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  1. #1
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    New question here. Buying first Mountain Bike?

    I'm one step away from buying my first mountain bike. I'm just waiting for confirmation that it will fit in my 2006 Honda Civic 2-door Coupe. I don't want to add a rack on my car.

    I'm a noob. I'm a recreational trail cruiser from Toronto. I drive out of the city and go trail riding - mostly gravel path. I normally rent a bike from an outfitter on site.

    I have a small budget. First I looked in bike shops. But the bikes in these shops are beyond my budget. I found one on sale I can afford in Can-Tire.

    "Kranked Factor Adult Full Suspension Bike, 26-in"
    Price: $200 sale price

    I would be riding once a week on weekends.

    Will this bike do for me??? Any recommendations on other affordable mountain bike???

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Sissy Pants FTW Moderator
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    Your same post on the "Beginner" forum is likely to attract some useful information for you, since this is a very common topic (although circumstances and answers vary with each individual inquiry).

    Do you see your interests growing beyond gravel trails into what would be described as more "technical" trails including narrower trails (i.e. "singletrack"), rocks, roots, various grades of steepness up and down, and perhaps even beyond? The first goal should be to meet your current needs, but maybe at the same time consider whether there's a way to have a plan for expansion of your interests later, in terms of terrain you may want to ride on. Gravel trails are great for cruising around and exploring on too - nothing wrong with that.

    In the grand scheme of things, you are correct that $200 is a modest budget to be working with, but it certainly isn't necessary to spend 4 figures to have fun on a mountain bike to be able to have some fun. Checking out the latest and greatest technology & gear can indeed be one fun aspect of the activity, but many people enjoy their riding just as much without so much emphasis on the gear.

    "Department store bikes" like those from Can-Tire are a real question mark, especially those with some of the apparent bells and whistles like full suspension (front and rear) disc brakes, etc. For relatively smooth gravel trails I suggest you may be better served by a simpler bike withour rear suspension, or maybe even no front suspension, rim brakes instead of disc brakes, etc. Full suspension and disc brakes often consumes a good chunk of the bike's value, but add a lot of weight and often don't function very well, give more items needing repairs later, compared to a simpler setup that may function better plus have greater durability.

    The main 2 things you will need are well functioning shifting, and brakes.

    Do you know anyone else who has some experience with bike maintenance and riding? If you buy a department store bike, at the very least get a friend to look over the overall assembly, plus check adjustment of shifters and brakes. The personnel who do department store bike assembly are very hit and miss in terms of their competence. Some are actual experienced bike mechs looking for a bit of cash on the side, while others have no prior bike mech experience and only minimal training on assembly and adjustment.

    A used bike off Craigslist or similar might net you a good find that has a few scratches and be a few years old, but in fact be a much better functioning and more reliable bike than a new bike at the same cost, in the range you are looking at. Once again, if you know of any people that ride, maybe you can convince them to help you look at any candidates, since it does take some experience to know what you are looking at online, and then to assess condition in person.

    Good luck in your search! Any bike to start (so long as it's in "safe" working condition) is better than no bike at all. If you start doing more riding, or get interested in other types of mountain bike trails, you can always address your new needs at that time.

    Also consider doing some research into how to find the right size and fit of bike for you. This can get highly technical, but to start with there's probably onlyy a few things you need to know. What you feel comfortable on is the most important factor, but sometimes when first starting with bikes it's easy to miss trying some important sizing/fit experiments or comparisons because you don't yet have that experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by trail_cruzer View Post
    I'm one step away from buying my first mountain bike. I'm just waiting for confirmation that it will fit in my 2006 Honda Civic 2-door Coupe. I don't want to add a rack on my car.

    I'm a noob. I'm a recreational trail cruiser from Toronto. I drive out of the city and go trail riding - mostly gravel path. I normally rent a bike from an outfitter on site.

    I have a small budget. First I looked in bike shops. But the bikes in these shops are beyond my budget. I found one on sale I can afford in Can-Tire.

    "Kranked Factor Adult Full Suspension Bike, 26-in"
    Price: $200 sale price

    I would be riding once a week on weekends.

    Will this bike do for me??? Any recommendations on other affordable mountain bike???

    Thanks.

