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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    Recommendations on a new MTB

    Hi
    To give you some info I am a roadie from Miami (200 miles weekly and ride with 28mph+ groups on the weekends so I believe I am pretty decent), but I know absolutely nothing about MTBs ...

    I have been considering buying a MTB to ride with friends on Sundays in the trails down here but, knowing my competitive nature, I know i wont be satisfied with a cheapie mtb (walmart-like)

    Well, I have a $1500 budget (that could be stretched to 2K for the right deal) and would like a FS bike that can be upgraded in the future. Something that allows me to ride decently and keep up with my friends for a year or so and then I would do the upgrades (the road bikes drain my pocket)

    Could you please give me some recommendations for bikes in this range and if you see any great online deal you could post the link or pm me, thanks

    Edit: To add some more info, I rode a rental MTB (decent hard tail BH) last year doing "El camino de Santiago", all off-road, without any previous mtb training, only the normal road training, and did 500 miles in 10 days; leaving my Spaniard counterparts in the dust 80% of the time (really insane climbs on the way)

  2. #2
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    It would help if you would tell us about the type of riding you want to do. Why don't you go to the shop that you got the road bike from and talk to them. 1500$ is on the low end for FS .Borrow some bikes ,test ride, go to some demo days .Now is the time to look for close outs from shops. Almost any of the major brands have bikes in that price range.

  3. #3
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    $1500 would get you a pretty nice used FS bike, but rangeriderdav is right. It would help if we knew what kind of riding you will be doing with your friends. There are many different FS bikes out there made for specific riding conditions whether its XC, enduro, all mountain and downhill. Although some AM and Enduro bikes claim to be a "do it all" kind of bike, its not always the case. Even though my FS is a good climbing bike, its nothing compared to climbing with my 22lb hard tail.

    What size mountain bike would you be riding? Because sizing on a MTB is much different than a road bike.

    If this bike fits you, its a pretty cool bike to do some XC riding with and it can handle a tad more even with only 100mm of travel.

    2010 Giant Anthem X2 - Pinkbike

  4. #4
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    At that price point and since you are a roadie I'd start with a hard-tail.

  5. #5
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    First I'd ask around among the guys you ride with. I'd also check the local mtb club forum. Your money will go much farther on a used bike. Mountain bikes' depreciation curve is steep; for a couple grand, you could find likely pick up a bike that sold for close to double that a few years back. Course, since you ride regularly, I'm figuring you've got a go-to shop that would probably work with you too. A leftover model of something like a Specialized Camber would likely be in your price range. It would be a far cry from a Walmart bike, for sure.

    Specialized Bicycle Components

    All of the big brands put out similarly spec'ed bikes in the same price range. In general, from what I've seen of Miami riding on video, etc, I personally would be looking for a bike that would ball into the 'trail' category. Just little more suspension and relaxed angles than a straight up XC racer sort of ride, but still reasonably light and efficient. I'm a pretty big fan of a cushy bike though. As somebody coming from road and who may be putting on some miles, you may like something more along the lines of the Specialzed Epic, with what they call a the 'Brain' rear shock - basically locks out under pedaling forces but opens up for trail hits. If you can hit a shop and take a back to back test spin on a few bikes, you'd get a better idea of what feels right to you.

    And there's no info like local info:

    MTBMiami.com

  6. #6
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    Re: Recommendations on a new MTB

    The best mountain riders do a lot of road work. Races are won on fitness. Just like road bikes, weight is even more a factor in mtn bikes since aero dont count.

    Hardtails are faster xc due to the 3ish lb weight saving at any price tier. However, if we talking 50 mile days, fs will beat you up less.

    There is a good deal right now in the deals subforum on here for airborne xo equipped. I think you won't get a lighter bike at that price tier anywhere. I believe it comes with the highly regarded black flag pro wheel set.
    If you look at lbs bikes with these components prices will probably be slot higher

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post

    Hardtails are faster xc due to the 3ish lb weight saving at any price tier.
    This might've been true years ago, but in general you'll see more FS riders on the podium these days than HT riders. The particular terrain plays into it a lot, as well as rider style and preference. It's subject you can find a ton of debate about, but it's sure as hell not a rule one way or the other.

    Bikes aren't fast, riders are.

