What do you think of this for my first full suspension bike?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    What do you think of this for my first full suspension bike?

    Hey guys, I've been riding bikes forever, especially around my college campus. I still have my old Specialized Rockhopper which I restored, despite the cracked frame. It's still my favorite. I was recently given a very nice Specialized Crosstrail Sport bike (size M frame) and took it around some parks. It comes with slim tires but very fine tread pattern that does okay in soft dirt up hills. However, I found the ride extremely hard. My hands were cramping up from the excessive vibrations despite having the front shock all the way soft. This bike has (I think 27" or 29" tires). They're way bigger than my old Rockhopper with 26", but that bike, with ancient, worn out walmart tires, rides so much smoother and better on trails.

    I was really hoping to move up to a full suspension bike and see what that feels like. I found an old Jamis Dakar Expert 26" bike locally for $275. I'm 6' tall weighing about 200lbs. Is this the right size for me? Being 22yo, is this bike too outdated? It desn't have disk brakes, but neither does my rock hopper and it stops just fine. I'm not a very technical biker obviously, and wouldn't try anything crazy. I just want a smoother, calmer experience. Is this worth the $275?

  2. #2
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    You tell us how tall you are, but not what size the bike is.
    I expect you'd generally need a large, though.
    I wouldn't buy any used 26" bike, and you probably would be fine with a hardtail.

  3. #3
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    The bike is claimed to be a 26". Not sure if there are different sizes of frame for this model. I believe it's a late 90s model. It seems to have some high end Shimano components judging by the small brake lever and carbon fiber handle bars. Looks like a quality bike. The reason I don't want a hard trail is that new specialized crosstrail with the 700c tires is so stiff, I feel like my filings are about to rattle free.
    These Jamis bikes seem like good quality machines. For that price, there are only full suspension walmart bikes (hyper and mongoose)

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by idoseadoo View Post
    I've been riding bikes forever...Being 22yo...
    1st off, this is priceless.

    2nd, yes that bike is outdated. It is probably a 1998 or so. Of course it is a 26" wheeled bike and they definitely made different sizes of frames. If the frame fits you and you like it, buy it. But...it will ride like crap most likely and you won't readily find replacement parts. You'll have to upgrade anything that gets broken. That said, it's absolutely better than anything you'll find at Walmart.

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  5. #5
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    26" is the wheel size. It was produced in small, medium and large sizes, possibly more. As mentioned, you probably need a large, which would measure around 19" from the center of the bottom bracket (what the cranks mount into) and the top of the clamp for the seat post. It may measure slightly more, I don't recall out Jamis measures. Be sure the shock and fork will hold air.
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  6. #6
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    Looks like a fun bike to ride around on for a few months but you might want to look into getting something a bit more modern

  7. #7
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    if everything works and nothing is worn out or broken, and it fits you and you have fun riding it, it's worth $275.

    that bike is quite old and outdated, but no one had difficulty having fun riding a bike like that 20 years ago, so nothing should stop you from having fun on it now. my only concern is, assuming the things I listed above are true for you, that if something breaks on it, it might be hard to source some of the parts.

    what size is the frame? there is probably a sticker on the seat tube of the frame that states the frame, most likely in inches. at 6' tall, you should probably be on a 19 or 20" frame.

    The Specialized Crosstrail is most likely a hybrid that is designed for pavement and smooth dirt trails, but it will quickly be overwhelmed on rough trails. it probably has 700C wheels, which is a nominal designation and it's the same size rims that are used on a 29er mountain bike. if you bought a medium Crosstrail, it's probably too small for you and likely hurting your back to ride it.

    you might be able to find details about the Jamis here https://www.bicyclebluebook.com/value-guide/family/690/

  8. #8
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    from the pics, everything looks perfect, maybe even upgraded judging from the carbon fiber handlebars. Besides smaller sprockets/better ground clearance and disk brakes, what are some advantages of the more modern suspension bikes?

  9. #9
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    Also, how can I make sure the shocks hold air? What do I look/listen for?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by idoseadoo View Post
    what are some advantages of the more modern suspension bikes?
    everything. think about all the general technological change that has occurred everywhere in the past 20 years. what kind of phone were you using in 1998? what did your TV look like? yeah, everything has changed, which is why older stuff is so cheap now. it still works, but until you experience the difference between a VHS tape on a cathode tube TV and a BluRay on an OLED (or whatever they have now, I've lost track), you won't know. an older bike that still functions is fine, but the experience of something that had benefited from two decades of technological improvement is something totally different. but it comes with a price.

