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  1. #1
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    Confused Clyde newbie needs help!

    Hello Fellow Clydes,

    I am glad to have found this board and there seem to be lots of kindred spirits. I'll start with my tale of woe, which I am sure will sound familiar.

    I distinctly remember when I started my clyde career: the day I broke 100lbs in the 3rd grade, and thought "Wow, this is cool." A few years later a long and torid relationship with a young woman named Little Debbie had me fully booked with a first class ticket on the gravy train, hitting as high as row 260 and earning a card-carrying membership in TeamFat (TM).

    For about two seasons in my mid-20's I was fairly serious about road cycling, and was down to around 220 and in excellent shape. A 100% travel job and too many brewskis and I fell off the wagon. Recently I've hit the big 3-0 and through dieting am down to the mid 230's and looking to get back to my fighting weight, with the ultimate goal of riding a century this spring or fall.

    I hate running and the machines at the gym are not very interesting (except maybe to the Terminator), so mountain biking seemed like an ideal way to push some pedals and get back into some semblance of riding shape, since I don't think the roadies are ready for this jelly (especially in spandex roadie gear). I also like the idea of spending some time in the woods on two wheels and playing in the dirt. I have not rode a mountain bike since the days when my trusty 1989-vintage Trek 850 was my primary form of transportation, and three visits to different LBS' have only left me more confused than when I started.

    Conventional wisdom said I should stick to a hardtail, and when I visited my first LBS to check out a Kona Hoss, the guy immediately told me hardtails were for dinos and the latest FS bikes would gladly accomidate my girth and beg for more. He pointed me towards the $2700 Dawg Walletbreaker Pro, and slipped in the fact that I could "maybe take a few laps around the parking lot" but that was the extent of test rides. Personal policy dictates that anything more than $2G's requires more than a quick fondle, so the Kona was out. Skinny Bike Shop Dude 1, TeamFat (TM) 0.

    My next stop was to a Specialized retailer, who actually agreed with my hardtail preference and didn't try to sell my the latest and greatest FS setup. I rode a 21" Rockhopper Comp Disc and just wasn't feeling it. I felt like I was leaning on my hands too much and the brakes felt "cheesy" for lack of a better description. I hopped on a 19" and felt better, but still not wowed. They said they would build a Rockhopper Pro Disc 19" for me to try and were otherwise very helpful.

    Today's LBS had me sampling the wares of Gary Fisher. The lady who helped me was generally quite nice, but also poo-pooed hardtails, adding that FS was the way to go, but that you would be better off getting a nice hardtail than cheaping out on a sub $2K FS. She even tried to appeal to my vanity, asking my weight to setup the suspension then saying "Oh, I thought for sure you were right around 200." I rode the HiFi Pro in 21" and really enjoyed the bike. It seemed a lot more managable than the Spec in 21" and comprable to the 19". I also was not on my wrists so much and the brakes felt nice. They had the next model down from the HiFi Super PocketVaccum for rent for $50/day, which they would apply to a bike purchase so I could play extensively outside the realms of the parking lot with little risk. No pressure from the saleslady, but she definintely was steering me towards the HiFi Pro. A google and a epic about folding HiFi's later, plus the $2500 sticker has me a bit more gunshy than the smiles and swagger after putting around on the HiFi.

    So to make a short story long, I'm back where I started. Unsure if Hardtail or FS is the way to go, and gunshy about dropping $2.5G's+. I can afford it, but I don't want to spend the big bucks then look like a yuppie geek when I ride it to Lowes or the bar, since part of my desire is to just ride a damn bike rather than sitting in the cage. I also don't want to buy the Ferarri when what I really needed was the pickup truck.

    The two FS advocates said I'll bust my spine on the root-infested trails of the greater Charlotte area, so maybe the extra $1K is money well spent, but I need some guidance before I return to the open arms of Little Debbie in dismay.

    Thanks for listening!

  2. #2
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    I'm in at 280.... and I went back to a hardtail this year. First a HT will make you a smoother rider as you have to pick a better line through things.
    Second if you had a Fs you would notice "bob" alot more. That reduces the effectiveness of your pedal stroke.
    Alot of people said I would get a sore back...well my hasn't been sore at all. And I live in a very technical riding area......Whistler.
    Listen to what your gut tells you to buy and go from there
    BTW....I'm on a KONA Kula Deluxe........got rid of my Dawg Primo

  3. #3
    Your bike is incorrigible
    Reputation: Guyechka's Avatar
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    I wouldn't feel bad about picking up a HT. Ride it for a few months, and then stick a thudbuster on there to take the edge off those roots. But if you want to go FS, then you could go with something like the Kona Coiler, a cheaper bike that is built tough and durable. Look, what I'm trying to say is that there are other choices out there besides the Gary Fisher. If you're worried about spending a lot on a FS, then go used.

