Need help choosing first bike!- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Need help choosing first bike!

    I am unsure on how to choose my first mountain bike. I dont want something thats 1500 dollars but I also dont want a cheapy. Something that will last me a while and take me to the 1500 dollar bike. I am around 6 feet tall and weigh around 195. I dont know how big the frame needs to be or what brand or series to buy. Any information helps, Im completely in the dark right now.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to MTBR and I would say the best advice i have is to go to your Local Bike Shop and tell them what you said here. They should be able to walk you though the best bikes they have for that amount of money. Also consider that you will need a helmet (if you don't have one), some gloves, water bottles and cages or a camelback for water, a spare tube, pump etc. into your budget. No sense getting a bike and not having the proper accessories to make your adventures safer and less chance of being stranded.

    $1500 nowadays gets you a good bike, actually a great bike. You should be able to get a good hardtail with a nice suspension fork for that much. At your height you are going to be looking for something with an effective top tube (ETT) measurement in the 24-24.5" range. That is a much better length to be looking at than the actual bike size which is generally pretty arbitrary and varies across all manufacturers. This ETT will yield a bike in the 19 to 20" range or Large size in a lot of manufacturers but not all.

    So go to a bike shop, have them fit you on a bike, and if they stand you over one and say that fits go to another shop. You need a good bike fit, have them adjust the saddle and the stem to fit you well. Have them walk you through the options, fit you, take a ride around the parking lot or wherever they will let you take the bike and if you can buy the bike you like the best that fits you the best. Check multiple shops for what pleases you and fits your budget. Follow through on their 30 day free tuneups or whatever they offer. Get to know Park Tools maintenance tutorials and get a basic tool set and a bike pump with a pressure gauge.

    Come back here often with what you have seen. Search for reviews etc on the brand and model. Post here with questions. When you buy a bike come back, ask more, when you need to work on your bike ditto.

    Good luck and I am sure others will chime in with their own advice.
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  3. #3
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    I'm in the noob category still but I would say hang in here for a bit looking everything over in the beginner corner and general forums.
    The LBS is there for one reason only, to make money. After going through a lot of the beginner and general info in here I was armed
    with more information than any bike store would be willing to give up for spending a big chunk of change. They wouldn't have the time
    to give you all that is contained in this site. Nor would it be in their best interest if you are too educated as that could be used against
    you if they are greedy. Pretty much anything you can think of has been asked and answered by many knowledgeable people in here
    that have no agenda(well most everybody) and just are here mostly to be helped or help other fellow bikers. Once you know what
    you need then you can decide before somebody who is in it for the money decides what they want you to have. Knowledge is power.

  4. #4
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    ^^^^ The 2 post's above are the BEST advice I have heard in a long time^^^
    Salutations to both of you.

  5. #5
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    Buying a bike is like buying a car in one respect; test drives vs test rides.

    Try to arrange a test ride at 2 or three shops on 2 or 3 models. At your height and weight you will need a medium, or 15 inch, or 15.5 inch frame. At your price point, you will be restricted to a front suspension bike known as a "hardtail" (with one exception) rather than a full suspension (front and rear suspension). Look for a bike that is not more than 30 lbs. with pedals. You will have a choice of 26 inch or 29 inch wheels. The current trend is 29 inch wheels with front suspension.

    If you know how to use a few tools, go to pricepointDotCom and enter "Sette mountain bike". Sette is apparently mail-order only and produce both FS and hardtails. They have great prices and a 15 day return policy (and they pay the shipping). This is the one exception other than used.

    If you deal with a local hobby shop (LHS), find one that will work with on proper fit (handlebar length, seat position, brake lever and gear shift placement, and stem length. Some people will also need a seatpost with an offset. Stay away from clipless pedals and other non-essentials items such as a bike computer. In addition to a helmet ($40), if you plan to be someplace you don't want to have to return walking buy the essentials like a spare tube, pump (about $20), seatbag (get one with a cell phone pocket), multi-tool (get one with a chain breaker, tire tools, tire guage, Presta to Schrader value stem adapter ($1.00), a couple of master links for your chain, and a water bottle holder. Consider ordering "Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance by Lennard Zinn" from Amazon ($16.47).

