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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    A slightly different "which beginner bike should I get" thread

    I spent the day yesterday traveling around to all the LBS's and trying out bikes. I've also done a lot of reading on here through old threads about beginner bikes.

    I'm a complete noob to mountain biking, having grown up in Florida. However I just moved to Ogden, UT on the Wasatch Front. Looking through old "starter bike" threads I'm wondering how much stock I should put into those since most seem to be for a lot of road riding and some light trails. As I said, I live in Ogden and my house is about a half mile from a BST trailhead. I will be doing 98% trail riding. Probably mostly XC but I want to be able to handle downhill too. Nothing serious but I do live 20 minutes from Snowbasin which has lift-served mountain biking.

    The 29ers that I rode are below.
    Trek Wahoo $629
    Trek Marlin $689
    Giant Revel 1 $650
    Felt Nine 80 $600
    Specialized Hardrock Disc $589
    Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc $699

    The problem was, while I was able to get properly adjusted on fit, once I did I really couldn't tell much of a difference in any of the bikes. I've read a lot of advice that says to hop on and ride them and pick your favorite, but since the tests just involved riding around the street or parking lot, and since it was my first time riding, I couldn't really tell the difference.

    Is there a bike here that is generally better regarded than the others or does it usually come down to personal preference? I think the Hardrock sport is the only one that has any standout feature vs the rest (hydrolic brakes), so would it then come down to quality and which would take the cake on that front?

    My other question is, given where I'll be riding this, are ANY of these enough bike, even for a beginner? Or do I need to step up to something like the Trek Mamba? I was really hoping to start in the $400-$600 range but not if it's just going to be a waste.

  2. #2
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    For starters If you are doing any Lift served and seriously rocky trails you may want to look into Full Suspension?

    You are going to get all kinds of advice ranging from buy something and ride it till it breaks to dont spend less than 3 grand.

    I started on a Marlin not knowing how much I would use it on trails. Figured it was the perfect bike for around town and suitable if i got into it and wanted to upgrade it later.

    I can't speak to the other brands but I would say skip the wahoo and go to the Marlin if you do want a hardtail. If you can afford a Mamba its probably worth it but you still wont have a good fork.

    MY OWN personal opinion was that since the mamba's specs out side of the fork weren't exactly what I would want anyway...it made more sense FOR ME to put a better fork on my marlin then I got on a mamba and upgrade the rest as I go.

    I dont know how helpful I'm being but my opinion is that if you get seriously into riding on rocky tough trails you are going to need a much better fork than any of those bikes comes with. So you could either go used (probably the best option) buy one and upgrade the fork where you will have the value in the fork but the rest of the components will be lowered speced or save up and go big right of the bat.

    You may want to look into renting bikes too. I'm not going to say go ask your lbs sales people what they recommend but maybe look at local riders bikes and see how many are on ht vs fs. Check out local facebook pages of those trails too. You may find what you actually want is a quality used FS bike.

  3. #3
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    one thing- steer far clear of a bike like the current Wahoo. it has single-wall rims. great for mellow bike paths but anything gnarlier than that will kill those wheels in short order.

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    +1 to a used bike. It'll stretch your budget a lot further.

    The bike companies are all squabbling for the same market share. Hardtails at any given pricepoint from a major tend to be very similar.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    None of the listed bikes is right for your area. You will spend $1k in upgrades to get one to a low adequate level.
    A BD Gravity Point 1 with a Raidon air fork upgrade will get you going for $619.

  6. #6
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    If I did the Gravity Point 1 I'd probably need to pay my LBS to put it together, which would run around $200 and bring the price up to $819. At that price, is it still worth it over the Mamba?

    I suppose I could also do the fork upgrade on one of the other bikes I listed to get around the same price. Is the fork the main thing that was holding those back?

  7. #7
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    A slightly different "which beginner bike should I get" thread

    First question that you need to answer is what type of bike to get. Do you want the bike that fits your riding most of the time or you want the bike that can withstand the most punishment situation on the trail you'd ride sometime.

    Getting 2 bikes would be the simplest solution if money and space are not the issues. Most people in the situation would just get the xc bike. If you are not sure how much you'd like the lift service type riding why not just go there one day and rent the bike and give it a try.

    I know only a handful of noobs who enjoy the gravity stuffs. It takes nerves and skills to ride those kind of trails. I certainly would love to do that kind of riding all the time but I don't have it in me, a few rides a month on that kind of trails is more than enough to satisfy my need for the thrills. . Of course there are different types of lift service kind of trails.

  8. #8
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    Get a full suspension frame... Shop the off price sites for frames and completes. I was patient and landed a new Tallboy LTc for slightly over 50 off. That's still more than a you want to spend but you can get great bikes on Craigslist, bike specialist sites, or LBS for significantly less than current retail.

  9. #9
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    I've come across a few used offers around. Stuff hasn't been popping up quickly. Any of these better than the new entry level bikes?

