Looking for a good quality, average MTN bike.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    New question here. Looking for a good quality, average MTN bike.

    Background: My wife and I are in our 20's and want to start riding bikes as a means of getting back to teens level of fitness. we live in an area of MI where there are plenty of trails and decided it would be fun. My coworker also would like to start riding.

    Surfaces: I think mostly well maintained trails and parks and roads in between.

    Expierience: Basically none, but we have ridden bikes in our childhood.... "like riding a bike" comes to mind. But no real trail riding experience.

    What we are looking for: I am a mechanical engineer, so quality and function are major priorities. We don't need the latest and greatest full suspension and disc brakes, but I do appreciate good craftsmanship and durability. I guess a hardtail with front shock would be good. As a price range, I'm not too sure. We need 2 bikes, so $400-$600 each is resonable. I just have a real hard time buying a K-Mart special and not being happy with it. I've learned that you pay for what you get, so I have no problem spending a bit more for quality and satifaction. Basically I am looking for a reasonably good trail rider. We are not going to be racing or nothing, we just want some good dependable average mountain bikes that we will enjoy and not break in a year. My wife's biggest concern is getting a "woman's" bike that is comfortable to ride(slightly more upright position) and easy to get on and off (girl bike). I haven't done much research, but I found this forum and figured you guys and gals live and breath bikes, so you would be able to help out an average rider.

    I have really no brand preferance, because most of the big names are easily available in my area. I just want a "better than dept. store" bike that I will be satisfied with. So an average mtn bike for me and an average woman's mtn for my wife is what I'm looking for. Any suggestions or good advice?

  2. #2
    beer *****es n' bikes
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    Depending on where you are in MI I can probably recommend a shop to you, and some trails. For gravel roads and well maintained trails, you might consider a hybrid/comfort bike, at least in your wife's case. They are more upright with a lower standover height (lower top tube) and fast-rolling semi-slick tires. Whats often happened with my friends is they buy bikes for themselves and their wives and then the husband gets more into than the wife does, and pretty soon the husband is back at the shop purchasing a $2,600 Specialized Epic or something like that. If you think there is any possibility of this happening for you, buy on the $600 side and you will be getting good components and a good upgradable frame. For your wife, do the same if you can see her getting into the sport and more aggressive riding. Otherwise, a $250-350 comfort bike should suffice.

    In mountain bikes some companies offer women's specific frames, but I think its rediculous. Every girl I ride with rides a small 13-15" "men's" frame more comfortably than the "chick" model. Specialized reall went overboard with their women's specific tires (yes, its true)

    Some good brands to look at in your price range are Kona, Giant, Specialized and Trek. Cannondales in that price range are a pretty lousy value, but not so bad if you go higher-end. In the $300 range expect Shimano Alivio at best for components, try to spring for a bike with Deore or LX components if possible. Look for last year's closeouts too. Bikes hardly change from year to year usually. Bikes made in Taiwan vs. China are arguably better quality though there is little way of quantifying that.

    The LBS is your best friend in this case (local bike shop). Go in with a budget in mind, tell them what you want to do with the bikes and your price range and they should be able to size you up and get you on a properly sized frame in your price range. When you buy a bike you're buying the bike shop and service along with the bike. If their service fails to impress you, go elsewhere.

    You're absolutely right about the Kmart bikes... they suck. I work on them all day and they are truly terrible. Bad brakes, broken bottom brackets, backwards forks, stripped bolts and threads... etc.

    If you're anywhere near Grand Rapids try Village Bike on 44th and Kalamazoo, and talk to either Jim, Kevin or Mike... they are the best there is when it comes to customer service IMHO.


    Ok that should get you started.

    Jon
    Quote Originally Posted by CoryB
    Background: My wife and I are in our 20's and want to start riding bikes as a means of getting back to teens level of fitness. we live in an area of MI where there are plenty of trails and decided it would be fun. My coworker also would like to start riding.

    Surfaces: I think mostly well maintained trails and parks and roads in between.

    Expierience: Basically none, but we have ridden bikes in our childhood.... "like riding a bike" comes to mind. But no real trail riding experience.

