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.
Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
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    Trek Superfly AL Elite vs Specialized Camber vs ???

    Hello all. I'm relatively new to CO and looking for a bike that can handle the trails here. I will be doing mostly single track (XC??) and some cruising around with the gf on paved/gravel trails. I am just over 5'6, so my size has been restrictive in my search. I looked at a few shops recently and was steered toward a Superfly AL Elite 29 that fit well and was on clearance for $1799. I was also shown a Specialized Camber FSR 29 at another store for about the same price. Im trying to figure out which would be the better option for trails here and for the price. I am still very new, but I would like a bike I can grow into. Any other suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Sounds like you've got some MTB experience?

    Especially if you already own a serviceable mountain bike, demo, demo, demo.

    I tried the Camber the other day and liked it. Though I tried the Comp. I don't like the spec on the base model so much. I have a bike that's needed parts swapped a lot; I'm promising myself "never again."

    The Superfly AL Elite, if I'm looking at the right one (hardtail?) comes out of the box with a much nicer build. Which it should - one pays a lot more for full suspension.

    I don't know how bumpy your trails are. For me, hardtail vs. FS mostly comes down to that. I'm looking at bikes again myself because a recent move has me riding bumpier trails, that don't let me pedal as much on my hardtail (and beat me up a bit more on the way down!)
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    I am pretty limited on my MTB experience. The little bit of experience I have is from single track back in Wisconsin. I do not know much about the levels of components yet either. I currently have a very old rigid bike that isnt good for any trails. I do not have much experience from the trails here in CO yet, but from what I have seen, they are somewhat rocky. Because of this i was thinking of going with a FS. The only reason the HT Superfly came into the picture is because it was on clearance and felt great to ride (around the store).

    I am pretty decided on a FS but idk if a decent one can be had for less than $2k. I want a starter bike that isnt going to be useless to me in 6 months, and need upgrading. Can you recommend any other options? I seem to need a brand with a frame that has a steeper bar, due to my height.

  4. #4
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    Trek Superfly AL Elite vs Specialized Camber vs ???

    I like the g2 handling of the superfly. We are talking about the FS right? You would al so b quite happy with the giant trance 29.

    I'm not sure why the 29 but if you must have it those are the choices I like.

  5. #5
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    I am set on a 29er based on what I have read so far, and a friends experience with his. I was actually talking about the Superfly hardtail. I will have to check out the Trance 29. I see the Trance X 29er 2 is under $2k, so its an option. Out of curiosity, how much would I have to spend to get a FS bike with decent components, instead of compromising at my price point?

  6. #6
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    Though I own(ed) a few 29er so far, I'm not sold on recommending to everyone. They are good but not what's it's hyped up to be. It's like saying SUV is better than a car, it's not true, just different.

    You can find plenty of good entry level FS from most big brands like Cannondale, Trek, Giant, Specialized all have good selections under $2000 a few hundreds less for the 26er selection.

    As for what trim? Well, let's put it this way, when it comes to components on the bike, the big companies can buy the same or similar(OEM) components much cheaper than you and they do pass that saving along to you. So when possible you can spend as much as you can afford up front and it would be cheaper than to upgrade down the road. Build up your bike from the frame up is also a good idea to get what you want but it's the most expensive way.

  7. #7
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    Trim levels are tough. Especially since the component manufacturers insist on doing a few crappy levels much of the time, so it's not like you can buy the second cheapest and call it a day.

    Shimano and SRAM dominate the drivetrain components on bicycles and also have a ton of market share of brakes and hubs. Shimano posts its spec levels in ascending order on its web site. With SRAM, it's mostly just higher number is better. However, X.0, XX, and XX1 are the fanciest spec levels and obviously don't follow that convention. With Shimano, things are functional and serviceable from Alivio up. There's a big design change at Deore, the next higher level, and it's diminishing returns from there on out. My bike has a blend of Deore, Deore LX, and SLX and is very reliable and doesn't bum me out when I ride demo bikes with lots of higher-end stuff hung on them. Someone who knows SRAM better can comment on where the break points are in their lines.

    Shimano's brakes are very well-regarded but I haven't tried them. Avid/SRAM brakes work quite well, IME, except for the BB5, which is kind of a bummer. While there are some other credible brands, I think it's pretty unusual to see them as OEM. I like hydraulic disc brakes better than mechanical.

