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  1. #1
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    Costco Northrock XC6 Bike - Preview

    Hi all,

    I'm looking for some advice on my next MTB purchase. I'm an experienced rider, not a noob, but haven't rode in over 4 years (New job, marriage, divorce, life, etc.). My gf wants to ride but not spend much money on a bike, and is looking at Walmart/Kmart/Target etc. I'm trying to send her on the right path, but we are trying to save for a house, and I can't really justify another big purchase. So I've been looking at craigslist for two decent used bikes, mostly for riding on dirt paths, and streets, mostly for exercise. I plan to do some more technical paths as I get back into shape. In the meantime, I thought I would go against all advice in this forum and try out a bike I saw at Costco that I thought had ok specs for an entry level bike... and keep said bike if I can adjust it to be pretty decent. Again, let me stress, I'm not a noob. I owned a specialized rock hopper and a hard rock in the mid 90s. I've rode my friends Ellesworths, Marins and Gary Fishers, and I had a couple of road bikes (Schwinn, when Schwinn was decent, and Trek). I rode many great trails on my MTBs while I was a grad student in Utah, including bobsled, gemini bridges, soapstone basin, millcreek canyon and many others I have forgotten. My last 4 bikes were LBS bikes, and most service was good or great. Of these bikes I still own only the Hard Rock, which I beat up for years, and upgraded it's Alivio components to XT, gave it a Softride stem suspension (which was really fun on singletrack), rode Hot Chili tires, and would swap out and use slicks for a commuter. That bike performed double duty for me for a number of years, so I appreciate the quality and a reliability of a decent bicycle. Why I bought a Costco bike a few days ago has to do with some peculiarities of my psychology, as well as Costco's return policy. I did most of the work on my bikes on my own, and learned a lot, so I thought that if a box store bike had decent enough components I can undo virtually any damage the employees at the store could do in assembly, and in the end get a decent bike for a decent price. So I saw this Northrock XC6 bike for $300. At first glance it looks nice, really pretty aluminum frame, disc brakes, shimano components, suntour fork, etc. They had about 8 of them at my local warehouse, so I picked the one with what appeared to the least damage, buy it and take it home. It wasn't an easy choice because all of them had flaws, scratched frames, etc. But the best part, EVERY SINGLE ONE HAD THE FORK MOUNTED ON BACKWARDS!!! Every one. I've never seen anything like it. Well, I took it home to work on it, and look for the 5 average mistakes in assembly of a department store bike, and below is what I found (but first the specs):

    Northrock XC6 Bike:

    Aluminum "lightweight" frame - designed for stability and control
    Shimano Altus shifters - 24 speeds for responsive performance shifting
    SR suntour XCT V2 fork
    Ninja 26x2.10 tires
    Shimano crank
    Tektro IO Disc brakes with shimano EF50 levers
    KMC Chain
    Acera rear derailleur

    Geometry is really pretty nice. I mean, after you reverse the fork, of course. The bike is heavy, a hair over 32 pounds. So what was wrong?:

    1. Fork: Backwards. Freakin' backwards!
    2. Front Brakes: rubbed. Constantly.
    3. Rear Brakes: Too loose
    4. Front Derailleur: Needed adjustment to shift properly
    5. Shift cable: Wrong cable was used from front derailleur shifter to frame (frame to rear derailleur cable is currently there.
    6. Steering wheel: angled back
    7. Handlebar grips: ripped
    8. Frame: Various dings and scratches. Made in China
    9. Kickstand: Scratched
    10. Kickstand: Installed
    ...+ many more

    Anyway, I fixed most of this stuff in about an hour with a couple of allen wrenches and a screwdriver.

    Today I took it out for a ride:

    First the good: The geometry is indeed nice. The bike shifts well, feels lighter than it is. The kickstand. Seriously, I really like it. I haven't had one in 2 decades, and now I wonder why? They actually are useful!

