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  1. #1
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    Most important things for first bike?

    Hi guys

    Other than online research for a few days, I don't really know a lot about bikes.

    I would like to find a hardtail which can be used for fun on dirt trails / singletrack etc. but also something very strong and reliable. The reason being I would like to do long distance bikepacking on it in the future (when I the experience and money to do it).

    I don't want to spend anymore than 500 / $800 on this bike to start with but I don't mind upgrading parts later on as I can afford them.

    My reckoning is that the following things are the most important for me to look for to start off with... (please correct me if I'm wrong).

    - Frame. The most important thing is that the bike fits me and is comfortable.
    The frame's geometry must be the main thing which effects the feel of the bike (other than adjustments to seat and handlebars etc.), so If I have a good, strong frame which fits me from the start, I won't have the problem of needing an expensive upgrade later on and not know if it will feel the same or not.
    The frame must be strong for off road use and also long distance bike packing carrying a heavy load. I am guessing the frame is the most important thing to start off with??

    - Wheels. Again must be very strong for obvious reasons. Not as important as frame - If I start off with bad quality wheels, I can easily upgrade later without it changing the feel of the bike. (Although it would be expensive).

    - Forks. Want to get a hardtail so good quality forks from the start would be nice. Again easier to upgrade than the frame. (I may swap for rigid forks If I was to do a long trip for reliabilty reasons.)

    - Everything else. Doesn't have as much effect on the bike. Parts are smaller and cheaper to replace.

    So yeah, that's my reasoning behind what to look for in a first mountain / bikepacking bike!

    Please let me know whether I'm on the right lines or have got it completely wrong

    Cheers

  2. #2
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    I don't think strength and reliability are going to be an issue for the frame. If your bike touring starts by jumping out of a plane at 30,000' with your bike underneath you, then yes, it's likely to be a problem. Steel is the material to go with if you want it to be easily repaired after sustaining damage. Beyond that, prioritize how much dirt/single-track you plan on doing and how much packing you really plan on doing and go from there. For an it can do anything bike, I love my Fargo. I don't think you can get one new for what you've got to spend though, I'll let the incredibly smart crew here help you that out.

    Also, on all the other parts being small and cheap, I wish I lived in that world. I just replaced my cranks with a cheap pair and a new chainring/bashguard, cheap cost me $110.

  3. #3
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    I would say find the hard tail with the best component spec in your price range. All hardtails at $800 are going to be pretty closely spec'd, but you might be able to find a few with a little better component spec in an off brand frame like Sette, Airborne, etc. I would also check to make sure it has rack mounts if you plan on using a pannier rack for touring.

    I would try to avoid forks from RST or Suntour as they tend to be crappy at that price point. I would look for something by Rockshox, I doubt Fox would be available in that price point.

    Go you your local shops and ride all their bikes in your range. Then you can determine which feels the best for you. They may also have used bikes that would be better spec'd at that price. Tell them what you are looking for and your purpose and if they are reputable, they will steer you in the right direction.

  4. #4
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    Hi, Billy. Your plan sounds more or less reasonable to me. A few random comments:

    Unless you find the idea truly objectionable, look at used bikes. Especially since you say you don`t know much about them because you`ll get a better idea what you DON`T like or what DOESN`T work for you without spending an arm and a leg on a bike that isn`t right for you. Then go ahead and spend that arm and leg on the next bike

    I like steel too, but if a good deal comes along for an aluminum bike, don`t let that spoil your fun. Chances of adctually saving a trip by having a steel bike frame repaired on the road are pretty slim.

    Wheels are often as much a part of the bike price as the frame is.

    By "heavy load", how much are you talkling about? Some folks in the touring circle go with 100# or more. I doubt many who consider themselves "bikepackers" carry so much weight that a super duty frame and wheels would be required. Either way is fine as long as that`s what the rider wants to do, but make sure you aren`t over thinking bomb-proofness.

    Have fun.
    Recalculating....

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Hi, Billy. Your plan sounds more or less reasonable to me. A few random comments:

    Unless you find the idea truly objectionable, look at used bikes. Especially since you say you don`t know much about them because you`ll get a better idea what you DON`T like or what DOESN`T work for you without spending an arm and a leg on a bike that isn`t right for you. Then go ahead and spend that arm and leg on the next bike

    I like steel too, but if a good deal comes along for an aluminum bike, don`t let that spoil your fun. Chances of adctually saving a trip by having a steel bike frame repaired on the road are pretty slim.

