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  1. #1
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    New question here. Currently own '98 Homegrown Factory XT; student; next step?

    Hi all,
    I do XC stuff on local trails in the Bay Area (Alum Rock mostly, Skeggs a few times) on a '98 Homegrown Factory XT hardtail, in 19" size (I'm 6') that I scored for really cheap on craigslist a couple years ago. I've only been riding since.

    Currently own '98 Homegrown Factory XT; student; next step?-tumblr_m4lszsosva1qlhb4bo2_1280.jpg

    Current specs:
    Continental Gravity tires
    Rockshox Judy Race '00 fork
    Original XT/XTR components
    Primo Tenderizer platforms
    cheapo Promax disk brake up front
    XTR rim brake in rear (which has developed a lot of play)
    longer handlebars than shown
    Weighs in at ~24 lbs

    I am about to enter college, but have been biking a lot this summer and plan to continue. It's been a very reliable bike up till now. I'm not fit enough to do 2500 ft climbs, etc. with ease yet, but it's taught me a lot of skill and I know how it handles pretty well.

    Would a bike with this geometry and age be able to ride trails like Braille in Soquel Demo? i.e. take jumps along the s/t, etc. I'd want to get into some Trail/AM fun since I'm not really the XC race type.

    I've obviously been drooling over some really great deals for full sussers on craigslist, including some 2006-2007 FSR's, Giant's, etc well under $1000 but don't know whether it's time to spring for a modern bike yet. I am a student, so any such investment is enough to lose sleep over. But... I am really growing to love this sport.

    What are y'all's takes? What should be my next step?
    • Splurge on a FS? a 29er hardtail?
    • Get a newer fork?
    • How does the Homegrown stack up to a modern hardtail?
    • Am I limited by my bike in the Bay Area?
    • Should I just improve and save up for one in a few years?


    I'd really appreciate any and all of your experienced insight.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    burnedthetoast
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    You say you're not an XC type, but IMO almost anything that won't break that bike qualifies as "XC" now.

    If you're serious about AM/Trail, you'll need something new (or new to you). Don't bother spending serious money on this bike, it won't be worth it. If you find better (older) parts to throw on for cheap that's a different story.

    If you're still enjoying getting out and riding, just keep what you have until the bike is what limits your fun.

    My recommendation would be to bring what you have and see how it works for you on the trails near your college (which is where, btw? This could make a difference in what you buy next too). If it's not working, look at the types of bikes others are riding on those trails and think about heading in that direction.
    Ride to Work, Work to Live, Live to Ride
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  3. #3
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    Ok so here's my incredibly biased opinion. Its flat out awesome one of the big climbing bikes ever. With a proper fork, it can handle very rough xc trails but, it was never intended to be a bike that jumps. I don't know the trail you are wanting to ride but my Homegrown took 20 years of small 1ft or less drops on some nasty xc trails. Its still in great shape, but I moved on to a steel frame. If you really want and all mountain bike, look at the On One 456.

  4. #4
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    burnedtothetoast, I'll be going to a community college locally (deciding on the transfer route), so I'll still be in the Bay Area to ride for the next couple years. Thanks for the heads up! College schedule will be a factor too... I may not be able to ride as much as I have been. I hear that's a reason to sell bikes for many :P

    Mattcz, awesome! A fellow homegrown owner! I can also vouch for its climbing. The downside is that on uphills, I keep falling to the opinion that I'm limited by my own capacity and skill x) Good to know the frame is strong for its age, too.

    So, how does the Homegrown hardtail from '98 stack up to modern 26'er XC hard tails with respect to durability and handling? I do realize 29'er hardtails are phasing in, though.

  5. #5
    burnedthetoast
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    Durability depends on what you do to it. I wouldn't worry too much as long as you're not doing huge drops/jumps. It has lasted this long...

    Mountain bikes in general have improved a ton since 1998 in terms of performance and weight. A decent new one will be more capable in many aspects than what you have. But why take our word for it? - go test ride a couple and see. Find a demo day, or a nice friend with a nice bike, or just a shop willing to let you take a bike beyond the parking lot.
    Ride to Work, Work to Live, Live to Ride
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  6. #6
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    I think the homegrown handles better than most modern frames. I really shouldn't speak to durability as I only weigh 130 lbs. I'm way too short for a 29er. I switched over to Jamis Dragon Bc I love the way steel rides. My wife still rides her homegrown and loves it.

  7. #7
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    I'm not worried about durability for my weight (I'm 130 lbs, too. yes, at 6 ft), or the weight of the bike. I do, though, feel thrown around on rough sections pretty badly and I wonder whether it is a fault of the frame or of the fork. Maybe it's simply because I'm on a hardtail.

    Burnedtothetoast, I agree that the best thing for me to do is to find a demo day or other opportunity to ride a nice bike if I want to experience the difference. I have been able to ride my uncle's 2010 Trek Fuel EX9 on a flat but rooty trail, and oh man modern full suspension is nice. But then again, the technology is a dozen years more advanced than my bike. Right now, I guess I am most curious about *how* modern hardtail frames and forks make the difference... maybe I can survive without it.

  8. #8
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    "How does the Homegrown stack up to a modern hardtail?"

