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  1. #1
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    noob questions

    Hi everybody. So glad I found this website. It has a lot of info but maybe too much because I don't even know where to start.

    In any case, I mainly ride to get a workout so I'm not a hard core downhill rider or anything like that. I mainly go to my local trails and rider there.

    In looking through some of the threads, I noticed that I don't see too many people posting about Trek bikes (although I do realize there are specific brand threads) where for example it asks to simply post your hardtails. I see brands that I've never heard of before. Mind you, I'm not a hard core biker so I don't know all of the brands and I guess that's where my question comes in.

    Can someone give me a break down on the hierarchy of some of the more popular bikes? I only know of a few brand such as Trek, Gary Fisher, GT, and Specialized.

    I guess I ask because I always thought Trek was a "good" brand but is it more like a Toyota, where you won't go wrong buying a Toyota/Trek but there are more desired products out there such as a BMW or a Ferrari?

    So if you have some time and don't mind, can someone educate me on the Toyotas and Hondas of bikes, to the BMW and Mercedes of bikes, to the Ferraris and Lambos of Bikes?

    Thanks.

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    All of the bike shop brands are good bikes, that includes Trek, Giant, Specialized, etc. I've owned a few Fishers, a Giant, and I now own one of those bikes you've probably never heard of in the hardtail thread. There's nothing better about it, per se, but after years of riding, you might have a better idea of exactly what you want. Or, you might have a bin of parts in need of frame, so it makes more sense to just buy that instead of a full bike from the shop.

    Unlike cars, there really is no Toyota - BMW - Ferrari hierarchy, since the "engines" are usually made by the same third parties (SRAM/Shimano). Some bikes cost more, but the cost isn't always justified, unless it's a titanium or carbon version of a bike that another manufacturer only makes in aluminum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fireball_jones
    All of the bike shop brands are good bikes, that includes Trek, Giant, Specialized, etc. I've owned a few Fishers, a Giant, and I now own one of those bikes you've probably never heard of in the hardtail thread. There's nothing better about it, per se, but after years of riding, you might have a better idea of exactly what you want. Or, you might have a bin of parts in need of frame, so it makes more sense to just buy that instead of a full bike from the shop.

    Unlike cars, there really is no Toyota - BMW - Ferrari hierarchy, since the "engines" are usually made by the same third parties (SRAM/Shimano). Some bikes cost more, but the cost isn't always justified, unless it's a titanium or carbon version of a bike that another manufacturer only makes in aluminum.
    So with the "engines" being a la carte, basically it boils down to the frames. Are there any particular brand that produces a better quality frame over another or is there a brand that focuses on one aspect vs another aspect in designing the frame?

    For example, we all know that BMW's tend to handle better and are sportier than Toyotas in general but Toyotas tend to be more reliable so in deciding between a Toyota and BMW, it'd depend on what quality was more important. Sporty handling or reliability.

    Is there any general difference between a Trek vs Specialized vs Santa Cruz (seeing a lot of this brand on thr website)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfmonkey
    Is there any general difference between a Trek vs Specialized vs Santa Cruz (seeing a lot of this brand on thr website)?
    Construction quality no

    Trek and Specialized are larger companies and offer far more extensive warranties (bike warranties are for original owner only, not transferable). There is also different suspension designs if your looking at full suspension. Many brands are mentioned in this article about different designs
    http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/articl...-part-2-28438/

    Most frames by the bigger companies are made in Taiwan or China...I suppose if your looking for the "Ferrari" of frames you would look at US made frames from the likes of Turner, Ventana, Intense, Foes, Ellsworth (not all are US made), and Lenz Sport. There are also a few US companies that have their frames made in Taiwan or China but are still considered somewhat "exotic" such as Ibis, Pivot, and Yeti.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfmonkey
    So with the "engines" being a la carte, basically it boils down to the frames. Are there any particular brand that produces a better quality frame over another or is there a brand that focuses on one aspect vs another aspect in designing the frame?

    For example, we all know that BMW's tend to handle better and are sportier than Toyotas in general but Toyotas tend to be more reliable so in deciding between a Toyota and BMW, it'd depend on what quality was more important. Sporty handling or reliability.

    Is there any general difference between a Trek vs Specialized vs Santa Cruz (seeing a lot of this brand on thr website)?
    If you want a car comparison, here it is. A Trek is a Subaru STi, fast car, well built, made for the road. A Santa Cruz is a STi in rally trim. Same car, same power, built for a certain type of racing. Maybe a Yeti is an STi built for circuit racing, etc.

    The smaller "boutique" brands can build bikes catered to a smaller market, with strange angles, amounts of suspension, wheel sizes, etc. Or, they can make a pretty standard bike that is a little better than what the big bike companies (e.g. a hardtail with a 6'' fork).