    Again, my main point here is that you have more options. Don't limit yourself.

  4. #4
    what nice teeth you have
    Reputation: nadinno78's Avatar
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    Definitly go with your instincts. The Kona and Fisher sales reps didn't sound to cool. Definitly working on commision. Maybe you can find another kona dealer that will be cooler and let you test ride the HOSS. Finding a friend that knows bikes and taking them may help (then again it could hurt, some people are complete bike snobs).

    You don't neccesarily have to look for a clyde specific bike like the hoss. I think the idea would be to stay away from the svelt xc racers and look more toward the aggresive style bikes. They are generaly built to take more abuse. If you look under Free ride hardtail on the mtbr reviews section there are a few bikes in there that are good trial bikes and not just built for jumping. Ie something like the mountain cycle rumble.

    29" HT could take some of the sting out of owning a hardtail. How well the wheels would hold up is questionable.

    One recomendatoin i have is to check out the Zion line of bikes from Jenson USA. They are steel hard tails. I have one and love it. Classic xc geometry. Moves like a rocket. Only drawback is the lack of try before you buy (unless you have a friend with one).

    Trek also has a good line of hardtails. I used to have the 930, it was a solid bike. I see a lot of the old treks on my campus, and for good reason. The bikes were built to last.


    Another Kona Bike you could look at is the shred, or the stuff. They are pretty rugged and they are good trail bikes. They build them tough for kids to jump stuff on. The big difference with jumping and trial riding on one of those bikes is the size of bike you get. I ride a large xc bike and if I wanted the shred for trail riding I would get the large. For jumping the medium(was able to figure this out by test riding and talking to the sales rep who was super cool, Road 34).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatsDomino
    Hello Fellow Clydes,
    .......A few years later a long and torid relationship with a young woman named Little Debbie had me fully booked with a first class ticket on the gravy train......

    Let me begin by laughing my a$$ off.



    Ok, now that I've settled down from one of the best expositions I've read on the interwebz I will proceed!


    Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who doesn't offer alternatives is trying to sell you something, not looking out for your best interests. It is a must in the process of informing customers and educating them. Now if they offer those alternatives and don't offer a valid raeson against your original thought, then they are again, trying to sell you something.
    If you are out of the game for a while, ask friends who you trust as open minded and objective people. If you don't know anyone like that, then rent a couple bikes. Rent the HT that you want and ride a trail. Then rent the...how did you put it, ah yes, the "Dawg Walletbreaker Pro" or the "HiFi Super PocketVaccum" for a day and ride the same trail with all the bikes. In the short term it will cost a little more. In the long term it will be WELL worth the extra cheddar. It may even be worth renting one or two of them twice to ride on that same trail. Be sure to pick a trail that has a little bit of everything you think you'll ride most.

    I gotta say, that was a good hoot'n hollar of a story. Bravo!

  6. #6
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    Maybe FS is the way to go if you 're having back problems, or maybe a good steel hardtail (take a look at Surly) which will prove really durable in the long-term. Also ask yourself what kind of terrain you will be venturing on (inclination, road and off-road use etc) as this will affect the choice too. Give a try 29ers as well and see how it goes. I would stay away from aluminium hardtails though as they quite uncomfortable especially for a person who has been out of the saddle for a long time.

  7. #7
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    I have a similar story to that of the OP.

    10 years ago I was all about 2 wheels. I used to race some, worked in a bike shop so I could get parts at cost, etc.

    Gave it up because I didnt want to blow my knees up, which I came close to doing.

    Walked into a bike shop for the first time in 10 years and didnt have a clue where to start. I knew I didnt want a FS. I have tried them out and I love the feel of a hardtail. My old playground is Frederick, MD. Gambril State Park and the likes so I can vouch that technical riding can be done on a hardtail. You have to pick your lines.

    I think the main thing to keep in mind if you are buying anything off the floor, dont skimp on the frame. Everything else can be upgraded.

  8. #8
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    Until this year I rode Ht, these days I run FS (Blur XC) and I find that my back is much happier. If you can find one you like and your trails are suitable, I recommend a good FS. Buy good I don't mean the most expensive. Get some test bikes, rent'em if you need too, and see what you like. I ride with a lot of Clydes and most ride FS, the biggest (270lbs) rides an epic and loves it.
    As stated above, any shop that won't let you ride a bike you ask for needs a swift kick in the a$$. Find another dealer.

