Yep, another n00b joins the ranks and has plenty of questions...
I am a complete MTB n00b so please forgive me for the plethora of questions soon to be heading your way.
First things first. I have the bike bug and have been reading and researching about bikes, components, and everything in between. I have visited probably every website ever created that has anything to do with bikes and an overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that is floating around out there. Where to begin!?!?
I have also been scouring Craigslist and have come across what seem like some good deals, (at least to me). Here is where my conundrum begins. I am a contractor working overseas and as much as I would LOVE to run out and drop $1k on a new bike it really doesn't make any sense, (just ask my wife and she will tell you!!), because I am only home about every 6 months. The bike would be sitting in the garage collecting dust the rest of the time.
Here are a few bikes that I have found on Craigslist for $200 +/-.
A Trek 950 Single Track
Giant ATX 780
Caloi Andes Pro
I have found other similar bikes as well made by Giant, GT, Specialized, etc...
I know they are probably a little dated in the technology dept but are they upgradable? I also realize that buying from a LBS would get me the latest/greatest stuff but since I won't be riding as much as I would like I just wonder if it might be better to buy a quality, OLDER, bike and either upgrade it as I go or bite the bullet and buy a new entry level bike?
Sorry for the long winded, rambling post, but you know how us new guys are!
EDIT: I didn't realize I couldn't post links until I have 10 or more posts so I had to remove the links to the ads. From my limited knowledge the bikes looked in great shape from the pics but I know cleaning up a bike and taking pictures of it does not make it a good deal.
I am also a noob. I purchased a bike for $1300 that was a new, previous model leftover.
What I have learned from my limited research and talking with people is that it probably doesn't pay to buy an older bike and upgrade it. Buying a frame and components separately is usually much more expensive than buying a whole bike with components you like....and if you start with an old frame, you will still have an older technology frame with new components.
So, if you buy an older, less expensive bike, ride it until you outgrow it and sell it. It is still a great way to get into the sport and see if you like it without breaking the bank.
With that said, there are tons of people on this forum who restore older bikes and they may be able to provide a convincing argument to go that route too. This is just my opinion.
While it doesn't make $ sense to buy a used bike then totally upgrade it, it does make sense to get a used bike and ride it till you know better what you like/want and upgrade some and/or buy another bike and have more than one so you can set one up for road, dh, ss, etc. Personally, I have a bunch of bikes, pub runners, beaters, xc, dh, ss, some clipless some not, and find that I prefer to ride some of my older bikes sometimes just because they're fun and fit the needs for a given ride better. Plus playing the upgrade game and / or riding more than 1 bike will teach you lots if you decide to stick with it.
Welcome to the site, enjoy.
Without doing a lot of research, the Giant would be the first one I'd go to look at.
Don't buy a bike and then upgrade it if you're trying not to spend money. Buy a bike with about the right spec and maintain it at that level. If later you decide you want more, buy a bike that has that kind of build. You can probably get a lot of your purchase cost back out of the old bike if you don't buy a lot of stuff at retail to bolt to it.
Complete bikes are a good deal. Bike parts are often quite overpriced. So, try to buy complete bikes.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx
Used bike is a great choice for beginner like the meat said however it requires some homework on your part and some more on wrenching.
That said really old bike may not be a good choice unless you are into retro or vintage bike and it would not be a cheap(er) route in the long run. Plus newer components perform much better than older designs.
A few years old bike at a good price would be the way to go. If you are clueless about wrenching like I was when I started and do not have the support from friends who ride then the lbs is the best way to go.
Used hardtail would be around $300-500, full suspension $500-1000. They should consist of good frame and working components. Try to stay away from deals that are too good to be true unless you are buying from friends, those kind of deals are rare and usually snatch up by the local guru(s).
Buying a used bike is great for getting into the sport but as mimi1885 says be ready to put in some wrench time because there is no telling how beat up the components are on the bike. I would suggest buying a solid new bike from a LBS, that way you know you will have fresh components and hopefully you could get a free tune up from the LBS. Also try to test ride the bikes for your preference.
One plus for buying a used bike in your situation is that it won't depreciate too much if you use it for a couple of years and then sell it again. If you get a good deal up front you may even come out even if you take care of it.
I agree with not fully upgrading an older bike. It will almost always be cheaper to buy a bike with what you want than to buy a cheaper bike and then upgrade everything on it.
Thanks for all the replies guys! I've found a few deals on Craigslist that I will be checking out.
GT SaddleBack for $200, Gary Fisher for $180, plus the ones I mentioned above. Looking forward to getting some riding time in over the next few weeks. I'll post up whatever I get!
When I started I was lucky to find an LBS that took in trades. I was able to get a lightly used Giant NRS that was two model years old with a nice component set for about half of the original purchase price.
However, I know that not too many shops take trades these days.
I bought my oldest a used bike from CL. It looked great at the time, 75 bucks, right size frame and decent components for her use. One the first ride out the gate the chain broke. First ride of this season (having put less than 300 miles on it last season) and the BB is shelled. In this case it would have made more sense for me to spend the 300 on a new entry level Specialized instead of trying to save some coin on an old, but seemingly mechanically sound Specialized.
That said, I would, if I found a bike with the specs that appeal to me on CL, purchase from there again, but only after taking said bike to my LBS for a checkup before finalizing the purchase.