    "Real" suspension forks are made by SRAM/RockShox, Fox, and some boutique brands that don't show up OEM. The Suntour and RST forks that are common on OEM bikes are, IME, garbage. I don't really know my way around shocks - I think there are a couple off-brand units that show up OEM on relatively credible bikes. I'm suspicious of the RockShox XC28 and XC30, though I haven't ridden either yet - they're the cheapest of their current forks and don't really use the same design conventions as the more expensive options that are in the same class. For myself, I'd be a lot more comfortable with at least the Recon.

    Last I thought about it, I was guesstimating that the sweet spot for hardtails is around an MSRP of $1500, give or take, and more like $2500 for full-suspension bikes.

    If you're not comfortable spending that kind of money, there are still some good options. Do a gut check about what you can spend, phone around to shops and find out what you would actually have to spend to get something at those MSRPs, and come up with a figure. It really comes down to how mechanically inclined you are and what kind of ownership experience of the bike you want. I've never spent $1500 on a bike, although one I used to ride listed for more than that and I currently have three I compete on to varying degrees.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    Hey, what's wrong with BB5? I have them and find them good (I'm a noob).
    Marty, for your height, 29er might be too big IMO. I'm 6'1 and they are plenty big for me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    Hey, what's wrong with BB5? I have them and find them good (I'm a noob).
    Marty, for your height, 29er might be too big IMO. I'm 6'1 and they are plenty big for me.
    Lack of power, adjustment, and modulation. BB7 definitely fade less on the descend.

  10. #10
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    Interesting Mimi!
    My BB5's brake hard with little effort, are easily adjustable, and have never experienced fade on downhills - and I usually brake on downhill sections! Not full fledged downhills, just the ones where I live.
    Thank you.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the helpful replies. The component quality level info was particularly helpful. At my price point I will obviously have to compromise somewhere. Is there a better place to sacrifice than others? Like good fork/weak brakes etc... Also, do some companies offer better components at the price point than others? I have heard that Trek is more expensive for example.

  12. #12
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    My BB5s went through pads very quickly and required a lot of screwing around. They still worked better on a muddy day than V brakes, but that was really the only advantage I saw. I doubt that they serve any purpose beyond market segmentation - something for the 7s to be better than. And, Acera works too.

    If someone let me design a bang-for-the-buck bike, I'd probably give it Deore components, down to the hubs, BB7 brakes, and the lowest-level Recon with a metal damper. IMHO, the manufacturers over-emphasize the drivetrain - one gets to XT components before getting into more reasonable forks and hubs on a lot of bikes.

    Historically, Gary Fisher bikes had nicer forks relative to their pricepoints. There's a sacrifice elsewhere of course, but for those of us on a budget, it's easier to trade up drivetrain components a piece at a time over a couple years, and a lot of the inexpensive stuff sacrifices service life and weight, but works okay. So it takes a few seasons to chew through a cheap drivetrain. Crappy suspension forks can back one into a hard decision inside of the first season, and are expensive to replace with something one would buy on purpose.

    If $1800 is your budget, you have access to some really great hardtails at retail and you can probably buy a new, well-speced FS if it's a 2012. You can also do used, but I think there are some advantages to closeouts - you get the warranty and don't have someone else's poor maintenance to catch up - if you can find a bike you want that way.

    What's the old bike you have? One can do quite a lot with a mechanically sound rigid bike, and it would take the pressure off buying this one...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    Good price on the AL Elite. I got a 2012 not too long after they came out -- no '11s left. Set me back $1950 after a $100 coupon I got at a Trek factory demo.

    Been very happy with it. I like the G2 handling also.

    FYI I rode the Superfly 100 AL Elite at the same demo -- someone said "you gotta try hardtail". It was great on the few bumpy sections the trail had, but I liked the hardtail much better for most of what we have around here -- mostly roots and a few rocks here and there. It felt to me like it cornered better than the FS. Not to mention lighter and CHEAPER

  14. #14
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    I picked up this 2011 camber elite 29er for $1800 in October of 2012. I think it was originally listed at $2200 and at the time I bought it the 2013 camber base model was selling for $2000. My 2011 came with a recon gold fork and elixer 3 brakes compared to an xc30 fork and crappy Tektro brakes on the 2012. The drive trains are similar but I agree with the previous poster who said that the drive train sometimes gets too much attention in these comparisons. drive trains wear out and derailleurs break, a fork you have to live with or spend some substantial money to replace. The moral of the story is to look for close outs on prior year models, you can get a good deal on a new bike that way.

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