Buying a bike from BikesDirect, then putting parts on Trek- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Buying a bike from BikesDirect, then putting parts on Trek

    Just wanted to get some opinions on my next mountain bike. I currently ride a Trek 3700, and I really like the geometry of Trek frames, plus I like the 18" size.

    I've considered buying a bike from BikesDirect.com, but one of my main problems is that 17" frames feel a little small, while 19" frames are a little big. So, I've thought about purchasing a Trek 4300 (which has better quality aluminum then my current Trek 3700), then swapping some of the parts from a Bikes Direct bike. Then, I could sell the Bikes Direct with the Trek parts on it on Craigslist, for about the price I paid for it.

    Would this work out, or would I possibly run into problems if I did this? Considering the differences of the two bikes, would it be even worth the trouble?

    Here are the specs for a Bikes Direct Windsor Cliff 4500 ($350), compared to a Trek 4300 ($660):

    Windsor Cliff:

    6061 Double Butted Aluminum Trail Tuned Geometry with replaceable rear derailleur hanger and Double Diamond profile Aluminum downtube with reinforced downtube gusset.
    Fork RockShox Dart 1 with adjustable preload (Disc Brake post mounts)
    Crankset TruVativ Aluminum Triple 22/32/42
    Bottom Bracket Sealed Cartridge
    Pedals ATB Beartrap Al/Composite
    Front Derailleur Shimano FDM 330
    Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore
    Shifters Shimano EZ-Fire 8 Speed Trigger shift Pods (24 speeds total) with Optical Gear Display
    Cassette/Freewheel 12-28t 8 Speed
    Chain Z7 Super Narrow
    Hubs Gravity Disc Aluminum (black finish) 36 spoke
    Spokes 36 Stainless Steel 14 gauge Black Or Silver (NoChoice)
    Rims Alex DP17 Disc Specific Double Wall 6061T6 Aluminum Black Anodized
    (Some rims have no decals (no choice))
    Tires WTB Velociraptor Blackwall 26 x 2.10
    Brakes Tektro IO Mechanical Disc Brakes with 160mm rotors
    Brake Levers Shimano STEF29
    Headset Integrated 1 1/8 Ahead Sealed
    Handlebar Windsor Comp Aluminum Riser
    Stem Windsor Comp Threadless Aluminum
    Tape/Grip WTB Dual Compound
    Saddle WTB Speed V
    Seat Post Windsor Aluminum Micro-Adjust
    Seat Clamp Alloy w/QR
    Sizes 15", 17" 19", 20.5", 22"
    Colors White

    Trek 4300:

    Frame Alpha Black Aluminum w/semi-integrated head tube, formed down tube w/integrated gusset, formed top tube, monostay seatstay, forged dropouts w/rack & fender mounts, replaceable derailleur hanger
    Front Suspension Spinner 300 w/coil spring, preload, hydraulic lockout, 100mm travel
    Wheels
    Wheels Formula alloy DC20 front hub, Shimano alloy M475 rear hub; Bontrager Ranger 32-hole rims
    Tires Bontrager XR2, wire bead, 26x2.1"
    Drivetrain
    Shifters Shimano M360, 8 speed
    Front Derailleur Shimano M310
    Rear Derailleur Shimano M410
    Crank Shimano M311, 42/32/22
    Cassette SRAM PG-820 11-32, 8 speed
    Pedals Wellgo alloy platform
    Components
    Saddle Bontrager Evoke 1
    Seat Post Bontrager SSR, 31.6mm, 20mm offset
    Handlebars Bontrager SSR, 25.4mm, 25mm rise
    Stem Bontrager SSR, 25.4mm
    Headset 1-1/8" threadless, semi-integrated, semi-cartridge bearings
    Brakeset Promax DSK-907 hydraulic disc brakes


    The other option would be paying a little bit more for a Bikes Direct bike, such as the Motobecane 600HT ($430):

