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  1. #1
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    Please need questions answered and opinions given!

    I'm 23 years old and I live in Northeastern OH. I recently just bought my very first MTB at my LBS and I really would like to get into this amazing sport. I don't plan on doing anything too extreme like huge ramps and gaps. I simply would just like to thrash it up on the local dirt and gravel trails that are here in the woods around me, possibly even taking a road trip to trails in other cities. The bike that I purchased is the 2013 GT Aggressor 2.0. I just want your honest opinion on this bike and if it will do me good on the dirt and gravel trails. The bike was $450 brand new and they assembled it right in front of me because the just had gotten it in that day. I really am looking forward into being successful at this new sport and get my skills up by the time next spring/summer hits. also, I was thinking this weekend of buying some gloves, riding glasses, good biking helmet, and swap the stock pedals for a pair of aluminum Sun pedals with the pins. If you guys could please give me some feedback on my back and what you think. Remember, I have no intentions on trying tricks or anything of that nature. I simply just would like to thrash up the trails and get my skills up. So is my bike good or bad? Maybe decent? Please let me know. Thank you!
    Morbid

  2. #2
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    If it fits well, ride it. Looks decent enough for the price. The seven speed cog is the only downer, but its definetly rideable as is. Buy the safty gear, but I'd skip the pedals until you try out the stock ones. Enjoy your new addiction.

  3. #3
    Clueless genius
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    Don't worry about components and upgrades for a while. DO get your safety gear! Helmet is #1 important thing, but you don't need to spend a buncha money to get a good one. Go to a shop, spend 35-45 bucks, make sure it fits and the adjustments work well, and you'll be good to go! Gloves, get something that fits, isn't restrictive, and breathes well; super sweaty gloves are no fun! Glasses-wise, I say save your money there. Either get a pair of sunglass-style safety glasses (Cheap at a hardware store, and the frameless 1-piece models work REALLY well and tend not to fog up), or spend 20 bucks and get some from price point with swappable lenses. Don't worry about the pedals for a while, if they start being a problem or break, THEN replace 'em! Same goes for anything else. Breaking, replace it if you can't fix it. And don't go for expensive upgrades either, for that bike, it's just not worth it!

    The Bike you bought is certainly not high-end, but it's not a bad bike either. It'll get you started and get you introduced to being off-road. It won't take big hits, climb like a rocket, or rip through rough stuff, but it'll let you get your tires dirty and hopefully put a smile on your face! As you ride more, you'll grow your skills, and outgrow the capabilities of your bike, so start saving your money! And most importantly, ride as much as you can, as often as you can, be courteous to everyone you see on trails, even if they're a jerk, and yes, your ass, legs, back, arms, shoulders, chest, and hands WILL hurt, but stick with it, and you'll be glad you did!
    1994 Cannondale M400 2017 Felt Surplus 30
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  4. #4
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    The fork is the most important component as you start to ride more fun/difficult trails with rocks, roots and faster downhill sections.
    Why? because you need adjustable rebound damping to keep it from pogoing you off the bars on multiple bumps.
    You need stiff larger diameter stanchions to keep it from flexing and causing loss of steering control.
    You need quality internal bushings for the heavy multiple fast hits or the fork binds and fails in time.
    If you don't use your bike in those conditions it will be ok. But you miss out on the fun and challenging stuff with equipment you can be confident on.
    You can ride those trails but you will be on the brakes all the time and your arms will take a beating.
    Even a $8k race bike wouldn't be good on a lift serviced downhill run. It would be scary dangerous. You need the right bike for the trails you will want to ride.
    If you add up the cost to upgrade your bike with the money from selling it, you get a budget. We can offer bikes that would work for trail riding.
    Check the return policy from where you bought it.
    For $500 delivered you can have a good bike for trails.

    The fork on that bike is an 'M' series Suntour. Here's what Suntour designed it for---
    "City:
    Copenhagen - New York - Beijing These forks make riding in your concrete jungle smoother."

    No one should sell that to someone for trails.
    Not a single person on these forums uses or would buy that fork to ride trails. Ask any of the guys telling you to ride it what they are using. I use a Manitou Tower Pro.

  5. #5
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    Just go ride it. It'll be fine.

