Fork/Spec on a new mountain bike- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Fork/Spec on a new mountain bike

    My first post and it's a really noob question. I've been riding road and cyclecross bikes for the past few years. However, I feel limited on the local trails rock and root covered messes, but no big hills with the cyclecross bike due to the tire width and lack of suspension. I've decided to get a mountain bike. Local options are limited, but I'd rather buy from a LBS if I can. Basically, there are several $1,000-ish hardtail bikes that have a decent groupset (mainly deore). Most of them have a lower grade fork, either a RS 30 coil spring TK or sometimes a 30 gold RL. A few of them have a good fit and have frames that I think I could build on happily over time.

    There are also a few bikes that are more like $1500. They have better forks (Recon or Fox 32 most often, but occasionally there is a Reba) and are usually SLX or SLX + an XT rear mech and/or cassette. Some also fit well and ride nicely from what little I can gather from test rides.

    I'm happy to spend less money if I can, but I have a feeling that the better spec, and especially the better fork, will pay off down the road. I'm not going to race, but I try to push myself and ride hard.

    Assuming that the fit and rear-end comfort is about the same, is there much to be gained in terms of growing into a mountain bike by starting out with a bit more mid-level bike? In terms of riding style, I didn't (and don't expect to) do much in the way of jumps and nothing in the way of drops. I try to pick my lines rather than speed through stuff. I rode a rigid mountain bike mostly when I used to ride, and I guess I still ride like that a bit.

    Any advice on whether it would be a middle-term advantage to put more money into the spec and fork would be great. I'm willing to do so if it means there is some more room to grow into riding the bike. Another option is to get less strong spec and fork on a CF frame. I've read a lot of threads here, and I'm sensing that that's not really a smart way to spend, given that I'm not racing.

    Many thanks!

  2. #2
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    The fork can be the most important component if you're riding rocky rooty trails. Usually an air fork will be better than a coil spring fork. Bikes that take wider rims and tires like 27.5+ or 29+ can add some comfort from high volume tires run at lower pressures. This helps expand the terrain for a hardtail. A new tire size for 29s is coming--almost Plus at 2.6". There should be more bikes for 2018 that will fit that tire. They will be Boost 148 rear hub and 110 front hub bikes. If you can find a used or new 16 or 17 Stache that would hold you for awhile. Most of the 17s sold out but Trek is shipping 18s now.

    Here's the bike-


    Trek has a new 120mm trail hardtail rumored and Canyon will begin selling in the fall with updated bikes.

  3. #3
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    I've bought a couple of lower spec bikes before (one HT, one FS) and looking back I did regret the fork choice.

    Firstly, coil. I have a couple of coil forks still and the issue with both, as somebody ~70kg, is that the spring is simply too stiff. Winding the preload right back isn't sufficient. An air fork really makes setup so much simpler in that regard.

    Secondly, fork weight. The cheaper forks (i.e. RS "silver" models) have heavy steel stanchions and so you're carrying an extra chunk of weight right at the front of the bike.

    You've mentioned 2 forks that differ in these 2 areas - 30 Silver TK and 30 Gold RL - the 30 Gold RL being more adjustable and 350g lighter. It also comes with a better damper.

    Regarding the drivetrain, I'm probably not the best to ask as I'm content with 1x10. If you want more gears than that (and don't want a front mech) then I'd recommend stepping up to at least SLX for 1x11. And for the rest of the groupset, it's mostly minor weight differences (and centrally on the bikes) and brakes (and even Deore are decent).

  4. #4
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    Have you considered a lightly used bike? Typically in this price and performance range of bike, they lose their value very quickly. A year or two old bike of the same model or a much higher end one, can often be found for half or less what a new one is running. You do need to know what size you need, but being a cyclist already, I don't imagine that's going to be extremely difficult.

    Otherwise, in this category, I typically lean towards get basically an air fork minimum, and deore or better groupset, and just upgrade as you wear parts out.
    WTB: Med Bontrager Ti Lite, PM Me...

