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  1. #1
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    Forks, Frames and Five Hundred Dollars.

    I havent biked in a few years, but since I am moving closer to campus I am thinking about getting a bike for commuting. But if Im going to be buying a bike, I want to get a mtb that I can take out on the weekends as well. However, the bike will be 90% commuting, 10% XC. That decided, I have started looking at bikes. What I have come across though is that recreational components (Acera, Deore, Alivio) tend to bind under high stress compared to higher end stuff like LX and XT. Also, the forks on the few bikes I have ridden (Manitou Six and Axel Elite) have been too soft and fully compressed when I stood up and pumped. Ive been told I need double walled wheels no matter what riding Im doing because of my weight.

    Im on a budget though. I started off looking at Gary Fisher Advance, Trek 4300, Specialized Hardrock, etc. but saw that the forks and components would most deffinately perish under my weight. So I started thinking about budgeting more and have looked at Gary Fisher Marlin and Specialized Rockhopper and Rockhopper Comp. The Rockhopper Comp is out of my price range, but the guy at the store wanted me to ride it. He also wanted me to ride a Tassahara, but I had to go to work.

    The guy at the shop said that springs could be added to most shocks for abour $30 to compensate for my weight. Is this a smart solution or will the wear on the fork (and the squishiness of the ride) be any less? The Marlin and the Rockhopper both have slightly better components (Mostly Deore, some Alivio) but how do I test a bike and make a decision without having the fork adjusted for my weight? Ive heard that the Manitou Six might not be the best fork for a Clyde, but I can't afford any bikes that I have seen so far that have better forks. The Rockhopper, Marlin, and maybe even the Wahoo (Judy TT) are the most feasible for me to afford. If I can beg, plead, bargain, or con....i might be able to afford a Tassajara.

    Here's Me: 6'4" 245lbs and I have ABSOLUTELY no more than $500 to spend on a bike, and unless I just cannot get ANYTHING for it, I want to stay around $400. I know I could look for a used bike, and I know if I "just spent $150 more dollars" I could get a "much better bike." I also know I could buy a bike and then upgrade the fork, but I'd rather not have to do that immediately. All of these bikes however still have recreational grade components. The Rockhopper and Marlin have Deore rear D's and Alivio fronts. I know these aren't BAD, so I think I'll be OK with them and if they break I can then upgrade.
    Last edited by AdamOn6thStreet; 08-22-2004 at 02:29 PM. Reason: forgot something

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamOn6thStreet
    I havent biked in a few years, but since I am moving closer to campus I am thinking about getting a bike for commuting. But if Im going to be buying a bike, I want to get a mtb that I can take out on the weekends as well. However, the bike will be 90% commuting, 10% XC. That decided, I have started looking at bikes. What I have come across though is that recreational components (Acera, Deore, Alivio) tend to bind under high stress compared to higher end stuff like LX and XT. Also, the forks on the few bikes I have ridden (Manitou Six and Axel Elite) have been too soft and fully compressed when I stood up and pumped. Ive been told I need double walled wheels no matter what riding Im doing because of my weight.

    Im on a budget though. I started off looking at Gary Fisher Advance, Trek 4300, Specialized Hardrock, etc. but saw that the forks and components would most deffinately perish under my weight. So I started thinking about budgeting more and have looked at Gary Fisher Marlin and Specialized Rockhopper and Rockhopper Comp. The Rockhopper Comp is out of my price range, but the guy at the store wanted me to ride it. He also wanted me to ride a Tassahara, but I had to go to work.

    The guy at the shop said that springs could be added to most shocks for abour $30 to compensate for my weight. Is this a smart solution or will the wear on the fork (and the squishiness of the ride) be any less? The Marlin and the Rockhopper both have slightly better components (Mostly Deore, some Alivio) but how do I test a bike and make a decision without having the fork adjusted for my weight? Ive heard that the Manitou Six might not be the best fork for a Clyde, but I can't afford any bikes that I have seen so far that have better forks. The Rockhopper, Marlin, and maybe even the Wahoo (Judy TT) are the most feasible for me to afford. If I can beg, plead, bargain, or con....i might be able to afford a Tassajara.

