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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2005

    Which of these ~$800 HT's should I get? (Diamondback ?'s too)

    Sorry for the long post, but I know how much I enjoy reading other people's posts, even if I don't have any valuable information to add d/t relative nOOb status. I promise I'll help ya'll out when I'm a little further along.

    My situation: I'm replacing my 19" 1999 Schwinn Moab 2 since it "needs" a new fork, new wheels, seatpost, handlebars, grips, tires, and clipless pedals. Technically all it needs is a new fork and a rider that fits it right. I'm looked at lower priced, yet quality components, but I decided I'd be better off spending a little more and getting a bike with ALL new parts instead of a six-year-old with some new stuff.

    I'll be riding mostly XC trail. Some urban riding, but not THAT kind of urban riding... I'll be riding boring sidewalks, commuting to work, riding off 6" curbs. I'll move on the the more fun urban riding when I can afford a proper mount...

    I'm considering these bikes:

    2005 Diamondback Apex HT $800-- all of the components will suit me except the Hayes mechanicals. Per the reviews on and the advice of LBS mechanics, I would switch those out to Avid mechanicals. Diamondback LBS will not switch out brakes unless I pay full price for new Avids Also, $800 is lowest price--no haggle dealer.
    2005 Diamondback Apex (click on View Specs)

    2005 Giant Ranier $850-- shop says they'll give it to me for $800, and may even change out the brakes for me. Seems nice, but they don't stock them. Not sure if I'd be a 19 or 21 frame (more later...)
    [2005 Giant Ranier

    2005 Fisher Tassajara ~$660. This bike is spec'ed and priced a bit lower than the first two, but I'm considering it because of the Fisher name and geometry.
    Tassajara Specs

    2005 Fisher HKEK ~$860. Included cause it's nicer than the Tass, but still maybe overpriced given it's stock specs. I'd only consider it if the shop could do it for $800; I'm not sure how firm this dealer is on price. I set a limit of $800 dollars for myself, before extra costs for clipless shoes and changing out the brakes for Avids. I have most of the other gear I'll need. I assume I could recoup some of the brake-switch cost by selling the Hayes before I ever use them. Spending more than $800 is out of the question. I just bought a house with my wife, and my yearly salary as a med student is negative $38,500. I'm selling books, my old bike, and anything else that isn't tacked down in my house to afford a new bike.
    HKEK Specs

    If you have any other ~$800 HT suggestions, feel free to tell me.
    I already know which bike I like the best on paper, but I'd appreciate other's input. The Diamondback is my current choice d/t the great deal it seems to be for the price. The components meet or exceed those for the other bikes I listed, and in most cases, the price is less for the Diamondback. My only worry is the Diamondback name. The bikes are available at Dick's, which may or may not say something. I know the story of DB's bankruptcy and buy-out by Raleigh, and supposedly they've got their act back together. I've never actually seen an Apex (dealer here has never sold one), but I have been on a 20" Topanga, which is the same exact frame. Seemed OK, but I'm paranoid about fit. Dealer said if for some reason I absolutely hated the bike or it didn't fit when shipped, they'd just deal with it. Also, dealer says Diamondback frames have lifetime warranties, but on the back of the DB catalogue, it says Raleigh's warranty policy: five years on aluminum frames, if I'm reading it right. I guess that applies to DB as well? Bike guy at Dick's (where I saw the Topanga) said he's worked there for three years and has only warrantied one DB frame, and that was an old one. Diamondback reviews are hard to come by, especially for their higher-end bikes. Any input on the apex/topanga/axis other than the brave 4 riders on Riding a lesser-known name doesn't bother me at all unless lesser quality comes along with the unknown name!