  3. #3
    Lemmy Rules!
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    My 2c are that you would not be happy in the long run with a department store bike. They are not assembled by bike store mechanics, and in my humble opinion, if you get a full suspension bike for $200, you will get exactly what you pay for. A decent full suspension bike will cost upwards of $2,000. For anything below that, as Circlip pointed out, a lot of that price will be eaten up by suspension, which you will not need to ride gravel trails in any event.

    Front suspension is nice, and so are disc brakes, but discs can be a hassle to maintain if you are new to the sport.

    If you are looking for a bike that will fit in the back of your civic, you will need a bike with quick release front wheel. With the front wheel off, you will be able to fit your bike in a civic so long as you fold the back seats down. If that $200 bike does not have quick release wheels, that automatically makes it a non-starter.

    Ideally, you will want your new bike to last you a few seasons if you stick with the sport, or be a reputable brand so if you decide mountainbiking is not for you, you can sell it and get at least some of your money back. I think the first step is to go visit a reputable bike store, tell them what you are looking for, and see what they suggest. Take a friend who rides with you, if you can. Either that, or keep Circlip's comments in mind.

    Re budget, it's been a while since I have shopped for an entry-level mountainbike but it seems to me that the price of admission is $500-$700. For $1,000 you should be able to get something totally decent. Make sure you leave enough in your budget for a helmet, a pump and perhaps a basic multi-tool.

    I would also recommend doing some research and not rushing into this purchase. Take a look at the websites of some reputable bike brands - Cannondale, Specialized, Trek and Giant are a good place to start. Look at the entry level bikes - that will give you an idea of what sort of components might work for you, and what sort of price point to start at. Then with that knowledge, and the knowledge you have gleaned from visiting a couple of bike stores, start scouring Craigslist.

    You might also want to check out the fall bike show in mid-October if you can wait until then. There are always good deals to be had there on end-of-year stuff.

    Good luck.
    Strava made me do it....

  4. #4
    namagomi
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    You're going too cheap, save money longer and wait for the bike show in october. You already know you enjoy trail riding so the risk is low.

    Also save room in the budget for a proper helmet.

  5. #5
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    If you're sticking to gravel roads and what not, a crappy tire bike might suit you just fine but as circlip said don't waste your money buying a full suspension bike from a department store, the small gain you get for bumps in the road you'll be set back ten fold on the extra weight and minimal functionality.

    If you can scrounge an extra $150 have a look on some of the major manufacturers websites (giant, specialized etc.) who all have 'recreational' or 'multiuse' bikes in the $350 range brand new or check out the Canadian Cyclist Classifieds or craigslist and you might find a used one in your price range. The Giant Revel 3 comes to mind.

    As for the Honday civic, I rode with a guy with one a couple years older than yours and his bike fit. His seats folded down and if I remember right he had to take the front and rear wheels off to get it to fit so having a bike with quick release levers would be a benefit to you as well.
    Last edited by akura; 09-05-2011 at 01:47 PM.

  6. #6
    Sissy Pants FTW Moderator
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    Follow-up to my own earlier reply, since I realized this key point may be confusing ; items such as full suspension and disc brakes can be great, but usually only after a certain price point (quite a bit more than you budget you have proposed). Under that point, those items are sometimes included to give the appearance of a higher-end bike, but it's a bit of a scam in that the actual quality of those components is extremely low i.e. doesn't function well, adds a lot of unnecessary weight. Keep it simple to get the most value, and also to avoid repair costs after the fact (which some buyers of department store bikes are very disappointed to find cost more than the original bike purchase price!)

    Another item to experiment with is tire pressure. For new riders, it's usually an assumption that higher pressure will mean the tires roll faster. However, on most off-road trails - even those with largely gravel surfaces - lower pressure can actually roll more easily. If you want more tech details on this please ask. The relation to the above is that with a bike with only front suspension, or even no suspension, you can get a much "smoother" ride feel with the lower pressure that will absorb more small bumps and variations in the trail surface.

    Recommendations for a good range of tire pressure to try will vary depending on your weight, tire size, and what types of surfaces you ride on (which you've already described to us). Do you know how to change a flat, and/or carry tools for changing a flat tube? That's a priority for any new rider aspiring to get more into the activity. Flats happen to everyone sooner or later, and they're easily fixed by the side of a trail with the correct (inexpensive) tools and just a tiny bit of knowledge.

