Total beginner questions- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Total beginner questions

    Hey everyone!

    So, just want to start out by saying that I am totally new to this sport and I am not exactly sure what kind of bike I need to buy to have a good time. I am 19 years old, 5' 11" 195 lbs (looking to loose weight as well ;D) I am also a college student at the moment, so my budget isn't the biggest right now. I'm looking at $250-$500 MAX. Hoping to stay more towards the lower end of my budget, but if needed I will have to spend more.

    I'm looking for a bike that I will be able to take to the hills around me, I live in the Santa Cruz, CA area. I think that my riding style will be more towards trails and unpaved roads.

    Now, there are just so many bikes out there for me to choose from. I was looking at a hardtail 27.5/650B. With a frame size of 19.

    What kind of pointers could you give me to buy the best possible bike for my budget? Maybe even throw out some names of bikes for me?

    I'm looking to buy a mountain bike before the beginning of the summer, so that I can hit the trails soon!

    Thanks ahead of time!!

  2. #2
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    You will do best used and 29. A 27.5 hardtail is necessary only for a person much shorter than you are. Every rider, even the winning women at the USCup XC races at Fontana 10 days ago competed on a 29 bike. You can watch the races on YouTube.
    If you can find something with an air fork or at least a spring fork with rebound damping you will be good for trail riding.
    A used 2012 or 13 Trek X-Caliber is one to look for.

  3. #3
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    Ah okay, interesting. I have just read online that people don't like how "sluggish" it feels to ride a 29er. Is that just because they don't like how big the tires are?

    Also, the bike you had mentioned is just a tad bit out of my price range. More than 2x, ha.

  4. #4
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    That's old geo bikes. Long chain stays and steep head tube angles from yesteryear.
    Trek, Scott and others have 435mm chainstays and less combined with 69* head tube angles for quick turning and stable descending.
    Plus you get the good rollover of 29 wheels when climbing over rocks and roots or running through rock gardens.
    But there are compromises you make when you are spending at the lower range. Usually weight of the bike and old or poorly designed geos.

  5. #5
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    I see. Well what bike would you recommenced with my budget? $250-$500...

  6. #6
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    You have a number of options.
    Single speed rigid.
    2-3 year old Rockhopper or preferably Trek Marlin, Cobia or X-Cal. An X-Cal with a dual air Reba would set you up for a long run.
    The best option is a garage sale $15-20 bike and continue to pile up some more funds for a better range of options.

  7. #7
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    In your price range, I would be looking at used bikes on your local CL.

    Unless you're planning on racing, wheel size is nothing you need to concern yourself with all that much about. 26, 27,29...the difference isn't as huge as some people make it out to be. (Personally, I don't like bigger wheels as much as they accelerate slower and feel less 'nimble' in general, and are likely weaker and heavier at any given price point than smaller wheels, but this is based on the riding I like to do most.)
    Sinister Bikes
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  8. #8
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    I have been looking at this bike, the seller says it was only used once. The bike new retail costs $405, I think it's an ok deal..

    GT 3.0 Aggressor 26" MTB

  9. #9
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    No disc means it is basic. It also has a 7sp freewheel(which can't be maintained or upgraded) instead of a freehub. It has a 63mm spring fork.
    You can get the same thing from Walmart for $88.
    26" Roadmaster Granite Peak Men's Mountain Bike, Black - Walmart.com
    Pay $8 for the extended warranty and you can return it within a year in any condition for a full refund.

  10. #10
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    Wow, alright then. How about this?

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00PV0...=mountain+bike

  11. #11
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    Better than the GT and Roadmaster for sure. I don't see any info on the fork, which is the most important component for trail riding.

  12. #12
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    I was at UCSC when I got into riding. Wilder Ranch mostly, since I didn't have a car. Dead Campers on occasion.

    The internet is pretty cool, but don't forget that people bought and sold things and traded information before it was invented. When I was at UCSC, there was a pretty good bike co-op. I embarrassingly misused incorrect jargon and learned my first bits and pieces about bikes as machines there. They often have some bikes for sale. I think I remember a couple shops off campus carrying bikes too. I'm going to date myself - that was twelve years ago. But I can't imagine Santa Cruz not continuing to support that kind of business. Ask around a bit.