    I am exactly the same height and weight as you and I purchased a 15.5 inch Specialized Carve 29er 2 months ago. I like everything about it except the gearing. Specialized retained the gearing that is used on the 26 inch bikes, so it has, IMO, gear ratios that are too high by at least 10 percent. I also needed a seatpost with a 25mm offset (places the seat further aft). To change the gearing will cost me about $50 (a DIY change of the cassette to a 12-46t; currently 11-44t). If I want to go lower, then I can spend more -- up to about $200 more to change all three chainrings.
    Last edited by Jim Holloman; 12-03-2011 at 12:09 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Holloman View Post
    Buying a bike is like buying a car in one respect; test drives vs test rides.

    Try to arrange a test ride at 2 or three shops on 2 or 3 models. At your height and weight you will need a medium, or 15 inch, or 15.5 inch frame. At your price point, you will be restricted to a front suspension bike known as a "hardtail" (with one exception) rather than a full suspension (front and rear suspension). Look for a bike that is not more than 30 lbs. with pedals. You will have a choice of 26 inch or 29 inch wheels. The current trend is 29 inch wheels with front suspension.

    If you know how to use a few tools, go to pricepointDotCom and enter "Sette mountain bike". Sette is apparently mail-order only and produce both FS and hardtails. They have great prices and a 15 day return policy (and they pay the shipping). This is the one exception other than used.

    If you deal with a local hobby shop (LHS), find one that will work with on proper fit (handlebar length, seat position, brake lever and gear shift placement, and stem length. Some people will also need a seatpost with an offset. Stay away from clipless pedals and other non-essentials items such as a bike computer. In addition to a helmet ($40), if you plan to be someplace you don't want to have to return walking buy the essentials like a spare tube, pump (about $20), seatbag (get one with a cell phone pocket), multi-tool (get one with a chain breaker, tire tools, tire guage, Presta to Schrader value stem adapter ($1.00), a couple of master links for your chain, and a water bottle holder. Consider ordering "Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance by Lennard Zinn" from Amazon ($16.47).

    I am exactly the same height and weight as you and I purchased a 15.5 inch Specialized Carve 29er 2 months ago. I like everything about it except the gearing. Specialized retained the gearing that is used on the 26 inch bikes, so it has, IMO, gear ratios that are too high by at least 10 percent. I also needed a seatpost with a 25mm offset (places the seat further aft). To change the gearing will cost me about $50 (a DIY change of the cassette to a 12-46t; currently 11-44t). If I want to go lower, then I can spend more -- up to about $200 more to change all three chainrings.
    Wow, gotta say this post has some very good information but also some truly puzzling stuff.
    1.) 6 foot tall guys usually DO NOT ride 15" frames, usually more like 18" to 20".
    2.) If mail order bikes are on the table there are a lot more choices than Sette, for instance Bikesdirect, Fezzari, Airborne, Access, Nashbar etc.
    3.) Where exactly are you planning to get an 12-46 cassette? Standard cassettes currently top out with an 36 tooth big gear. Biggest I have seen is 38 teeth on the VERY expensive KNC special order cassettes.
    Quote Originally Posted by STT GUY View Post
    Screw the search function... you're new, ask the question(s). If anyone gets thier undies in a bunch it's thier problem.

  7. #7
    It's all about the FSR!
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    There is a lot of skewed information here. Bike shops vary, and your experience at one will differ. My local shop wants me to learn how to work on my bike. Guess where I will go to buy tools, small parts, etc.?