    Wheels are often as much a part of the bike price as the frame is.

    By "heavy load", how much are you talkling about? Some folks in the touring circle go with 100# or more. I doubt many who consider themselves "bikepackers" carry so much weight that a super duty frame and wheels would be required. Either way is fine as long as that`s what the rider wants to do, but make sure you aren`t over thinking bomb-proofness.

    Have fun.
    Thanks for the feedback everyone

    If I can find a good second hand deal I would consider it and I see your point and finding out what doesn't work for me before spending lots of money. I would rather buy from a shop where I can test and compare lots of different bikes though as I think that will be the way I will find the best fit.

    I agree with the comments about steel, I would prefer it, but I know it's not essential because a good alluminium frame is unlikely to break. The main reason I put frame as most important was for the fit.

    I'll also consider the price of new wheels before I buy something

    When I say "heavy load", 90% of the time using the bike will be for lightweight short trips in the UK. I've got experience in camping, bushcraft and survival type stuff so I can pack light easily enough.

    However, I would also like to be able to go somewhere remote (or somewhere very cold where I will need more clothing and a warmer sleeping bag), put panniers on the bike and carry a months worth of food and equipment. I don't tend to carry much normally when I go places, but for extended trips it can't be avoided.

    Cheers

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skeeno View Post
    I would say find the hard tail with the best component spec in your price range.
    I will try and get the best components I can but surely frame, wheels and forks should come first?

  7. #7
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    I always considered wheels and fork to be part of the component spec.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skeeno View Post
    I always considered wheels and fork to be part of the component spec.
    Ah ok then In that case, hypothetically, if you had to choose between a bike with a good, well fitting frame with bad components, or a bike with good components but a bad frame what would you pick?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy17 View Post
    Ah ok then In that case, hypothetically, if you had to choose between a bike with a good, well fitting frame with bad components, or a bike with good components but a bad frame what would you pick?
    (The reason I'm asking is because within my price range, I'm realistically gona have to make compromises.)

  10. #10
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    I would take the best fitting frame. You can upgrade components later if you need to.

  11. #11
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    Your low budget means you need to look at the used market. Get a frame that fits so you don't hurt yourself.

  12. #12
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    you can go this way with your budget;
    used but good quality frame and fork; great fit.

    then spend the rest on components as you go...I built my commuter for just around $120 or so all told; mainly due to wheels, tires, and components....however, it started with a $25 used, good condition steel frame and fork from the mid 80s that fit me perfectly....yeah sure it's not even close to the middle of the road level of quality, but it is reliable, and it fits me, and what I do with it.. it is a lot better than the Huffy military bike I also have though...
    but back to the point; for $800; I would look at lightly used, great quality frame sets, steel would be cheaper..but say, frame $100-200, very good quality recently built steel frames; and then $500-600 on components; mid range or used high quality components, and then the rest on tires?
    CamoDeafie's Tactical gear and bike-packing blog-
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  13. #13
    Kabooommm!!!
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    My last bike, I was given because I used to have to walk 4.5 miles to work and back again every day. It had been in storage since the mid-90's and the guy was going to trash it but instead just gave it to me for free. First thing that I did was replace the chain and was able to get a decent set of wheels from a friend (he had bought a new set awhile back for his mountain bike - as a backup, of course - and, after a recent car accident, couldn't ride anymore, so he just gave them to me since I was looking for some).

    Well, anyways, I ended up recently messing up the back tire and rim pretty bad and priced a new replacement (I have 26' tires) for around $100 (with shipping and handling, tube, wheel, and tire altogether) and have decided that I would rather build a new one if I'm going to have to spend that much anyways. Last night, I completely stripped it down to just the frame and am debating on whether or not I should reuse it (since it and the front wheel were the only things that were still in pretty decent shape). I actually have no clue what model or brand the frame is since that is worn down pretty bad, but my question is, should I reuse it and build around it or get this: Sette Reken Alloy Hardtail Frame | Sette | Brand | www.PricePoint.com since it's on sale and is highly recommended on this forum and other places.

    I would have started a new thread, but I found that this is more relevant to what the OP was asking about and what some of your comments were.

    My budget is between $100-$200 a month that I can put towards parts and whatnot, and despite my bike being my main form of transportation, after I recently moved closer to work, walking a mile to and from work isn't bad enough to justify spending the extra money to buy a brand new bike from some place like Walmart that really won't last all that long.

  14. #14
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    That Sette frame does get great reviews on here. My riding buddy has one and uses it for bikepacking. He loves it.

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