    Here's Me: 6'4" 245lbs and I have ABSOLUTELY no more than $500 to spend on a bike, and unless I just cannot get ANYTHING for it, I want to stay around $400. I know I could look for a used bike, and I know if I "just spent $150 more dollars" I could get a "much better bike." I also know I could buy a bike and then upgrade the fork, but I'd rather not have to do that immediately. All of these bikes however still have recreational grade components. The Rockhopper and Marlin have Deore rear D's and Alivio fronts. I know these aren't BAD, so I think I'll be OK with them and if they break I can then upgrade.
    Well, I think the Specialized Hardrock Pro is a very solid bike. You've got mail.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, I saw that....but $600 is more than I can afford.

  4. #4
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    Check out the Ibex Alpin 550, $539 Delivered.
    Riding slowly since 1977.

  5. #5
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    DO you currently have a good u-lock? If not, that $500 should be more like $450.

    Honestly? I know someone told you that the extra $150 will make the difference on a new bike, but the bottom line is that bicycles are one of the simpler machines known to modern man, adn there's very little difference from year to year. Look at used bikes, and hunt down shops that have last year's on sale. I'd focus on hunting down used though. (And not at the shop... they're going to tag on their own markup) Some people are going off to school, or want to sell for any number of reasons. If you're commuting, shiny new bikes are the first targets for thieves and vandals. But mainly, with a used bike, it's easy to get more bike for your money. Bike shops are looking to make money. People selling used bikes are often just looking for a few extra $$, which is why you'll get the deal. Put another way, that "extra $150" is going to the shop, and the salesman. That extra $150 goes to salaries and rent and overhead. The guy selling used isn't putting that kind of markup on his bike, and it's entirely possible that he's selling it for that $150 he needs to make rent that month. I've done it. Sold a beautiful, hardly used Trek hardtail, for a quarter of what I paid for it, because I needed the cash.

    "Derailleurs like deore, alivio... binding under load." Well... possibly. I suppose. But if you're commuting, you'll get enough time in the saddle to practice not shifting under load, which is how you're supposed to shift anyway. I commuted for the past few years... even uphill, it's not hard to give a half second's slack time to let the bike switch gears. Takes practice, but it's not hard. And it's what you're supposed to do. That's why "they" used to advise shifting BEFORE you get to the hill... you don't wnat to shift the bike under that kind of load.

    I weigh more than you do. Even an entry level shock fork is not going to "perish" under your weight unless you start doing jumps and drops. (So help me, if I find out you're getting all this bike shopping advice from the salesperson at the bike shop...) New heavier springs are good, I can vouch for that, but they're not necessary if you can't afford em right away. That said, a shock absorbing fork isn't really necessary either, but it's hard to find a good rigid bike package these days that has multiple speeds.

    So you might want to look around at things like single speed bikes. If you're hell bent on toughness, it's hard to go wrong with one gear. No derailleurs to bind up on you. The cranks are tough enough to handle someone jumping up and down on the bike while trying to get up a hill. And often, no shock forks to worry about, which means no flexing under load like you're talking about. All that extra power that the shock would otherwise soak up goes to the wheel, which makes the biek mroe efficient for around-town. If you're really worry about all those components dying on you, get a bike that doesn't have and doesn't need them. People win races on these bikes, and for a reason. Some of the money saved by not having all those components usually goes into that frame. Since it's single speed, it's built to be whomped on by people trying to get up a hill or up to speed. So the frames are bodacious. The rest of the money saved on not having components is normally reflected in the price. If you're bound and determined to have multiple speeds, you can add an internally-geared hub later on, (which works better in bad weather, and mud) but I think you'll be happy as is. If I buy a new complete bike again, it'll be a single speed.

    (edited to add) Specialized P1s had an MSRP of ~$600 this past year, meaning you might be able to find one on sale for around $500, since shops are getting in next year's model. They're being billed as freeride bikes, so they ought to be able to handle a lot of punishment. They do come shock forks, too.

