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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    Trek 3500 2012 suspension?

    I bought a Trek 3500(with some upgrades) 2012 off craigslist for $165.
    It has a magarange Shimano gear in the back, which allows me to go right up a 35 degree incline with little effort. It also allows me to almost flip the bike over...
    I don't think the brakes are stock either.

    Anyway, here is what I want to know:
    Should I get a new fork or try to adjust these shocks? I don't see any adjusting knobs, and according to the Trek website they have steel springs inside. They seem sticky though, and very stiff
    I am 160 pounds and 5'6". being a high school student, I have little cash.
    This thing has less than 20 miles on it when I bought it Wednesday night. I took it to the trails today and it was pretty good as far as speed, traction, and light jumping(under 4 feet air) goes, except the shocks didn't seem to do much. I have been riding a 1980's Huffy with steel rims and steel frame, with no gearshifts(actually the front derailleur is gone!).
    Should I invest money into a new fork or just leave it?

  2. #2
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    The fork will probably be the first thing you want to upgrade. As you have learned about there isn't anything but a coil spring to it. They can get pretty scary at speed, if it starts working. Keep your eye out for a used 80-100mm fork, to save some money.

  3. #3
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    Also should I get new rims for this bike? They are stock and I think I may have bent one drifting on grass when I hit a rock. It is straight now, I have a spoke wrench and lots of experience straightening them but I don't want a taco when I come down from a 4' drop.

  4. #4
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    This is an entry level bike, and while for light easy trails it'll be okay, but they way you are describing your riding, that is not what you are doing. You will want to get some stronger wheels.

  5. #5
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    Thanks! I have some old 26'ers that are alumn that I got somewhere, they look a lot sturdier. If I were to clean those up and put the Trek tires on them, can the frame take the stuff? I don't have much experiance with serious bikes. The one good thing about the old steel stuff was that you could chuck it over a cliff, climb down, pick it up, and ride.
    I'm rather worried about losing a wheel. I did bend that one- just went down and looked at it.
    Thanks!

  6. #6
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    The frame is overbuilt for what it is designed for. It'll last for a while, you will want to periodically check for cracks, but you'll want to do that anyway. Eventually you will probably want to get a different frame, one that is designed for your style of riding. But when that time comes, it'll probably be better to just get a new bike. Does the bike have disc brakes?

    Get the basic upgrades, to make the bike safe for your style of riding, fork and wheels. Then ride it into the ground while saving up for the inevitable future bike replacement.

  7. #7
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    Probably not what you wanted to hear about a bike you just bought, but it's not worth doing everything you need to do to make a Trek 3500 into a bike for crushing 4' drops. That is an entry level XC bike, and it will be reduced to rubble if ridden off of 4' drops with regularity.

    My $0.02: Either ride it as intended, or sell it and get a dirt jumper. Replacing the fork and wheels is throwing good money after bad. May as well get the right tool for the job. A dirt jump worthy set of wheels is going to cost at least $150 (for something like Rhyno-Lite rims with Shimano hubs). A used dirt jump type fork is gonna likely be at least $150.

    Something like this would be more appropriate:

    Kona Cowan Dirt Jumper 26in

  8. #8
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    I agree with Jeff. it sounds like you are trying to make this bike do something it was never intended to do. trying to make it into an aggressive DJ/ trail bike is just flushing money down the toilet. if you want it to do that, you will need to replace the wheels, the fork, the frame, etc until you have a whole new custom Frankenbike, which will cost much more even in the short term.

    it should be fine for ripping around regular mellow XC trails, but drops and jumps are going to be a disaster. you can lube the fork stanchions to make the action a bit smoother but it's still going to be a cheap coil fork. keep the bike tuned and work your way into a better-suited bike for your purposes.

  9. #9
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    I found a fork for ~$70.
    it fits this headset.
    100mm travel 26" Rockshox.
    Worth it?
    my parents will not allow me to buy another bike(even with my own money) for at least 2 years.

  10. #10
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    Which model is it?

    Sounds like you are stuck. A 100mm fork on an entry-level bike is not going to help.

  11. #11
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    It depends on which fork, and what condition it is in.

  12. #12
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    It sucks to be broke and love cycling, especially when you are young. Instarted riding bmx when I was 12 and started transitioning to mtb in my late 20s. Bmx stuff is dirt cheap compared to mtb stuff, but i still had a second-rate bike for many years until I started my own bank account and spending my own money. I only got my driver's license so that I could drive myself and friends to the skatepark to ride.

    I cannot say this more plainly: abandon all hope of turning your entry level xc mtb into a trail bike. You are trying to turn a Honda Civic into a Batmobile. A 100mm fork of any sort is not going to make it into a huckable bike, and any longer a fork could cause your frame to break. it just won't work. ride it as it was intended or you're going to waste money, break your bike, and injure yourself.

    Ride it as-is and replace parts when you break them or wear them out.

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