    to pump up a shock, you need a shock pump. it's specifically for pumping up shocks. you'll know if the shock holds air by pumping up the shock to the appropriate pressure for sag under the rider (subjective and different for every rider, bike, and shock) and ride it for a few hours. if the shock does not get noticeably softer over a few hours or days, it's fine. if it loses air, it needs to be serviced—disassembled, cleaned, and fluids and seals replaced.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post

    to pump up a shock, you need a shock pump. it's specifically for pumping up shocks. you'll know if the shock holds air by pumping up the shock to the appropriate pressure for sag under the rider (subjective and different for every rider, bike, and shock) and ride it for a few hours. if the shock does not get noticeably softer over a few hours or days, it's fine. if it loses air, it needs to be serviced—disassembled, cleaned, and fluids and seals replaced.
    Wow, I am such a noob to all this. I had no clue you could even do that! I guess there's a special fitting to attach the pump to?

    Even though this bike is 20yo, it should still be better than a hard-tail one, no?

    Could the ride be so rough on my Specialized Crosstrailbecause of the tires? I have an ancient Specialized Rockhopper with worn out walmart tires that was absolutely awesome on trails (except the ground clearance going over logs). And it doesn't have a rear suspension. I inflate them to about 50lbs on the Crosstrail. A few months back, the tires were pretty soft and I had a flat going over a curb. Since then I keep them pretty hard. Not sure really what they're supposed to be...
    I appreciate your patience with all my idiot questions.

  12. #12
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    If there is a Local Bike Shop (LBS) that you could go to, you should. Just go in and tell them you're considering getting into mountain biking. I expect they could point out some of the features of the current crop of bikes and things to look for in used bikes.

    Look for the cutest girl working there. They like 6' tall men who aren't too bright!


    You're 22, live it up!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe View Post
    1st off, this is priceless.

    2nd, yes that bike is outdated. It is probably a 1998 or so. Of course it is a 26" wheeled bike and they definitely made different sizes of frames. If the frame fits you and you like it, buy it. But...it will ride like crap most likely and you won't readily find replacement parts. You'll have to upgrade anything that gets broken. That said, it's absolutely better than anything you'll find at Walmart.

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    If the bike is in fact a 1998, it would be 22 years old. That’s the way I read the OP’s post. The age statement and question about being outdated were in the same sentence.

  14. #14
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    You haven't ridden a good hardtail. There are many way better than that bike. Price will be your holdup.

    Here's a couple hardtail reviews--



  15. #15
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    The Crosstrail is a fitness bike, not a mountain bike. It does have skinnier tires, which will make the ride rougher than your Rockhopper with wider tires. You may be able to put a little bit wider tires on the Crosstrail but it still will not be a mountain bike and if you continue to ride it on true mountain bike trails, the fork will break, not necessarily in a dangerous way but in a way where it won't function.

    I would ask the owner of the Jamis what size it is and what condition everything is in, especially the shock and the fork. Ask if they hold air and hope that he is honest. From the photo, it looks like it is in really good condition for the age but I'm not too sure it is a large. And 22 years is a long time for shocks and forks, especially if they have not been serviced. The general thinking is that it is safer to go with a hardtail if you are looking at really old bikes.
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  16. #16
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    If everything works on the bike $275 looks like a good deal, but more important would be how (or if) the bike fits you. Then there is the question on how you intend to use the bike. If you're just planning to do some general riding, hit some trails to stay fit, I'd say go for a 26er fs... Personally, if going full suspension I'd select a bike with disc brakes. I know v-brakes stop fine, but not when wet or in muddy conditions, also typically full suspension allows you go faster - so better brakes would be useful. Under normal circumstances getting a used 26er fs bike with XT level components all in good shape would give you better value than a newest bike in a bike shop. But this year is weird for bike purchasing - bikes are "flying off the shelves" in bike shops, and old bikes are being revived and ridden more - so I'd say it's harder to find a good deal these days. I'm still riding my old 2003 Ventana Pantera that weighs only 24-25 pounds depending on the tires, and can't really complain - I'm riding by myself for keeping fit - on somewhat technical XC trails, 100mm travel keeps the ride comfortable, single pivot makes for easy maintenance - shocks are air, and have rebuilt the rear one couple of times - though replacement in that size would be available. Front shock might be harder to get - but not impossible.

  17. #17
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    Bike Sold :(

    Well, the bike sold before I could come look at it. Going to go check out a 2008 Specialized Epic FZR. I think this may be the winner

  18. #18
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    I'm not an expert on Specialized bikes, but as a general rule when buying a used fs bike - stay away from any proprietary shock designs - these are usually made for only a short period of time, and when you want to replace the shock down the line you may find that you can't. For the same reason, I always kept XTR cranksets off my buy list - getting triple chainrings for older, proprietary XTR cranks can be a very expensive proposition (if you can get them). Better to go with XT for cranks.

