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.
Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
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    Roadie/CXer looking to start mountain biking

    Hi all,
    Iím doing a lot of research on buying a bike and in that course I stumbled upon this fine forum. It seems like a group of well-mannered and knowledgeable folks so I decided Iíd register and ask for some help in making a decision.

    Iím not a noob per se, as I have been a Roadie/occasional age group CX racer for about 5 years; which basically means I ride about 90% of my miles on the road on my cross bike and ride a couple cross races each fall. Iím pretty knowledgeable about road and cross bikes, but I am a total noob in that I know nothing about mountain bikes.

    So onto it: I scraped together a bit of money earmarked for a mountain bike (I even OKíd it with the wife). I live in Southeast Wisconsin so itís generally flat here and most trails are of the XC type or close to it. So I am looking at hardtail 29ers. I have a limited budget (around $800) so I am looking to buy used more than likely to make sure I can get a good component set and a worthy whip. I intend to use the bike for longer weekend rides and maybe a bit of weeknight racing at the local bike park.

    Anyway, on with the questions:
    1. Drivetrains-I ride Shimano Ultegra on my cross bike and in my estimation for road bikes there are 3 levels of race worthy and reliable group sets 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace. With quality increasing along with price as you go up the line. Am I correct in assuming that for MTB Deore, XT and XTR are approximately the same? Any other Shimano groups I should look at that can be reliably raced and ridden hard without becoming a constant maintenance problem? What are SRAM equivalents?

    2. Sizing-I donít want to be the jerk who goes to the LBS to get fitted for a bike and has no intention of buying from them. I ride a 58cm road bike. Is there a chart that converts road to MTB sizes or a way I can determine my MTB size myself.

    3. Front shocks-Too many out there what makes a good front shock for my intended use? Suggested makes and models are appreciated.

    4. Handlebars-Flat, riser, wide, narrow. Are all the options just for the sake of correct bike fit or are different types better for different types of riding.

    5. Finally, the bikes-Iíve found a few models that piqued my interest, mainly the Scott scale 960, Trek Mamba, Giant Talon 1. Any others I should look into for a used purchase. I would definitely look to upgrade eventually as well.

    Thanks all, I look forward to being able to contribute something to the boards someday, but until then, I am off to buy some baggy shorts.

  2. #2
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    A lot of great questions ... I ride road, cross and mountain bikes so hopefully I can help you here.

    1. Yes, pretty much.
    2. My guess is you're a medium/large mountain bike frame candidate depending on your riding position, stem, handlebars, geo of the bike.
    3. The front shock is a very important component of a mountain bike. Fox and Rockshox are the two biggest players and you might want to check their websites. A pretty wide variety of products. I prefer an air shock style for XC type riding. Shocks can be expensive to fix or replace so if you buy used, you want a shock that is in good shape and hopefully has been serviced recently. Travel on hardtail forks range from 80mm to as much as 140mm ... More travel = more shock absorption, weight and often (but not always), less pedaling efficiency.
    4. Personal preference. Wider bars give you more leverage and control but can be a challenge in tight areas. Obviously risers give you a less aggressive riding position. All the issues of a road bike apply to handlebars and stem.
    5. There are a lot of good hardtails out there. Different ride characteristics between aluminum, steel and carbon. In your price range you're looking at steel or aluminum, probably. Specialized, Salsa, Surly, Cannondale are all companies that have made a lot of popular hard tails over the years that you should find easily in the used market in addition to the Scott, Trek, Giant you mention.

    Another big decision is wheel size. 26", 29" or 27.5". You might want to read some articles about the characteristics of each. I like 29" wheels on hardtails but that is just one person's opinion. The wheels do make a difference in the ride though.
    Are you really sure about that?

  3. #3
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    Roadie/CXer looking to start mountain biking

    Quote Originally Posted by mkecycle View Post
    Hi all,
    Iím doing a lot of research on buying a bike and in that course I stumbled upon this fine forum. It seems like a group of well-mannered and knowledgeable folks so I decided Iíd register and ask for some help in making a decision.

    Iím not a noob per se, as I have been a Roadie/occasional age group CX racer for about 5 years; which basically means I ride about 90% of my miles on the road on my cross bike and ride a couple cross races each fall. Iím pretty knowledgeable about road and cross bikes, but I am a total noob in that I know nothing about mountain bikes.

    So onto it: I scraped together a bit of money earmarked for a mountain bike (I even OKíd it with the wife). I live in Southeast Wisconsin so itís generally flat here and most trails are of the XC type or close to it. So I am looking at hardtail 29ers. I have a limited budget (around $800) so I am looking to buy used more than likely to make sure I can get a good component set and a worthy whip. I intend to use the bike for longer weekend rides and maybe a bit of weeknight racing at the local bike park.