    Seriously... look at used. If you're already talking about upgrading components on a new bike, those are things you can do just as well on a used bike, having paid less for the original bike, and the new components will get dialed in when they're installed. Look at any hardtail for the past 10 years or so. Aside from the number of speeds, really, just what has changed? Maybe some of them won' t have rear disc brake mounts. Who cares? And other than that, there's not much difference. What, exactly, is the virtue of new, for the purposes of commuting? I promise you, there's really not much difference from one year to the next. They all have wheels, a frame, pedals, a seat, brakes, and some gears.

    You know what the real difference is? Honestly? It doesn't feel new. Once in a while it's because the bike has been abused. It's rusty, dented up, and iobviously not in the best of shape. But if you test ride before you buy, you'll know not to buy that bike. The rest of the time though, it's as simple as this: the cable housings have settled, the brake pads have worn a little bit, so it doesn't stop quite as fast, and doesn't shift quite as well. You know what else? All of that is trivial to fix. Adjustments are so easy it's insane. All it is, essentially, is clamping down on the cable in a different place. It's almost as difficult as adjusting a seat post. It's slightly more involved, but not more difficult. Bicycles are nowhere near as complicated as people seem to think. You're smart enough to learn how to do this if you're still in school. And to tell the truth, sometimes it's possible that the adjustments you make yourself will end up being better than those it had when it was new. So in the end, the only legitimate difference is that the bike might not look as new, and the former owner probably farted on the seat once or twice.

    So learning how to work on bikes can help you out a lot there. Here's the kicker, though. It applies whether or not you buy a used bike, but it'll save you a bundle, buying used. Learning how to do your own work will help you while you're at school. It'll get you a better working bike, it'll save you money on getting things fixed. And it can make you money fixing friends' bikes. I know how intimidating it may feel, thinking about fixing a bike. If you're in or near Boston, email me. I'll teach you. I'll bring a workstand and tools to you, and show you. And once you know how to do your own work, (while practicing on your bike, new or used) you can work on people's bikes at school, for less than a bike shop will charge. That'll help you pay for all those upgrades, which you also won't have to pay someone at the shop to install for you. More money saved. Or it'll get you laid. I don't mean to sound sexist, but the average woman is even less inclined to work on her bike than the average male. That's not to say there aren't excellent women mechanics, but they're the exception, not the rule. And those girls are just as broke as you are, if not more. Don't believe me? Ask the bike mechanics at the shop.

    Lastly, once you're comfortable doing the work, and familiar with your own bike, you'll start to keep an eye on your adjustments while you ride, meaning your bike will end up running better than one owned by someone else who bought the same bike you did. Quality merchandise, regardless of what it is, will always last, but it will last longer and work better if it's well maintained. The better the maintenance, the longer it'll last.

    If you're not sold on a used bike, you can go to the bike shop and listen to the salesman some more. Ditto on learning to fix your own bike. If that's what you end up doing, worry most about buying a good, strong frame, and wheels that have no less than 32 spokes. (36 is better.) That's the real bottom line. WIthout a frame, and solid wheels, you're going nowhere. Given your weight, double walled rims are nice. But again, I weigh more than you do. For a 90% commuter bike, a good rim by a reputable manufacturer will do fine. Recreational components will still work well enough, until you can afford better ones. If they really bind up on you, oil them. But I doubt they'll get that bad. Go to a shop that offers a one month tune-up for free, and make sure you use it, because those adjustments will move a little bit when you first start riding, and after that month, you'll know what sorts of things are going on with your bike, and you can either get them fixed, or be advised on how to get it to work better. (This depends on the shop... not all of them are so conscientious, but a good shop will teach you if you ask, and listen.) It's also possible that whatever it is, is something they were supposed to look at when they built the bike, and this is the time when you'll get the chance to get them to get it right, for free.
    Last edited by uber-stupid; 08-23-2004 at 08:56 AM.

  6. #6
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    "Look at any hardtail for the past 10 years or so. Aside from the number of speeds, really, just what has changed? "
    Your Post was written perfectly... the one thing that has changed dramatically is the frame geometry. Being I'm 6 foot 4, and all trunk with short legs, to find a bike ten years ago with a long top tube, I needed to buy a 22 inch frame... do you have any idea what its like riding that with my stubby legs? lol...not pleasant.
    Anyway now I ride a 16inch freeride frame and it has a 22 inch top tube which is perfect for me... all because of the change in geometry... as far as everything else you mentioned, you are 100% on the button... buy used+ fix yourself=save $$$
    Also the parktool website offers alot of documentation on how to adjust derailleurs, brakes etc... I've got alot of them on my machine... if you want them email me and I'll send them to you.

