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  1. #1
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    Looking at a 'Northrock' XC6 Costco Special

    Hello all, this is my first post here. Great forum

    I am thinking about buying a bike for myself and one for my wife, neither of us currently own a bike and we have a 4 year old daughter who is just learning to ride her bike so I feel like it might be time to get bikes for mom and dad.

    A quick background, I am 35 y/o, 6'1 180#, relatively athletic. I grew up in the midwest and lived in the mountains of Colorado for about 5 years and did a fair amount of mountain biking in both places, more seriously in CO. We now live in South Florida and unfortunately the terrain doesn't offer much in the way of trail riding.

    I would imagine that the vast majority of my riding will take place on pavement with some light to moderate trail riding on occasion. I would imagine I will end up towing one of those sweet kiddie wagons from time to time as well. I am interested in a MTB with the capability of doing some intermediate trail riding while still being a good all around exercise/fun bike on the pavement.

    As far as budget I could afford whatever but I am really wondering if there is any reason for me to get into a $500-$1,000 bike? Every time I decide to get into a new sport or hobby I always end up spending way more than I initially intended to as I don't like to buy junk. In this case I also don't want to spend a bunch on features that I will never appreciate or need. I also don't want to pay more for a bike just because of the sticker on the frame. (Already I can see that if left to my own devices I will end up with some $1,xxx+, full suspension, lightweight extreme terrain capable bike, I am actually hoping someone here might talk me out of it )

    I happened to stumble across this Northrock XC6 at costco for $299. Here are the specs I could find, came from a thread on this site;

    Northrock XC6 Bike:

    Aluminum "lightweight" frame -built by Giant
    Shimano Altus shifters - 24 speeds for responsive performance shifting
    SR suntour XCT V2 fork
    Ninja 26x2.10 tires
    Shimano crank
    Tektro IO Disc brakes with shimano EF50 levers
    KMC Chain
    Acera rear derailleur

    I believe it is only offered in a 19" frame which seems to be a decent fit for me. On the surface it seems like a great buy and more bike that I will ever need?

    This is all completely greek to me, I know literally nothing about any of the components listed. What I have gathered so far is that $299 will not buy me a similarly equipped bike at the Trek shop in our area. What I am wondering is, what am I missing? Is there anything wrong with this bike for my intended purpose? Would I be better off with the $375 Trek they have at the shop? (It appeared to have most of the same stuff minus the disc brakes but wasn't particularly attractive)

    I know there is already a thread about this bike, I was just hoping to get some more opinions before I either write it off or just buy one and try it out.

    Thanks in advance for any input!

  2. #2
    What could go wrong ...
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    "Would I be better off with the $375 Trek they have at the shop?"

    YES
    I used to ride to Win ... Now I ride to Grin

    While my guitar gently weeps, my bike sits there mocking me

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zoke2
    "Would I be better off with the $375 Trek they have at the shop?"

    YES
    Could you elaborate?

  4. #4
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    I can tell you that the costco bike is better than a trek 3500 just by seeing the mega-range 7-speed freewheel on the Trek. It's useless for trails or bike paths. The 24-speed costco bike will have smoother shifting and a cassette instead of a freewheel. No matter where you purchase, I would encourage you to avoid anything that comes with a freewheel.

    Advantages of buying from a bike store: The bike should be assembled correctly, and you should receive some amount of service with the purchase.

  5. #5
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    Pardon my ignorance, what is freewheel?

    I have been reading everything I can find and from what I gather I will have to spend around $600+ at a bike shop to see any real upgrade in quality over the Northrock. Is there something I am missing in this equation?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captainkidd
    Pardon my ignorance, what is freewheel?

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/free-k7.html
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.


    Shorthills Cycling Club

  7. #7
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    The northrock should be fine - as long as you are comfortable on it. Some people can't buy one-size-fits-all because they are either taller or shorter than average. At 6' 1" you may be more comfortable on a larger frame.

