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  1. #1
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    Let's Get My Wife On A Bike

    My wife (40y.o., 5'4") has finally come around and is interested in getting a mountain bike to go riding with me (and soon our sons). A trip to Bend and some spins around Phil's Trail Complex on a much too big for her borrowed large hardtail helped to finally sell her. She currently has a 2011 Specialized Ariel Sport for cruising around the neighborhood, that we intend to sell to help fund the new bike.

    We live in Central California and will mostly ride around the Fresno & Three Rivers area with occasional trips to Monterey, Santa Cruz and Bend, OR. I'm still riding an old, fully rigid 29er, and don't hit anything crazy at all. So, I figured a modern geometry "Trail Hardtail" might be a good place to start for her. Here is the kicker though, I know she'll balk at anything I show her North of $1,000. So Ideally I'm looking for something that is a great basis to build from if/when her skills progress or shortcoming create the need/want to upgrade. Though, we may never upgrade, so a decent spec from the start helps.

    I'm open to all suggestions as to what features I should be looking for and even specific models you might suggest. Also, any warning for brands, models or features I should absolutely avoid. If it helps, I've been looking at mostly 27.5 & 27.5+ hardtails with reasonably (to quite) slack head angles (64-68) and 1x drivetrains. Right now my front runners are the Polygon Entiat TR6 and the Vitus Sentier 27 W. Neither of which are currently available in her size (small). Most other options below these price points, seem to fall pretty short of these two on paper. And most bikes with their spec, or a little better seem to run several hundred dollars more.

    And yes, I have been keeping a casual eye on PinkBike and other online sources for nice used bikes for sale regionally.

    Thanks all for any insight you might be able to provide!

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    It is highly recommended by many on this forum that you and your wife go to LBS and test out plenty of demos, there both of you can get a feel for the bike she'd ultimately want and the price that will need to be paid.

    For anything <$1K it's hard to find a 1x with good components. There are some but you might have to consider heavier types of bikes with probably an NX or 2x/3x setup. You can't go wrong with Liv bikes which are women's specific but there are options in the unisex world. My wife went with an Orbea Loki/Laufey and we modded it together.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by }{yBr!D^ View Post
    It is highly recommended by many on this forum that you and your wife go to LBS and test out plenty of demos, there both of you can get a feel for the bike she'd ultimately want and the price that will need to be paid.

    For anything <$1K it's hard to find a 1x with good components. There are some but you might have to consider heavier types of bikes with probably an NX or 2x/3x setup. You can't go wrong with Liv bikes which are women's specific but there are options in the unisex world. My wife went with an Orbea Loki/Laufey and we modded it together.
    Thanks for the reply }{yBr!D^. Believe it or not, I actually searched and read through your own thread going through a similar process. I do plan to get her to some of the local shops to try some of the bikes out. We have access to Specialized, Trek, Salsa, Norco, Giant/Liv, Scott, Marin and a few others through local shops that I trust. Inventory could be a different story. We also have the typical selection from REI.

    And before we limit our budget buying a bike that require a bunch of component swapping/upgrades (crappy coil fork, low end 2x/3x drivetrain, mechanical brakes), we would end up raising our budget. She wouldn't like it at first, but I know she would come around.

    I went through a similar search a couple years ago when looking for a bike for my (then) 5 year old son. Checked out what the locals had, but ultimately ordered an Orbea MX20 Team site unseen from an online vendor when a price drop hit. Overall, the bike has turned out to be outstanding. Some of the guys at a local bike shop were even commenting on how nice the bike when we took it in for a service. My only regret is not plunking down the extra cash to get him the Team Disc model.

    So the online ordering has worked out before, but I know there is no guarantee. Well, I guess there are the test ride policies from some of the online vendors.

  5. #5
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    It was a learning curve for all 3 bikes I've recently purchased. My background is more of a modder/tech, I just simply can't keep it how I get it which holds true with my car and my PC lol.

    My wife's Orbea was the 27+ H10 and has since turned into my version 27er LTD+ :P

    Swapped the Shimano drivetrain and brakes to Sram GX Eagle and Code RSC brakes, 180mm F/R discs, 2 wheelsets for trails and gravel/road, dropper, carbon bars, lighter stem, CB Stamp 3 pedals. It's a sweet playful bike.

    My step-daughter is getting the same treatment but a little different, more gravel/road-focused. Looking into rigid forks (to get rid of the garbage RS Judy), GX Eagle drivetrain, Code RSC + 180mm F/R discs carbon bars lighter stem... same pedals.

    Rule of thumb, it's good to have a focused budget BUT overall quality should be considered when buying one of these things especially if you're going to hit trails. You want something reliable that will treat you good as you would it. She won't regret the budget increase, I know my wife didn't.
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    Honestly, I think you are over thinking it. Your wife may be different than mine, but my wife really only mountain bikes because our kids like to mountain bike. I don't see a reason to ever buy a high end bike for my wife because she will never really use or appreciate it, she could care less about perceived MTB status, she is more interested in the color.

    I personally would not buy a bike that she could not test ride, my wife rode several bikes that I thought were higher end, and she hated them. I would not mail order my wife a bike because if my wife hated it, it would sit in the garage.

    Regarding the REI bike, I own a DRT1.2, and it's actually a really nice bike, in my opinion. It was nicer than the equivalent LBS popular brand name bikes around here. If you want brand status, then co-op is not the brand to buy. I think you could walk into REI, test ride some bikes, and walk out with a bike that is capable enough for under $700. If you apply for the REI cc they basically give you a $100 gift card, or REI credit, I can't remember which.

    I'm linking what I have considered for my wife. My take away was, she liked the prettiest color (pink Cannondale) but she wanted to buy the cheapest one we saw, which I refused. After she was done looking at bikes, she went over and shopped on the clearance racks for kids clothes, and me and the kids kept looking at bikes. Again, another reason for me to not buy a mail order bike.
    https://www.rei.com/product/145850/c...mens-bike-2019
    https://www.rei.com/product/106333/c...2w-womens-bike
    https://www.rei.com/product/106332/c...1w-womens-bike
    https://www.rei.com/product/145795/c...mens-bike-2019
    https://www.rei.com/product/166444/c...mens-bike-2020
    https://www.rei.com/product/166443/c...mens-bike-2020
    https://www.rei.com/product/166442/c...mens-bike-2020
    https://www.rei.com/product/145958/g...mens-bike-2019

    Good luck.