  6. #6
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    As stated, go ride and enjoy your new bike; it's fine! As for the helmet; they all must meet the same standards; no need to spend big $$ on one, especially in the colder months. Find one that looks and feels good to you. As for the eye wear, you can save $$ there by using frameless shooting glasses, (yellow lenses). I use these, and they are fog resistant by design, and sharpen the details on cloudy days. Weightlifting gloves are also usually less expensive than cycling gloves; the first time you bite the dust with no gloves, you'll wish you had them!

  7. #7
    Hermit
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    That bike will be fine. You'll be able to learn on it with no problem. It'll be great for a couple of years, till you beat the hell out of it, and then you'll have some idea of what specific things that you'd like to be improved on your next bike. That is how it goes!

    Do buy some pads. Elbow pads are an 'every ride' piece of gear for me - non-restrictive to wear, and the protection is worth it. Leg armor for me depends on the trail and the conditions - rocky trails or wet conditions make it a whole lot more likely you'll need it.

    I'm also in NE OH. Given that the weather is just about to turn to crap, where are you planning on riding to build skills?

    Steve Z
    Pedaling when it's dry
    And paddling when it's wet

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  8. #8
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    a vast majority of the mountain biking world does not do "anything too extreme like huge ramps and gaps." most of mountain bike is cross-country or "XC" riding, which is what you seem to have in mind. don't worry about the media display of mountain biking as "extreme." many of us are laid back, fat, and slow, and rarely leave the ground. I tried to make that point here, but the discussion kind of went all over the place.

    That bike is definitely NOT made for jumping and downhill antics, but you might be surprised by how many people purchase bikes like that and attempt to use them that way. That Aggressor should be a fine entry-level bike for your purposes though. good call on the pedals, that is the first thing I would change.

    everything on that bike is entry-level but it's not junk. the fork does not have much travel (63mm is about as low as anything gets) and is going to behave a like a pogo stick rather than a smooth suspension fork. the brakes will probably not work very well, but if you keep them adjusted well, they should be fine. the drivetrain components probably won't shift as smoothly as something with better parts, but you have enough of a range to ride just about anything. it should be fine to ride for your first two seasons or so, then you might consider buying something nicer.

    how long did it take them to assemble the bike? I find that, to do it RIGHT, assembling a bike out of a box takes me about an hour. tensioning wheels, fine-tuning the brakes and shifting, test riding it for a while, burning in the brakes, torquing the bottom bracket cups, etc. new bikes out of the box always seem to have loose spokes and the front derailleur is always too high. be sure to hold your bike shop responsible for following up on that build. the shift cables will settle in, as will the brake cables, and the wheels might not be true after your first few rides.

  9. #9
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    My first bike was all I needed to get going in the sport and advance my skills. It wasn't until I went out to a demo day a year later that I found out how much better a bike can be than what I had been riding. I doubt on day one it would have made as much of a difference as it did once I had a year of saddle time. My suggestion is to ride what you've got as much as you can, and then down the road if you've still got the riding bug, you'll be in a much better position to make an informed choice. It may be that you'll be crazy for cross country, or, maybe you'll be moving in the direction of free riding. You don't want to sink too much cash into a bike early on before you have a clear idea what style of riding you want to do.

  10. #10
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    So far I've been riding the Indian trails down by the Ashtabula River. Im thinking about going to Rays Indoor next weekend.
    Morbid

  11. #11
    local trails rider
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    Did you find a helmet that fits your head?

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  12. #12
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    To really appreciate the fact your bike is just fine as it is, consider the history of mountain biking. In the beginning, some guys took their bicycles onto some dirt trails in the mountains. From time to time they'd find a feature in the trail that required them to do something more than just turn the pedals. Such features included things like gravel, roots, ruts, and maybe even a 6 or 8 inch drop off. Those "something mores" became known as skills as they developed more skills, they started riding more difficult trails. These required additional skills. And, so on. At the same time, they and the bike makers changed things to make it easier to ride these trails. These changes allowed them to ride still more challenging trails. And, so on.

    The bottom line is that you've got a bike that is just fine. In the 80s, people would have stopped just to check it out and get your autograph. It will do just fine for you until you start riding trails that require more of it than it has to give. And, even then, you can usually find an easier way to deal with a given feature.