    Custom 7005 Aluminum Trail-Tuned POWER STAY frame, box section chainstays, bi-axial gussetted downtube, sculpted rear dropouts with replaceable rear derailleur hanger, 2x H2O bosses, International Standard rear disc mounts Detailed Picture Gallery
    Fork RockShox Dart2 + Advanced LockOut, long travel, Adjustable Preload
    Crankset TruVativ 5D Aluminum arms 175mm, Triple Rings 22/32/42T
    Bottom Bracket Sealed Cartridge
    Pedals ATB Beartrap
    Front Derailleur Shimano Alivio Top Swing
    Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore LX long cage
    Shifters Shimano Alivio Mega 8 Speed STI Rapidfire Pods (24 speeds total)
    Cassette/Freewheel 12-28T 8 Speed PowerglideRamps
    Chain 8 Speed Z72 Narrow
    Hubs Formula DiscSpecific Aluminum (black) Sealed Bearing mechanism
    Spokes Stainless Steel
    Rims WTB SpeedDisc Rims Double Wall Aluminum
    Tires WTB Velociraptor Blackwall 26 x 2.10 (front and rear specific)
    Brakes TEKTRO IO Mechanical Disc Brakes with Multi Pad Angle adjustments
    Brake Levers Tektro for Disc
    Headset Cane Creek Internal Sealed caged ball bearing VP A42E 1.125 inch
    Handlebar Skye Comp Aluminum Riser
    Stem Skye Comp Threadless Aluminum 1.125 inch
    Tape/Grip WTB Dual Compound Palm Pillow
    Saddle WTB Speed V with comfort groove
    Seat Post Skye Aluminum Micro-Adjust
    Seat Clamp Alloy w/QR
    Sizes 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23 inch
    Colors MatteBlack

    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by getagrip
    Just wanted to get some opinions on my next mountain bike. I currently ride a Trek 3700, and I really like the geometry of Trek frames, plus I like the 18" size.

    I've considered buying a bike from BikesDirect.com, but one of my main problems is that 17" frames feel a little small, while 19" frames are a little big.
    You can't really go by size that way. 17" is not all the same, neither is 18", nor 19".

    Frames also don't cost that much. Buying 2 bikes in order to swap parts from one onto the other seems silly.

    What parts are you looking to swap over? They look similar in many ways, and not really worth the trouble, IMO.

    You're falling into the newbie trap...."oooh this part is a tiny tad little better and cheap, let me get that". If you really want to upgrade, shop for closeouts on parts.

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    The "main" parts I'd swap out would probably be the derailurs, forks, brakes, and wheels, although I might swap out more, depending on the complexities involved. I have ridden bikes with Shimano Deore drivetrains, and they felt a lot smoother than my current Trek. I was thinking, though, that it might be better to just pay a little extra for a Trek 4500, and let the bike shop do the maintenance for a year.

    As far as 17" frames are concerned, the ones I have ridden have all felt small, and these were from different manufacturers - 18" Treks seem to fit me pretty good. So, I thought a good solution to the frame size dilemna would be to just buy an 18" Trek and upgrade the parts.

  4. #4
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    The 3700 and 4300 have near-identical geometry, so you may not notice a difference in handling. The 4300 frame ought to weigh less, but it's probably not by very much.

    You're proposing to spend about $1000 on this project. Probably just buying the Trek 6000 would make the most sense. It's a racier geometry, so you may want to go down a size.

    The 4500 has near-identical geometry to the 3700 and a much better spec. You could also get the 4500 and a new fork.

    If you're really attached to your current frame, you might buy a full component group. A few different catalogs sell them. Then EBay your old stuff or hold onto it as spares. Or, choose a few things that bother you and get some higher-end components that you'll be happy to hold onto for the life of the bike.

    Selling the extra bike, whether you go with the bikesdirect parts swap plan or just buy a new bike that's got a good build, is not going to recover much money. So your budget for this really is $1000, or at least $900.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the response. Oddly, I liked my 820 a little better than my 3700 - I do more road riding than I do dirt trails, and the 820 was better suited for that because of the 820's 48/38/28 crank compared to the 42/34/24 of the 3700. So...I'm not that attached to my 3700, though I've put over 300 miles on it in the 2 months that I've owned it.

    You are probably wondering why I just don't buy a road bike or a hybrid, and the reason is those bikes seem so flimsy and brittle compared to a mountain bike, especially when I'm going up curbs and that kind of a thing. I don't think I could afford a 6000 - that's a lot of money! I will only get about $300 for my 3700 when I sell it, so that will mean an extra $400 for a 4500, although I think I could justify it since I I hear that the 2011 models have a lot of upgraded parts compared to the 2010 models.

    I have thought about just going with a 19" as they feel ok (much better than 17" frames), but I hear that because the top tube length is longer, you are more streched out, and you are more prone to back injuries. The other dilemna is when I do ride on MTB trails, which isn't very often but still something I enjoy, it can be disadvantageous to have the 19" frame.

    I guess the main thing is that I want versitle bike that fits, at the lowest price possible. Its hard to justify spending $700 on a bike at the bike store, when you can spend $400 at Bikes Direct for a bike with better components, but the problem for me is the fit!