  7. #7
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    rton20s

    couple of thoughts: 1- how much will she ride, 2 - demos are probably a must, and 3 - as stated above how picky is she?

    My spouse (over 50 and 6'3") in reverse order, 3 - did not really care about the details, 2 - enjoyed trying a few bikes but we never really had time to try very many - we relied on a couple of bikes from friends to get an idea and I picked up a used bike with similar geo, 1 - she started on a hardtail, but we soon realized a little bit of rear suspension and a dropper post were a must! At the end of the day, she inherited my short travel 29er. If she doesn't ride a lot, a hardtail with 27.5 + might be the ticket.

    She mostly rides for exercise - wish she was more into it....so if your spouse like to ride, explore, and be challenged, consider yourself lucky.

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    Here is the basic question. Is she the kind of person who is going to want to push her skills and go fast? Or will she just enjoy cruising gravel roads and easy trails?

    If she is the first then absolute get something more capable. If it is the second then I wouldn't over think it and get something basic and rigid. My wife is for sure the second and I ended up finding an old Surly 1x1 with some nice parts for $300 and she loves it (after some adjusting to get her to a comfortable position). Talk to her about what she wants from a bike and what she wants to ride and also you know her. Is she a rick taker or risk adverse? It should be obviously fairly quickly if an aggressive hardtail or something makes sense.

    I also agree with the test ride.
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  9. #9
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    Thanks all for the replies. I'll reply to each of the posts individually.

    Quote Originally Posted by nobody special View Post
    Honestly, I think you are over thinking it. Your wife may be different than mine, but my wife really only mountain bikes because our kids like to mountain bike. I don't see a reason to ever buy a high end bike for my wife because she will never really use or appreciate it, she could care less about perceived MTB status, she is more interested in the color.

    I personally would not buy a bike that she could not test ride, my wife rode several bikes that I thought were higher end, and she hated them. I would not mail order my wife a bike because if my wife hated it, it would sit in the garage.

    Regarding the REI bike, I own a DRT1.2, and it's actually a really nice bike, in my opinion. It was nicer than the equivalent LBS popular brand name bikes around here. If you want brand status, then co-op is not the brand to buy. I think you could walk into REI, test ride some bikes, and walk out with a bike that is capable enough for under $700. If you apply for the REI cc they basically give you a $100 gift card, or REI credit, I can't remember which.

    I'm linking what I have considered for my wife. My take away was, she liked the prettiest color (pink Cannondale) but she wanted to buy the cheapest one we saw, which I refused. After she was done looking at bikes, she went over and shopped on the clearance racks for kids clothes, and me and the kids kept looking at bikes. Again, another reason for me to not buy a mail order bike.
    https://www.rei.com/product/145850/c...mens-bike-2019
    https://www.rei.com/product/106333/c...2w-womens-bike
    https://www.rei.com/product/106332/c...1w-womens-bike
    https://www.rei.com/product/145795/c...mens-bike-2019
    https://www.rei.com/product/166444/c...mens-bike-2020
    https://www.rei.com/product/166443/c...mens-bike-2020
    https://www.rei.com/product/166442/c...mens-bike-2020
    https://www.rei.com/product/145958/g...mens-bike-2019

    Good luck.
    This certainly wouldn't be the first time I have been accused of over analyzing a situation. I am a habitual researcher, and it is actually a significant part of what I have to do in my profession. That being said, I don't really think I am overdoing it with the bikes I am considering. In my experience, there is certainly a threshold by which you can judge a bikes capabilities. Especially off road. Talking with the guys at the local shops, they tend to agree.

    I certainly understand the general aversion to online ordering. And that is also one of the reasons I definitely want to get her some seat time through the local shops. And I am certainly not hung up on brand status. I just want to make sure that she is on a capable bike that neither one of us will see the need to replace for years to come. Heck, I'm still on a fully rigid 2010 Redline D440 with some very reasonable upgrades. But before I jump on to something more capable, I want her to be out there on a bike with me.

    We have also looked at REI and will likely test ride some bikes there. I've looked at what is available, and I don't think I would consider anything less than a DRT2.2 for her. They did have a steal on the DRT2.1 that I wish we could have taken advantage of, but they are now sold-out. At $959, if she was comfortable on it, it probably would have been nearly impossible to beat the value. We'll be back at REI on Sunday, so we'll see what they have in stock in her size when we're there.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerryl View Post
    rton20s

    couple of thoughts: 1- how much will she ride,
    Not nearly as much as I know we would both like to. We're right across the street from a park, and we've been making use of that more for the bikes. Actually out on the trail, probably a dozen times a year.

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryl View Post
    2 - demos are probably a must,
    Demos are part of the plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryl View Post
    and 3 - as stated above how picky is she?
    She isn't super picky. She is very comfortable with me "shortlisting" options based on specs/capabilities and then making choices based on aesthetics or other personal preference. (Like fitment/comfort in the case of a bike.)

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryl View Post
    My spouse (over 50 and 6'3") in reverse order, 3 - did not really care about the details, 2 - enjoyed trying a few bikes but we never really had time to try very many - we relied on a couple of bikes from friends to get an idea and I picked up a used bike with similar geo, 1 - she started on a hardtail, but we soon realized a little bit of rear suspension and a dropper post were a must! At the end of the day, she inherited my short travel 29er. If she doesn't ride a lot, a hardtail with 27.5 + might be the ticket.
    My wife doesn't care too much about the details either. She isn't too big on going to the bike shop for demos, but does understand the value. For her, a dropper post is a must. Whether the bike comes with it, or it is purchased later, the bike will be equipped with one. It would be nice if I had a short travel full suspension bike to hand down. As it is though, we do need to work within a budget.