    When you go to the shop, ride a bunch of bikes and try to hop on some that are too small or too big. Then buy your favorite and see where it takes you.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    Get a decent bike shop-quality bike, even if it is used. When someone brings a Vilano into the shop, I turn that junk away. Not worth my time to fix and I am doing the customer a favor by not wasting their money.

    For your budget, you are going to find very few bikes brand new. Include in the price of any internet purchase the cost of payong a bike shop to assemble and tune it, which will probably make it more cost effective to just buy a bike from the shop. Decent ENTRY level bikes that can handle trails START at around $650. Most bikes that cost less than that have that price tag for a reason and that will probable waste your time.

    Wheel sizes are a preference like Coke and Pepsi. I like 29ers of that matters. Some people don't. Ride A few and chose for yourself. You will have very few options on a used 650b bike because it's a newer style, decent options on a used 29er. 26" hardtails are a dime a dozen, but there's no reason not to get one, especially with your budget. College students can't be chosers.

  14. #14
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    Folks in Santa Cruz change their bikes more often than their underwear. There are tons of used bikes floating around that are not being ridden yet not actively offered for sale. If you could ride around UCSC/Wilder with a sign around your neck that you are looking for a quality used bike on a weekend then it wouldn't take long for you to find one. And, I am only half kidding. You need to get into the community, talk to lbs employees, peruse the NorCal forum and be a bit patient. Unless you are very lucky finding something for $250 will be hard but around $400-$500 you can definitely find a decent used bike in SC.

    I'd sell you my '07 26er FS Stumpjumper that I don't ride anymore within that range no problem. Unfortunately it is on permanent loan to my daughter's boyfriend and I doubt that I'll ever see it again. That bike would be infinitely better on local trails than anything you can find new for the money.

  15. #15
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    In your price range you will want to look at Craigslist or bike shops that sell used. There is very little in that price range. Keep in mind most bike shop bikes start around $500. I would stop into a bike shop, sit on a few and get a feel, and at least know what they have to offer in the $500 range, that way you recognize a good deal when you see it used. There are probably some clearance 2014's that shops want to unload. Bikes are like cars, and last years models are hard to move, and will be discounted greatly. They usually disappear by the end of March, but a handful may be around, and you can save a hundred, or two that way.

    Things to look for in a used bike in the $4-500 range (250 is pushing it even for a used bike unless it is 15 years old and beat). Look for 9 speed, lots of people will tell you 8 is ok, but 8 is generally reserved for cheap entry bikes, the decent stuff starts with 9 or 10 speed rear cassettes. You want hydraulic disc brakes, this is fairly common in bikes that retail new for $700+. For a fork, you want something with 32mm stanchions (the silver legs that slide up and down on the fork). Cheaper forks use slimmer stanchions, and they flex a lot. You can generally tell a more decent fork by how wide the stanchions are. Most likely you will find Suntour XCM, or XCR (XCR being better), or sometimes if used, Rockshox XC28, or XC30.

    As for the 27.5 vs 29 debate, ride both and make a decision what characteristics you like best. My girlfriend loves 29 as it rolls over everything, however 29 is not a nimble as a 27.5. I much prefer that agility I get with the smaller wheel, so it really depends on the frame, how it is set up, the geometry, and feel of the bike..and what you like.

    P.S, many riders will suggest bikes way out of your price range, forgetting what it was like to get on their first ride. Some will say $500 isn't enough. Don't let them dissuade you. There are deals to be had if you are willing to drive around and put some time into it.

  16. #16
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    I'm a total beginner but I love the bike I bought. I bought a used 2006 single speed Kona Unit with disc brakes and extra set of tires used for under $200. The bike is old but all the parts but the frame are new. I love riding this bike. It is a blast and it weighs under 25 pounds. Really it is just about finding a bike that fits and that you think is fun. I'm not winning any beauty contests but I'm having fun and actually riding, so for me it works.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amom View Post
    I'm a total beginner but I love the bike I bought. I bought a used 2006 single speed Kona Unit with disc brakes and extra set of tires used for under $200. The bike is old but all the parts but the frame are new. I love riding this bike. It is a blast and it weighs under 25 pounds. Really it is just about finding a bike that fits and that you think is fun. I'm not winning any beauty contests but I'm having fun and actually riding, so for me it works.
    That's a great price. The Unit is a solid bike, and you will have years of fun on that. My first real bike was a steel Kona Cinder Kone, and I would still have it if it wasn't stolen. I now have a 2014 Cinder Cone and it's really a great bike.

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