    Anyway, on with the questions:
    1. Drivetrains-I ride Shimano Ultegra on my cross bike and in my estimation for road bikes there are 3 levels of race worthy and reliable group sets 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace. With quality increasing along with price as you go up the line. Am I correct in assuming that for MTB Deore, XT and XTR are approximately the same? Any other Shimano groups I should look at that can be reliably raced and ridden hard without becoming a constant maintenance problem? What are SRAM equivalents?

    2. Sizing-I donít want to be the jerk who goes to the LBS to get fitted for a bike and has no intention of buying from them. I ride a 58cm road bike. Is there a chart that converts road to MTB sizes or a way I can determine my MTB size myself.

    3. Front shocks-Too many out there what makes a good front shock for my intended use? Suggested makes and models are appreciated.

    4. Handlebars-Flat, riser, wide, narrow. Are all the options just for the sake of correct bike fit or are different types better for different types of riding.

    5. Finally, the bikes-Iíve found a few models that piqued my interest, mainly the Scott scale 960, Trek Mamba, Giant Talon 1. Any others I should look into for a used purchase. I would definitely look to upgrade eventually as well.

    Thanks all, I look forward to being able to contribute something to the boards someday, but until then, I am off to buy some baggy shorts.
    1) Not exactly, it's SLX, XT, then XTR. Sram equivalent X7, X9, XO with XO being the higher end. There is XX but that's just pissing $ away wit very little gain over XO.

    2) This can be very subjective based on inseams and rider preferences. Stand over height is important and the top tube should be a couple inches below your crotch when you're backed up against the saddle. Generally, if you are 5'11"-6'1" you will look to a large, below that a medium, above that an XL.

    3) Many good forks (that's what it's technically called) out there. For your price range if you can get a bike with a Rockshox Reba, it's a bomb-proof and very capable fork, below that a Recon Gold may be ok too. I would stay away from anything Suntour unless it's an Epicon model or the Rockshox XC models.

    4) Everyone has their preferences here and a lot of it is based on bike geometry and your riding style. Generally, wider is more stable feeling but the really wide stuff is usually reserved for the downhillers. Just ride with whatever comes on the bike and you will know after experience what's right for you.

    5) Specialized Rockhopper or Stumpjumper, Felt Nine series, GT. There are a lot of good bikes out there but you're more likely to find one from one of the big mfgs. In all honesty, I would ask a local bike shop close by you what you're looking for and start to form a relationship with them. You may be surprised what they can do for you, even at the $800 mark.
    Please donate to IMBA or your local chapter. It's trail karma.

  4. #4
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    1)Shimano Road - Shimano Mtb - SRAM Mtb
    Tiagra - Deore - X5
    105 - SLX - X7
    Ultegra - XT - X9
    Dura Ace - XTR - X0 or XX

    2) You can convert 58cm to inches and take it from there, you should be between L and XL. I ride a 52-54 roadie and ride a 18(M)-19(L)" mtb.

    3) At your price range most forks are for dirt paths and recreational use, you'll eventually upgrade to a trail worthy fork sooner or later.

    4) Handlebars are a personal thing IMO, on a 29er I prefer a flat bar with the stem in negative raise.

    5) Between the bike choices you mentioned I would go with the Talon, own one and with a fork upgrade the bike comes alive and has a good component group. Consider buying used, you may land a nice bike with your budget if you look hard and patient enough.

    Here's the good, the bad and the ugly regarding the Giant Talon.

  5. #5
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    1. SLX, XT, then XTR. Sram equivalent X7, X9, XO like stated. I wouldn't go below Deore/X5 definitely but shoot for the SLX/X7 and higher stuff.

    2. I'm on a 58cm road bike. I ride XL mountain bikes. I like them sized up a little. I'm 6'2 with a 32" inseam. Large would work just fine for me as well.

    3. Don't discount a good rigid fork. But the above suggestions are good too.

    4. Preference. Wide is the in thing right now. I'm riding with a 700mm bar which isn't even that wide compare to what some are riding. But I'm on a single speed so the wider bars help some to generate power by getting some good leverage against them.

    5. Most bikes on the market are decent. Stuff from a bike shop that is. Department store bikes not so much. It comes down to components, frame material, and geometry. I know you don't want to go to a shop and get a bunch of help only to buy used or online, but there's really no other way to try a bunch of different bikes. Also ask about 2013 models. I thought they'd be gone by now but just the other day I found out there's still a lot of them out there and available. The particular bike I'm looking for I am going to get for 30% off retail...maybe a little more.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the quick feedback. So I've learned quite a bit already. At 6'2" It looks like I'm likely an XL. And I will look for the best quality group and FORK I can find and look to upgrade as necessary.

