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.
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  1. #1
    My bike is rusty..
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    Starting out with an old bike...

    My Uncle let me have his old Cannondale. Its a 3.8 series M300. I don't know much about it other than its at least 15 years old, has no suspension, and needs at least a tune-up. I was thinking about building it up into a reliable weekend-warrior/campus-transportation (college freshmen this fall). I'm very new to mountain biking, only been on two rides with borrowed bikes. Curious to know if its worth putting a little money into. It has smooth shifting and pretty light frame, but I definitely want to get some forks for the front. Suggestions and opinions please...

  2. #2
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    No. I wouldn't put a penny into upgrades beyond tires, tubes, seat, or grips and only if necessary... Just lube the chain and bearings, tune it up and ride it like it is.

  3. #3
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    you're right.. i wouldn't throw any money into it. just do basic maintenance. if you need to figure out how to do it, just look up tutorials on youtube. its very basic maintenance to make it reliable, you just have to take the time to learn how. but you can, its not impossible lol

  4. #4
    My bike is rusty..
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    After wheeling my Jeep and fixing it how many times, a bike can't be that bad. Are these rigid style bikes offroad worthy? Seemed a little rough just on the street.

  5. #5
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    a lot of people ride older rigid forks offroad.. suspension does take the bumps, but i don't think its worth it for an older bike.. it'll run you at least 150-200 for anything considered sub decent. for that price, you could probably find a used bike with more features you're probably looking for. ride it into the ground and then save up for something better is my advice. the main difference between bikes and cars is that its usually cheaper to buy a new one than upgrade an old one.

    wanna post a pic of it, just for reference? just out of curiosity.

  6. #6
    Flow like water
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    These guys are right. Almost any list of upgrade parts you can come up with would be more money than a carefully-checked-out used bike. You may be surprised what it costs just to get cables, tires, tubes, and grips. The little stuff adds up fast.

    Just ride it. You will quickly learn what it is capable of. That's worth something.

  7. #7
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    you *might* be able to find a forl on ebay that wont break the bank (people always selling takeoffs), but everyone else has already said what needs said. tune it up and ride it. you can do rigids on the trail, and it'll definitely give you a workout. at 18, you should have no problem doing that. at 44, im not even considering a rigid lol.
    If you arent bleeding, you arent riding hard enough.
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  8. #8
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    Personally, I'd just get the biggest tyres that will for the frame and fork and try to run them as low as you can pressure wise to add some cush, but wouldn't, as said spend more than your standard tyres, tubes, grips on this bike. If anything just give it a standard tuneup and keep it for your college beater bike and start to save for a nicer, new, MTB.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
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  9. #9
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    I'd just buy a completely new (or used) modern MTB as this bike most likely would not support modern forks etc. if you wanted to upgrade it. If you don't want to buy a new bike, just tune up the bike and maybe replace some old worn out parts

  10. #10
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    What's more, a quality but minimalist bike will help boost your skills and confidence. I had a 23 year old Marin, full rigid, 2.0in tyres, and I took it on rough, AM tracks. I had that for about six months, and after riding about two hours a week, that really honed in my skills. When I bought a full suspension after that, I felt so rewarded - feeling like a heaps better rider. Actually, my skills have deteriorated.

    A good thing about an old, used bike is that if you crash/ding/break something, it isn't that much of a deal.

    About suspension - I wouldn't worry about it. At all. If you're gonna commute on it, don't waste your money. No suspension can teach you volumes.
    My account had previous problems that lasted over 6 months. I couldn't post, etc. This is my new account.

  11. #11
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    Try it first. You will know what you need in time on what you’d like to upgrade to have a much more comfortable ride. Don’t gamble on fully upgrading it, it might not be worth it.

  12. #12
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    Go have someone tell you how much it would cost to get it running properly. Then you can decide if it's "worth it" or not. Really as an around campus bike it will do great but on trails it might be a little rough. The nice benefit of that bike over a new bike is that it will be less appealing to bike thieves on campus. If you can get the bike running for a reasonable price then it will be worth getting running.

    Let's say that a couple years down the line you find out you really enjoy mountain biking, then you can spend a pile of cash on a new bike just for mountain biking and you'll still have the Cdale there for a campus or loaner bike for one of your friends.

    edit: I would not, however, spend any frivolous money like putting a suspension fork or crazy light wheels on it. If it can get running then you should only spend enough money on it to keep it running. It's easy to get carried away on upgrades.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ursinamus View Post
    Are these rigid style bikes offroad worthy? Seemed a little rough just on the street.
    Riding a rigid on the trails? Oh no!



    I bought a used single speed rigid 26" off of craigslist and took it to a favorite local trail and it was surprisingly a lot of fun. Gave my arms and shoulders quite the workout though.

    What do you mean by it riding rough on the street? It wasn't a smooth ride? Did you ride on paved roads? Does it have knobby tires? I mean, road bikes don't have any kind of suspension and they ride great on the street.
    Bikes, lots'o bikes

  14. #14
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    before there were suspension forks.... there weren't

  15. #15
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    Tune it up and ride the heck out of it.

    I put nearly 2500 miles on my 94 Giant Yukon in the past 16 months. Oh, and I turn 50 this year. Rigids make you a smarter rider.

