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  1. #1
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    My first mountain bike. Should I get regular, fat, or low fat?

    Hi. Newbie here (to mountain biking and to this forum).

    I've been riding for years in various capacities, mostly hybrids (like the Trek 7200), along with urban Road bikes (thicker wheels, straight handlebars), and old-guy bikes (Trek Navigator) and geared cruisers (currently riding a 7- speed Trek Pure, which is pretty much the same thing as an electra townie).


    Now I want to begin mountain biking and would appreciate any help in terms of buying.

    Stats: I'm 6,0 and 190 pounds, in rough shape but can get back fairly quickly for trail riding. I'm 45 but have no lingering injuries or disabilities and my back is strong. So I have a few good years left in me.

    My main purpose for mountain biking will be as follows:

    Commuting to work and back (3 miles each way) over hard-pack dirt with numerous ruts, occasional soft sand along the way and some mud or soft clay, along with tall grass and a good bit of thick railroad-track gravel. The commute should take me about twenty to thirty minutes each way, depending on if I stop and smell the roses, so-to-speak. I'll get faster as I get in better shape.

    No snow. This is the deep south and the roughest winters see only three or four day of light snow.

    I also want to get into downhill on smooth to slightly rough flow trails (nothing technical--not my style yet).

    So with that in mind, I want a fairly decent yet inexpensive bike at about $500 (yeah, cheap, but I'm a beginner).

    I could just head over to Trek in town and see what they have, which would be a pretty entry-level setup. Or I could try to find something on CL.

    I've never ridden a 29-er and have no idea if that would be better suited for my style of easy trail riding and cruising.

    I also looked at fat bikes with 4-inch tires and, although they look extremely cool, I'm hesitant to get one because I'll be doing a good bit of riding on smooth surfaces too, like pathways and hard pack dirt.


    So while researching I came across this bike (link below). I'm calling it a low fat bike due to the fact that it has 3-inch tires. I like the way it looks (which for beginners is a motivating force, of course), and the components are pretty good for an entry-level bike. I don't know if the lack of front suspension will be a bummer or not.

    Any thoughts are very appreciated. Thank you for your time.

    Mike (Atlanta).

    Save up to 60% off new Fat Bikes and Mountain Bikes - MTB - Gravity 2014 Bullseye

  2. #2
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    That would be a good starter for your terrain and price range. You can always add a suspension fork later and a suspension seatpost any time. Riding to work and having fun riding will probably make you want to upgrade parts or another bike soon after you start anyways. Thanks for the link on that bike I had never seen that one before and it might be perfect for one of my friends who has been borrowing bikes to come out with us.

  3. #3
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    Mike, I am also 45. I am 5'10" and now weigh 170...but was 210 in January. I just decided that I needed to change my diet and get more exercise. I live in Biloxi, so our terrain is probably similar not counting I have miles of beaches to play on.

    When I started looking for a bike to go on the trails with, I happened to see an article on Yahoo about the Fat bikes. I got curious and found this forum. I did a lot of reading, but like you I had a limited budget to work with. The idea of going into debt on something I was not sure I would like was simply out of the question. I looked at the Motobecanes (was before the Gravity) and had actually ordered a Boris X9. I then saw the Minnesota 2.0 from TheHouse.com and decided that I liked the bike more. Looks was a factor. They also threw in a "free" set of slim wheels for the road, but I have never even mounted them.

    I have been riding my fat bike continuously for 6 months now. I ride my bike primarily on the road or beach, but do go to the trails for a change of pace every once in a while. I even go on the local organized rides on my fat bike. I have to work harder to keep up with the rest of the group who are almost all road bikes, but I get in a great workout in the process. I also plan to start commuting to work on my bike once the temperature drops.

    I absolutely love my fat bike. I do not regret the decision to purchase my bike in the least. I may even buy another fat bike so I can give this bike to my father. He loved riding it and if it helped him stay in shape, then it would be worth it. I won't go without a fat bike in my house.

    If you are coming down to Biloxi to go to the casinos, shoot me a pm and I will be more than happy to let you try it out.