    On the budget front, I did get some good feedback. I showed her the Polygon Entiat TR6 @ $850 and Vitus Sentier 27 W @ $950 and she was comfortable with the pricing. She actually said, "That isn't as bad as I thought, I figured it would be twice as much." I explained to her that if we were to go with a local shop brand, it would certainly cost from a couple hundred more to double the price. (Certainly at the high end, we'd be looking at a higher spec bike.)

    Quote Originally Posted by gerryl View Post
    She mostly rides for exercise - wish she was more into it....so if your spouse like to ride, explore, and be challenged, consider yourself lucky.
    We have both been trying to get more active. We were both athletes in high school, but have become much more sedentary over time. A few years ago we got into road running, then hiking, and then trail running. We've all both been focusing on weight loss over the last 4+ months and the bikes are one more avenue for us to explore on the fitness side.

    She hadn't shown too much interest in MTB until our last trip to Bend when we finally got her out on a trail. Now, she is in. She wants to go riding with me and the rest of the family.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    Here is the basic question. Is she the kind of person who is going to want to push her skills and go fast?
    Yes, she will want to increase her skill level (definitely a early stage beginner), but I don't see her wanting to go fast. She won't be bombing down a mountain or hitting big drops any time soon. Or ever.

    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    Or will she just enjoy cruising gravel roads and easy trails?
    This is definitely more her speed. But it has become apparent that her current hybrid bike just isn't going to cut it on the trail. She actually suggested to me taking her and my bike up to the nearest mountain on Black Friday. This will either be an opportunity to really see how bad the hybrid bike is for this, or hopefully rent a demo bike to see how she likes it.

    Quote Originally Posted by 93EXCivic View Post
    If she is the first then absolute get something more capable. If it is the second then I wouldn't over think it and get something basic and rigid. My wife is for sure the second and I ended up finding an old Surly 1x1 with some nice parts for $300 and she loves it (after some adjusting to get her to a comfortable position). Talk to her about what she wants from a bike and what she wants to ride and also you know her. Is she a rick taker or risk adverse? It should be obviously fairly quickly if an aggressive hardtail or something makes sense.

    I also agree with the test ride.
    Just knowing what it is like riding some of my local trails on my fully rigid 29er, I don't want to put her through that. It can be pretty hard on me, and I definitely don't want to get her on a bike that may turn her off of riding the trails.

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    I've taken my wife mountain biking 4 times this year.

    I talked with her a lot before buying her a bike (her only bike atm). We ended up getting a entry level hardtail, nothing fancy. She wanted a bike that could be used to ride around the neighborhood with the kids, or the occasional trails with me.

    The hardtail is fine enough for generic road/trail/piddling about with the kids and can also handle moderate trail duty. We decided that IF she wants to get more into mountain biking later, she can easily keep this bike for the more day to day stuff, and then buy a more dedicated mountain bike later on. So far, she's been happy with that decision.

    The main thing IMO, is continuing to take your wife on trails that you think she'll definitely enjoy, and then just riding/re-riding whatever she likes best. Because a bike doesn't make her want to ride again and again, only having a fun time does that.

    I don't think my wife will ever be into anything extreme. But... she surprised me, her favorite trail the first time I rode with her... was a "intermediate flow/freeride" trail with lots of big rollers, big berms, and a few small rollable jumps. So we sessioned that trail like 5 times.

    If I were you, I'd be demoing some plus hardtails, as well as a few short travel trail bikes, and see what she likes.

    Good luck .

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    My wife has been riding the local trails on her Fuji Absolute 2.3ST with 700C x 32 road tires. Speed wise it is fine but ever time we get to something bumpy or loose leaves, I have to yell back to warn her of what to not* do. We probably have gone out family riding about 30 times since spring. Probably half/half dirt trails and paved greenway.

    I am actually considering putting some cyclocross tires on her bike as a stopgap so she is more confident on the dirt. She would get a lot of use out of a new bike, but she doesn't really want to spend the money, and she isn't interested enough to be excited about shopping for the new bike. Really the only reason she even has that bike is because Performance Bike marked it down to $169 when they were going out of business, and she was more interested in the "good deal" than actually getting a new bike.

    I will be interested in seeing what you choose, but I suspect your budget is higher than mine.

  14. #14
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    Keep it simple. Set your budget, pick a few shops then go shopping.
    I only ride bikes to fill the time when I'm not skiing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rton20s View Post
    My wife (40y.o., 5'4") has finally come around and is interested in getting a mountain bike to go riding with me (and soon our sons). A trip to Bend and some spins around Phil's Trail Complex on a much too big for her borrowed large hardtail helped to finally sell her. She currently has a 2011 Specialized Ariel Sport for cruising around the neighborhood, that we intend to sell to help fund the new bike.

    We live in Central California and will mostly ride around the Fresno & Three Rivers area with occasional trips to Monterey, Santa Cruz and Bend, OR. I'm still riding an old, fully rigid 29er, and don't hit anything crazy at all. So, I figured a modern geometry "Trail Hardtail" might be a good place to start for her. Here is the kicker though, I know she'll balk at anything I show her North of $1,000. So Ideally I'm looking for something that is a great basis to build from if/when her skills progress or shortcoming create the need/want to upgrade. Though, we may never upgrade, so a decent spec from the start helps.

    I'm open to all suggestions as to what features I should be looking for and even specific models you might suggest. Also, any warning for brands, models or features I should absolutely avoid. If it helps, I've been looking at mostly 27.5 & 27.5+ hardtails with reasonably (to quite) slack head angles (64-68) and 1x drivetrains. Right now my front runners are the Polygon Entiat TR6 and the Vitus Sentier 27 W. Neither of which are currently available in her size (small). Most other options below these price points, seem to fall pretty short of these two on paper. And most bikes with their spec, or a little better seem to run several hundred dollars more.

    And yes, I have been keeping a casual eye on PinkBike and other online sources for nice used bikes for sale regionally.

    Thanks all for any insight you might be able to provide!
    As somebody else pointed out, you might be over thinking things here. Its getting harder and harder to buy a bad bike these days and $1000 get you something reasonable. Go visit 3 or 4 shops, pick the one that's the most helpful and get whatever
    $1000 27.5+ (or 29) hardtail they have.