    As far as wheel size is concerned MSL I figure 29 will feel most natural but i will keep an open mind about 27.5. Is 26" on its way out/

    Found a Fischer Cobia for sale locally. Any opinions? mixed x7/x9 components Tora fork.

  7. #7
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    That Cobia should be a nice pick up, X7/X9 is a good combo. Tora fork is air correct? That is off to a really good start then. If it fits, you may want to jump on that bad boy.
    '13 FELT TK3 48:15
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkecycle View Post
    Is 26" on its way out/
    No...not yet. 26" wheels still have their place but the 27.5's are really starting to take off, so who knows what that'll do to their future. But for now, I don't think they are on the chopping block.

  9. #9
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    Congrats on one of the most well-focused first posts ever. Makes it much easier to make specific recommendations. The replies above have pretty much covered your questions really well IMO. In more of a general vein, though I'm a big fan of slack angles, smaller wheels, and plenty of suspension myself, based on your local terrain and background, I think a 29er hardtail would be a pretty solid choice.

    Most of the drivetrain components in the ranges your talking about really aren't going to be wildly different in functionality, and I also find weight is wildly overrated as a criteria, so I personally wouldn't -put a ton of weight on that aspect. I find 'fit' parts much more important, but of course, that's the kind of thing you can really only figure out from time on the bike. Best bet IMO, do a few test rides, grab the bike that tickles your fancy, and get out there. In your price range and for you intended use, there's not going to be a whole lot of variation in overall performance.

    If you have a decent used market in your area, you can likely pick up twice the bike for your money. Given that you're probably pretty comfortable doing a little wrenching, I would strongly recommend checking it out. What's your local CL? Or any shops do used or consignment sales?
    Sinister Bikes
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  10. #10
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    Pretty much second what has already been said except. Suntours has a excellent Loyalty Program so if you new ride comes with a Suntours spring fork, it can be upgraded cheaply.

    Check out the Airborne Seeker. Little over you posted budget but decently equipped.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I537 using Tapatalk

  11. #11
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    i want to thank you all for your responses. You've all been very helpful. i can't get a response out of the guy with the Gary Fischer so i'm just gonna keep looking. A quick question about etiquette for the board. If I were to seek opinions on a particular bike i find for sale should i post questions here, in the 29er forum or the manufacturer forum?

  12. #12
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    You do have an advantage in that you know bikes and that will hopefully help you in the used bike arena. Smooth/rough bearings, chainring wear, crank, frame issues, overall maintenance, etc. are pretty common areas to look for on any used bike. You can probably already tell the bikes that have been abused and the ones that haven't.

    The areas that will be new are forks and disc brakes. My advice is to do the research. There are a ton of reviews on mtbr and other places.

    As far as drivetrains, XT is equivalent to Ultegra and I personally feel that it is hard to beat for the price. Also, I wouldn't hesitate to look at a 5-7 year old hardtail with really good components over a year or 2 old bike with lower quality components. A hardly used 7 year old XT/Fox equipped bike that retailed for over $2K will probably be better than a year old that retailed for $1200 with Deore and Suntour or a Rockshox XC fork. There are posts that go over what to look for in a used bike. You just need to do the research.

    I'm always leery of a highly modified bike unless I really know what is going on and it is something I would do, especially for a first bike.

    John

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkecycle View Post
    If I were to seek opinions on a particular bike i find for sale should i post questions here, in the 29er forum or the manufacturer forum?
    Might do best to start here, then if you can't get the info you're looking for, take it to a more specific forum.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
    You do have an advantage in that you know bikes and that will hopefully help you in the used bike arena. Smooth/rough bearings, chainring wear, crank, frame issues, overall maintenance, etc. are pretty common areas to look for on any used bike. You can probably already tell the bikes that have been abused and the ones that haven't.

    The areas that will be new are forks and disc brakes. My advice is to do the research. There are a ton of reviews on mtbr and other places.

    As far as drivetrains, XT is equivalent to Ultegra and I personally feel that it is hard to beat for the price. Also, I wouldn't hesitate to look at a 5-7 year old hardtail with really good components over a year or 2 old bike with lower quality components. A hardly used 7 year old XT/Fox equipped bike that retailed for over $2K will probably be better than a year old that retailed for $1200 with Deore and Suntour or a Rockshox XC fork. There are posts that go over what to look for in a used bike. You just need to do the research.

    I'm always leery of a highly modified bike unless I really know what is going on and it is something I would do, especially for a first bike.

    John

    John
    Some good points. I definitely agree with you on the XT/Ultegra point. As far as road components go Dura Ace has advantages over Ultegra, but maybe not a good value proposition to upgrade. I do most of my own wrenching , so I'm certainly confident i can spot a good bike, or the problems with a bike I'm considering.

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