  7. #7
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    OK, well I ended up with a 2005 Rockhopper! Thanks for all the suggestions you guys gave. Ive had this bike for about 3 weeks now and am very happy with it. My only problems so far are as follows: Spring kit for fork is too soft, need to order a new one; front derailuer; pedals (need clipless); stem (came loose); bent seat rail....which I think was bent when I bought the bike, but Im not sure.



    w00t!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamOn6thStreet
    campus

    However, the bike will be 90% commuting, 10% XC.


    Here's Me: 6'4" 245lbs and I have ABSOLUTELY no more than $500 to spend on a bike, and unless I just cannot get ANYTHING for it, I want to stay around $400.
    Stout, Simple, dead-nuts reliable bike perfect for campus/commute wiht a bit of weekend play, my advice to you is to get yourself a Redline Monocog with the disc brake option. It should run you almost exactly $500.
    http://www.cactusbike.com/store/cont...duct_id=FRM502

  9. #9
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    Well, as you will see in my last post, Ive already bought a bike, but thanks

    I thought about single speeds for about an hour one day untill I looked out the window and saw how steep the hills are around here. When I went to a few bike shops and asked about SS bikes, most of the guys had this "wow you must have some strong legs to want one of those around here" reaction. And after riding this weekend on a local trail, Im very glad I didnt get a SS. There were a few hills were I was in the granny and the largest cogs in the back and I was still mashing hard.

  10. #10
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    Nice!!!

    I'm actually getting rid of my 2001 Hucker, FreeRide DJ bike for an XC bike... I'm pretty sure I'm going with the Spcialized HardRock Pro 2005. The LBS said to go see him when they are in nextweek, and he would swap me one for my bike.... i will miss the Devinci but its too much bike for what I ride.

  11. #11
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    Don't believe you need to have to get the best of components

    I think you don't have to go above Deore, Alivio is also good enough. Even then, most bikes will have a component mix (not all the bike will be of the same level). I think that the specialized Hardrock is a very good and tough bike. Maybe you can talk with your LBS for an upgrade in the fork, if you want. So you can take a good bike with a fork you feel good about. I think that the upgrade to stiffer springs will work fine, it just that the bikes are mostly designed for lighter weighted guys, and if you have more weight then you will have to compromise on something.

    I'm 6' tall and around 200 lbs.

  12. #12
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    How come no one suggested a Karate Monkey?

  13. #13
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    Too much dough

    Quote Originally Posted by SoloWithOthers
    How come no one suggested a Karate Monkey?
    Read the post, solo, he said he only had max $600 to spend. A KM frame alone would be about what ..like $300? He could ride the frame without wheels or drivetrain, but I think he was looking for the traditional two-wheeler.
    "Newfoundland dogs are good to save children from drowning, but you must have a pond of water handy" - Josh Billings

  14. #14
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    IBEX - under you budget - great specs

    Several good suggestions have been made here, but IMO the two best pieces of advice regard Alivio drivetrains and our own IBEX brand of bikes. Here are two IBEX models that fit your budget nicely and still deliver worthwhile components & performance:

    1) 2005 IBEX Alpine 450 - 6061 aluminum frame - Alivio/Deore drivetrain - Marzocchi MZ Comp fork - V-brakes - currently on sale for $399

    2) 2005 IBEX Alpine 550 - adds disc brakes, Marzocchi EXR fork and a few other niceties - on sale for $499

    These two models would sell for about $575 and $725, respectively, in an LBS. We sell direct, so the price structure is much better. It's because we streamline the distribution process... we don't cut corners on the bikes.

    Regards,
    Jack A.
    IBEX Bicycles
    IBEX Bicycles Company CSR

    www.ibexbikes.com

  15. #15
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    (I think its funny that I bought my bike 6 months ago and people are still making suggestions )

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