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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    Slowly upgrading Components to the bike you want

    So I recently purchased my first bike. A used Marin 29er Hardtail at the REI scratch and dent.
    http://www.marinbikes.com/2011/bike_...nas_Ridge_29er

    Prior to that I was riding an S-Works Stumpjumper hardtail SS and then a Specialized Epic. Both were significantly lighter and crisper shifting. Since they were both longterm loans from a friend I finally stepped up and picked up my own ride.

    I upgraded to Avid Elixir CR Hydraulics immediately. Initially I thought as a 215# bodybuilder that I wouldn't care about the weight but every time I pick up a Trek or Specialized at the LBS I find myself craving a lighter frame. I've been told many times to avoid Carbon due to my weight. Whats the point of paying an arm and a leg to save a few grams when I try and gain as much weight as possible. I'm thinking about slowly upgrading my components as I wear them out and then purchasing a Stumpjumper HT M5 Frame from Specialized. I also figure I will learn a lot as I replace and transfer components from bike to bike. Whats the point of buying a fully built bike complete with mid to low grade components when you already have quality stuff on hand. Also by slowly building up to the bike I want I'd have the Crankset and cassette of my choosing based on my particular riding style on the trails I ride most, not necessarily the popular 2x10 3x9 etc..

    One of the biggest reason for this inefficient upgrade strategy is CEO approval. Its much easier justify spending to replace worn out parts. If I save up and blow 2-3 k on the bike I want I'll never hear the end of it.

    So after looking into this a bit more I'm still leaning towards a Stumpjumper Hardtail M5 frame. I'm not stuck on specialized though anyone wanna open my eyes to some other good lightweight hardtail 29er frames with going Carbon?
    Last edited by Spartan14; 07-22-2011 at 08:13 AM.
    Marin 29er
    "Try not to ride too long you might end up burning muscle!"
    http://www.beeftrain.com/

  2. #2
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    Tip: Upgrade when they are clearancing out last years models.

    Example: 2010 X.9 Shifters and rear derailleur: $149.98

    http://www.pricepoint.com/detail/128...p=135%20SRAX93

    My 2007 iDrive 4 4.0 is far from a 4.0 anymore. Currently, it's closer to a 2.0. A few more upgrades and it will be an all X9/Fox setup. Why do this for a 100mm FS XC bike? Because anything more than 100mm FS is overkill for the area I live in.
    2009 Access 9.5 29er
    2010 Diamondback Insight RS (700c hybrid)
    Velorazzo frame build (26)

  3. #3
    Two Wheel Offroad
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    While you'd ended up spending more money buying parts the upside to a slow upgrade is first, if you upgrade every 3 months you'd feel refresh everytime you upgrade, the bike (to you) feels difference. It's the best way to upgrade tools and learn to do it yourself.

    I usually buy parts/component+accessories when they are on mad sales an before I even need it. You can do this on a couple of items like gloves, helmets, cable/housing, pedals. I bought 2 $99 Fox Flux helmets from Huck'N'Roll last X-mas for $35/each no tax, and free shipping, as well as $35 five ten freeride. The helmet is still in the box but I know I'll put it in rotation soon.

    If you break something or needed parts to prevent downtime you usually pay premium at LBS or online, it's usually whatever sales going on at the time and usually the best price.

  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    OP - your new bike probably already has a lighter frame than your friend's Epic. The frame is not actually a very big chunk of the weight on a bike. Depending on the specific frame, and the other components, a good chunk of the weight is distributed relatively evenly around the frame, fork and wheels.

    I'd recommend starting the process with a new frame, if you want to do the piecemeal upgrade thing. There are a fair number of components that don't switch over well. Try to give yourself the rest of the season to see where your riding takes you, so you can choose the right frame for that - the Stumpjumper hardtail is a well-reputed XC bike, but maybe that's not what you find you want to do.

    When you get the new frame, figure out what components won't fit, buy those, and then cannibalize the old bike to build it up. The hope is to be without a ridable bike for only a day. I feel bad but also have to laugh a little whenever someone gets a new frame, starts madly pulling components from their old one, and realizes that, whoops, xxx isn't going to work. Then they lose a few weekends, often during the good part of the season. (So, do it in the winter.) When you have the frame you're happy with as a longterm ride, you can buy expensive stuff to your heart's content, at least as long as the CEO doesn't know.

    Incidentally, trying to do it in the winter should also mesh well with the two strategies above. This stuff can get expensive if you're not careful, but with patience and forethought, it can be done for factory sponsorship prices too.

    Check out the clydesdale forum. One of the larger riders on my team only rides steel, for the reasons you've been told to avoid carbon. Big guys with big power outputs can wear out aluminum stuff pretty fast - bikes like the Stumpjumper are made for me (153 lb this morning, working on weighing a little less.)
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    I bought an '08 felt Q620 for $250. Started upgrading stuff that was not broken just because I wanted to and because I am a dedicated tinkerer by nature. I now have a $1000 bike because of that BUT, the bike now has Formula Puro Brakes, a new LX Triple Crank, Reba Team fork with remote pop-lock, Forte Flat Pedals, new SRAM 9 speed cassette, new x7 shifters and derauillers, new SRAM chain, etc. Still have the cheap stock WTB wheels--hmmm what do I need to do about that?