    You can spend years researching individual components or the minutia of modern geometry etc. etc. However, as long as the bike fits and roughly suits the kind of riding she'll be doing, all the fine details don't matter. In summary, go to a couple shops pick out one she likes, don't worry about if the head angle is .5 degrees to steep or the chainstays 10mm too long and buy the darned thing.
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    Thank you all for the additional input. I've talked some more with my wife and we are planning to hit some of the local shops. She has also mentioned possibly keeping her current Specialized Ariel for use in putting around the neighborhood or doing road rides. (I just wish it didn't have the garbage fork up front.) We intended to go by one shop yesterday, along with REI, but time and circumstance just didn't allow. On a positive note, I did get to have some time chasing my 8 and 4 year old around a pump track.

    Our planned Black Friday ride on my wife's hybrid bike has also changed. One of the local shops posted on FB that they will be doing a BBQ/Trail ride at our local trail the Saturday after Thanksgiving. So, we'll head up that day instead. I'm also going to check with them to see if they can bring up a rental/demo bike for her to test out.

    In the mean time, we do plan to hit some of the local shops to see what they might have in stock for some spins around the parking lot.

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    Maybe getting a rigid fork for the Specialized to refresh it a bit since it's being considered as a more leisure/commuter. Can you post specs on the bike or a link? When I looked it up there was a mechanical brake setup and rim brakes. I wouldn't further upgrade it besides a better fork, nothing too crazy IMO. As previously mentioned, keep within your budget shop around both online for perspective and LBS to feel, this will allow you to broaden up the insight needed to make a decision on components vs value. Just remember a good enough bike that is under 1K can still be upgraded down the line, unlike a $300 bike which is just not worth it.

    Just to name a few (did a quick search)
    These three are $999, the forks on the Kona's are decent, the stanchions are a little thin but it's perfect to start practicing smooth singletrack which won't induce a lot of flex. Yet, both those bikes are extremely upgradable if things breaks or she graduates from the parts and needs something new.

    https://www.konaworld.com/blast.cfm
    https://www.konaworld.com/mahuna.cfm

    another $999 bike is the Vitus Rapide has a better fork and overall components compared to the previous 2. I doubt she will have a need for an eagle drivetrain might not be climbing steap stuff anytime soon all it would need presently is a good dropper post + remote
    https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/.../rp-prod181551

    Lastly the Nukeproof... it's a little more aggressive than the others similar components to the Vitus...
    https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/.../rp-prod183323

    Now other things besides color (which is very important for women) wheel size and such along with frame size, it is imperative to take her to the shops and get her measured up not only in reach and standover but the saddle to measure her sit bone properly for comfort. People usually recommend +size tires for that cushier feel of a rear suspension on a hardtail but if she's going to be focusing more on smooth trails 27.5/29x2.5 or 2.6 should be the max (IMO)... and most importantly as I was previously told when I was on the hunt for my wife's bike, let her pick what she wants she will ultimately make it hers ust by the sheer decision that she made and mentally would want to hop on it and ride it more
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    Thanks for the additional info }{yBr!D^;! Responses below...

    Quote Originally Posted by }{yBr!D^ View Post
    Maybe getting a rigid fork for the Specialized to refresh it a bit since it's being considered as a more leisure/commuter. Can you post specs on the bike or a link? When I looked it up there was a mechanical brake setup and rim brakes. I wouldn't further upgrade it besides a better fork, nothing too crazy IMO. As previously mentioned, keep within your budget shop around both online for perspective and LBS to feel, this will allow you to broaden up the insight needed to make a decision on components vs value. Just remember a good enough bike that is under 1K can still be upgraded down the line, unlike a $300 bike which is just not worth it.
    everysingle.bike | 2011 Specialized Ariel Sport

    Her Specialized is a 2011 Specialized Ariel Sport. It has a Suntour NVX MLO fork and 700C wheels with rim brakes. The frame and fork are disc compatible, but the hubs are not. I took a look at rigid fork options available that wouldn't require a wheel upgrade and pickin's are pretty slim. Mostly because of the rim brake requirement, and secondarily because it really needs a "suspension corrected" 29er fork with the current A2C being around 493cm.

    Because of this, we'll probably even skip the fork upgrade on her current hybrid bike. She'll ride it as is, and if she decides she wants something different for road rides, we'll start shopping.

    Quote Originally Posted by }{yBr!D^ View Post
    Just to name a few (did a quick search)
    These three are $999, the forks on the Kona's are decent, the stanchions are a little thin but it's perfect to start practicing smooth singletrack which won't induce a lot of flex. Yet, both those bikes are extremely upgradable if things breaks or she graduates from the parts and needs something new.

    https://www.konaworld.com/blast.cfm
    https://www.konaworld.com/mahuna.cfm
    I hadn't looked too closely at Kona, but there is a shop I have been to in Fresno that is a dealer. Looking over the specs, there are a couple things that turn me away, even though the price is attractive. Both the outdated narrow hub spacing and stanchions have me thinking that spending a few bucks more, or considering online sources could net a better value.

    Quote Originally Posted by }{yBr!D^ View Post
    another $999 bike is the Vitus Rapide has a better fork and overall components compared to the previous 2. I doubt she will have a need for an eagle drivetrain might not be climbing steap stuff anytime soon all it would need presently is a good dropper post + remote
    https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/.../rp-prod181551
    With my focus on the Vitus Sentier 27 W, I hadn't even noticed the Rapide. It seems a bit more XC focused, but the geometry looks modern enough. Looks like there are some trade offs in suspension travel and tire volume, but that is to be expected with the 29" wheels. Something like this could be worth consideration. The Shimano brakes are likely nicer than the Tektros and it looks like there should be room for a little wider tire than the stock 2.25", should we want to get some volume back.

    Quote Originally Posted by }{yBr!D^ View Post
    Lastly the Nukeproof... it's a little more aggressive than the others similar components to the Vitus...
    https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/.../rp-prod183323
    The Scout looks really well equipped, and is somewhat similar to the Sentier. It is certainly more aggessive, but it looks like there is a lot of bang for your buck here.