    The bad: The tires are horrendous. Horrendous traction on dirt and grass. The brakes are even worse. After spending the better time of my tuning working on disc brakes, I got them to feel ok, but they don't stop me well. I'm only 175# (5'10") and I cannot endo, and I cannot skid the rear tire. No matter how hard I try. For comparison, I used to easily skid my rear or endo on my hardrock, and that was pre-V break, just center pull cable brakes. In fact, I remember skidding and practically endoing on my Free Spirit 26" 3-speed bike from Sears, with its crappy sidepull brakes, when I was a kid. It has to do something with the cables. The Tektro brakes can't be THAT bad.

    So needless to say, the POS is going back to Costco, at least in better shape than it left (though I bet they flip the fork back to its original wrong position). I've already found a used Trek 3700 for about the same price on craigslist and I'm wondering if this bike is recommended. It's 19.5".

    Thanks for reading.

    djm



    Bike: Northrock XC6

  2. #2
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    I've seen last years low end brandname hardtails with disc brakes at my LBS correctly assembled by experienced techs for $370, I wonder why you bother?

    I bought my wife a brand new old stock 2007 Trek Fuel 70 dual suspension bike for $550 CDN last year, totally impressed with it performance for the price...she loves it. I have swapped bikes with her to see how it rides and have to say its pretty good just basic, the fork has a lockout and air adjustable rear suspension with no knobs to twiddle but it doesn't really need it so...


    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/catego.../fuel-70-10079

    How can you go wrong for less than $600 and get dual suspension that actually works? Walmart is for kids bikes that will be grown out of in a year...not adult bikes. Even then you have to completely disassemble and rebuild the bike to ensure it will be reliable and not dangerous.

    I bought my 6 yr/old twins K-mart hardtails because they had 6 spd twist grip shifters and vee brakes for $75 each, the bottom brackets were so poorly assembled the loose bearings fell out when we got them home. I had to rebuild the bikes and grease the bottom bracket (no grease!) and adjust everything so it worked but in the end they were OK.

    Unbelievably poor assembly from the store, I think Sears is better but have no experience buying from them. I did witness an old timer building bikes at Sears once and watched to see what he was doing and he at least seemed to have some experience and had an actual torque wrench to make sure the stems were torqued and straight and the forks weren't installed backwards.

    Still the same crappy bikes at Sears...just better built.
    "Say good night to the bad guy."
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  3. #3
    How do I do that?
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    Was this Northrock frame a lighter shade of blue with some white or silver? I happened to walk down the bike aisle last night after rounding the auto aisle and smiled at it as I kept walking. The thing that struck me most as I walked by was the price I was surprised to see it priced somewhere in the mid to high 200's...I think Thought it was high for a Costco bike but never stopped to really look at the details.

    I believe the professional tire and battery installers at Costco builds the bikes. I remember seeing all of them sitting on the shop floor surrounded by boxes and bikes putting them all together last week. Must have been a dead night...

  4. #4
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    Craigslist and yard sales. It amazes me how many people have great bikes they never use.
    Round and round we go

  5. #5
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    To the OP....brake pads may need to be broken in a bit. The Juicy 5's on my Paragon were the same way when I first purchased the bike. After a few miles they finally started to grab.

    That bike seemed to be a pretty good package for someone who wants a new bike but isn't sure if they will get into the sport. Bad thing is your average Costco assembler has no idea how to build/tune a bike. The good thing is nothing beats Coscto's return policy. Hell...I bet if you complained about the issues you were having they would pay for tuneups and adjustments at your LBS.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tuff Gong
    Was this Northrock frame a lighter shade of blue with some white or silver? .
    No, I think that's the comfort bike they also have for around $259. It's black and silver and it is $299. Yes, I think it's a bit expensive for what it is. At the time I was buying it, I missed a Motobecane 700DS on Craigslist for the same price, barely used

  7. #7
    Doesntplaywellwithmorons!
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    Occassionally big chain stores like costco, walmart and even canadian tire here in canada do have good bikes... but its usually restricted to maybe ONE model a year... and you'll require a sacrificed bucket of KFC to the inventory gods that your particular store has the bike they've listed on the website. Also it helps if you know how to service/build bikes yourself since you're going to have to basically overhaul it yourself immediately upon buying it.