    Galen

  4. #4
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    Thanks. Cool, friendly responses. I appreciate it. I'll keep at this thread for a few days to see what happens. I plan to sell my Trek Pure online, and should easily get 200-250 for it (it's a great bike), but it's really not the bike for me.

    When my family goes on vacation it's perfect, because it's so comfortable. But we only ride a couple miles here and there and I don't get a workout. Riding a mountain bike on vacation wouldn't give me much of a workout either if it's only a mile or two, but I can't see a disadvantage at that short of a distance by switching from a cruiser.

    The negative of the cruiser is that since it's a crank-forward design, hill climbing can only be done through the gears. For while sitting is a cozy ride for sure (you can go tens of miles without getting sore), standing is very difficult. Plus, off road is completely out of the question unless it's short grass, packed sand (I rode it on the beach) or hard pack dirt without ruts.

    So, I really won't have to spend more than 300 bucks or so in addition to what I get for my current bike.

    I'm ready for a workout. Plus, the drive to work is six miles and by bike it's about 2.5. Go figure. The way I have to drive takes me a mile south, a mile east, and then a mile north just to get back to where my neighborhood is on the main road. Then I drive three miles north to work. Using the fire roads and such I can just head north from my neighborhood and cut three miles.

    Back when I was riding an urban road bike (Trek Soho) I could make my commute by using a couple cut throughs and paved areas, and it would take 18 minutes when I was in my best condition, versus 15 minutes by car.

    I think that if I can get in good shape and go completely off road I can possibly get my bike commute time to match my car time. Win, win, win: exercise, save money, smell the roses.

  5. #5
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    For a beginner, I always suggest buying a second hand good quality bike.

    You'll get it for the price of a new lesser bike, but the big advantage is when you want to move on or upgrade, you can sell it for more or less what you paid for it.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  6. #6
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    Where does a person look for used bikes? I couldn't really find anything on craigslist or eBay.

  7. #7
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    I say go with a 29' hardtail bike with your budget. Used is fine if you can find a quality bike, just make sure it is current with things such as disc brakes and at the very least a 9spd drivetrain.

    You've heard it before, but Airborne and Motobecane make decent bikes with a little higher end equipment on them compared to the big labels.

    I still think finding something used is your best bet, but stay away from the fatty. I think you'll enjoy a regular bike much more and it will be easier to ride and keep up with others - which will make you ride more. Good luck.
    “People fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death." JM

  8. #8
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    Friend of mine found an ice deal on the local IMBA site. IMBA often has forums where users buy/sell bikes.
    “People fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death." JM

  9. #9
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    Those 3" tires won't be as "in between" a fatbike and regular bike as you think. That's a full on fatbike. I would probably go with a 29er instead, since you can have so much variety in the tires available if you decide you want to do long road rides or technical offroad, it can do both. I wouldn't set out to do a 100 mile paved ride on a fatbike, I'd consider it on a 29er with slicks.

    I have one BD bike. They are not up to par with my Treks and Gary Fisher but they aren't absolute garbage. It would help to be handy, you do need to complete the assembly and your happiness with the finished product has a lot to do with how well you can do this.

    If you don't know much second hand can be a real struggle, people on craigslist post dream prices for five year old bikes and if you don't know any better BD might not be bad. I don't resell bikes, so that doesn't matter much to me.

    Also, my commuter is a trek that was about 400 bucks in 2001, and it's not a bad bike by any means. With the exception of questionable front suspension it's perfectly capable offroad. So I don't think that's necessarily a bad idea either.

  10. #10
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    I'm not a beginner to bicycles. I've been riding them and working on them for most of my life (since I was nine). I started in the 70s on BMX, then rode just about everything since then, with the exception of two types of bikes: 29ers and fat bikes. And while I've never owned a proper mountain bike I've ridden them plenty for fun. Plus, I do like to work on my own bikes.

    That said, I agree with just about everyone who is telling me to get something a little more slim in the rubber. But a mountain bike is what I want. I won't be going on any long road rides. I very much do not enjoy riding a bike anywhere near cars. Way too sketchy for my liking. Others like it but not me.

    I live in a town called Peachtree City, Georgia. It has hundreds of miles of dedicated paved paths. They are mostly used by golf carts, but plenty of bicyclists use them. The paths connect every neighborhood, school, church, shopping center, etc. It's a lot of fun. And it's safe. Accidents are extremely rare, especially with bikes and carts.

