stick with Shimano Rear Derailleur.
    2009 Access 9.5 29er
    2010 Diamondback Insight RS (700c hybrid)
    Velorazzo frame build (26)

  16. #16
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    Are all of these options at the same local bike shop (LBS)?

    If not, you might want to consider which store gives you the best "warm fuzzy." Being new to the sport, a good bike shop can make all the difference in the world.

    Also, be sure to take the bikes for a test ride before you buy. You may find out you like the Alivio shifters compared to the X5 shifters even though the Alivios are a lower component. That can help narrow your choices down.

    Remember, a bike that you like to ride is a bike that you will ride

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by hardwarz View Post
    Here's what I would go with...

    Fork:
    RockShox Recon Silver TK, 100mm, Solo Air, lockout, rebound, 1.5"

    Brakes:
    Avid Juicy 3 hydraulic disc brake

    Front Derailleurs:
    SRAM X.5

    Rear Derailleurs:
    SRAM X.5

    Shifters:
    SRAM X.5, 9 speed

    Since X.5 is on the same component level as Deore, it's better to get the X.5 instead of the lower components.

    Note: If you have SRAM Shifters, you have to use SRAM Rear Derailleur. If you go with Shimano shifters, you have to stick with Shimano Rear Derailleur.
    Yeah, but the problem is none of the three bikes have this exact setup, but that helps... Thanks.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jared13 View Post
    Are all of these options at the same local bike shop (LBS)?

    If not, you might want to consider which store gives you the best "warm fuzzy." Being new to the sport, a good bike shop can make all the difference in the world.

    Also, be sure to take the bikes for a test ride before you buy. You may find out you like the Alivio shifters compared to the X5 shifters even though the Alivios are a lower component. That can help narrow your choices down.

    Remember, a bike that you like to ride is a bike that you will ride
    I have three LBS'

    One just Trek, One Giant & Raleigh, and one Cannondale, Specialized, Trek, and a couple others.

    Thanks...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxkimber View Post
    Let me clarify my question a bit, this is what I meant.

    With the frames of name brands being considered equal, in regards to quality. The only thing different are the components, so which brands/models are better than others? For instance, a Rockhopper Comp vs. SL2 vs. 6000, component-wise:

    Fork:
    SR Suntour SF11-XCR-DS-26-LO-SP, 1-1/8" alloy steer, mag. lower, 30mm stanchions, hyd. damping w/ lock out and custom tuned spike valve
    --OR--
    RockShox Recon Silver TK, 100mm, Solo Air, lockout, rebound, 1.5"
    --OR--
    RockShox Tora TK w/coil spring, rebound, TurnKey lockout, alloy steerer, 100mm travel

    Brakes:
    Shimano BR-M445 Hydraulic Disc
    --OR--
    Tektro Draco Hydraulic disc brake, dual piston, 160mm rotor
    --OR--
    Avid Juicy 3 hydraulic disc brake (these sound the sexiest)

    Front Derailleurs:
    Shimano Alivo, 34.9mm clamp, top swing, dual pull
    --OR--
    Shimano Alivio
    --OR--
    SRAM X.5

    Rear Derailleurs:
    Shimano Deore
    --OR--
    Shimano Alivio, 9sp direct mount Long cage
    --OR--
    SRAM X.5

    Shifters:
    Shimano Deore
    --OR--
    Shimano Alivo SL, rapid fire trigger
    --OR--
    SRAM X.5, 9 speed

    ETC...

    I hope this refined my question enough to get the desired responses...

    Thanks in advance.
    As far as shifters and derailleurs go, I would try and avoid Shimano Alivios. They low cost, but get beat up pretty easily and don't last all that long.
    Impossible Is Nothing

  20. #20
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    If those components are listed in order of the bikes I would go with Tora ,avid Juicy, and SRAM X5. Seems an overall better package. Note: I do not like Tektro brakes. I have that Suntour fork on a Giant,its not the greatest.

  21. #21
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    I see alot of posts saying how much more it costs to upgrade part by part...BUT for some of us there is no other way... they just dont make bikes designed to do what guys like me do with bikes.... there not a factory made rig I cant destroy..... and to be honest theres not to many of these overpriced garbage parts made these days that'll survive me either.....ya I spend an average of 2500 on a rig to build it , but I can also pull a 200 lb trailer up places like waldo canyon with with my panniers on my rack loaded to the max at the same time , and never have a problem try that with anything but a custom rig and watch how many parts ya break!..... theres alot to be said for custom bikes .... even if ya gotta order parts from all over the globe to get what ya need

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by FroggyBiker View Post
    I see alot of posts saying how much more it costs to upgrade part by part...BUT for some of us there is no other way... they just dont make bikes designed to do what guys like me do with bikes.... there not a factory made rig I cant destroy..... and to be honest theres not to many of these overpriced garbage parts made these days that'll survive me either.....ya I spend an average of 2500 on a rig to build it , but I can also pull a 200 lb trailer up places like waldo canyon with with my panniers on my rack loaded to the max at the same time , and never have a problem try that with anything but a custom rig and watch how many parts ya break!..... theres alot to be said for custom bikes .... even if ya gotta order parts from all over the globe to get what ya need
    However, I'm betting you're very far from being considered a beginner

  23. #23
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    I got Alivio Rapid Fire shifters on my bike - this is my first bike and I have ridden over 700 miles, over half of that on trails around North Texas. I love them, I have not tried others but they have not let me down.
    For reference, and apologies for thread jack, would a GT Avalanche frame be one that is considered "worth upgrading" I know it relies a lot of how I feel about it. But in terms of quality?

    To the original poster - I set a budget of 500ish for my first purchase, that is what I had in my pocket and I wanted a bike. If I could go back, now knowing I really like riding. I would have saved another 500. I would recommend, if you find a bike you like, save as much as you can bring yourself to spend the first time. It's only been a few months and I'm already toying with "what will I buy next" ideas. I have to remind myself that this bike is doing fine.
    I also upgraded my fork with a used Manitou RSeven with a missing remote lockout from craigslist. For under 150 dollars. Another 60 bucks and it is MRD damping system!
    Deals can be had! From the sellers I have met, that are selling higher end components used, are older people with a love for the sport and aren't out to screw people.

  24. #24
    InsaneObiker...dasss mee!
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    ya you could say im far from a beginer...been building custom bikes for 26 years now almost 27... thats why I visit this section... to help those nebies who really need it, and make sure they get the right advice.....so they learn and it dont cost em alot of money like it did me when I fist started out, and like most newbies I was dumb enough to listen to the salesman who was only tryin to make money....NOT help me fix my rig.......

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by FroggyBiker View Post
    ya you could say im far from a beginer...been building custom bikes for 26 years now almost 27... thats why I visit this section... to help those nebies who really need it, and make sure they get the right advice.....so they learn and it dont cost em alot of money like it did me when I fist started out, and like most newbies I was dumb enough to listen to the salesman who was only tryin to make money....NOT help me fix my rig.......
    From a newbie, I just want to say thanks for visiting this section! It definitely helps us a lot, and without you this section would be pretty pointless. Like a kindergarten class with no teacher

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