    Quote Originally Posted by }{yBr!D^ View Post
    Now other things besides color (which is very important for women) wheel size and such along with frame size, it is imperative to take her to the shops and get her measured up not only in reach and standover but the saddle to measure her sit bone properly for comfort. People usually recommend +size tires for that cushier feel of a rear suspension on a hardtail but if she's going to be focusing more on smooth trails 27.5/29x2.5 or 2.6 should be the max (IMO)... and most importantly as I was previously told when I was on the hunt for my wife's bike, let her pick what she wants she will ultimately make it hers ust by the sheer decision that she made and mentally would want to hop on it and ride it more
    Thanks for the feedback. We have short listed 3 local shops, plus REI to check out and get some seat time. We both want her to get a feel for the bikes and see what seem like it works and what doesn't. I'm just hopeful that the shops even have what we are looking for available. I know local B&Ms, especially small ones, can't afford to keep everything they have available in stock.

    If anyone cares, my current front runners for value for dollar are listed below. Seat time could easily eliminate some of these and add others. They are listed by price in ascending order. (Higher value is applied to bikes that we are likely to be able to try out locally.)

    Polygon Entiat TR6 (online)
    Vitus Sentier 27 W (online)
    Vitus Rapide (online)
    Nukeproof Scout 275 Race (online)
    Salsa Timberjack Deore 27.5 (local)
    Trek Roscoe 7 Women's (local)
    Polygon Entiat TR8 (online)
    Fluid HT 2 (1hr away)
    Cannondale Cujo 27.5+ (1hr away)
    Specialized Fuse Comp 27.5+ (local)
    CO-OP DRT2.2 (1hr away)
    Salsa Timberjack SLX 27.5+ (local)
    Rocky Mountain Growler 40 (2+hrs away/online)

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    I looked for a number of months for a nice budget hardtail. I looked at a bunch of bikes, including many that you have listed there.

    The Vitus Sentier, Nukeproof Scout, Whyte 901, Diamondback Sync'r were easily the best values, for proper bikes that you can easily upgrade if needed.

    The Nukeproof Nucleus is another good bike (can be had for $600ish), with an air fork and the frame can accept a dropper post, etc. Its got a 2x drivetrain, and older axle spacing (135 QR) though. The geometry is actually pretty good too.

    That said, many LBS can, and will discount things, particularly in the off season, for the previous years models.

    Of the bikes that you can find local to you, I'd say the Salsa Timberjack SLX, is probably one of the better values. Its geo isn't quite as aggressive/modern as the Nukeproof/Whyte/Vitus, but it is fairly similar to the Santa Cruz Chameleon, which is a super popular hardtail.

    From what I remember, the redesigned RM Growler 40 is also a pretty good new bike. Somewhat similar in design to the Timberjack if I recall.

    I looked at the Trek, but wasn't impressed personally. I'd still look at it if its easy to find locally, but the build spec was weird, and the geo somewhat funky (super slack seat tube angle, of like 71 degrees IIRC).

    Oh, and the Marin San Quentin is not a bad bike either, nor is their Pine Mountain, or Nail Trail. They were great deals last year when Performance bike was going out of business. Not that they're bad deals now, but, when they were 40% off, it was obviously better .

    Good luck finding something that works for you, and congrats on getting your spouse into it. Hopefully you end up enjoying it for years together .

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ocnLogan View Post
    I looked for a number of months for a nice budget hardtail. I looked at a bunch of bikes, including many that you have listed there.

    The Vitus Sentier, Nukeproof Scout, Whyte 901, Diamondback Sync'r were easily the best values, for proper bikes that you can easily upgrade if needed.

    The Nukeproof Nucleus is another good bike (can be had for $600ish), with an air fork and the frame can accept a dropper post, etc. Its got a 2x drivetrain, and older axle spacing (135 QR) though. The geometry is actually pretty good too.

    That said, many LBS can, and will discount things, particularly in the off season, for the previous years models.

    Of the bikes that you can find local to you, I'd say the Salsa Timberjack SLX, is probably one of the better values. Its geo isn't quite as aggressive/modern as the Nukeproof/Whyte/Vitus, but it is fairly similar to the Santa Cruz Chameleon, which is a super popular hardtail.

    From what I remember, the redesigned RM Growler 40 is also a pretty good new bike. Somewhat similar in design to the Timberjack if I recall.

    I looked at the Trek, but wasn't impressed personally. I'd still look at it if its easy to find locally, but the build spec was weird, and the geo somewhat funky (super slack seat tube angle, of like 71 degrees IIRC).

    Oh, and the Marin San Quentin is not a bad bike either, nor is their Pine Mountain, or Nail Trail. They were great deals last year when Performance bike was going out of business. Not that they're bad deals now, but, when they were 40% off, it was obviously better .

    Good luck finding something that works for you, and congrats on getting your spouse into it. Hopefully you end up enjoying it for years together .
    Thanks for the feedback ocnLogan!

    I think just about every bike you mentioned (short of the Nucleus) were part of the comparison I have been doing. I have been accused of over analyzing, and my process for this could certainly be proof of that claim. I have a spreadsheet that I put together to make it easier for me to compare bikes. The total number of bikes to date is right around 30, and that is how I generated my short list above. Ranking quality/performance of the spec vs price to determine MY perceived value.

    I've even gone so far as to apply a trend line based on the price : performance to the short list of bikes above. And I'm sure the Marins you mentioned could/would have made that short list if they were still available at such a steep discount. Marin is actually one of the brands I hope my wife has an opportunity to ride, even though none are currently on the short list.

    The bikes currently "beating" the trendline on perceived value are the Polygon Entiat TR6, Vitus Rapide, Nukeproof Scout 275 Race, Polygon Entiat TR6 and to a lesser extent the Salsa Timberjack SLX. The Nukeproof seems to be far and away the best bang for the buck out of the group. Not too surprising to see the internet only brands leading the pack here.