  7. #7
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    I went and had a look at the bike at the CTC web site, because myself and most of the posters on hear pay that much for a pair of tires and a helmet not to many are going to say anything great about it, Well it's not bad looking and has good reviews. But I would look for a used bike before I spent 200 on that one. I bought my daughter a nice used Gary Fisher for 150 from a local bike shop. Talk to friends, ask for help. keep looking you will find something.

  8. #8
    Back of the pack doping.
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    How tall are you?

    What size of bike are you looking for?
    My EBB so loud
    I'm mashing...

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the info. I've learned a lot from your feedbacks above.

    I will look around and see what's available out there. What I find challenging with buying a used bike is that I don't know what is in good condition or the used market price. I know more of buying a used car than buying a used mountain bike. Also the budget is really a factor in my case. I would like to go riding before winter in my own bike. I'm not sure how much more I can save in the next few weeks. I also have to buy a helmet and gloves. Recently, a new pair of hiking shoes cost me $140. I needed them daily casual shoes and I go outdoors every weekend as recreational walker/hiker. Also I'm a recreational kayaker during the hot days of summer. I spent $250 total in kayaking gear and rentals. Last but not least, I have a goal in buying my own cross country skiis this coming winter.

    With that said...my height is 5'5..with a budget of $300 including helmet. A recreaitional trail cruiser. Nothing extreme. Looking for a bike to enjoy for few years. Will unlikely ride it hard.

    What is the best brand I can pick up with my budget?

  10. #10
    bi-winning
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    Quote Originally Posted by Circlip View Post
    Follow-up to my own earlier reply, since I realized this key point may be confusing ; items such as full suspension and disc brakes can be great, but usually only after a certain price point (quite a bit more than you budget you have proposed). Under that point, those items are sometimes included to give the appearance of a higher-end bike, but it's a bit of a scam in that the actual quality of those components is extremely low i.e. doesn't function well, adds a lot of unnecessary weight. Keep it simple to get the most value, and also to avoid repair costs after the fact (which some buyers of department store bikes are very disappointed to find cost more than the original bike purchase price!)
    Also, it should be known that different brands of disc brakes use different shape brake pads. Open a bike shop supplier's catalog, and there are 20+ different shapes of brake pads for disc brakes. It may or may not be difficult to find replacement pads for a disc brake that is not from a popular component brand.

    With V (rim) brakes, the pads are pretty standard, interchangeable, and readily available.


    Furthermore, a quality full suspension bike often uses sealed cartridge bearings at the frame pivot points. A department store bike will often just use cheap nylon bushings. Once they wear out, your frame will have play at the pivots, and start to feel like a noodle. Good luck getting replacement bushings. The bike is essentially disposable.

    When shopping with a tight budget, look for a simple bike, not one that looks like, but fails to perform like a hardcore mountain bike.
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.


    Shorthills Cycling Club

  11. #11
    Huckin' trails
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail_cruzer View Post
    I'm one step away from buying my first mountain bike. I'm just waiting for confirmation that it will fit in my 2006 Honda Civic 2-door Coupe. I don't want to add a rack on my car.

    I'm a noob. I'm a recreational trail cruiser from Toronto. I drive out of the city and go trail riding - mostly gravel path. I normally rent a bike from an outfitter on site.

    I have a small budget. First I looked in bike shops. But the bikes in these shops are beyond my budget. I found one on sale I can afford in Can-Tire.

    "Kranked Factor Adult Full Suspension Bike, 26-in"
    Price: $200 sale price

    I would be riding once a week on weekends.

    Will this bike do for me??? Any recommendations on other affordable mountain bike???

    Thanks.
    I'll tell you, those "full suspension" bike have a full 30mm of travel and required a complete disassembly & reassembly before you take them off road... This is a waste of money for a crappy build bike with crappy parts... And the pivot bushings will needs to be service almost each month because they wear out quick and you get some play inside the frame pivot...

    I did took a CCM alu frame with steel rear triangle and put a decent 80mm fork and a good rear coil shock, basic Shimano drivetrain, platform pedals, decent wheel-set and v-brakes and rock it through my daily winter commute without problem...