  16. #16
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    I rode my '94 rigid steel off road for the first time in a while Sunday instead of my newer HT. On the first semi-technical descent, I thought "Wow, this is rough." By the second lap, I was simply choosing better lines and using my arms to smooth out the bumps. By the third lap I was thinking, "Wow, this f*cker climbs like a moutain goat!"

    It's a different kind of riding and one which will teach you volumes. I also mounted a set of new old stock (NOS) WTB 2.1" Velociraptors I found on CL for $10. I set the pressures to 25 psi and had a blast.
    Joe
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  17. #17
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    I am in the same boat as you. I just had a mid 90's Cannondale M400 gifted to me and its almost new despite the years of hanging in a garage. It shifts a little rough and I was going to get some new handlebars, tires, brakes, ect. I soon realized that spending all this money on such and old bike was pointless unless you are die hard about having a custom ride. I just test rode some 29ers today and they felt great. Because the bike was given to me I'm just going to sure up the breaks and get some new pedals and keep it as a loaner once I get my new ride. Do like I did, go ride the heck out of the thing and get stoked on riding in general, then save up for something else.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Go have someone tell you how much it would cost to get it running properly. Then you can decide if it's "worth it" or not. Really as an around campus bike it will do great but on trails it might be a little rough. The nice benefit of that bike over a new bike is that it will be less appealing to bike thieves on campus. If you can get the bike running for a reasonable price then it will be worth getting running.

    Let's say that a couple years down the line you find out you really enjoy mountain biking, then you can spend a pile of cash on a new bike just for mountain biking and you'll still have the Cdale there for a campus or loaner bike for one of your friends.

    edit: I would not, however, spend any frivolous money like putting a suspension fork or crazy light wheels on it. If it can get running then you should only spend enough money on it to keep it running. It's easy to get carried away on upgrades.
    +1 to pretty much all of this.

    I think everybody should do at least some of their trails at least once or twice on rigids before they decide they "need" a $4000 FS bike.

    FWIW, demoing a few of those has me pretty convinced that my $4000 bike will not have a rear linkage.

    The point being that older mountain bikes are still mountain bikes - new technology didn't make them magically stop being capable off-road. The value of an older mountain bike is all about condition. They can be real money pits, or they can be in shape for another fifteen years of service. It's all about how well the previous owner cared for them.

    With bikes that shipped without a suspension fork, adding one messes with the geometry. I'd be inclined to stick with the rigid fork.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ou2mame View Post
    before there were suspension forks.... there weren't
    Yeah but also "before" nobody was jumping 5 meter high ramps.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DariusG187 View Post
    Yeah but also "before" nobody was jumping 5 meter high ramps.
    You may want to check with the BMX crowd before you go making claims like that. If it can be done, it can be done on any bike... except maybe those drops Bender was always trying to do, that might be hard on a rigid bike.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  21. #21
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    I've been riding the same Ross Mt Pocono for 16 years. I'm here to learn about buying a new bike. Not spending anything on the old one.

  22. #22
    My bike is rusty..
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    Thanks for the comments, I haven't checked in awhile. But there is some interest in the bike, as in selling it. Might give it to this kid in highschool for $100 and find a used mid-level hard tail. Was looking at this 2011 GT Avalanche for $350, he built some of it.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ursinamus View Post
    Thanks for the comments, I haven't checked in awhile. But there is some interest in the bike, as in selling it. Might give it to this kid in highschool for $100 and find a used mid-level hard tail. Was looking at this 2011 GT Avalanche for $350, he built some of it.
    Sounds like the better deal. The 2011 GT will keep you busy, and will take you more places reliably than a much older bike IMO.

  24. #24
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    I think the operative word here is "campus bike". I moonlight at the university (teaching) and bike theft has always been a problem. Over here, bikes are stripped and all you see on the bike racks are frames, front wheels etc. The flashier the bike, the more likely it will happen.

    Anyway, aim low if it's a campus bike. Set your upgrade budget to "whatever I can afford to lose" and not a penny more. Check the bike co-ops around the university. There are always great deals to be found there.

    ...then again you could trade the Cannondale in for a good bit of beer money when you're in a pinch.

    -S

  25. #25
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    I'm pretty sure the headtube is 1". Not sure but don't think the M300 ever came with the more common 1 1/8" head tube. Not only will a modern shock screw up the handling big time, but to find anything decent is gonna be tough in 1". IMO a Mag 20 or 21 would be your best bet, or you could try a different more modern one that you could shorten the travel on, but again that 1" headtube is gonna be tough. For the maybe 1-2 inches of travel that you'd ideally get so you don't screw up the whole bikes handling, I'd sooner keep the rigid fork. Plus I'd guess for the $ you'd spend, not to mention the time and effort, you could get a whole newer, better used bike for around the same as a relatively decent fork that fits.
    With that being said, IMO it's a decent bike, weighs around 26- maybe 28 pounds, very rigid aluminum frame, and personally I love the look of those older fat tubed Cannondales. The groupo wasn't the best, but for what you want to use it for it's all you need. If you want a softer ride or some squish, get some fat tires and keep the psi low.
    My .02

    BTW, if I'm correct on the year, there's a Vintage Retro forum on here.
    Last edited by theMeat; 09-04-2012 at 11:22 AM.
    Round and round we go

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