    There's no speed or handling differences, really, that's all the rider, and as I said before, construction is basically a wash unless you're talking about ti or carbon (or some specific type of steel).

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    I think your Toyota/Ferrari comparison is pretty valid. Trek is a proven, reliable workhorse without the frills of a higher end brand (at a certain price point). The 3000 and 4000 series bikes are not fancy but they will last you long enough to get into the sport. You start getting into the higher priced bikes and companies (Trek along with most other major manufacturers extend into the high end and low end market for bikes) and you will be getting some additional technology attached to the bikes. It is true that most frames are built in the same or similar factories these days but the difference comes in materials and design. So where you will find a lot more carbon on a Lambo than a Camry, the same holds true in bikes. You will find more sophisticated materials, more sophisticated designs, and better working parts hung from the frame. Just like a Civic, the lower end Treks will get you where you are going, but some of the higher end stuff can make it more fun to do so.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum
    I think your Toyota/Ferrari comparison is pretty valid. Trek is a proven, reliable workhorse without the frills of a higher end brand (at a certain price point). The 3000 and 4000 series bikes are not fancy but they will last you long enough to get into the sport. You start getting into the higher priced bikes and companies (Trek along with most other major manufacturers extend into the high end and low end market for bikes) and you will be getting some additional technology attached to the bikes. It is true that most frames are built in the same or similar factories these days but the difference comes in materials and design. So where you will find a lot more carbon on a Lambo than a Camry, the same holds true in bikes. You will find more sophisticated materials, more sophisticated designs, and better working parts hung from the frame. Just like a Civic, the lower end Treks will get you where you are going, but some of the higher end stuff can make it more fun to do so.
    So if many frames are built in the same factories, it doesn't sound like there really is much deviation in the quality of the frames built. It seems though that the actual design varies a bit. Can someone educate me on which "design" is better (or better suited) to a particular riding style?

    I'm not a hard core rider by any means and interested in using the bike at my local trails. I'm not sure if this would be called all-mountain riding, xc riding, or what it should be called. Maybe someone can educate me on this as well?

    For example, Gary Fishers better suited to a particular mountain riding over a Specialized bike vs a Trek Elite?

    Thanks for all of your help.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfmonkey
    For example, Gary Fishers better suited to a particular mountain riding over a Specialized bike vs a Trek Elite?
    Fundamentally, they're all bikes. You'll see guys riding fully rigid bikes where others are riding 5'' full suspensions, and you'll see hardtails downhill side by side with dual crown bikes.

    The best thing you can do is test ride some, and see what you like. Some people are happy with mid 30 pound bikes with lots of squish, some prefer lighter 5'' bikes, some just want a hardtail. I'm guessing you'd be in the later category. Once you start comparing them, you'll see that a lot of bikes are very similar, especially hardtails. There are differences in full suspension designs, but for the most part big-brand hardtails only differ slightly in their geometries, and what house-brand spec kit they come with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfmonkey
    So if many frames are built in the same factories, it doesn't sound like there really is much deviation in the quality of the frames built. It seems though that the actual design varies a bit. Can someone educate me on which "design" is better (or better suited) to a particular riding style?

    I'm not a hard core rider by any means and interested in using the bike at my local trails. I'm not sure if this would be called all-mountain riding, xc riding, or what it should be called. Maybe someone can educate me on this as well?

    For example, Gary Fishers better suited to a particular mountain riding over a Specialized bike vs a Trek Elite?

    Thanks for all of your help.
    I don't think it's fair to say that there is no deviation in quality, companies exercise various degrees of quality control and process controls and the amount of money spent on those things can translate to the difference in frame costs and quality. The frame builders overseas may make frames under different manufacturer's names but it doesn't mean that the manufacturer is asking the builders to do the exact same thing. The more expensive the bike, the more quality checks and higher technology processes may be used.

    Anyway, there's more to a frame than just where it was built. As for types of bikes, there are piles of threads discussing the differences between XC and AM and trail bikes and DH bikes and FR bikes and riding. There's plenty of overlap these days, but think of XC as high efficiency at the expense of suspension plushness and AM bikes as lower efficiency with more suspension plushness. Hard to say what is best for your trails so go out and try some stuff. A good way to find out what might be suited to your trails is to go to a local bike shop and talk to the guys about where you are planning on riding and what kind of bike might be best suited to those trails.

    You can also hang out at your local trail and keep note of the kinds of bikes everyone is riding. I know that around my house you're most likely to see hardtail 29'ers and XC full suspension bikes at most trail heads, but with a few trail heads you'll find a lot of guys on coil sprung long travel AM bikes. It really depends on what trails you're planning on riding. I would err on the side of picking a bike for the most extreme case you are planning on riding regularly.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

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