    A few years ago, Canadian Tire had a Raleigh model full suspension for $399 cdn, which actually used a nice Kinesis made frame but with super crappy parts on it. I used one for a budgetlight full suspension project. You can see the results of that here...

    Finished my new Budgetlight XC Dually...

    This year they have listed on the website (though I haven't found in any stores yet) a full carbon (frame & fork) road bike for $999. Its got lower range shimano road components (the non-group name number series stuff below Sora) but the frame/fork are pretty good and definitely candidates for future upgrades.

  8. #8
    Monkey Junkie
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    Check bikes direct. I don't buy from them, but you will spend much less money then you would at a shop. If you are a fairly competent mechanic, you should be fine. You will also have a bike that will probably hold up as you get more into riding again. Either that or buy used. Used saves a ton too..

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by djmacedonas
    , not a noob,
    6. Steering wheel: angled back

    Thanks for reading.

    djm



    Bike: Northrock XC6
    Is this a car, or a bike?

  10. #10
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    The whole Northrock line of bikes from costco is made by Giant. So at least you know the frame is quality.

  11. #11
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    Giant? Really?

    I can't find anything on the company. I know it's based in PA, near Philly. Are Giant frames made in China, too?

    The frame certainly does seem to be good quality, substantial welds, braze-ons in all the right places for water bottle cages, etc...removable (steel?) rear derailleur hanger. The paint is really easily scratched, though.

    I took it out for a longer ride yesterday. Having no experience with discs, I realize that A1an is correct, the pads are starting to really grab now. I took it up and down some big hills. It climbs well, but I had one isolated case of chainsuck when I was trying to shift under load. It brakes great now...

    Bike feels a bit small. I'm looking at a used Trek tonight or tomorrow, which has a 19.5" frame, but I have to admit. I'm starting to like the Northrock quite a bit... I'll have to beat on it a bit more and see how it goes.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleAddict
    Check bikes direct. I don't buy from them, but you will spend much less money then you would at a shop. If you are a fairly competent mechanic, you should be fine. You will also have a bike that will probably hold up as you get more into riding again. Either that or buy used. Used saves a ton too..
    +++1

  13. #13
    Doesntplaywellwithmorons!
    Reputation: DeeEight's Avatar
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    Giant makes frames in Taiwan and China, they're probably the biggest bicycle manufacturer in the world today if you take into consideration all the manufacturing they do for other brands.

  14. #14
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    More info...

    I talked to Northrock today. The company is based in the Philadelphia area, and they make bikes excluively for Costco. The frame has a lifetime warranty for the original owner, 1 year for other parts. Yet they have no recourse for assembly mistakes at their factory, except to return to Costco. I very much doubt that the company will be around long enough to exercise a lifetime warranty.

    The rep I spoke with insisted that the frame that is used is the same frame as other manufacturers, and that the components that the bike has would put it in the $500 range in most shops. I told him about how horribly their bikes were assembled at Costco, and he seemed concerned, like he was taking notes. He was suprised to find, for example, that all of their forks were installed backwards.

    Anyway, I wish them luck.

  15. #15
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    Any pictures of the bike?
    My Bike: '03 Specialized HardRock FrankenBike
    My Blog: http://http://kona0197.wordpress.com/

  16. #16

  17. #17
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    Ooops,

    One pic was supposed to be this one:

    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4065/...d49077a5_b.jpg

  18. #18
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    How much do they retail for? Just curious.
    My Bike: '03 Specialized HardRock FrankenBike
    My Blog: http://http://kona0197.wordpress.com/

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kona0197
    How much do they retail for? Just curious.
    $299.00

  20. #20
    josephr
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    my wife might ride with me twice a year and I found her a craigslist bargain. a barely used marin for $100...nice aluminum frame, front shock, shimano alivio parts...traded out the cheapo tires with some my half-used nevegals -- I got new ones!

    of course, we went to out west and rented bikes and the one she rode on was full suspension, so now she wants full suspension. Hey -- at least she wants to keep riding, right??? So, I'm thinking about picking up on a rental bike --- they're usually pretty well maintained as they're checked out after every ride and they replace the stuff after the wear out. You might want to check into that too....