    Seat time and how she feels on the bike can make all the difference in the world. So if we find something local that "just feels right," than all of those internet bikes could be quickly eliminated. Especially if we can find a shop willing to make a deal on an in-stock 2019 model.

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    I have personally observed demos that failed the final cut only to determine the fail was the result of an improper setup. In the case of a hardtail, proper fork set up for rider style, trail and skill can play a defining role in final selection. During demos, it's often difficult to spend the time for a proper dialing in period. Decisions are frequently made on a ten minute demo ride through the parking lot and that's a shame.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    I have personally observed demos that failed the final cut only to determine the fail was the result of an improper setup. In the case of a hardtail, proper fork set up for rider style, trail and skill can play a defining role in final selection. During demos, it's often difficult to spend the time for a proper dialing in period. Decisions are frequently made on a ten minute demo ride through the parking lot and that's a shame.
    At this point, even a 10 minute demo would be a step up from what I have seen from retailers so far. I did stop by one local shop last Friday and reserve a bike for a ride they are putting together for this coming Saturday. They had NOTHING that came close to fitting our criteria in stock, much less available to rent/demo. So, I've reserved a freshly built Specialized Rockhopper "with a 1x drivetrain" in a size Medium for her this weekend. Literally because it was the only thing they said they could rent me in a hard tail. I don't know whether it is a Comp 1X or Expert 1X, I have a feeling it is the former.

    So... not her size, not a trail oriented bike, not 27.5+ tires and I don't know whether the bike has a cheap, heavy XCR air fork or even cheaper, heavier non-adjustable XCM coil fork. :\ Oh well, at least I can get her out on a bike, and hopefully it isn't a discouraging experience. I'll bring her with me Friday to pick it up so they can get her fitted and put on a shorter seatpost if necessary. Maybe we will luck out and they'll at least have something closer to what we're looking for in stock that she can take a spin on out in the parking lot.

    We also went to REI yesterday, prepared to test ride anything they had that was CLOSE to what we were looking for. I checked their stock ahead of time and they had Ghost Lanao (S), a Cannondale Cujo 1 (M) and a DRT 3.1 (M). I was hoping to that we could get her on at least one or two to test ride and see how they fit. This, knowing full well the Mediums would likely be too large, but so that she could see the difference in drivetrain and suspension. Well, we got so far as unlocking and test fitting her on the Lanao. "Yep, you were right, Small is right where she needs to be." And that was it. No test ride, just a suggestion to find the bike with the spec we want and order it online for them to build up and call us when it was ready. I guess he figured since there wasn't a single bike in the store that matched our size and spec criteria, there was no point in letting her get some tires dirty.

    What a complete let down. If we weren't already there picking up a few other things, I would have been pretty upset. This was not at all the experience I am used to at REI. Even when I have shopped for bikes in the past, they always spent a few minutes fitting you and then sent you out into the parking lot to take it for a ride. My brother in law happened to be with us, and he told me afterward that he had dealt with the same employee in the bike department before and didn't care for him. So, maybe if we had been helped by someone else, the experience would have been different.

    I haven't given up on local shops yet. I'm hoping to get my wife to three different shops on Black Friday. One of which is the shop we'll pick the rental bike up from. All things being equal, if one of them actually has stock and/or treats us as if they actually want to sell us the bike and support it after the sale, they'll likely get our business. Between them, they offer Marin, Haro, Salsa, Specialized, Surly, Jamis, Chromag, and Trek. I'm hopeful that at least one of these shops has more to offer than our experiences so far and aren't driving me straight to rolling the dice on an internet bike.

  23. #23
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    Wow, that has never been my experience at REI. We often joke and call REI "Really Expensive Inventory" but we always end up going back anyway because usually with sales we can get things priced competitively, and they typically carry high quality stuff. However, the customer service I receive at REI is always very good. I don't know if you have Chik-Fil-A in CA, but I always think REI has customer service that rivals or exceeds Chik-Fil-A, and that is hard to do.

    I did buy my DRT1.2 at REI for $899 and was happy with it for the price. About 40 days after I bought it, they marked it on clearance for $673. I called the 800 number and explained what happened and asked if they could price match the clearance price, and the customer service person told me she could and would, but preferred for me to call the store I bought it in since it was a store sale vs an online sale and since it was over the 30 days, but she said if the store manager refused, then call her back and she would 100% make it happen. Those were almost her exact words. OK, no problem. I called the Cary NC store, talked to the assistant manager, and he did the exchange and refund over the phone, never even had to go into the store. I was happy with the bike at $899 and I love it at $673.

    I did not have good experiences with the local bike shops, except for the Giant Store in Wake Forest. Mostly I got the "well this is what we have" with some vague finger pointing. Unfortunately the Giant wasn't really comfortable to me because I was happy with the service.

    I would call the manager at REI and line up a day stop back in to talk to someone else. I think I test rode like 8 or 9 bikes at REI, to the point where I felt guilty about asking for another one, and the sales lady was perfectly happy to swap out the paperwork each time. At the LBS's I test rode one bike and then the sales person would have a deadly stare waiting for my wallet.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobody special View Post
    Wow, that has never been my experience at REI. We often joke and call REI "Really Expensive Inventory" but we always end up going back anyway because usually with sales we can get things priced competitively, and they typically carry high quality stuff. However, the customer service I receive at REI is always very good. I don't know if you have Chik-Fil-A in CA, but I always think REI has customer service that rivals or exceeds Chik-Fil-A, and that is hard to do.

    I did buy my DRT1.2 at REI for $899 and was happy with it for the price. About 40 days after I bought it, they marked it on clearance for $673. I called the 800 number and explained what happened and asked if they could price match the clearance price, and the customer service person told me she could and would, but preferred for me to call the store I bought it in since it was a store sale vs an online sale and since it was over the 30 days, but she said if the store manager refused, then call her back and she would 100% make it happen. Those were almost her exact words. OK, no problem. I called the Cary NC store, talked to the assistant manager, and he did the exchange and refund over the phone, never even had to go into the store. I was happy with the bike at $899 and I love it at $673.

