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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Thread: The Search

  1. #1
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    The Search

    I've spent so much time on these forums in recent weeks I feel quite compelled to post... this seems like a great community and it is a lot of fun checking out everyone's opinions.

    I've spent a lot of time on bicycles in my life, but about ten years ago I was in a pretty bad car accident that kept me off one for a long time. Right now i'm researching and riding a lot of bikes to get into trail riding, which is something i've not done much of at all. I'm mostly into riding for fun and exercise, but I love challenging myself and am sure i'll get into a bit of technical stuff.

    I didn't know what I was getting into! This sport has really evolved. I got a little overwhelmed with information for awhile, now i'm just excited to find something that will get me in the game.

    Originally I hoped to spend around $500 bucks on a quality used bike, but quickly decided to double my budget which made a lot more options available. I'm on the fence now as to new or used, I am just going to keep riding bikes till' I find the right one. I was pretty caught up in the 29er hype for a minute, but there is a good used market here in CO for older 26" bikes, so I could go either way. I personally feel a hardtail will suit me fine, but a couple of friends have recommended going fs, mostly because it's easier on the body I think. I'm almost 38 but i'm light and in pretty good shape so i'm not putting too much into that. Around here (on this forum) everyone has a opinion on what is best for a beginner, and many of them are different! I just want to make a smart investment and get out there and have fun. We have some good trails around here and i'm quite excited.

    I've ridden a number of bikes in my price range, mostly 29ers so far, including a Specailized rockhopper, a Trek Excalibur 7, a Scott Aspect and a Felt (don't remember which one...). I am right inbetween a S and a M depending on the size of the frame; a 17 or 17.5 fits me but a 18" is a bit big. The Scott I rode was a S, it didn't feel right at all. My LBS has one in medium that I am going to ride tomorrow, as well as a couple of used bikes I want to check out.

    There are a number of used bikes I want to look at down in Durango. They must have a serious biking community there, for all I see for sale on Craigs list. I might make it down next week if I don't find what i'm looking for before then.

    I am having a good time with all this research, but I am ready to get riding. Out of everything i've read there are only a couple of steadfast common denominators that I have learned: get a bike that fits, and get one that feels good and makes you want to ride. I'm going by that philosophy for now. That and I want a quality fork. Even short test rides have shown me I will not be happy with a clunky front end.

    I will spare you more details for now, this is long-winded enough already. So much to learn, so little time. Aren't you guys glad it's riding season? I feel a bit ridiculous how much I want to get out there at this point...

  2. #2
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    Hate to break it to ya...29er's aren't hype. Maybe that's why there's such a used market for 26" bikes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Psycle151 View Post
    Friggin' coward. Give me a red chiclet instead of debating like a man. You don't deserve your green blocks.

  3. #3
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    I wondered if I put that badly... hype was the wrong term for me to use. I know there is physics behind what a 29" wheel does and what advantages that creates. There are a lot of opinions about it, however, and for someone like me and with the types of local trails I have available I don't think it's something that is necessary. However I may just end up with one anyhow! I do find the merits of a 29" wheel quite attractive. But if I can get a really nice 26" bike because someone wants to upgrade that too might be a good situation for me.

    p.s. experienced local riders whom I respect have also encouraged me not to be fixated on a 29" bike.

  4. #4
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    what type of riding are u trying to do? i would definately go with a higher end used 26 than a entry level 29er for the same price, i have a 29 and a 26 and i like them both but they ride quite different not one being better than the other.. could u ask ur friends for a loaner bike and see what u like?

  5. #5
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    Can also check out Pink Bike..

    Pinkbike BuySell Search

    Pinkbike BuySell Search

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by db440 View Post
    p.s. experienced local riders whom I respect have also encouraged me not to be fixated on a 29" bike.
    That's good advise. Don't discount a bike based on wheel size. For me, it's 29er or nothing, but I've ridden both and know how much better a 29er is for me and where I ride that I'd never go back to little wheels. That's something you'll have to figure out through talking with other local riders and maybe trying out some bikes if you are able.
    Quote Originally Posted by Psycle151 View Post
    Friggin' coward. Give me a red chiclet instead of debating like a man. You don't deserve your green blocks.