    2007 Specialized Rock Hopper - $200
    26er so not ideal. This was a repo so who knows what shape it's in, but good price.

    2005 Rocky Mountain ETSX-50 - $995
    Full Suspension, but 8 years old and by far the most expensive of the bunch.

    2006 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR XC - $475
    Never really used so in really good shape. Looks like a pretty decent deal, but 17" size (I'm 5'11") might be tight. Also 26" wheels.

  10. #10
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    The RH is entry level ,the rocky is way over priced ,test ride the the stumpy ,it might be okay.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vcize View Post
    If I did the Gravity Point 1 I'd probably need to pay my LBS to put it together, which would run around $200 and bring the price up to $819. At that price, is it still worth it over the Mamba?

    Not saying Bikes Direct is the answer but the bikes come almost completely assembled and with a few adjustments are ready to ride.
    Worst case scenario you put the few parts on yourself and take it o them to do the adjustments. Shouldn't cost more than $50.

    Honestly though, I recommend buying local for your first bike especially if your mechanical confidence is low. The shop will put the bike together and tune it for you and will give you at least one free tune up down the road. However, bikes are being closed out now and MSRP is not what you should pay. If you buy a bike with the Suntour XCT or XCM I imagine you be looking to upgrade that fork soon especially in your area. I have the XCR on my hardtail and I still ride it.

    Check out REI.
    If they don't have one in store you like you can buy online and have it shipped to the store for free. They are currently running some great deals and if you buy it and don't like it, their satisfaction guarantee allows you to return it.

    Mountain Bikes - 29 inches at REI - FREE SHIPPING With $50 minimum purchase.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  12. #12
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    I was considering the mamba and several shops in phx could get me out the door for around 870, that's tax and everything.

    Also it shouldn't cost 200 to do an airborne or bikes direct assembly. It's easy, they have vids, etc. maybe 40$ to have the lbs tune it when your done. If a shop quoted you that never go there again.

    Your not going to be doing much downhill (at least not for long) at your price point. I say buy a used bike so someone else has already eaten the depreciation, and see if you like it and start saving for a fs bike. I rode my first 29er for a year and sold it for a bit of a profit. Use the bicycle blue book as a price guide.
    2013 Rockhopper Pro 29er

  13. #13
    Rogue Exterminator
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    Quote Originally Posted by TBoneAz View Post
    If a shop quoted you that never go there again.
    I thought about saying that initially but you don't know how the question was asked.
    If the bike shop is under the impression that you are buying a frame and separate components than $200 is fair to put it all together.

    If you are take the box in and have them pull it all out and put it together than I would think $75 to $100

    If you are just having them do the tune up, $40-$50
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  14. #14
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    A lot of shops charge a flat fee for new bike assembly regardless of how the bike is delivered. But one could buy it as something else, like a tuneup or just for their hourly rate.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vcize View Post
    I've come across a few used offers around. Stuff hasn't been popping up quickly. Any of these better than the new entry level bikes?

    2007 Specialized Rock Hopper - $200
    26er so not ideal. This was a repo so who knows what shape it's in, but good price.

    2005 Rocky Mountain ETSX-50 - $995
    Full Suspension, but 8 years old and by far the most expensive of the bunch.

    2006 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR XC - $475
    Never really used so in really good shape. Looks like a pretty decent deal, but 17" size (I'm 5'11") might be tight. Also 26" wheels.
    I hadn't ridden a bike in most of a decade before this summer. I live in Helena, Montana, and ride 98% on single-track trails in our city's south hills network. I am riding a bone-stock 2002 GT Aggressor 1.0 and having a blast. I think you should pick up a used bike like that 2007 Rock Hopper and go have fun with it. Ride it for a full season and you'll understand better what you eventually want to ride or have on your bike. At the end of a full season, you can probably still get $200 out of it--or at least something like it. I have found my ten year old bike is still pretty good--but I also know what will get upgraded this winter. You don't need to drop a lot of money right now; you need to go have fun riding a mountain bike.
    2013 Salsa Horsethief 2

  16. #16
    Mountain Biking Madman
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    I would recommend getting a used bike you could get a much better used bike for the same price.Although at first I liked my Marlin but now I ride more challenging trails,have went to a few xc races and have progressed my skills I feel that I have "outgrown" the Marlin.It is a good starter bike for trying out mountain biking but after that not so much.Others have upgraded theirs and enjoy it much more then in stock form and you may want to go that route.But for me I would rather get a different bike,which I plan to do.If you could maybe go and borrow a bike off someone and ride with them.You can get a better idea of what you want in a bike and how much you are going to like mountain biking.But no matter how much you like a bike you need to make sure it fits properly and you are comfortable on the bike.You will never be able to enjoy biking 100% if you are on a bike that is to small or to big or it just doesn't suit you.But don't sweat it out in the beginning and over think it all.The most important thing is that you get out and have fun and ride.You will have plenty of time to worry later.