    Costco doesn't employ bike mechanics, so you need to check the bike before riding. I've seen pics posted where the fork and stem were assembled backwards. Costco is supposed to have a no questions asked return policy, so you can always return it if it doesn't work out.

  8. #8
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    Not being able to test ride it without buying it is a negative. Problem is I don't have anything to compare it to.

    As far as fit, I was at the Trek shop the other day and the guy there seemed to think that a 19" or 20" frame would work well for me. He said that I should try out a 19" 29er as well but he didn't have one to ride.

    Other than name and service what are some differences between the Northrock and the lower level Trek models?

  9. #9
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    the northrock has better components than the low end trek bikes in that price range, which are primarily Shimano Tourney parts and freewheels. The Acera is at least one step above that. You also get disc brakes vs V-brakes on the Trek. The frames are probably the same or very close to each other (catalog frames, no doubt, that many lower end bikes share).

    You might be able to find new old stock bikes for a good bargain though or a used bike on craig's list (but that will require a tune up always no matter what the seller says).

    The forks are about the same, probably better (higher up the SR line XCT V2 vs M2025) on the costco bike.

    Fit aside, if you're fairly competent at bike mechanics, then go for the costco bike as you may need to reassemble some parts (adjust brakes, rotate the fork, adjust RD and FD, etc). You might be able to find a floor model and ride it up and down the aisle. Kids do it all the time. If that's too much to ask, then go to the LBS.

  10. #10
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    Based on component quality only, what Trek, Cannondale or Specialized models would I need to buy to get something that is definitely a step up from the Northrock?

    (I have researched but I don't know enough to be able to tell the difference)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captainkidd
    Could you elaborate?
    Beginners and Dept Store Bikes
    I used to ride to Win ... Now I ride to Grin

    While my guitar gently weeps, my bike sits there mocking me

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captainkidd
    Based on component quality only, what Trek, Cannondale or Specialized models would I need to buy to get something that is definitely a step up from the Northrock?

    (I have researched but I don't know enough to be able to tell the difference)
    Anybody?

  13. #13
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    A step up is hard to quantify, in terms of components, as there are many components in a bike. As you move up a line, small bits change. For a full component upgrade, you will move to the Specialized Rockhopper, for example, which upgrades every single bit.

    I will say this, this is the wrong way to buy a bike.

    I can't comment on trek or cannondale as i haven't really looked at those lines. The Specialized Hardrock Disc is about the same (based on components only) as the Northrock. That is, excluding the frame, and wheels/tires and other small parts like saddle, seatpost, etc.

    I would consider the Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc as a definite upgrade in the brakes, and hence a quantifiable step up. Don't get me wrong, v-brakes are good until you ride in wet weather, and they don't work that well. At that point you'd need to worry about tires too.

    That said, based on the questions you are asking, buy a bike from the LBS. I'd buy a Specialized Hardrock, if I were you, at MSRP of $390 or the Hardrock Disc at $470. I doubt you will be doing riding in weather or through a number of creeks, but the Hardrock frame is disc ready, at which point you can upgrade the brakes yourself or ask the LBS to do it for you.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAmHolland
    A step up is hard to quantify, in terms of components, as there are many components in a bike. As you move up a line, small bits change. For a full component upgrade, you will move to the Specialized Rockhopper, for example, which upgrades every single bit.

    I will say this, this is the wrong way to buy a bike.

    I can't comment on trek or cannondale as i haven't really looked at those lines. The Specialized Hardrock Disc is about the same (based on components only) as the Northrock. That is, excluding the frame, and wheels/tires and other small parts like saddle, seatpost, etc.

    I would consider the Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc as a definite upgrade in the brakes, and hence a quantifiable step up. Don't get me wrong, v-brakes are good until you ride in wet weather, and they don't work that well. At that point you'd need to worry about tires too.