  7. #7
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    I spent quite a lot on my 29er, but I'll echo what joel787 says - getting a solid package in a 26" bike would definitely be a better way in to the sport. At its worst, the gear can be a real distraction. Constant equipment failures and a fork that doesn't track straight can really suck.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    CO has a good share of demos. On trail rides are the best source of info for seeing what works.
    Winter Park at the end of July(25-27) for Colorado Freeride Festival gets Trek and others.
    This 29 hardtail is about 600 and has a good air fork and decent Alivio/Deore drive components. Use it as a minimum to compare other choices to.
    2013 Marin Bobcat Trail 29er 19" MTB Hardtail Bike Shimano 9S Hydraulic Disc New | eBay

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    I would definitely say you're ahead of the game not slimming down your options when looking for a used bike. 26, 650b, or 29er you could adapt your riding to all of it. That being said my 29er FS is my go to bike. I was wounded about 7 years ago that included some serious damage to my spine. I can ride the rigid or a hardtail from time to time but almost never do back to back days. So since you're coming back from a serous injury I would recommend a FS just to save your body. If you start hitting the trails again and you're so beat up from the ride you may become discouraged to the point you just stop getting on the bike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronnieron12 View Post
    I would definitely say you're ahead of the game not slimming down your options when looking for a used bike. 26, 650b, or 29er you could adapt your riding to all of it. That being said my 29er FS is my go to bike. I was wounded about 7 years ago that included some serious damage to my spine. I can ride the rigid or a hardtail from time to time but almost never do back to back days. So since you're coming back from a serous injury I would recommend a FS just to save your body. If you start hitting the trails again and you're so beat up from the ride you may become discouraged to the point you just stop getting on the bike.
    That's my exact situation, a spinal injury. It was ten year ago, however, and I would say I have made a full recovery. The only question I have, and the only issue I might have with biking is that I have some neurological issues in my hands sometimes: numbness and discomfort. I haven't figured out if this is related to my spinal injuries but I have a feeling it may be. Through a good amount of yoga and body awareness I have learned to take stay on top of it though. There is a fair chance it will be the limiting factor in how long and how hard I can ride, but hopefully that won't be the case. I am sure I can achieve goals of having fun and getting some good cardiovascular with where I am at. Heck, I get that riding my rigid GT around pulling my one and a half year daughter in a trailer!

  11. #11
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    A friend just mentioned the demo deals to me, that sounds like a good opportunity. The way I look at it is if I can get a good used bike to learn on, get some ability, see what I like and start riding friends bikes then next year i'll be able to move to something new if it will suit what i'm doing better.


    Today i'm going to the LBS to ride a few bikes. He has an older Jekyll there that I rode and really enjoyed, but i'm worried about a can of worms with a bike that old and the whole proprietary lefty fork. There is a really nice Felt 26" hardtail there, the owner of the shop said it was a $2800 bike and he's asking 9$00 for it. It is set up at around 26 pounds. I'm gonna check it out too, as well as ride a couple of new bikes he has in the shop. Every time I go by there I seem to have my toddler with me so i'm excited to spend some time there alone. I already bought a helmet, pump and bike tools from him, as well as had him fix up my gf's bike. It's the only shop within forty miles of here, and has been bought by a cool shop in Grand Junction called Bicycle Outfitters. They offer lifetime service on new bikes, which is pretty amazing.

    I just sold a piece of music equipment to fund my bike purchase, so i've got the cash now, it's just about finding the right bike. I'm really trying to take my time and get informed and ride as many as possible. Thanks for all the support and advice!
    Last edited by db440; 07-02-2014 at 09:38 AM.

  12. #12
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    Yeah good luck at the shop. Im sure whatever you end up with is going to be awesome. On the subject of the hands going numb it could definitely be related to the spine a suspension fork will help but so would some ergo grips and just riding looser on the grips. I have a One year old too bro. I have the Ibert bike seat. The Ibert mounts up the steerer tube and it keeps the bike nimble enough to be ridden on some light trails with my son onboard. Its a better view for the kid, safer than a trailer, and you can communicate better.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronnieron12 View Post
    Yeah good luck at the shop. Im sure whatever you end up with is going to be awesome. On the subject of the hands going numb it could definitely be related to the spine a suspension fork will help but so would some ergo grips and just riding looser on the grips. I have a One year old too bro. I have the Ibert bike seat. The Ibert mounts up the steerer tube and it keeps the bike nimble enough to be ridden on some light trails with my son onboard. Its a better view for the kid, safer than a trailer, and you can communicate better.
    That's awesome, i've been wanting to find out about a better situation for my toddler. The Cannondale I rode had those ergo grips, I immediately fell in love with them. I do try to keep my touch light when possible, and it think having the proper reach/set-up for my build will help greatly.

  14. #14
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    I finally found my bike! We were on our way to a wedding in Monte Vista and I stopped by a cycle store in Gunnison, and voila, they had just that day put a great price on a Salsa El Mariachi 2. I have had my eyes on some Salsa bikes, I really like their style, but hadn't found any that fit my price range (although I did end up spending more than I had budgeted...). This one is a 2013 model and that worked out great for me.

    Basically it was the old story; I got on the bike and knew it was the one. I'd been riding everything I could get my hands on for weeks, and really liked some of them, but this one just felt right. What can I say? I also really like the set-up, features and room for customization.

