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  1. #1
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    Old Newbie looking for new bike advice

    Hello everyone! This is my first post here. I came looking for some advice on a new bike purchase. I want to get back into trail riding and am looking to buy a new hardtail. My budget is to keep things under $2000, including the bike, pedals, new shoes, new helmet, new camelback, and some tools. I have a Trek store and a Kona dealer both about five minutes from where I work, so I'd like to go with one of these manufacturers for the convenience and support. I'd like a fairly bulletproof hardtail that handles well and would be fun on the trail. I've narrowed it down to the Roscoe 8, Stache 5, or the Kona Big Honzo. The Roscoe 8 in my size would have to be ordered, I wouldn't get it until sometime in April, but I could save a couple hundred. The Trek store has a Stache 5 in my size, and said they could do $1,600 for it, but it's a demo bike with some tread wear, and I don't know if that's really all that great of a deal or not. I don't know much about the HUGE tires on the Stache either. I haven't been to the Kona dealer yet, but I've read the Big Honzo is a pretty stiff bike that rides a little rougher. Any insight on these bikes would be great. My current bike is a 26" GT XCR5000 that I bought cheap in 2000 and upgraded as I wore stuff out or broke it. That bike has seen better days, but I'm assuming it rides nothing like the new bikes with bigger wheels, so I think I'm in unfamiliar territory with the new bikes out these days. What do you guys think of these options? Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. #2
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    I don't know much about any of the bikes, but 3" tire give a softer ride and big traction. I infer from your comment about the Honzo being reputed to have a rougher ride that this might matter to you. Take some test rides if you can. 29" inch wheels, 3" tires, slack geometries - it's a whole new world compared to your old bike.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gasp4Air View Post
    I don't know much about any of the bikes, but 3" tire give a softer ride and big traction. I infer from your comment about the Honzo being reputed to have a rougher ride that this might matter to you. Take some test rides if you can. 29" inch wheels, 3" tires, slack geometries - it's a whole new world compared to your old bike.
    Thanks Gasp. Are the bigger wheels and fatter tires THAT much better than what I used to ride, or just different? I really wouldn't mind if they are just different, but I don't want a bike that's tougher to ride, pedal, and climb.

  4. #4
    Nat
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    What are the trails like where you live? Smooth or rocky? Sandy? Steep or flattish?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nat View Post
    What are the trails like where you live? Smooth or rocky? Sandy? Steep or flattish?
    Nat, here is a description of the trails I used to normally ride from this website

    Northeast Park Trails - Trail - user reviews : 4.3 out of 5 - 3 reviews - MTBR.com

    I live about 10 minutes from the park, and go there a lot with my kids. It's mostly flatish, with a few short, steep climbs. Not really any sand, and as far as rocks go, there are a few here and there, but I wouldn't consider it rocky. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MX9799 View Post
    Thanks Gasp. Are the bigger wheels and fatter tires THAT much better than what I used to ride, or just different? I really wouldn't mind if they are just different, but I don't want a bike that's tougher to ride, pedal, and climb.
    Different? Yup. Better? That's subjective. Higher volume tires absorb small stuff better than any suspension, and offer additional cush to what suspension offers. 29ers bigger circumference make rolling over root and rocks easier and in general offer greater stability. Search "why 29er" and you can read all that's ever been written about it.

    But Nat's question is a good one. The advantages of 29er wheels and 3" tires may mean little for where and how you ride.

    Again, if you can test ride some bikes to get a sense of how they ride, you'll have a better idea.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  7. #7
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    Gotcha. I guess I'll ask both dealerships if they have any trail demo days or something in the future where maybe I can ride both the 29er and the 27.5" bike. Thanks

  8. #8
    Nat
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    I pulled up some YouTube videos of the trail you mentioned and what I found looked like mostly packed soil with some rocks here and there, tight trees, aka classic woods riding. If I were riding there I would pick a 29er but probably not the plus-sized tires. Standard 29" x 2.3" tires seem like they'd be my choice. I demo'ed a Stache once and had a good time but when I'd swap back to my own 29er full suspension I realized that the plus bike wouldn't replace my usual bike. What I did notice is not so much extra cushion from the 3" tire but rather that the larger wheel/tire kept momentum up better. On a descent that thing wanted to move.