    A 15" frame is usually considered to be a small. 6'0" and on a small? Wrong. I would say at least a medium, depending on the frame. More than likely a large, 19" will fit you pretty well. Again, if you go into a bike shop, they can help get you fitted properly, so that you don't end up on the wrong frame. They will also help you make adjustments to the cockpit, like seat position, handlebar height, etc. so that you can get the best ride possible. Certain things like that are not available when you order a bike online. Sometimes saving a bit of money doesn't always go a long way, especially if you end up on the wrong size bike. Most bike shops offer at least one complimentary tune up, some offer them for the life of the bike. You will want to look into stuff like this BEFORE you make your purchase.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Holloman View Post
    Buying a bike is like buying a car in one respect; test drives vs test rides.

    Try to arrange a test ride at 2 or three shops on 2 or 3 models. At your height and weight you will need a medium, or 15 inch, or 15.5 inch frame. At your price point, you will be restricted to a front suspension bike known as a "hardtail" (with one exception) rather than a full suspension (front and rear suspension). Look for a bike that is not more than 30 lbs. with pedals. You will have a choice of 26 inch or 29 inch wheels. The current trend is 29 inch wheels with front suspension.

    If you know how to use a few tools, go to pricepointDotCom and enter "Sette mountain bike". Sette is apparently mail-order only and produce both FS and hardtails. They have great prices and a 15 day return policy (and they pay the shipping). This is the one exception other than used.

    If you deal with a local hobby shop (LHS), find one that will work with on proper fit (handlebar length, seat position, brake lever and gear shift placement, and stem length. Some people will also need a seatpost with an offset. Stay away from clipless pedals and other non-essentials items such as a bike computer. In addition to a helmet ($40), if you plan to be someplace you don't want to have to return walking buy the essentials like a spare tube, pump (about $20), seatbag (get one with a cell phone pocket), multi-tool (get one with a chain breaker, tire tools, tire guage, Presta to Schrader value stem adapter ($1.00), a couple of master links for your chain, and a water bottle holder. Consider ordering "Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance by Lennard Zinn" from Amazon ($16.47).

    I am exactly the same height and weight as you and I purchased a 15.5 inch Specialized Carve 29er 2 months ago. I like everything about it except the gearing. Specialized retained the gearing that is used on the 26 inch bikes, so it has, IMO, gear ratios that are too high by at least 10 percent. I also needed a seatpost with a 25mm offset (places the seat further aft). To change the gearing will cost me about $50 (a DIY change of the cassette to a 12-46t; currently 11-44t). If I want to go lower, then I can spend more -- up to about $200 more to change all three chainrings.
    WOW

    Soooo much bad advice in here

    {been drinkin, so I'll wait to post any 'corrections' }
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Holloman View Post
    At your height and weight you will need a medium, or 15 inch, or 15.5 inch frame.
    ?? I'm 5'6" w/30" inseam and typically ride a 15 - 16" mtb frame-- and I do a fair amount of technical riding.

    At 6 foot, he'd look like some form of circus entertainment riding a 15" frame.

  10. #10
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    If your LBS won't let you test the bikes on a trail, rent some bikes, find out what you want, not what they want to sell you, or the best deal, get a bike that fits, makes you smile and doesn't need many upgrades in the near future, upgrades cost more money then paying more to start with, good luck, Happy Trails
    Four wheels transport the body,

    Two wheels transport the soul !!!!

  11. #11
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    Welcome BR1GHTMAN,
    Read responses #2 and #3 then go to the local bike store with a non-wavering dollar amount in mind (minus $100 for tax and helmet.) Then try not to fall in love with a bike before you find out if it fits you. You will be paying a little more for the staff's expertise and that is not a bad thing for a beginner. Brands are not as important as fit.
    Please visit my bike blog! And if you click a few banner ads, I wouldn't complain!
    http://realworldbiking.blogspot.com

  12. #12
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    I apologize for the errors. Thanks to those that pointed them out. I was anxious to get my 10 posts so that I could include HTML links in my posts, but I should have not been posting when I was so tired.

    a) (a DIY change of the cassette to a 12-46t; currently 11-44t) should have been
    (a DIY change of the cassette to a 12-36t; currently 11-34t).

    b) ...will need a medium, or 15 inch, or 15.5 inch frame should have been
    ...will need a medium, or 17 inch, or 17.5 inch frame.

    c) ...local hobby shop (LHS),... should have been
    local bike (LBS)

    My Carve is a 17.5 inch frame and I have only a 1.5 inch stand-over height (which I was concerned might not be enough). But, it was what was recommended by the LBS.