    I've only put ten or fifteen miles on the bike, but I love the way it handles and feels. The shop owner set me up on a Medium size frame, which from my research seemed a touch big, but she was fully confident that it was the right one for me and who am I to question that. It certainly feels right.

    I have some research to do still about accessories. I bought some entry level pedals for it just to get going, they look a bit out of place on my sexy new bike. I have a helmet, tools and pump; now I need some water apparatus and some gloves.

    Yesterday I took a ride up a local canyon. Uphill was great but the vibration on the road on the way down was not good for my numbness issues... Kind of a bummer but not surprising. It may well limit what I am able to do as a mtn. biker. It also may inspire me to get a better diagnosis for my neuropathy and perhaps even find some healing. There is a lot of riding I can do that will be easier on me too. I wonder if a fs bike would change that level of vibration much. I do want to research other things that can help with that transmission too, i've read that certain types of bars can be quite helpful. Still plenty to learn...

    All in all I feel like a kid on Christmas, though. Ironically the last brand new bike I have owned was twenty five years ago on that very day. I figure I deserve this one. I'll certainly ride it as much as I can!

  15. #15
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    Rear suspension definitely helps. But it's not as big a difference as rigid to front suspension. What fork does the El Mariachi have? At fifteen miles in, I know I wouldn't have the bike really dialed in yet, so I'm betting you don't either, and some of the little-seeming tweaks can make a pretty big difference. I think you're getting ahead of yourself thinking alt bars already. At least, unless you nail setup a lot faster than I can...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    It has the Rock Shox Reba 100mm front suspension on it. It's my first bike with any suspension, and so far I love it. I am sure it will take some time to dial in. I was definitely experimenting with different settings on the rebound (I think that's the right term). I'm in no hurry to put money in the bike or make alterations, but I do want to learn what can help me ride comfortably. The fun of cruising downhill on a bumpy dirt road was unfortunately overshadowed by the numbness in my hands. This is not due to cyclists palsy, but more likely spinal injuries from the past. I'm sure there is plenty of smoother terrain around here to adventure on, however. I'm going to go exploring one of the local trail systems tonight if it doesn't rain too much.

  17. #17
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    People write novels on how to tune the Reba. It doesn't have to be that hard, though.

    I try to air mine up to the pressure that doesn't bottom out harshly but still uses full travel. Mine's a 2013 Solo Air model, and drives the O-ring pretty much all the way up to the crown when it bottoms.

    Then, I set rebound damping to the minimum that it doesn't kick when I roll over things or off of little ledges.

    Does yours have a compression damper?

    This can take a little iteration. After years with forks with one functioning adjustment, starting in on tuning a FS with everything working was a little intimidating. I ended up just devoting a day to riding the same trail with different tweaks until I got it pretty well dialed. Not that I haven't messed with it since, but it's been on the order of a 5-10 psi pressure change as I've lost weight or a click different on a damper.

    Figure out the fit first, though. Your weight distribution will affect your suspension setup.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Just hit my local trail system for the first time today and all I can say is WOW! This is why I wanted to do this.... why did I wait so long? The ride up really kicked my butt, there is probably 2000ft+ elevation gain in the first couple of miles. I definitely had to stop a couple of times, i'm not in the best cardiovascular shape, but that will improve. Coming down was amazing, nothing like the washboardy road I was riding yesterday, just smooth well groomed singletrack with nary a soul in sight. I can't believe I had the whole mountain to myself, but it was a great way to break in my bike. As far as the bike went I am in love. I bottomed out my seat for the descent, and I think i'll need to take a bit off the seatpost so I will be able to lower it more, but it was fine for the riding I did. The ride was glorious, really. I know most (if not all) of you can relate.

    As far as my suspension goes, I didn't feel the need to change it at all. I do have a compression dial; it's wide open at the moment. I reset my little o ring a couple of times during the ride, it tended to end up about a half inch or less from the top, which seems to be about right from what i'm reading here. I could bottom it out with a really hard hit, but I don't anticipate doing that much. It will take me some time to really see what I need with it, but it was great for these smooth trails. I had almost no problems with my hands either, which is wonderful. I anticipate riding 5-10 hours a week for the coming time, and it will hopefully be enough to condition me to be able to ride up the hills better!

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    Oh, and as far a fit goes, so far so good. I may want to put a 80mm stem on there sometime, I'd like to see how that feels, but it seems to be pretty well dialed, especially right out of the store. That's why I ended up on this bike. It fit better than everything else I rode. After a lot more time on the trails i'll probably start to get an idea of how I could improve my position/posture/fit with the bike.


    I'm experimenting a bit with tire pressure too, but so far what the lbs owner suggested, around 28 rear 25 front, seems just about perfect for what i'm doing. I actually think the set-up on this bike is fairly ideal for the type of trails we have, and the 2.2 Continental tires so far have made me really happy.

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