    A demo day is the best way to see what you'd like best though.

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    Thanks Nat. That's good insight. I never would've imagined there were youtube videos of folks riding that trail. The few times I've actually went there by myself to ride, I've never seen another person on a bike there. I'm assuming those plus sized tires would be better in the mud or sand, and like you said, they hold momentum a little better. Looks like I'm going to have to find out when demo days are.

  10. #10
    Nat
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    Yes, I rode the Stache on deep, loose dust and it definitely stayed afloat better than my 2.3" tread. Having that much rubber makes for a very heavy tire and with the extra weight at a greater distance from the hub you have greater inertia. It took longer to accelerate but also once I got up to speed it felt like it took less work to maintain speed -- until the trail went uphill. I had fun. I wouldn't mind having a Stache as an extra bike.

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    Went looking for a Cannondale Cujo 1 today. The local REI didn't have one, so I drove to the Kona dealer to check out the Big Honzo. The didn't have a Big Honzo at the shop, but they did have a Salsa Timberjack GX1 in my size that I could try out. I rode it around in the dirt and grass near the shop. Oh man, was that bike SO much better than my old GT 26" bike. The bike felt so much more comfortable, stable, and efficient I couldn't believe it. I would've bought that bike on the spot had I liked the color scheme on it (not a fan of silver or pink). It was a great bike, but I'm not dropping $1400 on something that I don't like the color of. Need to try out a 29+ bike now, but man did I like the way the Timberjack felt.

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    Timberjack it is. I tested the Stache 5 and the Roscoe 8 at the local trek shop and thought the timberjack had a better feel than both the Treks. The TJ had a better fork and brakes, and seemed to shift smoother and feel lighter than both Trek bikes. The Salsa dealer sent me an email this past weekend and said he had located a Large Charcoal frame and would start building the bike this week. I'm pumped!!!!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MX9799 View Post
    Timberjack it is. I tested the Stache 5 and the Roscoe 8 at the local trek shop and thought the timberjack had a better feel than both the Treks. The TJ had a better fork and brakes, and seemed to shift smoother and feel lighter than both Trek bikes. The Salsa dealer sent me an email this past weekend and said he had located a Large Charcoal frame and would start building the bike this week. I'm pumped!!!!
    Timberjack is a nice bike.

    Keep in mind that things like "shift smoother" are not ideal criteria for choosing bikes. Even super entry level drivetrain bits can be made to shift well when brand new. Usually when a shop checks a bike over for a quick test ride, they only give it a quick once-over to make sure nothing is enormously wrong with it. If the bike's been purchased, then it tends to get a bit more attention if necessary. Probably not the best way to do it...but it seems to be how it's usually done. Seems like every customer will notice sub-optimal shifting, a tiny bit of brake rub, or that one bike feels just slightly better than another, when they should really be thinking about how it fits and how it handles.

    Maybe the bike has been built for awhile and sitting on the floor with some cable tension that bedded in the housings more. Or maybe the bike was built by a guy who was being a bit lazy at the time. Or maybe the shop was busy when it was getting prepped for a test ride, so they glazed over some minor things. Either way...keep that in mind in the future.

  14. #14
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    Harold, I can't say whether the treks were tuned up well or not. I just know the shifts seemed to happen flawlessly on the TJ, where they seemed the slightest bit notchy on the treks. All the bikes seemed to fit me well, but again with the TJ, the handlebar position felt noticeably comfortable. I didn't get that feeling with the treks, but maybe I didn't notice it. The brakes on the TJ felt better than both the trek bikes, but the fork is what sold me on the TJ. The Rockshox recon felt like it stayed up in the stroke more when pedaling hard, where the manitou machete and Judy silver on the trek bikes felt bouncy. The fork on the TJ also felt more settled landing from the drop-offs than the trek bikes. The only thing the treks had that I wish the TJ had was a dropper post and tubeless-ready tires, but I can upgrade to those later or when it comes time for new treads.

  15. #15
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    First Ride

    Well, here she is after a quick 5 mile break-in ride at the local trails this past Saturday. I am bad out of shape for riding, but I had a blast. Can't believe what all I've been missing by not riding for the last 15 years.

    Old Newbie looking for new bike advice-img_3558.jpg

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