    Some of those frame are ok, but the components are heavy and cheap.

    Plus, for light off road, a hardtail with fat tires inflated under their max pressure (like at 40 psi) will get you a better ride with a decent fork, like a RST for $70 or a RockShox Dart 2 for $100. Try to avoid any mechanical disc brakes other then the Avid BB5 or BB7.

    And if you can wait till the end of the season, you will be able to get nice deals on LBS close outs and local classified.

    Any decent brands includes GT, Trek (Gary Fisher is owned by Trek), Giant, Rocky Mountains, Specialized, Norco, Opus, Devinci, etc.

    Plus a lbs will also include a warranty and a limited time free tune up and maintenance (mostly for 1 year). You can get a nice deal if you pay cash too.

    But stay away from those blingy Canadian Tire bikes !

    David
    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleB28 View Post
    topless. that's what all mtb girls do. we go ride, get topless, have pillow fights in the woods, scissor, then ride home!

  12. #12
    Evil Jr.
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    I'm generally not a huge fan of department store bikes and usually try to talk people out of them but a friend of ours did get a pretty good deal on a CCM 29er () at Canadian Tire (retail is listed at $599 but I think he got it for $399 by keeping an eye on the flyers).

    He mostly wanted the bike so he could just ride around with his kids on local MUPs and it seems to be working out just fine. I wouldn't call it "excellent" but it certainly is adequate.

    $200 is a rock-bottom budget no mater what you're getting into but as Circlip said, any bike is better than no bike!
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  13. #13
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    Okay thanks for the additional infos.

    Based on the overwhelming recommendations. I have decided to go and look for a hardtail with a front suspension with v brakes. I guess this is the type close to the classic mountain bike.

    I'm located in Mississauga and will visit the local bike shops. I have also learned about the bike show in October. I'm thinking about waiting. Now my question is - is it realistic for anyone to pick up a decent hardtail from the bike show for $300??? I imagine there would be a huge line up of people wanting to grab them as well.

    Also to be honest. I don't have the means to tune up or sup up or modify the bike after purchased. I'm just glad I can afford to have a hobby. Trying to make mtb riding as a regular hobby. Right now a cheap bike will make this possible for me.

    My other question is...what is the Honda Civic of mountain bikes? Affordable and reliable.

  14. #14
    Evil Jr.
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    Almost any bike by one of the big major manufacturers (Trek, Specialized, Giant, etc...) will be totally reliable.

    For example, the Trek 820 is the barest-bones ride they offer. List is $399 and at this time of year, you might have a good shot at getting it for less than that.

    Last edited by garage monster; 09-06-2011 at 09:48 AM. Reason: resized gigantor pic!
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  15. #15
    Sissy Pants FTW Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail_cruzer View Post
    Based on the overwhelming recommendations. I have decided to go and look for a hardtail with a front suspension with v brakes. I guess this is the type close to the classic mountain bike.
    I didn't want to nudge you too strongly, since people need to be happy with their own buying decisions, but I think your plan sounds like a great match for your situation as you have described it.

    Quote Originally Posted by trail_cruzer View Post
    I'm located in Mississauga and will visit the local bike shops. I have also learned about the bike show in October. I'm thinking about waiting. Now my question is - is it realistic for anyone to pick up a decent hardtail from the bike show for $300??? I imagine there would be a huge line up of people wanting to grab them as well.
    There are several bike shop employess and owners who participate in this forum. While they typically aren't supposed to be actively soliciting on the forum (unless someone posts up a special need they can help with), if you are receptive to the idea maybe post up saying it's OK for anyone affiliated with a shop to send you a PM (private message function built into the mtbr.com web site) with any suggestions they may have? Up to you, of course, if you want to receive those types of communications.

  16. #16
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    The price you posted of $399. Is it the price for a brand new Trek 820 or used price? Which store?

  17. #17
    Evil Jr.
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail_cruzer View Post
    The price you posted of $399. Is it the price for a brand new Trek 820 or used price? Which store?
    That's the list price for a brand new bike. You can find it here on the Trek Canada website: Trek 820.

    I'm sure any authorized Trek dealer would honour that pricing but the best spot to hit would probably be the Trek Store on Yonge Street.