  17. #17
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    I've been traveling quite a bit and still haven't picked something up. I am looking to get something done this week.

    On craigslist in my area I noticed the following two bikes:

    2012 Trek X-Caliber HT 29er, tubeless tire setup - $999
    2008 Gary Fisher HiFi Pro FS - $995

    My concern on the HiFi Pro is that the front fork was replaced with a new Rock Shox XC32. From reading some reviews on the bike its good handling is heavily tied into its proprietary fork, which is no longer on this bike. How much should that affect the decision? Having a FS would be nice around here (Ogden, UT).

    Are either of these good buys? One better than the other?

    Another option is grabbing one of the Airborne bikes online.

  18. #18
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    If you are willing to drive to SLC there seems to be a lot of good buys.
    This seller has lots of bikes:
    2008 Giant Reign 0 (Medium)

  19. #19
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    SLC is no problem, that's actually where I found the two I listed.

    That Giant is nice but probably too small. I'm just under 6' and it's a 17". The two I listed are both 19" so should fit nicely.

    What were some of the other good buys you were referring to? The two I listed were the ones that stuck out to me but I'm still new to this so I could easily be overlooking some.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vcize View Post
    SLC is no problem, that's actually where I found the two I listed.

    That Giant is nice but probably too small. I'm just under 6' and it's a 17". The two I listed are both 19" so should fit nicely.

    What were some of the other good buys you were referring to? The two I listed were the ones that stuck out to me but I'm still new to this so I could easily be overlooking some.
    Gotcha...
    That GF isnt worth near that much with the xc32 front fork.

    2009 Intense 6.6 (Large)
    2008 Santa Cruz Nomad
    2006 SPECIALIZED S-works FSR Stumpjumper LG
    2008 Cannondale Prophet
    2008 Ellsworth Epiphany (Large)
    Astrix Monk FS 29er (Large)
    2013 GIANT TRANCE X 29er FULL SUSPENSION! Ridden 6 times,TUNED AT COLE
    The one I would buy, but I am biased:
    2009 Marin Mount Vision 5.7

  21. #21
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    I'd like to go with a 29er so I guess that leaves me with the Giant Trance (I'd prefer to keep it around $1000 max so it's a bit out of my pricerange), the X-Caliber, or the Astrix. It looks like the Astrix also has a replacement fork. Does that devalue that one similar to the way it did on the Gary Fisher? Otherwise I think that might be the route I go.

  22. #22
    EDR
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vcize View Post
    I've been traveling quite a bit and still haven't picked something up. I am looking to get something done this week.

    On craigslist in my area I noticed the following two bikes:

    2012 Trek X-Caliber HT 29er, tubeless tire setup - $999
    2008 Gary Fisher HiFi Pro FS - $995

    My concern on the HiFi Pro is that the front fork was replaced with a new Rock Shox XC32. From reading some reviews on the bike its good handling is heavily tied into its proprietary fork, which is no longer on this bike. How much should that affect the decision? Having a FS would be nice around here (Ogden, UT).

    Are either of these good buys? One better than the other?

    Another option is grabbing one of the Airborne bikes online.
    That XC32 is a low end $175 fork with crappy damping. I think the bike originally came with a Fox120 RLC. That is $400 fork with far better damper circuits. Not to mention the stock fork was designed with the G2 geometry. I have no idea how the handling would be affected due to the non-G2 fork...but that XC32 is a serious downgrade at any rate....and that will greatly affect handling for sure. But then again....it's a $2500 bike or so for 900 bucks. You could talk him down and save for a nice fork....if you can get them for that funky G2 bike.

  23. #23
    Clueless genius
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    The reason the hi-fi was so devalued with the new fork is because the XC 32 is a lower-end product. It's not "bad" per say, but definitely not a very high-end product, and likely a downgrade from what it had previously. As for the Astrix, I wouldn't say it affects the value too much. The Recon is a solidly mid-range product and has a good track record, but the one spec'd on there is the lower end of its range with the basic TK damper and a 9mm axle.

    Regarding the 26" wheel bikes: I know you are so far thinking you want a 29 over the 26, but it never hurts to keep your options open. And also, certain 26" bikes can be easily converted to run the "new" 650b/27.5 wheels, such as that cannondale prophet. You should probably try and bargain the guy down the price of a new shifter if you go for it though, that taped-on setup is ridiculous.
    2009 GT Sanction 2.0
    2007 C'dale Prophet 5
    1994 C'dale M400

  24. #24
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    I'm going to go with the Astrix Monk for myself.

    Looking to grab one (not too pricey) for the wife as well. Does this one look like a decent deal?

    Rocky Mountain ETSX-50 (Medium)

  25. #25
    Clueless genius
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    I would pass on the Rocky, for another 55 bucks this person is selling a Santa Cruz Blur
    I say contact the seller for more info on the bike (year, build, some bigger pictures), and try and go down that route.
    2009 GT Sanction 2.0
    2007 C'dale Prophet 5
    1994 C'dale M400

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