  8. #8
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    Since you ride a Trek road bike your dealer experience with Trek should give you opportunities for good pricing within their product line. A carbon hard tail like the Superfly 9.6-9.8 has road bike derived damping with trail feel, handling and light weight from a new frame for 2014. A fun ride with comfort engineered into the carbon frame you don't get from aluminum.
    A 9.6 could be close enough to your range with some friendly discounting. I think the frame geo is an improvement over the more expensive SL introduced for 2013 because of the shorter chain stays and additional bb drop. This is upgradeable without any need to change platforms anytime soon.
    Hit a Factory demo to compare your different options.

  9. #9
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    Bike America had some killer deals on 2013 cannondale scalpels. Check them out, with their pricing, my LBS matched them. Saved me 1200 or so on a Scalpel 3

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    This might've been true years ago, but in general you'll see more FS riders on the podium these days than HT riders. The particular terrain plays into it a lot, as well as rider style and preference. It's subject you can find a ton of debate about, but it's sure as hell not a rule one way or the other.

    Bikes aren't fast, riders are.
    are you talking amateur level? I saw one FS and the rest hardtails in the last olympics. Fitness is the major factor, but since the OP seems to be in the higher tier of bikers; equipment can make a real difference at that level. Also, in the pro scene you're talking money no object $10k+ bikes where the weigh difference is lessened. That difference is much larger in the the realms of normal bike prices.

  11. #11
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    Well, the guy on an FS did win the gold.

  12. #12
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    I bought a Kona FS about three months ago for the equivalent of about $2,000
    It is a 2013 Tanuki Deluxe and l have found it to be a great fun bike, able to do most things well, not too heavy, and so far nothing has gone wrong with it.

    Components are good, it has Rock Shox Sektor fork and Monarch RL shock, plus cable guides for a dropper post. Travel is 130mm.

    I would recommend this bike as a good all rounder, if you are OK with 26" wheels.
    Last edited by lotusdriver; 11-26-2013 at 02:30 PM.

  13. #13
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    The guy who won the gold is usually second behind the guy on the carbon Scott Scale HT. Nino Schurter won the World Cup XC again this year. That bike has too limited rear tire clearance with only 68.5mm between the chain stays. The 9.6-9.8 has more.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    The guy who won the gold is usually second behind the guy on the carbon Scott Scale HT. Nino Schurter won the World Cup XC again this year. That bike has too limited rear tire clearance with only 68.5mm between the chain stays. The 9.6-9.8 has more.
    Meanwhile, back out on real world trails, no shits were given.

    I personally would rather clean my basement than spend the day riding nuts-to-butts on something along the lines of that Olympic course. It's all so sanitized, and looks incredibly boring to me. Of course, I'm not the type of rider that cares a bit about how much tire clearance some pro's bike has, or racing in general for that matter.

    A heardtail is a viable option for a lot of types of riding - I put in a solid decade on them before moving mainly to FS back in 1999 (I still have a number of HTs that I ride here and there too). What some pros are riding on courses that reward road miles more than anything else isn't relevant to choosing a bike for a beginner (even a fit one) IMO. Then again, maybe he's looking to mostly spin lots of miles on smooth dirt roads and fairly non-technical trails. Not much reason for suspension in that case. But I took a look at some videos of Miami trails, and there appears to be some fun stuff down there that having a little squish would make even more enjoyable. Not to mention, the OP did say right off the bat that FS is what he wanted.

  15. #15
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    So many bikes with so many different handling characteristics.
    Things continue to improve.
    My demo recommendation isn't a HT to a guy looking for a FS.
    It's a light carbon HT with a level of damping, compliance and trail feel similar to the top end road bike the OP has already worked his way up to at his 2k price range after his likely friends and family discount.
    No fs bike will have this without a 3x price tag. And he will know that by doing the Factory Demo for the two days. Like me he can compare a Fuel Ex, Remedy, Stache and Superfly FS over the trails he will usually be riding. Maybe 9 hours on the different bikes for me in October with 5 hours on different Superfly 9.8 carbons for sizing. On rocky trails without big jumps and dh speed the Superfly 9.8(or 9.6 for cheaper) has enough Trek engineered damping to handle everything with more trail feel than the very capable FuelEx. I think the SFly FS will get shorter chain stays next year.
    The frame makes it more broadly versatile than an aluminum HT that most here are thinking about when you say HT. It is a different class of bike between a HT and a FS. You notice when you ride it.
    Like the dif between crappy high speed compression damping in a fork and the right shim stack for that progressive feel. You go right in the zone and want to ride over everything instead of being jarred. And the Reba on the 9.6 will need some bump stop modding to match the frame.

    So anyway with your current 'biking' personality speed needs and fitness demo this bike, use your discounting options and compare it to fs options in your price range.