    Look around a bit. Like I said Giant, Specialized, Kona and many other makes will have bikes at the same price-point.
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  18. #18
    Lemmy Rules!
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail_cruzer View Post
    The price you posted of $399. Is it the price for a brand new Trek 820 or used price? Which store?
    I think you are on the right track in going for a name brand bike from a bike store, rather than a department store bike.

    Keep in mind that it is towards the end of the 2011 model year so bike stores may be blowing out some of their 2011 merchandise. Keep in mind the fact that if you are only 5'5" tall, you are looking at a small frame. As bike stores tend to sell mostly medium or large, there may be a few small frames kicking around on sale over the winter or at the fall bike show. You may get the Trek mentioned above for a slightly better price, or alternately, you might get a better bike for the $399 price tag.

    I suggest that you hang on a couple of weeks if you can and save a little extra $. You can use that time to research, and shop around. Go to bike stores (I agree start with the Trek store if you are interested in a Trek) and check out bikes in person. Most stores will at least let you take it for a spin around the block, and will get you into the right size bike (which is the most important thing by far)

    Keep in mind that most bike stores will offer "free" tuneups for the first year or so after you buy the bike, so you won't have to concern yourself too much about maintenance until you have learned a little yourself just through owning a bike. In that respect, spending a little extra on the front end can be justified in saving you maintenance bills down the road.
    Strava made me do it....

  19. #19
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    I guess I will wait for a little while. I will check out bike stores on this weekend.
    I was hoping I can go trail riding in the next several weekends up to Halloween. Before the temp drops to zero.

    I came accross the brand Jamis. Is this a good brand?

  20. #20
    Ms. Monster
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail_cruzer View Post
    I came accross the brand Jamis. Is this a good brand?
    Yep, it's also a solid brand. Sport Chek recently came on board as a big distributor; not sure how good their bike mechanics are.

  21. #21
    Sissy Pants FTW Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail_cruzer View Post
    I came accross the brand Jamis. Is this a good brand?
    Like many bike manufacturers, Jamis offers models right up to $5,000+ and also much more economical models. Jamis is actually a very good brand to investigate. Their name isn't quite as well known as some other brands, and so they often have to provide a slightly better price point to win business - even though they bikes are often entirely comparable.

    I agree with some others about trying to scratch up any extra $$$ you can. An extra $100 doesn't necessarily mean anything from a $2000 bike to a $2100 bike, but when you are down in the $200-$400 range that extra $100 can actually yield a very noticeable difference in the overall product. Sounds like you have lots of other cool recreational activities to use available funds for also.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdgirl View Post
    Yep, it's also a solid brand. Sport Chek recently came on board as a big distributor; not sure how good their bike mechanics are.
    The last bike I rented was a Jamis. Simple bike. It felt light. Had no issues.
    I enjoyed it. The only thing I noticed was my ass felt soar after a few KM on the trail.....from bike riding

    SportChek has this model on sale for $270.

    Jamis Trail X1 Front Suspension Mountain Bike 2011

    It also has quick release front & rear wheels and a quick release saddle assembly to make transport, storage, or locking up a snap. Which is perfect for logistics with my Honda Civic coupe.

    Is this a good buy for a noob like me?

  23. #23
    Evil Jr.
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    I'd say for that money, this is not a bad deal at all and I can't think of another proper aluminum frame in that range.

    Please enjoy seeing this terrible collection of me - something wonderful is about to happy.

  24. #24
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    This Jamis model weighs 30 lbs. I have 2 other questions.

    What is the weight range of a light weight hardtail bike?

    I noticed the local bike shop does not post their price online? Like "The Bike Zone", "Gears" and "Skiis & Bikes". Why not?

  25. #25
    Evil Jr.
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    30 lbs is definitely on the heavy end of the scale for a cross-country hardtail. Money buys a lot of lightness. A bike around a $1000 will generally be in the mid-20lb range. At the high end (think $5000+), you'll start to see bikes at 20lbs and lower.

    But don't get hung up on bike weight - it's not that big a deal unless you're planning on racing and you need to squeeze every advantage you can out of stuff.

    I can't say exactly why more shops don't post prices on-line but they generally prefer for you to drop by and assess your needs in person.
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