    Honestly, though, I'm just really curious about Bikes Direct - I really want to feel like what some of their bikes are like compared to what you can get in the bike store. Almost seems worth it to buy one for a fairly cheap price (under $400), and just sell it if I don't like it for a small loss - that way, I would get over the "curiosity factor"!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by getagrip
    The "main" parts I'd swap out would probably be the derailurs, forks, brakes, and wheels, although I might swap out more, depending on the complexities involved. I have ridden bikes with Shimano Deore drivetrains, and they felt a lot smoother than my current Trek. I was thinking, though, that it might be better to just pay a little extra for a Trek 4500, and let the bike shop do the maintenance for a year.

    As far as 17" frames are concerned, the ones I have ridden have all felt small, and these were from different manufacturers - 18" Treks seem to fit me pretty good. So, I thought a good solution to the frame size dilemna would be to just buy an 18" Trek and upgrade the parts.
    If you want a Deore drive train, just buy the drive train.

    The brakes and forks, I'd not bother with at all. The forks, it's not like going up to a Reba or Tora 318. The brakes, mechanical disc on the BD vs basic hydro on the trek. You can buy the rims yourself, or visit the sponsor to the wheels forum. they have good prices, and sales as well.

    Go with the 6 series, since you like Trek, or stay with the 4 and change the drive train yourself.

    what you're planning is a whole lot of trouble, for very little gain.

    As for bike sizes, I guess. I own various sizes, and can fit well on anything from 16" to 19" depending on the geometry. The standover height really isn't all that important.

  7. #7
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    I challenge the assumption that the Trek fits

    based upon the fact that the other two feel too small and too big.

  8. #8
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    Well, considering the fact that an 18 inch just happens to be smaller than 19 inch, yet larger than a 17 inch, and the fact that I'm on my second 18 inch Trek, I'd say it is the size that fits me best.

  9. #9
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    The thing about the numbered size is that it doesn't refer to something relevant. IMO, the measurement that determines whether a rider can make a bike comfortable without totaly screwing up the handling is the effective top tube - the horizontal length from the intersection of the top and head tubes to where the seat tube would be if it extended that high.

    So it sounds like you've had an 18" 820 and an 18" 3700 so far...

    I'm not going to paw through Trek's archives, so I'll just give some numbers for the ones on the web site now.

    The 820 has a 565mm top tube. The 3700 does too. The 4300 gets a little longer - 568mm. So probably not enough to feel a difference yet.

    The 6000 comes in either 17.5" or 18.5", skipping 18". Those effective top tube lengths are 588mm and 607mm. So even the one that's nominally a smaller frame would require you to reach significantly further to the handlebars.

    I ride a 17" Specialized Hardrock I bought in '07. According to the web site, that has a 590mm ETT.

    I don't think you need to be able to read a geometry chart to know if a bike fits or not. But I do think you do to be able to make any kind of intelligent prediction about whether or not another bike will fit.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    Craigslist a used Trek w/ better components. That way it's still in your budget and you end up w/ a lot more bike for your money.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by getagrip
    You are probably wondering why I just don't buy a road bike or a hybrid, and the reason is those bikes seem so flimsy and brittle compared to a mountain bike, especially when I'm going up curbs and that kind of a thing.
    Depending on how far off-road you go (up curbs and what not don't really count as roadies can hop curbs too), I'd probably go for a cyclocross bike. Check them out. I don't know if Trek has them.

    Specialized Tricross

    For the off-chance that you go off-road enough to say you need a hardtail, then use the Trek that you currently own. You can definitely ride singletrack trails with a cyclocross. It's probably no different than my old 1990 Rockhopper rigid in terms of where I can take it. If I go somewhere with drops, I won't take the Rockhopper, but some rocks and roots are fine and of course bumpy off-road is fine too.

    I have to wonder, why I don't buy one too and lose the Rockhopper, but I'm just emotionally attached to it.

  12. #12
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    That still proves nothing

    Quote Originally Posted by getagrip
    Well, considering the fact that an 18 inch just happens to be smaller than 19 inch, yet larger than a 17 inch, and the fact that I'm on my second 18 inch Trek, I'd say it is the size that fits me best.

    A new bike is an opportunity to re-understand how a bike fits you best. How it "feels" is not necessarily a good criteria as you may have simply become accustomed to the way your bike fits, right or not.

  13. #13
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    I agree with the others.