  19. #19
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    I heeded all your advice

    I really appreciate all the advice. I did shy away from the FSR. The guy claimed to have ridden it ALL THE TIME in Michigan, but it's been mostly sitting here. Sounds like it was heavily worn then allowed to sit and rust...

    I also realized that I need to spend a bit more to get a truly nice bike. I saw a $600 Iron-Horse which felt very nice and plush, but had a horrible paint job. I also saw a Fezarri Nebo, which was gorgeous and felt like a cadillac. I couldn't afford the caddilac, and hated how ratty the Iron-Horse looked. Then, I found a 2006 Cannondale Prophet. It was an FS 26er with what looked at first to be a decent set of components: BB5 160mm disk brakes, Radium Platform Plus rear shock, Marzocchi AM3 forks and even a little trip computer. For $550, I couldn't pass it up. It doesn't feel anywhere as plush as the other bikes with Fox suspensions, but it does significantly dampen the ride. I haven't taken it on any trails yet, but I did notice the brakes have shit stopping power. Almost as bad as dried out cantilever brakes. And if you squeeze them really hard, they squeal. I know many people say to upgrade to BB7. It's about $55-65 for the calipers, and most come with pads. Should I just do that instead of getting new pads? Is there something I can do to try and revive these? They feel downright dangerous!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by idoseadoo View Post
    I really appreciate all the advice. I did shy away from the FSR. The guy claimed to have ridden it ALL THE TIME in Michigan, but it's been mostly sitting here. Sounds like it was heavily worn then allowed to sit and rust...

    I also realized that I need to spend a bit more to get a truly nice bike. I saw a $600 Iron-Horse which felt very nice and plush, but had a horrible paint job. I also saw a Fezarri Nebo, which was gorgeous and felt like a cadillac. I couldn't afford the caddilac, and hated how ratty the Iron-Horse looked. Then, I found a 2006 Cannondale Prophet. It was an FS 26er with what looked at first to be a decent set of components: BB5 160mm disk brakes, Radium Platform Plus rear shock, Marzocchi AM3 forks and even a little trip computer. For $550, I couldn't pass it up. It doesn't feel anywhere as plush as the other bikes with Fox suspensions, but it does significantly dampen the ride. I haven't taken it on any trails yet, but I did notice the brakes have shit stopping power. Almost as bad as dried out cantilever brakes. And if you squeeze them really hard, they squeal. I know many people say to upgrade to BB7. It's about $55-65 for the calipers, and most come with pads. Should I just do that instead of getting new pads? Is there something I can do to try and revive these? They feel downright dangerous!
    BB7's can be just fine brakes for a beginner.
    Just call me Ray

  21. #21
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    Have you checked the condition of the pads already? If just replacing the pads does not cut it I wouldn't bother upgrading to BB7s as you probably can get entry level Shimano hydraulic brakes for about the same price.

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    Brake Upgrade Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by TimoA View Post
    Have you checked the condition of the pads already? If just replacing the pads does not cut it I wouldn't bother upgrading to BB7s as you probably can get entry level Shimano hydraulic brakes for about the same price.
    Upgrading brakes sounds like an awesome idea. I just purchased a pair of Maxxis Ardent tires for extra grip to replace the old IRC ones (the rear one has a sidewall slash). So with the extra traction, I can potentially have more stopping power.

    My question is when I buy the BB7, or even go to Hydraulic, do I have to worry about caliper fitment? I know I need to make sure they'll fit my rotors as I don't want to change those. But are BB7s or hydraulics just a direct bolt-on?

    What are the best pads to run on these? I'm looking for silence primarily as I don't do anything too crazy on the trails.

  23. #23
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    I think brake caliper interfaces have been the same for ages so basically any brake will drop straight in.

  24. #24
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    I found this kit on ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Shimano....c100005.m1851
    Seems very affordable! Is this too good to be true? Can I get longer hoses if these don't reach?

  25. #25
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    Sure you can, but that will require refilling and bleeding the brake which will offset any savings from that deal. the rear hose was listed as 1200mm which is crazy short IMO.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by idoseadoo View Post
    I found this kit on ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Shimano....c100005.m1851
    Seems very affordable! Is this too good to be true? Can I get longer hoses if these don't reach?
    At $72 (shipped?) that is only $6 cheaper than what I paid for my set new from Jenson USA (including shipping). Granted mine are a different part number, but they are the same Alivio family.
    Link: New brake components arrive

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