    FWIW, in the 5 years I've been riding, I don't recall a trail beyond what your bike can handle -- except when features, such as jumps, were intentionally added to make them more challenging -- and even then, there was an easier alternative.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    To really appreciate the fact your bike is just fine as it is, consider the history of mountain biking. In the beginning, some guys took their bicycles onto some dirt trails in the mountains. From time to time they'd find a feature in the trail that required them to do something more than just turn the pedals. Such features included things like gravel, roots, ruts, and maybe even a 6 or 8 inch drop off. Those "something mores" became known as skills as they developed more skills, they started riding more difficult trails. These required additional skills. And, so on. At the same time, they and the bike makers changed things to make it easier to ride these trails. These changes allowed them to ride still more challenging trails. And, so on.

    The bottom line is that you've got a bike that is just fine. In the 80s, people would have stopped just to check it out and get your autograph. It will do just fine for you until you start riding trails that require more of it than it has to give. And, even then, you can usually find an easier way to deal with a given feature.

    FWIW, in the 5 years I've been riding, I don't recall a trail beyond what your bike can handle -- except when features, such as jumps, were intentionally added to make them more challenging -- and even then, there was an easier alternative.
    I dunno about Ohio, but the whole SoCal history is pretty much the opposite of how things happened in New England. We started on extremely tough and rocky old hiking trails, littered in roots and broken chunks of granite. After 25 years or so, there finally trails here and there that all you have to do is turn your pedals on. I never even saw a switchback in my first ten years of riding, at least. Purpose built 'wussy lines' didn't really start showing up until maybe 8-10 years ago; before that, go-arounds, or what we used to call 'trail braids' were things to be blocked and those that made or used them were meant to be heckled. (I personally think the popularity of wussy lines contributed highly to the popularity of 29ers.)

    Anyway, just in counterpoint, in the 25 years I've been riding, I've been on a ton of trails with zero added features that you would slowly bash your bike to bits on, and have a great time doing it.

  14. #14
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    I was not suggesting trails in SoCal are easy or for sissies. Far from it. We've got lots of truly brutal climbs. There is nothing like having to negotiate a switchback on lose dirt on a 10% grade after a mile of steady climbing. My point is that there are lots of great trails where the OP's bike would be more than enough bike (check YouTube and search for biking at Sullivan Canyon, Palm Springs Goat Trails, Malibu, and Backbone Trail to namne a few). This is where mountain biking was born and developed.

    Respectfully, I must point out that New England is a somewhat recent entrant into the mountain biking scene. As a kid in the late 1960s, I rode my Stingray in the dirt trails in the hills at the west end of the San Fernando Valley. I was neither particularly skilled or aggressive about this. There were rocks and ruts and what are now called drop-offs.

    By the late 1960s, real riders were doing much more ambitious rides in the Santa Monica Mountains. As "Jim Hasenouer and Mark Langdon describe it in their book: "Bicyclists have long traveled the paved roads of the Santa Monica Range. Seeing the connecting fire roads tempted many of them to try the dirt. They ventured into the mountains as far as they could go, carried their bikes when they had to, and did the necessary repairs when they got home." These bikes were not "mountain bikes" by today's standards. It wasn't until the late 1970s that bikes specifically built for mountain riding were developed by the pioneers of the sport. And, they were developed for local conditions.

    As I noted, as the riders' skills developed and as bikes were developed to accommodate more difficult trails and terrain, the riders rode those.

    The mountain bikes of the 1970s and 1980s would not have lasted more than a few weeks on what we now commonly consider an intermediate trail. However, a GT Aggressor would have left the riders of that day speechless and would have been overkill for most of the trails they were riding. Of course, with anything like the Aggressor, those riders would have tackled more difficult trails.

    It was only because of the evolution of mountain bikes that trails such as slapheadmofo describes are even rideable.

    If trails in Northeastern Ohio are particularly punishing, then the Aggressor may not last. But, if the idea is to go into the woods (I'm pretty sure there are no deserts), then it is going to be just fine.

  15. #15
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    I agree his bike should be fine, pretty much no matter where he lives.

    I would probably disagree on whether riding a bunch of dirt roads should really be considered mountain biking tho. I mean, technically, yeah, it's on dirt, but then again, it's also a road...I just know it sure doesn't feel anything like mountain biking to me. Back in the late 80's, whatever went on in CA had very, very little to do with the riding we were doing up here with the exception of being able to buy a bike marginally suited for the purpose at the LBS. I found the most important evolution in mountain bikes actually happened during the big 'freeride' heyday when manufacturers finally got out of the whole roadie/racer mindset and started making bikes that would actually be fun to ride (and would hold up) on gnarly trails, not just be fastest to the top of the dirt road.