    I did not have good experiences with the local bike shops, except for the Giant Store in Wake Forest. Mostly I got the "well this is what we have" with some vague finger pointing. Unfortunately the Giant wasn't really comfortable to me because I was happy with the service.

    I would call the manager at REI and line up a day stop back in to talk to someone else. I think I test rode like 8 or 9 bikes at REI, to the point where I felt guilty about asking for another one, and the sales lady was perfectly happy to swap out the paperwork each time. At the LBS's I test rode one bike and then the sales person would have a deadly stare waiting for my wallet.
    As I said in my previous post, this is not my typical experience at REI. That includes previous bike shopping. Our closest store is almost an hour away, so popping in isn't all that convenient. I'm not sure if that is an unfortunate or fortunate reality. We spend enough money with them, as is.

    For now, I think I am done with REI as an option to actually get a test ride. After we try out some of the local shops, REI may become an option for the actual bike purchase. If the locals can't convince me they are a better option, and the "best bike" happens to be from REI, that is where will go. They do have their return policy and network of stores on their side.

    The bottom line is, what I feared would be the case has proven to be just that. First, if you want a mountain bike, and aren't looking to only spend $600-800 it seems like shops always want to direct you right to a full suspension bike costing at least $2k, if not $3k or more. They hardly even stock the middle ground. Second, good luck finding a size Small in stock at any price point or spec. "We can special order..." isn't all that appealing when you have nothing to test first and the price is substantially higher than internet options. We'll see how the actual "value" of the locals shakes out once I have a chance to ask them about after-purchase support. I want to do what most here on MTBR recommend, and get my wife on bikes at local shops. It is just proving to be much more easily said than done.

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    I'm with most everyone in the thread: You're over thinking it. If your wife is like you describe, she is like my wife. A decent quality hardtail that fits her well will be perfectly fine. You can find something like a Trek X Caliber at a local bike shop. And if she gets the bug, she'll be happy to go over that budget for the next bike.

    Being someone who isn't worried about ordering online, I'd probably buy her something like this

    Orbea Alma:
    https://www.jensonusa.com/Orbea-Alma-H50-29-Bike-2019

    Marin Pine Mountain:
    https://www.jensonusa.com/Marin-Pine...in-1-Bike-2019

    I suspect the former is lighter; the latter is chro mo with lots of attachment points for racks and the like, so if you suspect that this might become a dual purpose commuter bike or something of that nature, it might be the ticket.

    Neither have droppers, so use that their under budget to add one (note that both have a 27.2 seat tube).

    The Vitus bikes from Chain Reaction also look great for the price, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of availability in her size right now.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusBrody View Post
    I'm with most everyone in the thread: You're over thinking it. If your wife is like you describe, she is like my wife. A decent quality hardtail that fits her well will be perfectly fine. And if she gets the bug, she'll be happy to go over that budget for the next bike.

    Being someone who isn't worried about ordering online, I'd probably buy her something like this

    Orbea Alma:
    https://www.jensonusa.com/Orbea-Alma-H50-29-Bike-2019

    Marin Pine Mountain:
    https://www.jensonusa.com/Marin-Pine...in-1-Bike-2019

    I suspect the former is lighter; the latter is chro mo with lots of attachment points for racks and the like, so if you suspect that this might become a dual purpose commuter bike or something of that nature, it might be the ticket.

    The Vitus bikes from Chain Reaction also look great for the price, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of availability in her size right now.
    There may be a "next bike," but it isn't all that likely any time soon. She and I are both on the same page of trying to find the right bike with the right spec and fit without breaking the bank. She is on board for spending a bit more if it means a better bike that also suits her better. "Buy once, cry once" as they say. She just isn't ready to jump into the deep end and drop the coin on a full suspension bike. Save for some phenomenal deal popping up that drops one into our price range, of course.

    Geometry on both of the bikes you linked to is quite a bit more XC oriented than almost anything else we've been looking at. While not a deal breaker, it does have me hesitant to consider either model "in the running." We'll see how riding the XC oriented rental Rockhopper goes on our local trail this weekend.

    I have talked to my wife quite a bit more about what she wants in a bike. Both before and after looking at the various bikes at REI yesterday. She is completely on board with only wanting to consider a bike with a 1x drivetrain. I also explained the difference between a coil fork and an air fork. Once she understood, she completely agrees that an air fork is also a must. (We're both working on weight loss right now, but are likely heavier than the "optimal range" of any budget coil fork out there.) The rest of the specs are flexible enough that if the right bike came along, I am sure we would jump on it.

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    A slight departure from the current direction and sort of back to the 1st post.

    Getting my wife into mountain bikes was an easy one. She loved it from the beginning. She's 5'5" and 120 lbs. She has always ridden a small frame and is on her 3rd mountain bike. She started on a Diamond back hard tail and rode it 3 years. Progressed to a Yeti SB-75 for another 4 years and she has been on a Juliana Furtado (Santa Cruz 5010) CC for 2 years now. This frame purchase was her Christmas gift to herself. So we spent the next few months acquiring all of the bucket-list components, got it built to her exacting specifications, dialed it it and life has been good ever since.



    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Let's Get My Wife On A Bike-20171222_191350.jpg  

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    Quote Originally Posted by rton20s View Post
    There may be a "next bike," but it isn't all that likely any time soon. She and I are both on the same page of trying to find the right bike with the right spec and fit without breaking the bank. She is on board for spending a bit more if it means a better bike that also suits her better. "Buy once, cry once" as they say. She just isn't ready to jump into the deep end and drop the coin on a full suspension bike. Save for some phenomenal deal popping up that drops one into our price range, of course.

    Geometry on both of the bikes you linked to is quite a bit more XC oriented than almost anything else we've been looking at. While not a deal breaker, it does have me hesitant to consider either model "in the running." We'll see how riding the XC oriented rental Rockhopper goes on our local trail this weekend.