    I like the Carve except for the bump in effective gearing (about 10 percent when wheel diameter is considered) over what is provided on their 26 inch models. This is common on nearly all, if not all, 29 inch bikes.

    A LBS, that will work with you, offers many advantages. But, if you are not within reasonable distance of one or if you are on a very tight budget, then mail-order should be considered. But, I would consider it only if there is a reasonable return policy. I meet a fellow yesterday that was riding a full suspension mail-order 26er, with decent components, that cost the same as my Carve 29er hardtail. But, the Carve does have better components. He has been riding nearly every day for a year and I have been riding once or twice a week for seven weeks. There was no way that I could stay with him -- on the trails or off the trails. But, he had also been running for 40 years and had strong lungs and legs. We are both the same age.
    Last edited by Jim Holloman; 12-03-2011 at 08:50 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by manabiker View Post
    If your LBS won't let you test the bikes on a trail, rent some bikes, find out what you want, not what they want to sell you, or the best deal, get a bike that fits, makes you smile and doesn't need many upgrades in the near future, upgrades cost more money then paying more to start with, good luck, Happy Trails
    Rentals in this area go for around $45 a day for a hardtail to $65 a day for full suspension. I rented for one day and was able to apply the rental cost to the purchase price -- so, in effect, the rental was free. See if you have the same option. But, what is available for rent may not be one of the models that you are considering buying.
    Last edited by Jim Holloman; 12-03-2011 at 08:58 AM.

  14. #14
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    ZOMG for a first bike spend like $500. Under $400 and the bike will rust and rattle itself apart, also the suspension and gears will just annoy you with unreliability.

    Between $600 and $1200 you are spending too much money on a low quality bike. It will still act like a cheap bike, full of compromises and frustration and trips backwards and forwards to the bike shop.

    $1500 is a good budget for your SECOND bike in a year or two.

  15. #15
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    Thank you all so much for the information. I have been reading around too and I will take this information to my local bike shop today!

  16. #16
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    need help too

    Sorry to threadjack but im new here. I just cracked the frame on my Iron Horse Maverick 5.0.
    I want a Sub $1000 29r but came across this 26r.
    Bike probably has 25 rides on it over the last 3years. It is a K2 Lithium 3.0 with front and rear suspension , disc brakes,LX components cost $1400 new I will take $500 .
    He said all parts are stock. Im a clydsdale BTW.

  17. #17
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    Hi Br1ghtman,

    Go to my profile and read some of my topics I started/posted etc. Im new as well. Click on the subjects that seem relevant. Some are random stuff like "hucking kitty" so watch out...

    In a quick summary. Go to the local bike shops and test out different bikes. Dont feel pressured at the first one you land at because chances are they will only have a few certain brands. Try a bunch. 2 shops I hit to test ride gave no help/feedback/advice at all. Maybe they didnt think i was serious but I had a card burning a hole in my pocket. I mainly tried the big brands like giant, specialized and trek.

    Anyway, after you find one that is a fit and you like, ask them what their (the shop) warranty service is ie: 1 tune up, 2 tune ups, lifetime etc.

    This is how i found my bike. I landed at a shop and the guy "fitted" me to the bike. He told me where I should be standing over the tube, pedal contact, leg extension etc. If they dont start with that I would go somewhere else. Because as you can see many people always say "Fit is key" I am 6ft 180 and went with a 19inch 29er by Trek.

    Then after you "think" you found a bike come back here and ask some people to compare the parts etc.