    One thing I've found though, at least around here: no matter what bike you have and how much you spend on it, if you ride it regularly, it will not last. And many times, the cheaper heavier bikes last a lot longer than the light expensive ones.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I agree his bike should be fine, pretty much no matter where he lives.

    I would probably disagree on whether riding a bunch of dirt roads should really be considered mountain biking tho. I mean, technically, yeah, it's on dirt, but then again, it's also a road...I just know it sure doesn't feel anything like mountain biking to me. Back in the late 80's, whatever went on in CA had very, very little to do with the riding we were doing up here with the exception of being able to buy a bike marginally suited for the purpose at the LBS. I found the most important evolution in mountain bikes actually happened during the big 'freeride' heyday when manufacturers finally got out of the whole roadie/racer mindset and started making bikes that would actually be fun to ride (and would hold up) on gnarly trails, not just be fastest to the top of the dirt road.

    One thing I've found though, at least around here: no matter what bike you have and how much you spend on it, if you ride it regularly, it will not last. And many times, the cheaper heavier bikes last a lot longer than the light expensive ones.
    Funny thing, I've been places where I've wondered "where's the mountain." Sure, the trails were gnarly and sloped, but the slopes sure weren't mountains.

    As far as bikes not lasting in the conditions you have to ride in, ... I'm not even sure what to say. That does not sound much like fun. ... Come out to SoCal; I'll wait for you at a trailhead.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce in SoCal View Post
    Funny thing, I've been places where I've wondered "where's the mountain." Sure, the trails were gnarly and sloped, but the slopes sure weren't mountains.

    As far as bikes not lasting in the conditions you have to ride in, ... I'm not even sure what to say. That does not sound much like fun. ... Come out to SoCal; I'll wait for you at a trailhead.
    I guess it has a lot to do with the how/when/where someone gets into it. For the most part, smooth, predictable trails bore me to tears. Around here, we have a lot of stuff like what's shown in the attached pic. The great thing about it is, you can't fake it up here. No road miles, expensive bikes or fancy outfits are gonna get you through. Bikes and riders need true trail mettle to handle the good stuff. Any roadie or MTB shaped object can handle a bunch of miles on dirt roads. Just my perspective of course, but the rides that really make me feel like a 'real' mountain biker are the ones with a lots of techy rocks, and tricky ups and downs and arounds, where the whole ride is like a speed-chess game that lasts for hours. We did 20 miles at the place shown in the pic yesterday. Probably took more of a toll on bikes bike than 1000 miles of the buff stuff would. But if you really want an honest test of your abilities and equipment, this is the type of trail that will do it.





    FWIW, I been calling my bike a 'trail bike' forever. We don't have a lot of mountains around here with trails you can actually pedal - it's far too steep and technical for the most part (ski hills being the obvious exception). Just stupid semantics anway.

  18. #18
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    I'm not sure I would enjoy that at speed or would want to subject my bike to it at speed. I could see working one's way around the big ugly rocks and rolling the smaller ones, but it would be slow and take a lot of concentration. Blasting through, come what may, would be tough on man and bike.

  19. #19
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    Yeah, there's only so much speed you can reasonably expect to carry. Might be more than you'd think (at least for a small percentage of really good riders), but it requires a lot of finesse and you definitely will feel it the next day.
    Speed isn't the be-all and end-all though.
    If it were, we'd all be riding pavement.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    Yeah, there's only so much speed you can reasonably expect to carry. Might be more than you'd think (at least for a small percentage of really good riders), but it requires a lot of finesse and you definitely will feel it the next day.
    Speed isn't the be-all and end-all though.
    If it were, we'd all be riding pavement.
    That's for sure.

    I would think that with a degree of care and finesse, an Aggressor could handle that ride; maybe not as quickly as another bike, but I think it could.

  21. #21
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    Definitely agree. I've ridden plenty of similar stuff on lesser bikes.
    I think a lot of people put way too much stock in the having the 'latest and greatest' in equipment, when really what matters is saddle time. Over course you need your stuff to be functional, but there's a point where you upgrading doesn't gain you all that much, and that point comes at a surprisingly low price point.

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