    That said, based on the questions you are asking, buy a bike from the LBS. I'd buy a Specialized Hardrock, if I were you, at MSRP of $390 or the Hardrock Disc at $470. I doubt you will be doing riding in weather or through a number of creeks, but the Hardrock frame is disc ready, at which point you can upgrade the brakes yourself or ask the LBS to do it for you.
    Thank you for the input. I have all but ruled out the Northrock, however I still believe it is a great deal at $299.

    I am leaning heavily toward spending closer to $1,000 and going with one of the Bikes Direct Motobecane models.

    Before I do anything though, I am going down to the LBS who sells Cannondale and Specialized to ride a couple of 29ers. If the price is right and the fit feels good I would rather buy one there but I can't bring myself to spend nearly double just to get the same thing from a bike shop VS Bikes Direct.

  15. #15
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    The 2010 Motobecane Fantom Elite looks interesting @ $1000.

  16. #16
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    Hey everybody, this is my first post, I'm a noob to the mountain biking scene. I hadn't owned a mountain bike since 1992 and I was in the same situation as the original poster a couple weeks ago.

    Cost not being a factor in my budget but wanted something in the 300.00 to 600.00 price range. I inspected the Northrock bike from Costco and believe it to be a decent casual road and trail bike and worth the $299.00. It is built with very good, yet what is considered past generation components, basically a few steps down from those of better quality (hardcore - components.) However, as a casual trail and road bike its perfectly suited.

    Really there are so many variables making up the price and quality of these bikes that its mind numbing. It took a month or so for me to figure out what bike carried the best component vs price value and for 300.00 the Costco bike held up.

    One avenue I didn't inspect was the used bike sector: Craigslist in particular. This wasn't an option, I wanted a bike ASAP and didn't want to research the quality of each component and compare it to another, especially on a bike that was a possibly few years old. I under estimated the mountain biking world and nearly gave up on the idea since I wanted best price for the buck and just couldn't seem to pull the trigger at a local bike shop.

    I considered everything from Walmart,Target, online and nearly ended up ordering a the Specialized Hardrock Disc Sport from a local bike shop. I didn't/don't care where the bike came from I just wanted a decent frame with the highest end components. I'm no expert but I checked the specs for nearly every bike from 300.00 to 800.00 I would say the Northrock bike is a good value. Not only that, its pretty nice looking and had a good riding position as well.

    OP - consider the Forge Sawback 5xx solid frame or 7xx for full suspension, you can find a lot of information on this forum regarding the these bikes as well. Thought they are both more expensive than the Costco Northrock bike.

  17. #17
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    Hi Captainkidd,

    Below is a thread I started awhile back:

    Costco Northrock XC6 Bike - Preview

    To summarize, I think the Northrock XC6 is a great buy, but I had to spend a lot of time correcting mistakes that were made in its build. These were not insignificant (Fork was backwards, cables were misrouted, brakes and derailleurs needed adjustment, etc.). I found a Motobecane Fly Pro on Craigslist, and ended up paying $200 for it. At 23 pounds, it is almost 10 pounds lighter than the Northrock. Also, at 5'9", I found the Northrock to be a bit small for me, with its tight geometry, even with an extended seatpost. At 6'1" you are probably right to pass on the Costco bike.

    I got to ride both on some pretty technical trails at Chimney Rock, NJ. I thought the Northrock was pretty good, a decent climber for its weight, and pretty fun. However, after riding the Moto, I had to return the Northrock and buy some groceries instead.

    I would definitely look into the Motobecanes. They are underrated by many, but they are a great value!

    Good Luck!

    djm

  18. #18
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    Buying a bike online or from a big box store is a mistake unless you know the exact geometry and specs you are looking for. You could very well end up with a bike that is uncomfortable to ride in which case you've wasted your money even if you got the best deal in the world.

    Hit all of your local stores and ride as many bikes as you can, I guarantee one or two will just feel right. If you have a Performance Bike nearby you should be able to snag a deal almost as good as what you would find on Bikes Direct.

    Also to stay competitive most bike shops offer free adjustments and many offer a free yearly tune-up; this could more than make up for the difference in cost if you keep the bike for a few years.

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