    I see you are in CA. I dont want to be a spokesman for my LBS (which actually isnt the closest) but PM me if you are interested in some Treks after you test ride and I will point you to the shop I bought from that gave me the fitting, lifetime tuneups, etc.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by pitbull30 View Post
    Hi Br1ghtman,

    Go to my profile and read some of my topics I started/posted etc. Im new as well. Click on the subjects that seem relevant. Some are random stuff like "hucking kitty" so watch out...

    In a quick summary. Go to the local bike shops and test out different bikes. Dont feel pressured at the first one you land at because chances are they will only have a few certain brands. Try a bunch. 2 shops I hit to test ride gave no help/feedback/advice at all. Maybe they didnt think i was serious but I had a card burning a hole in my pocket. I mainly tried the big brands like giant, specialized and trek.

    Anyway, after you find one that is a fit and you like, ask them what their (the shop) warranty service is ie: 1 tune up, 2 tune ups, lifetime etc.

    This is how i found my bike. I landed at a shop and the guy "fitted" me to the bike. He told me where I should be standing over the tube, pedal contact, leg extension etc. If they dont start with that I would go somewhere else. Because as you can see many people always say "Fit is key" I am 6ft 180 and went with a 19inch 29er by Trek.

    Then after you "think" you found a bike come back here and ask some people to compare the parts etc.

    I see you are in CA. I dont want to be a spokesman for my LBS (which actually isnt the closest) but PM me if you are interested in some Treks after you test ride and I will point you to the shop I bought from that gave me the fitting, lifetime tuneups, etc.

    Which model did you get?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by eekabug View Post
    It is a K2 Lithium 3.0 with front and rear suspension , disc brakes,LX components cost $1400 new I will take $500 .
    My instinct is skip this one.

    bikepedia.com doesn't have one newer than 2005, and it listed for $1200 at the time. Without bothering to do more research (maybe this is a sleeper, but I doubt it,) I'm thinking you're looking at an old FS bike from a brand that never achieved much market acceptance. So, it may or may not have been competitive in its day, which is past, and you're probably screwed when you kill part of the linkage.

    If the build on your Iron Horse isn't too worked, why don't you get a new frame? (Will Iron Horse warranty it?) 26" hardtail frames can be as low as $100, with some pretty nice ones starting around $400. The sky's the limit, of course, but I'd say diminishing returns get pretty rough after $800ish.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  20. #20
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    First of all you need to define where will you be riding? Will you do endurance runs or do you like to go downhill once in a while (pure downhill??). This will help you decide whether you want a hardtail (endurance) or a full suspension bike (a bit more expensive & heavy but always fun)..

    You can always get a great used bike in a good condition for that kind of money.. Or even a new one for 1.5K.. Try narrowing down your choices (full susp, hardtail, aluminum, carbon, 29er or not, target weight??) This will help you make a better decision..

  21. #21
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    My first bike, specialed Hardrock 29er! So stoaked to take it out this weekend.

  22. #22
    It's all about the FSR!
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    That's a great first bike. Time to post pics in the Specialized post a pic of a your bike thread.

  23. #23
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    That's a great first bike Br1ghtman! Congrats! You made a good choice and sounds like you stayed well within your budget - something that's tough to do once the bug bites you! Enjoy the trails!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by BR1GHTMAN View Post
    My first bike, specialed Hardrock 29er! So stoaked to take it out this weekend.
    An excellent choice for your first bike. I hope that you went with either the medium, or large, frame (17.5 inches or larger).

    Take it easy until you gain some confidence and learn the techniques (especially shifting your weight, maintaining momentum, and proper use of brakes) that can help keep you safe and unscathed. I advise riding with a buddy, but don't try to chase, or keep up, with anyone with more experience. Make them ride at the pace with which you are comfortable -- or else have them mount up and start down the trail about 5-10 minutes after you start down the trail.

    Here is an excellent website for a beginner:
    Essential Mountain Biking Skills and Tips | mtbtips.com

    Good luck and have fun.

  25. #25
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    Nice bike! Post some pics.

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