I created this for guys in a position like I was last fall, just buying their first bike and wanting to know what they can feasibly do to an entry level platform and what kind of results they'll get out of it.
I'll be swapping all the parts over to a new frame this year, either a stumpy 29er hardtail or maybe a niner, but I'll stick with a hardtail. I started out at 250# + and I'm now in the 220# range, most items broke due to my lack of skill and weight. Bike weighed out at 33# new but is now at 27.11# and there is easily another 2 pounds of weight that could be taken off cheaply, I just am not that concerned about it until I get my next frame. I'll list upgrades below in order and cause of upgrade.
All of this is made easier by using MTBR as a great resource of information and using my LBS, I know everyone wants to do it all on their own using online purchases to save every dollar but as a new rider I recommend to everyone to pick the shop first and the bike second. Using the techs at a good shop for input based on your local trails is invaluable. I was lucky to find one I liked close to my house and have developed a good relationship with them and they have taken care of me over the last 6-8 months since I bought the bike from them. If you are looking for a shop in the Dallas area I'll recommend mine, Rockwall Cycling, with no hesitation, it may not be the biggest or prettiest but they have a great staff and its a much more personal experience than going into a giant shop with 1,000 bikes and 20 salesman.
-2011 Hardrock 29er, non-sport model, $660
-Tora air fork, stock unit from Rockhopper SL 29er, $100 slightly used, the stock suntour preload assembly broke the first month I had it, warranty repaired and I sold it for $50
-Odyssey plastic platform pedals, $25, needed more grip and going clipless scares the hell out of me
-Sunline OS V1 flat bar, wanted a flat bar, was like $25 off chainlove, trimed it down a bit though as it was too wide for my singletrack and was clipping trees
-Specialized 100mm ste from a stumpjumper, $30 from LBS
-ESI chunky grips, $16 from LBS, using these with thinner gloves was more comfortable than the stock grips and gel gloves I bought as a noob
-Stan Flows with X7 hubs, Spec Captain Armadillo 2.2 tires, tubeless, $500 from my LBS, the stock rims bent bad on 2 rides, the rear we don't know why it got bent as I was riding a sidewalk loop around the lake with the kids, the front bent after an OTB crash in the rock garden. My LBS hooked me up but in retrospect I wish I had spent more on nicer hubs.
-Stylo seatpost and Bontrager Inform RL, LBS hook up with $25 on the seat and $20 on the post, I had bought too small of a frame and needed to move the seat back a bit
-Formula RX brakes, $160 total slightly used from an MTBR member, they had 50 miles on them and looked brand new when I got them, I used stock tektro rotors for now
-Stylo GXP 1.1 crankset with MRP BB mounted chainguide, I was only using the 32t ring on the factory crank and it was getting noisy so I dropped $200 on this, removed the front der and shifter and never looked back
-Sram X9 med cage rear, pg-980 cassette, pc991 chain, X9 shifter, $270, the stock shifter was getting wonky, the cassette was wearing down, the chain had some sag, it was just time
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