    You will notice more improvement from changing shifters than changing derailleurs. However, the better shifters come in 9-speed. Perhaps you can find an older set of lx or xt on ebay.

  14. #14
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    I have a Trek 720 Hybrid very similar to the 820, but this one has no suspension. I have what are essentially mountain bike tires on it (Panarcer Fire Cross 700Cx45), and it can handle anything I throw at it riding around the city (riding up and down curbs and the occasional stairs). I've done some light trail riding with it, but it's obviously not great without at least a front suspension fork. It is probably a bit lighter than a Trek 3700.

    My sister has a Trek 3700. The frame is aluminum, and I don't know that it is any different from the frame on a Trek 4300. The frame is not a significant source of weight on this bike. You could probably lighten it up by replacing the wheels, tires, and/or fork. I recently changed the tires from the stock MTB tires to hybrid/road tires since she mostly rides on the road now, and I discovered the stock tires must have lead mixed into the rubber, because they are heavy! If you still have the stock tires (Bontrager something), see how heavy they are and consider changing the tires. A hybrid/road tire will have much less rolling resistance (because of higher pressure and less tread), and will likely weigh a lot less than whatever is on there too. Just make sure you get tires for 26" wheels. Most road/hybrid tires fit 700C wheels, which are bigger, and they won't fit the wheels on the Trek. If in doubt, go to your bike shop and see what they have.

    All the forks you have mentioned so far are fairly similar- heavy, coil-sprung, and not too responsive. They will get the job done, but changing to a light-weight air sprung shock would have a big impact. But you probably won't notice much difference between the Dart1, Dart2, or Spinner300. Sure these are probably better (I'm guessing- best to read reviews yourself) than what's on the 3700, and lockout might be nice to have, but I don't think they would really be worth spending any money on.
    Matt

  15. #15
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    Add up the prices for the options you have in front of you:

    -Buy a bike from Bikes Direct, strip the components for another frame, sell the BD frame on eBay
    -Find a used bike that fits you and is of the quality you want
    -Price out a component group to upgrade the frame you have

    I've always suspected (but have not confirmed) that if you wanted a full XT group, for example, it *might* actually be cheaper to buy an XT equipped bike from BD, sell the frame on eBay, and use the components to build up another frame than it would be to just buy a full XT group.

    If you're like me an have chronic upgrade-itis this might be a decent way to go.
    Jack

    '95 Independent Fabrication Deluxe
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  16. #16
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    Personally, thats too much work and there is a great risk of losing money selling a new bike on CL. From looking around, bikes are worth nothing close to retail outside of a store situation.

    I'd rather switch brands and find a bike thats already built up the way I like it or build from the ground up.

    Consider buying a Voodoo Bokor, which is also available in 18 inch.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jack_read
    I've always suspected (but have not confirmed) that if you wanted a full XT group, for example, it *might* actually be cheaper to buy an XT equipped bike from BD, sell the frame on eBay, and use the components to build up another frame than it would be to just buy a full XT group.
    Are you talking about buying the full XT group piecemeal, or buying it as a build kit from one of the catalogs that sells it as a package? It changes the prices on things by quite a bit...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  18. #18
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    Thanks, everyone, for all of the feedback. Although it wasn't the answer I was looking for, I think IAmHolland said it best - instead of buying a mountain bike, I think I'm going to get a cyclecross, which seems to suit me better for the kind of riding I do.

    I'm still very intrigued by some of the lower end mountain bikes at Bikes Direct, so I might pick up one somewhere down the line for when I decide to do singletrack riding. I think that a smaller 17 inch frame is fine for that kind of riding...right before I sold my Trek 820, I took it on a singletrack course, and immediately, I had to lower the seat, and I was able to see the advantages of having a smaller bike for that circumstance. When you are riding on paved trails, its not as necessary to have a smaller bike, because its a totally different style of riding.

  19. #19
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    Test-ride some 'cross bikes before you make your decision. Try to get on dirt.

    While there are a couple of other differences, they're basically road bikes with space for fatter tires, and a different (harder to tune) brake. I think mine's a ton of fun, but it definitely takes more finesse to ride off-road, especially on a climb or a descent. The way you position the handlebars relative to the saddle and steer tube can have quite a lot to do with whether the bike is biased more toward hopping up and down things and riding dirt or more toward climbing and riding long distances on asphalt.

    FWIW, I ride my road bikes up and down curbs routinely. I certainly have to take it slower going up a curb than I would on my mountain bike, but it's not like the roadie police leap out and ticket me for riding my bike wrong or something.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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