    That era of Homegrown was/is an awesome frame. Made in USA (Yeti factory). Frames are 2.9 lbs bare and they were selling high end completes just over 20 lbs which is still incredibly light by today's standards. Great reputation for value and durability.
    Not a ton has changed since '98 with regard to hardtails. Some newer models have different front geometry to accommodate longer travel forks. Couple new sub-categories have been introduced over the years like DJ and All Mountain hardtails which are generally heavy/beefy frames with slack angles for huge forks. In the XC category, though, that old Homegrown is a pretty close match to anything available now other than rear disk mounts. Tires are available a helluva lot fatter these days. Take it to the shop and see how wide you can go with tires in that frame and that may be a nice and cheap upgrade to more of a softtail ride.

  9. #9
    burnedthetoast
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    I'd disagree a bit with "not a ton has changed since '98 with regard to hardtails." I think the changes in geometry (HTA, chainstay length, etc), the quality of suspension forks, wider bars, lighter wheels, higher-volume tires, and better drivetrain and brakes all add up to a rather different experience. Not to mention the advent of 29ers!

    If the question is, "can I still have fun on an old bike?" the answer is, of course, YES. But saying the older bike is kinda the same thing as a newer one is really not accurate IMO.
    Ride to Work, Work to Live, Live to Ride
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by burnedthetoast View Post
    I'd disagree a bit with "not a ton has changed since '98 with regard to hardtails." I think the changes in geometry (HTA, chainstay length, etc), the quality of suspension forks, wider bars, lighter wheels, higher-volume tires, and better drivetrain and brakes all add up to a rather different experience. Not to mention the advent of 29ers!

    If the question is, "can I still have fun on an old bike?" the answer is, of course, YES. But saying the older bike is kinda the same thing as a newer one is really not accurate IMO.
    Speaking about the frame itself, hardly anything has changed. Chainstay length on a Homegrown is 16.7" which is on par with anything today. The only thing different today would be HTA designed for forks with more than 120mm fork which in '98 was probably the max this frame was designed for.
    Everything else is just bolt-on. Suspension forks have vastly improved, like night and day. Bar width, sweep, rise, etc. fashion trends change every year. Wheel weights - it was actually way easier to get super light wheels at a moderate price before disk brakes took over with the requisite heavier hub/rim changes that involved. Tire volume, drivetrain, etc. have all made incremental progress.
    I don't disagree with you, but aside from bolt-on goodies 26" hardtails just haven't changed much fundamentally at all in the last 15 yrs. No real reason to, I guess.

  11. #11
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    Thank you guys! It's reassuring to know I'm good with the frame. The drivetrain's still working great. The original XT/XTR shifts much better than my friend's more recent SRAM X7-loaded bike. Of course, his Rockshox Recon 351 makes the ride that much smoother. I did swap out the stock handlebar with a wider (albeit cheaper quality) one with more rise, and that is an improvement. And as noted in the OP, I did equip my wheels with 2.3" Continental Gravity's. Both improvements were hand-me-downs from cheap bikes ^_^ but do feel better than stock.

    The only thing I'm considering at the moment, then, is to get a newer fork off of eBay. I've seen some Reba's go for around the $120 mark, and that is a great fork as I understand. I should limit myself to 120 mm travel, then? Are the rebound and damping settings from lower-priced Psylo's or SID's from the early 2000's any improvement to the Rockshox Judy Race 2000 I have on right now?

  12. #12
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    smerdy - I just spent the last 15 years abusing the little brother/sister of this bike (the non-US built Moab version which shared the same geo) on the very same trails (live in the Bay Area). I few years ago I picked up a new bar/stem combo, got a disc/rim brake compatible wheelset and picked up a new fork. The new fork and wheelset meant that I could also move to a disc brake up front. These upgrades/updates breathed new life into the bike! And, fear not, the bike has performed beautifully up at Demo.

    Of course with all that being said, I picked up a Trek Fuel Ex8 at the beginning of this year and the Schwinn has yet to come off the hooks since then...

  13. #13
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    Yes!! Haha, what are the chances of coming across someone with such a similar situation on anywhere but mtbr? Thanks! I guess I won't fare badly if I continue with this bike through college, at least.

    Currently eyeing this deal Rock Shox Reba SL | eBay. sub $100 for a Reba -- anyone seen cheaper? I don't know if I'll spring for this one, since I was originally just scouting around.

  14. #14
    The Fastest of Bananas
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    Keep an eye on craigslist, you can score an AM oriented hardtail for cheap, or find you a good deal on a frame and build it with parts are you find them.

    example, Ive score 3K in parts for my xc hardtail for 1k. Dollar seatpost, dollar handlerbar, half off crank, 1/4 price on some dt swiss forks, etc.

  15. #15
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    The only way that I would buy a new bike is if I went full suspension, otherwise the frame/components on the Homegrown are way better on what you have vs. a new $700 bike. I would most definitely upgrade the fork on the homegrown if you decide to go with a hardtail.

  16. #16
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    Ride it until it starts to need new parts, then get a more recent bike. Don't invest too much $ in it... Also, at 6' you would benefit from a larger frame. But if you enjoy riding it, there's no rush to replace it.

    This is what happened time I took a '97 Homegrown Factory to my Freshman year of college...

    Don't worry, I took it off a 7' roller...but at the speed I was going, it turned into a drop. Also pardon the crappy quality of the pic.

    Currently own '98 Homegrown Factory XT; student; next step?-homegrown.jpg
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