    Now the size stuff I'm worried about:
    My current bike is a 19" 1999 Schwinn Moab 2. I bought the bike intending to get into trail riding, but I used it almost exclusively to ride to class in college. Had some fun doing it, but little real trail-riding. I was riding a Huffy when I came to college, and honestly had no idea that there were nicer bikes out there. Then my next-door neighbor got a brand new FS bike, when they were first becoming hot. WOW, I was impressed. I saved up the next summer and went shopping, knowing virtually nothing except that I wanted to spend about $500. I thought that would buy a top-shelf bike... long story short, I looked at a lot of dealers and had no idea what to buy. I ended up at a Schwinn exercise and bike store. They had what is now my bike, a leftover '99 on clearance for $699 from $830. They only had one, in a 19" frame. They assured me it was the correct fit for me. I still don't know if they worked on commission...

    My size: I'm barely over 6'1" in bare feet. My standover, measured with a book shoved firmly into my nether-region, is just a touch under 35". When I stand over my bike and lift it up firmly, I have six to seven inches of clearance. Now that I know a bit more about biking, I think my bike is too small. The seatpost is all the way up, and I have my arms almost locked when I ride with the bike's flat bar and long-ish stem. The LBS guy I showed my bike to swore it was a 17" frame, although I distinctly remember being told it was a 19". He measured it, and said it was a short 19.

    So now I don't know what size to buy in any of the above bikes. In the DB, I guess I'd get a 20" since they only do 16, 18, 20. Fishers, they shop guys said I looked better on the 21. Giant shop said I seemed to be in between the 19 and 21. I'm afraid 21 will be too big. Wrench Science says 19 or 20 center-to-top, or 19 if center-to-center.

    As you can tell, this is driving me crazy, and driving me to O.C.D. (as if I weren't already at that diagnosis...) Anybody have any input? I wanna buy the right bike since I won't be able to afford a new one for several years.
    Last edited by hyperrust; 07-13-2005 at 07:32 PM. Reason: hyperrlink mistake

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    good to see another med student here

    Not too long ago, I was in the same position. I also looked at DBs, and had the same general impression. On paper, the Apex is a real sweet bike for the price, however, the DBack doesn't have the street cred, and the warranty was a little screwy (depending on who I asked, I got alternating lifetime/5-years). While I didn't end up going with the Axis (spendy for my similar negative income), I did test ride one, and really enjoyed it. The geometry fit me well, it seemed tight and responsive, and very light for the money.

    I think you are definitely on the right track with the Avids, I have them, and they are perfect. Great stopping power, good feedback/modulation, and it is just so easy to adjust them.

    For 800 bucks, also check out the Giant Rainier. It continually tops the rankings in the bike to price ratio category, and Giant is the best (in my opinion) big name company at giving the most bang for your buck

    Lastly, if you aren't in a hurry, spend some time on ebay. For 800 bucks you can get a slightly used hardtail worth twice that new. Unfortunately, a lot of other variables enter the mix when buying a used bike, but most of my friends have had good luck with ebay bikes. I always check the "buy it nows" right when they come out, as a lot of ebayers only look at auctions ending soon, and you can snag some awesome deals.

    Good luck with school and riding, man.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    i had a question earlier about hardtails in this price range:
    hardtail decision

    i am definitely going to go giant because i feel like they have the best components in this price range, and the reliability of the brand......but now some people are saying that the XtC is worth $150 over the im still a little torn on which model:

    im a little over 5'9" and both the 17" and 19" fit me (i'm between sizes), i think the 19" would fit you nicely. good luck with your purchase decision.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Diamondback's name is not associated with being very high end in this day. But I race the SL Super and think its a pretty nice frame. The weld quality is good, and I did crack an '04. This may sound bad but Diamondback replaced the whole frame (including shock) in 2 days. Pretty good turn around time. I wouldn't be scared away by the Diamondback. A frame on an $800 bike is a frame on an $800 bike. Lastly, lifetime warranties sound really sexy but ask yourself the question of 'will I really be riding this bike in a period of longer than 5 years?' If you seriously ask yourself this question I think you'll say probably not and will deem the 5 yr warranty period to be sufficient. I haven't ridden or seen an Apex but I have seen the Axis and the quality is pretty nice. Looking at the geometry chart the geometry for the 20" doesn't seem that bizarre. If the shop has a 20" Topanga use it to judge fit.

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