  16. #16
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    Don't get too tied up with "what is the best" though, or you will never buy a bike!

    At the $2,000 point there are no really bad bikes. Whatever you buy will be great on your local trails, so visit your LBS and let them help you spend your money.

    I was looking for a new FS "all purpose" bike and bought my Kona because I liked the colour!!
    The bike has been fabulous. I have had a great time this Summer on it.

  17. #17
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    Demo days are a great idea.

    Depending on the local trails and riding style, carbon might be great or it might just mean you're going to be looking for a replacement frame in pretty short order. Many of them really require a level of babying that's tough to manage here in New England, particularly by a beginner looking to improve their bike handling beyond the tamest trails. Crashes are inevitable; a couple good scratches on a rock here and there, and next thing you know you're dealing with a cracked frame and a warrantee dept that doesn't want to do anything for you. Like I said, it really depends what somebody wants to do with the bike. FS are much more verstaile and comfortable, and carbon is a crapshoot in my personal experience.

  18. #18
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    Re: Recommendations on a new MTB

    500 miles in 10 days is beyond beginner status. Its for sure much better than I will ever be.

    Many people complained that the Olympics was course was sanitized, but it did have technical parts. As discussed in here, its hard to judge a course through your television set.

    If you can not race or ride competitively, that does not make your style the only style that counts as the real world.

    For fs bikes, I'd take a look at the hobgoblin, but under 2k, fs is quite a bit heavier than ht.

  19. #19
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    I agree that if the terrain you find on a typical XC racecourse in many parts of the country is what someone is looking to ride, might as well go hardtail. Hell, you could probably just go with a cyclocross bike.

    FWIW, after 25 years of riding, I have a pretty good idea of how lame that Olympic course was. And after trying some racing bitd, downhill and XC, I found it took a whole lot of the stuff that I was looking to get away from on my bike and made it front and center. Stressed out crowds, gear worship, schedules, no shortage of snobbery, pay-to-play, rules, people inevitably *****ing and complaining about something or other. No thanks; you can keep it.

  20. #20
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    The OP already knows Trek's capabilities with warrantees, he rides a top carbon Trek road bike.... and how they design to make carbon frames survive conditions. I'll have no probs with that frame once I find the way to get a hold of it. I intend to beat on it nearly every day.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    The OP already knows Trek's capabilities with warrantees, he rides a top carbon Trek
    I see nothing in his post that says anything about what he currently rides.

  22. #22
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    It's in his profile.

  23. #23
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    A-ha! Very wily.

    If I were going to buy a high end road bike it would likely be carbon (and rigid of course). Lot less potential for wear and tear.
    It's been a good number of years since I've owned and broken a Trek frame (Aluminum, not carbon), so I'm not sure how things are currently, but at that time they weren't willing to do much for me, which is one of the reasons it's been so long since I've owned one. This was one of the big reasons I used to ride a lot of Specialized bikes. Again, not sure if it's the same these days, but damn, they were the best company I've ever dealt with warranty-wise of any, both in and out of the bike industry.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by mindanalyzer View Post
    Well, I have a $1500 budget (that could be stretched to 2K for the right deal) and would like a FS bike that can be upgraded in the future. Something that allows me to ride decently and keep up with my friends for a year or so and then I would do the upgrades (the road bikes drain my pocket)
    This is the most important part to me. What do your friends ride? Are you all roadies that like to mix it up? I don't see big technical mountains near Miami. Probably going to be a lot of XC stuff.

    You'll want a bike that puts you on par with your buddies. Too much or too little technology amongst the group can put a damper on some friendly competiveness as well as make it too challenging or too boring.

    So something in the line of a 29-er hardtail might fit the bill. A little slow on the acceleration, but makes up for it in climbing, braking and cornering traction. Also, they are faster rolling, so once up to speed, you can keep it up to speed.

    If you plan on rides under 2.5hrs, then hardtails are just fine. If you are riding more than that on a regular basis, then FS is the way to go. Think of how much fresher you are when you do a long ride on a CF road bike vs AL.

    $1500 is minimum for a good hardtail. I wouldn't want to ride any FS bike in that price point. Not that there aren't any, but if you already have a standard on bikes, then you'll probably feel the same way.

    IF you have an LBS that you like, demo one or more of their bikes. You'll want to get MTB SPD pedals. Then swap bikes with your buddies as well to get a flavor of what different bikes feel like.
    Just get out and ride!

  25. #25
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    Thank you all for your responses. I think that I will enquire about MTB demo days in my LBS

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