  21. #21
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    I was looking at that Costco bike. I was trying to spend as little as possible. But knowing a thing or two about bikes from 15 years of road biking (I have a very expensive Bianchi with full Campy Record) I had mixed views on this $300 bike. On the one hand I figured you would do better than any retail store but on the other you can always do better on the internet. I went back to bikesdirect.com after a friend asked me an opinion on a road bike they were offering and checked out the 29ers they had. The motobecane for $600 was twice the price ast the Costco but the Moto was a legit mountain bike and not far off from a Specialized 29er with disk brakes, Dart Rock Shox, decent components at under 30 pounds selling at bikes shops for $800. I think there some othes on Bikesdirect.com for $400. Kinda crazy, back in the early 90's when mountain bikes started introducing front shocks you couldn't get a legit trail ready bike with a shock for less than $1300, which at the time was like spending a fortune "just for a bike"

  22. #22
    Doesntplaywellwithmorons!
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    That $300 costco bike IS better equipped than any $300 LBS bike would be (excluding perhaps the most price slashed clearout models).

  23. #23
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    Time invested

    Well,

    At this point I've invested some time in this bike adjusting it and essentially re-assembling it. Overall, the problems are fairly minor, I mean nothing a little time and an allen wrench set couldn't fix.

    Yesterday I bought another bike off craigslist for my gf. She probably won't like it, though it's far superior to the Costco bike. It's a Trek 930 from the mid 90s, with a Marzocchi DH3 air fork. The fork is really plush and adjustable. The bike rides really nice, it has a ratchetless rear hub which makes it super quiet (Maybe it was a cop bike?) The only noise comes from the noisy shocks, sort of air/oil swishing sound. I've read that older Marzocchi's were known for this. Although the frame is small (16.5) with the seat up I like riding it.

    The Costco bike is dialed in now, too... though I had to:

    -Adjust both front and rear brake pads to prevent rubbing
    -Reverse the forks
    -Adjust brakes and derailleur cables
    -Re-run the cables (they were ALL in the wrong place, and the wrong tracks on the frame

    Still, not a lot of time for a bike with a lifetime return policy

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4JawChuck
    I've seen last years low end brandname hardtails with disc brakes at my LBS correctly assembled by experienced techs for $370, I wonder why you bother?

    I bought my wife a brand new old stock 2007 Trek Fuel 70 dual suspension bike for $550 CDN last year, totally impressed with it performance for the price...she loves it. I have swapped bikes with her to see how it rides and have to say its pretty good just basic, the fork has a lockout and air adjustable rear suspension with no knobs to twiddle but it doesn't really need it so...


    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/catego.../fuel-70-10079

    How can you go wrong for less than $600 and get dual suspension that actually works? Walmart is for kids bikes that will be grown out of in a year...not adult bikes. Even then you have to completely disassemble and rebuild the bike to ensure it will be reliable and not dangerous.

    I bought my 6 yr/old twins K-mart hardtails because they had 6 spd twist grip shifters and vee brakes for $75 each, the bottom brackets were so poorly assembled the loose bearings fell out when we got them home. I had to rebuild the bikes and grease the bottom bracket (no grease!) and adjust everything so it worked but in the end they were OK.

    Unbelievably poor assembly from the store, I think Sears is better but have no experience buying from them. I did witness an old timer building bikes at Sears once and watched to see what he was doing and he at least seemed to have some experience and had an actual torque wrench to make sure the stems were torqued and straight and the forks weren't installed backwards.

    Still the same crappy bikes at Sears...just better built.
    Wow, $550 for a fuel.... I do envy you. How do I get a deal like that for my wife?

  25. #25
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    northrock. hahahahahaahahahaa! so they have a southface as well?
    - 1995 Giant ATX 870
    - 2011 Salsa El Mariachi XL
    - 2011 Kona Unit (singlespeed) XL

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