  9. #9
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    I wouldn't go reccomending a Blur xc to a clyde. When I looked at them I was told that Santa cruz didn't reccomend them for riders over 200lb. And being the fact that this is the big boys section.....I would asume our OP is one of us.

    One of the hardest things even when test riding a bike is that you are not going to ever get the real feel of the bike right away. Bikes are very personal. I am still tweaking different little things to try and dil the bike in better and then of course your riding skills will always be improving.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the thoughts, all. I think I am going to stick to HT before ponying up the big bucks for FS. Any other good HT recomendations that would be easily available locally? The specialized dealer is the only one thus far with a good selection of HT bikes. The Gary Fisher dealer had their 29" HT but I think I'm going to stick with little wheels... perhaps they'll make my gut look smaller

    It's back to work tomorrow but I'll try and do some more testing next weekend and let y'all know what I end up with.

  11. #11
    @adelorenzo
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    Eh, I can't believe that a guy at a shop would steer you AWAY from one of the bikes on the market that is actually made with clydes in mind (the Hoss). I wouldn't go back there.

    That brings me to my $.02. You're willing to drop some cash, and as far as I am concerned you're getting a pretty similar range of bikes from the big boys like Specialized, Kona, Fisher... They cover basically the entire market range in terms of prices and riding styles.

    I would base my decision on your experience with the shop. Who gave you the best vibe? Who actually listened to you and tried to put you into a bike you want? Who is committed to working with you on bike fitting?

    Getting a bike that fits you well is so much more important than what you ultimately buy. There are differences between bikes, for sure, but a $5000 bike will sit in your garage if it doesn't fit you well and therefore you don't enjoy riding it.

    Since you aren't really experienced with riding an MTB, that means that you are in the hands of the bike shop when it comes to getting a good fit.

    Regards,
    Anthony

    PS -- Definitely a hardtail.

    Edited to add: All other things being equal, go for the shop with the hottest chicks.

  12. #12
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    Is the Stumpjumper Comp compatible with the twinkie set? I'm intrigued by the idea of doing some racing at some point, and also just want to try the bike out to see if it fits any different than the Rockhopper, plus it's got a bit better bling. If it's some sissy skinnyboy frame though I'll pass it by.

    The Spec dealer was definitely the best to work with, and the only one that didn't instantly walk me over to the full suspension, $2900+ Benjie Eater 3000.

    Thanks again for the help lads. I am looking forward to better fitness and perhaps a little less beer gut. I am a bit pissed that I paid good money for this beerbelly and can find nowhere that will accept a return.

  13. #13
    what nice teeth you have
    Reputation: nadinno78's Avatar
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    I think the stumpy would be a good bike.

  14. #14
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    So now for the beginning of the ending to this tale...

    I visited more shops last weekend, re-rideing some bikes and trying some new stuff. I tested an '06 Spec Epic and really disliked it. I also retested the Stumpy Comp. I was ready to sign on the line for the Stumpy but the store only had a gray floor model and could get one in electric blue. I decided to ponder further and ride some more, recalling the plush ride of the FS bikes but hating the feeling of riding with a bowl of jello in one's pants.

    I revisted another Gary Fisher shop and rode a few more of his bikes, including the HiFi Deluxe. The HiFi consistently put a smily on my face. It felt close to a hardtail on the road, and noticibly absorbed bumpts and just seemed to fit me. The top bar also gave the boys a little more breathing room than the Spec, helpful since I have a gorilla-like gangly upper body and stumpy legs.

    The Deluxe was right at my budget cap of $2K and the dude at the shop was super helpful and also a guy that clearly enjoyed a cold beer or tastycake on occasion. They gave me a kick in on accessories and I was out the door with my HiFi, new bike carrier for my roofrack (I recently abandoned the trunk "strap on"), bigman shorts, shoes, etc. for less than the Dawg El Supremeo or HiPi Quadraphonic Pro other shops tried to talk me into.

    I immediately threw caution to the wind and hit a local singletrack venue that was billed as "less technical." Although at this point I'd hate to see "techincal," I had more fun than I've had on two wheels in quite a while. I fell on my can several times, and did some sweet wheelie hop-off manuvers on most (ok, all) of the bigger climbs, but came out with a #*^*-eating grin.

    I'm stuck at work 1000 miles away from my new ride, lamenting that my sore can is stuck in an office chair rather than hitting the trails for more bruises.

    Thanks for your help, all, and I hope to see you on the trails. I'll be the dude lying in the rubble bleeding and giggling like a schoolgirl.

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