  5. #5
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    I'm not sure how to quote and wanted to avoid multiple posts. Sorry for the awkward formatting. Thanks to everyone for the very helpful replies!

    @jestep Thanks you for the suggestion. I'd love to get a used bike, but it's slim pickings within a reasonable distance. I'm keeping my eye on ads.

    @phreeky That's really helpful. Based on what you say and what I've read, it seems like it's worth investing in a better fork, but not worrying to much about which deore & up grade of components it comes with. The mountain bike I rented had a SRAM GX 1x11, which I liked pretty well. I am sure I'd be able to manage just fine with a step down.

    @eb1888 The 29+ looks cool. Thanks for the tip. I've been giving serious thought to getting a plus or a fat bike, because there is some really nice winter riding here. Perhaps a 29+ would be a good alternative.

    Thanks again to everyone. I appreciate the advice.

  6. #6
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    Deore is about as low as you want to go. Good suspension makes a world of difference but you sometimes need to spend a good amount to notice improvements. Since you've had a few bikes and seem committed I'd spend towards the upper limit of your budget. I wouldn't bother with entry level bikes at this point. You'll just wind up buying a better spec bike later on or spending a lot of money to upgrade components. Look at how much a nice fork can run you $500+.

    But again it also depends on your riding style and trails as to what will have the best benefit for you. Cheaper components can be quite heavy so upgrading and shaving a few lbs off might help more than say a Pike over a Reba especially if you're not hitting drops to riding rough terrain at speed.
    Everyone is entitled to my opinion.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghoti View Post
    Deore is about as low as you want to go. Good suspension makes a world of difference but you sometimes need to spend a good amount to notice improvements. Since you've had a few bikes and seem committed I'd spend towards the upper limit of your budget. I wouldn't bother with entry level bikes at this point. You'll just wind up buying a better spec bike later on or spending a lot of money to upgrade components. Look at how much a nice fork can run you $500+.

    But again it also depends on your riding style and trails as to what will have the best benefit for you. Cheaper components can be quite heavy so upgrading and shaving a few lbs off might help more than say a Pike over a Reba especially if you're not hitting drops to riding rough terrain at speed.
    Thanks for this it's well reasoned advice. It'll be helpful in figuring things out as I check out the last round of bikes this week.

  8. #8
    R.I.P. DogFriend
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Trek has a new 120mm trail hardtail rumored . . . .
    Sounds like the original Stache reincarnated? I never truly understood why the carried the name over to the 29+ bike now known as the Stache rather than come up with an original name. The original Stache was an excellent design in it's own right.

  9. #9
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    I have always regretted buying too low. The cost of upgrading generally kills your wallet.
    Not the biggest name brands but the Mongoose Ruddy Comp is only $900 with a Raidon fork and the Expert version a Magnum comp with SLX /XT group, for $1300. Both plus tires
    Diamondback Overdrive Pro 27.5 is a Reba, GX groupset, also $1300. I think the SyncR also now comes with an airfork.
    Generally in terms of components your not really missing anything with SLX or GX, that's going to have you rushing off to change things in the short term. The extra $2-300 looks like it would get you into something that would last quite a while.
    I think there are big discount available on Diamondback with magic codes.

  10. #10
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    Last week my son bought a new bass guitar. He wanted to buy a really cheap one, as he doesn't play bass very much, but the shop had a really cool looking one that sounded great. Unfortunately it was more than he wanted to spend, so I talked him into buying it.

    In a few months time you will have forgotten what the bike cost, whichever one you buy. However, if you buy the cheap one you will be reminded of what you passed up on every single time you ride it. In my experience, you never regret buying quality.

    On a more practical level, yes, a better bike will make a difference. It will be lighter, work better, the bits should last longer and a better fork will be noticeable. The difference between an entry level RockShox fork and a Fox 32 is not subtle.

    Personally, I'd go for better spec over a carbon frame. Maybe others will disagree.

  11. #11
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    Thanks Mozfat and Mr Pig. I'm sold on not penny pinching. I'll have a look at the Diamondbacks. Thanks for the tip!

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