    I have talked to my wife quite a bit more about what she wants in a bike. Both before and after looking at the various bikes at REI yesterday. She is completely on board with only wanting to consider a bike with a 1x drivetrain. I also explained the difference between a coil fork and an air fork. Once she understood, she completely agrees that an air fork is also a must. (We're both working on weight loss right now, but are likely heavier than the "optimal range" of any budget coil fork out there.) The rest of the specs are flexible enough that if the right bike came along, I am sure we would jump on it.
    I think an air fork is a very good idea. 1x isn't really a big deal to me. I like mine, but I don't think it really is that much better than 2x, particularly for a bike which you might sometimes be riding on bike paths. For someone not in shape yet, the true granny of a 2x system is a lot nicer than the granny of a lower tier 1x systems on a steep climb. if you get into the 50t cassette cog range on the 1x, that obviously closes, but some of the cheaper 1x bikes don't.

    As to geometry: It really just depends what the bike will end up being used for. More XCish geometry is actually great for doing things like gravel roads, dirt bike paths, and easy trails. They're also often more intuitive for people when climbing. Obviously the trade off is when stuff gets steep, so it just depends what you'll be doing.

    I also wouldn't worry a single bit about "outdated hub standards." It's very unlikely that you're going to be buying an aftermarket wheelset for this bike, so it will almost certainly never be an issue. And if you need to for some reason, you can find wheels/hubs that fit.

    I also am not big into the "Buy once, cry once" mantra for getting into an activity. People use it to talk themselves into everything that online forums tell them are must haves. They really aren't for most folks. Most people who try out mountain biking don't become serious mountain bikers. The same is true of any activity. The excitement is there at the beginning but then the novelty wears off, life creeps in, they take their first decent fall, etc.. The bike ends up spending most of its time in the garage (or gets sold off). It's better to find that out with a $800 dollar bike than letting your budget creep up and making it a more expensive lesson if cost is an object. If the person gets really into it, then you can sell that bike at a minimal loss and upgrade. By that point the person will actually know what they want/need in a mountain bike and so you can actually buy a bike that will suit them for years. I suspect people lose way more money overbuying and underusing than being forced to upgrade, so I'm more a buy twice (but just twice as the second time get it right) kind of guy.

    Unless your wife likes to ski steep trees. No one I've ever met who liked skiing steep tree lines and tried mountain biking didn't get pretty darn into it. So if your wife does, then yeah, I'd just stretch the budget, get a slightly slacked out front end, and assume she'll want to rip. :-)

  29. #29
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    That Juliana is beautiful. We have a friend up in Bend who rides one and couldn't be happier with it. Even her husband is a little jealous, as they worked with their local dealer to build one up to her spec. Your wife's color selection is also right in line with what my wife would want. Though, with a price tag on the frame at double the top of our budget for an entire bike, I don't see a carbon Juliana in our future.

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    After visiting three shops over the last few days (some multiple times) we developed a short list to discuss back at home. I won't go into detail, but there are two shops we would prefer to buy from and one we likely won't. Internet options are also still a consideration.

    The initial short list was as follows (price: ascending)...

    Salsa Timberjack Deore
    Giant Fathom 2
    Trek Roscoe 7 (Men's or Women's)
    Specialized Fuse 27.5
    Vitus Sentier 27 VR
    Norco Fluid HT2
    Liv Embolden 2 (Full Suspension)

    We talked about the various bikes and shops and made a few eliminations. First, she decided to cut anything that didn't have a 1x12 drivetrain, so the Salsa and Specialized were out. Next she determined that she didn't want to jump into a full suspension at a higher price point (especially without a dropper) so the Liv was the next cut. Last, she decided that Trek styling/color ways was the least desirable of those left. (Let's face it, deep down most of us want our bikes to look cool. At least to ourselves.)

    So, that left us with the following...

    Giant Fathom 2
    Vitus Sentier 27 VR
    Norco Fluid HT2

    From there, the wife had all but settled on the Norco. This bike is by far her favorite in terms of styling and color way. Unfortunately, the bike isn't available yet! So, now we're at a bit of an empasse.

    We're now taking another look at our top three, and would appreciate any feedback you all might have.


    Giant Fathom 2
    Pros:
    Local shop (1 hr away)
    Lifetime basic tuneups
    Currently available
    Raidon Fork (upgradable cartridge)

    Cons:
    141 rear hub spacing
    Loose ball rear bearings
    Less progressive geometry


    Vitus Sentier 27 VR
    Pros:
    Marzocchi Bomber Z2 (best fork in class, by far)
    Shimano MT501 Brakes
    Progressive geometry

    Cons:
    UK Internet Dealer
    No lifetime maintenance


    Norco Fluid HT2
    Pros:
    Local shop (1 hr away)
    Lifetime basic tuneups
    Preferred Styling & Color Way
    Progressive geometry

    Cons:
    Might not be available until March!
    XCR 34 Air Fork (not sure if you can upgrade the cartridge)

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    I don't know if anyone is still paying attention, but I figured it would be worth posting an update.

    My wife has come to a decision. After talking with Norco though FB messenger, we have been encouraged to place an order with a local shop and ask them to follow up with Norco to see about getting in on their next shipment which should happen this month. The shipment is currently sold out, but the Norco rep seemed to think there is a good chance of getting in on their December delivery and not having to wait until spring. If it doesn't happen, we would just get a refund from the shop. I'll be calling them this afternoon/evening to place the order.

    If the Norco deal does fall though, my wife has said we will probably just order the Vitus, rather than wait.

  32. #32
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    Yepper, still paying attention. Thanks for the updates
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    Good luck! Hope she loves it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rton20s View Post
    I don't know if anyone is still paying attention, but I figured it would be worth posting an update.

    My wife has come to a decision. After talking with Norco though FB messenger, we have been encouraged to place an order with a local shop and ask them to follow up with Norco to see about getting in on their next shipment which should happen this month. The shipment is currently sold out, but the Norco rep seemed to think there is a good chance of getting in on their December delivery and not having to wait until spring. If it doesn't happen, we would just get a refund from the shop. I'll be calling them this afternoon/evening to place the order.

    If the Norco deal does fall though, my wife has said we will probably just order the Vitus, rather than wait.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    Yepper, still paying attention. Thanks for the updates
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