    But the paths, while paved, have a lot of twists and turns, frequently have pine straw or leaves on them, occasionally loose sand and dirt, water, and a few bumps from tree roots. So a mountain bike is certainly the call. Road bikes won't work.

    And there are a lot of trails around here that wind through the woods. It's pretty much red Georgia clay that gets pretty slimy when it's wet, and then turns to concrete when it's dry (but with ruts all over the place). Plus there are nice man-made trails.

    I'm thinking of going for a 26 or 27.5. Something that is more for offroad use.

    Thanks for all the advice about fatties. I think I'll skip for now on getting one (even though their visual appeal is quite enticing).

    Mike

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pauldotcom View Post
    I say go with a 29' hardtail bike with your budget.
    You’ll need a really really really tall ladder to mount the saddle. That’s pretty high.
    one by nine works just fine but single speed is all ya need
    BTW, it’s called “sarcasm”; you’re soaking in it!

  12. #12
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    for your budget and intended use, you'd be better served with a 29er or a hybrid. If you buy a 29er, spend a bit more money- a $500 bike is going to get you pretty crappy components, even if you only ride paved paths and doubletrack, you will have accelerated wear and may find the performance unsatisfactory. A $500 mtb is wholly unsuited for anything but the most entry level singletrack. For your intended purpose, a fatbike is less than ideal as well. the fat tires provide a ton of traction, but that traction comes at a cost- a lot of rolling resistance from the tires. While fatbikes are the best machines for riding on loose surfaces such as sand, mud and snow, they're considerably less than ideal for pavement and until your conditioning gets up to an acceptable level, they're a whole lot of work on gravel and packed dirt.
    The irony is that my fatbike is the only bike I own and I ride it about 100 miles a week on both pavement and and very technical singletrack. However, if i'd bought a fatbike when I made my reentry into cycling, I probably would be riding a fraction of those miles, as i would likely have gotten discouraged by the amount of effort required to get the thing moving at a reasonable pace; a 29er was hard enough.

    Bottom line: Plan on spending more money from the start, get a 29er and look at bikes with x9-speed drivetrains (SRAM X7 or Shimano Deore or better) and Rockshox Sector or Recon forks and you should have a decent bike, capable of handling whatever you throw at it. Ride it a lot and get a fatbike later.

  13. #13
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    Buy a used 26" wheel bike off craigslist. 26" stuff is super cheap because it's "dead" according to the bike industry, but you know what? Bikes with 26" wheels are still super capable and super fun and they can be had for next to nothing.

    Don't start with a fatbike. You might very well want one in a year but it's not the best choice for what you've described and you'll be hard pressed to find anything in your budget.

    -Walt

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    Buy a used 26" wheel bike off craigslist. 26" stuff is super cheap because it's "dead" according to the bike industry, but you know what? Bikes with 26" wheels are still super capable and super fun and they can be had for next to nothing.

    Don't start with a fatbike. You might very well want one in a year but it's not the best choice for what you've described and you'll be hard pressed to find anything in your budget.

    -Walt
    No and yes. No to 26, and yes to not getting a fat bike. I'm not in great shape.

    I just took my seven-speed 26-inch cruiser along the path I want to ride to work and realized a few things:

    1. A regular 2-inch mountain bike tire will do fine (the railroad gravel isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was crappy for my 1.75 cruiser tires, but a little wider with knobbies can handle it.).

    2. I am not in shape to ride a fat bike yet, and I don't want to chug along at 6-9 mph to work. The whole point is to save time and get some exercise at the same time.

    3. I'm going to get a 29er so that I can roll faster and still enjoy some mild single track and double here and there.

    Now I have to figure out what to get. I stopped by Trek and for 500 you don't get much. The frames are fine, but the components are only one grade above wal mart's stuff. Tourney and such.

    I think I'm just going to hit Bike's Direct, get a decent bike, and start riding daily.

  15. #15
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    Airborne Bicycles. Guardian 2.0

    This thing doesnt look so bad for the money.
    “People fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death." JM

  16. #16
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    Wow. That is a good price. Thanks

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