    Probably stupid to do all that, but I like the bike really well as it is right now.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for all the great info.

    I think I'll start looking into the weight of my fork, wheels, etc.. I wish it was easy to find weights for everything. I haven't found a weight listed for my Marin frame anywhere and there's no way I'd strip it just to weigh it. I'm also a little excited to figure out what I want for gearing. Thus far I mostly keep it in the middle ring riding my local single track.

    Ultimately I want the bike to ride in Xterra Triathlons. I try to keep my rides under a couple hours usually closer to 1 hour in order to minimize weight loss from the cardio.

    I just had the bike tuned at LBS and I'm eager to see how my shifting is now. I was spoiled riding nicer Specialized bikes. The shifting was so much smoother. I'm eager to find out if it is mostly just the bike being out of adjustment or if the nicer components made shifting that much quicker and smoother. My buddy was a real weight weanie The SS HT I was riding was 19 pounds and the epic was like 23. Maybe the transition from high end weight weanie bikes to low end tanks is why it seems so drastic.
    Marin 29er
    "Try not to ride too long you might end up burning muscle!"
    http://www.beeftrain.com/

  7. #7
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Check out parktool.com.

    Most triathletes can't handle their bikes, so while you should still scout the courses for your XTERRAs, I'd be surprised if they're technical. Throwing a bunch of money at the bike won't make much difference - better just to get nice tires, aero bars if they're legal, and ride as hard as you can without screwing up your run.

    You can find weights for a lot of stuff online. A good place to check first is weightweenies.starbike.com. It's not super-current, lately, but still gets updated by people and you can often at least ballpark your components.

    You'll also see a surprising improvement in zippiness with racing tires and lightweight tubes. My rear tire is a Maxxis Crossmark, which is also available in a 29". I didn't like it on the front, but if you're riding pretty mellow stuff, it might be acceptable. If you want really light, the wonderful worlds of cyclocross and weight weenie MTB tires are both open to you.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    Geeze it's easy to get sucked in to weight weenie land. I've been comparing weights of stems and handlebars etc.. looks like I could drop a half pound pretty quick by upgrading. And losing those big heavy grips in favor of tape. I think I need to weigh my bike before I go worrying about saving such a small amount.
    Marin 29er
    "Try not to ride too long you might end up burning muscle!"
    http://www.beeftrain.com/

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartan14 View Post
    I wish it was easy to find weights for everything.
    http://weightweenies.starbike.com/listings.php
    2009 Access 9.5 29er
    2010 Diamondback Insight RS (700c hybrid)
    Velorazzo frame build (26)

  10. #10
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    Now if I can just pick a frame. I'm not dead set on a Specialized M5 HT 29er Stumpjumper frame. I mean why support Taiwan if there is an equal quality USA frame out there with similar weight.
    Marin 29er
    "Try not to ride too long you might end up burning muscle!"
    http://www.beeftrain.com/

  11. #11
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    For an American-made frame, you have to go way up-market. There are a ton of really beautiful steel frames, but since you're interested in light weight, that may not be what you're looking for.

    You may be limited to dentist bikes, actually - Serotta, Litespeed. I think Cannondale and Trek have finally off-shored their top end hardtails.

    Top-end steels can have pretty competitive weights. They keep getting stronger, and while tube thickness can be a limiting factor, frames have continued to get lighter anyway. So pick up the phone and see if there's a builder who will make you a steel bike lighter than a Stumpjumper. I doubt that anyone can beat carbon, but aluminum and titanium are not the be-all and end-all.

    It's kind of stupid. The US is home to a really good infrastructure and ALCOA, but we make almost no aluminum products. We also export iron and coal, and import steel. WTF?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    So I've got a new angle for a slow upgrade. I'm thinking about picking up a cheap Sette frame $90 and sticking my old components on it for a bike to give to my step dad and get him hooked. My mom bought herself a Medium Cannondale SL3 and yesterday she picked up a set of Eggbeater 2's and Pearl Izumi shoes. My step-dad however is like 6-6 to my Mom's 5-6. And he keeps trying to ride my Mom's bike. Even worse, he lowers the seat so he is sitting completely upright and looks like a clown. He's 63 so it's gonna be hard to teach him to ride properly. Funny he rode her bike on some single track and of course rode like a hundred miles an hour until the very first turn of any kind where he fails to turn at all, rides off into the woods, and has a spectacular youtube worthy crash. Afterwards he decides Paved trails are the best place to ride.
    Marin 29er
    "Try not to ride too long you might end up burning muscle!"
    http://www.beeftrain.com/

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