    What we are looking for: I am a mechanical engineer, so quality and function are major priorities. We don't need the latest and greatest full suspension and disc brakes, but I do appreciate good craftsmanship and durability. I guess a hardtail with front shock would be good. As a price range, I'm not too sure. We need 2 bikes, so $400-$600 each is resonable. I just have a real hard time buying a K-Mart special and not being happy with it. I've learned that you pay for what you get, so I have no problem spending a bit more for quality and satifaction. Basically I am looking for a reasonably good trail rider. We are not going to be racing or nothing, we just want some good dependable average mountain bikes that we will enjoy and not break in a year. My wife's biggest concern is getting a "woman's" bike that is comfortable to ride(slightly more upright position) and easy to get on and off (girl bike). I haven't done much research, but I found this forum and figured you guys and gals live and breath bikes, so you would be able to help out an average rider.

    I have really no brand preferance, because most of the big names are easily available in my area. I just want a "better than dept. store" bike that I will be satisfied with. So an average mtn bike for me and an average woman's mtn for my wife is what I'm looking for. Any suggestions or good advice?
    bike dude, velocity employee (this is my personal account)

  3. #3

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    seely> actually, I live in the Ann Arbor Area, but thanks for the info. I took your advice and went to a LBS that was a Trek and Kona dealer.

    I saw a Kona Blast for $509 that I liked:
    Same bike as in this Link to bike

    My Wife saw a Hybrid recreational Trek 7100 or 7200 that she seemed to like.

    I found another store in the area that has Giant and Kona, so maybe I'll check that out as well.
    Last edited by CoryB; 02-23-2004 at 08:23 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CoryB
    seely> actually, I live in the Ann Arbor Area, but thanks for the info. I took your advice and went to a LBS that was a Trek and Kona dealer.

    I saw a Kona Blast for $509 that I liked:
    Same bike as in this Link to bike

    My Wife saw a Hybrid recreational Trek 7100 or 7200 that she seemed to like.

    I found another store in the area that has Giant and Kona, so maybe I'll check that out as well.
    Just an FYI... Hybrids are NOT very good for offroad use. If there is even the slightest chance that she will be riding any trails with you, get her a mountain bike. You can always change tires to something smoother if she rides mostly bike paths and road, but it's next to impossible to go the other way and make a hybrid singletrack worthy.
    this space left intentionally blank

  5. #5
    R.I.P. DogFriend
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    I agree with SSteel about the hybrids not being good for any real mountain trail use, but for dirt path and bike paths they would be fine. They are heavy and the upright position is not suitable for climbing on so-called “real trails” with steep inclines regardless of what tires you might put on it. I recently bought my wife a Giant Sedona and it’s great for it’s intended purpose, but not for actual mountain biking.

    Just be honest about what you will truly use them for and it will make the decision much easier and you will be happier with your purchase.

    The Gary Fisher Tassajara and the Giant Iguana are two bikes in your price range that I think are great for what you have described as your intended use. The Trek dealer should be able to get the Gary Fisher bikes since they are the same company. I like these two bikes because they have a better frame than most bikes that cost less than $500, they come with a decent fork compared to others in the same price point (RS Pilot C or XC) and they have a component spec that is hard to beat. I like that they have separate shifter and brake levers so if you want to upgrade (or you break) one or the other, you don’t have to replace both. Steer clear of a bike with a Rock Shox Judy TT. The Manitou Six is OK. You might find a smokin’ deal on a decent bike for $400 to $500 (and they are out there if you know what to look for), but generally you will get much more bike if you move up to the $500 to $600 range.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by SSteel
    Just an FYI... Hybrids are NOT very good for offroad use. If there is even the slightest chance that she will be riding any trails with you, get her a mountain bike. You can always change tires to something smoother if she rides mostly bike paths and road, but it's next to impossible to go the other way and make a hybrid singletrack worthy.
    She's not real into major physical activity. I think she will stick to the paved or very well groomed bike paths.

  7. #7

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    for your wife

    Quote Originally Posted by CoryB
    She's not real into major physical activity. I think she will stick to the paved or very well groomed bike paths.
    I would suggest getting a used, LIGHT hardtail with semi slick tires (a. becomes even lighter. b. fast rolling). Some bike shops sell used bikes. Make sure when you buy, you try.

  8. #8

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    1 from ebay, 1 from here

    Just as an example:

    Hard tails:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=27947
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=27947
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=27947


    FS:

    http://classifieds.consumerreview.co...uery=retrieval

    IT IS NOT 1991! It's 2001.

    Just look around, spend some time and you'll be rewarded with happy hours on your bike!

  9. #9
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    No offense to the LBS

    because Lord knows they are a helpful bunch - particularly when you bend or break something...but...I would look to buy a lightly used, maybe older model, bike in a local classified or ebay. You should be able to find many models from which to choose. Trek, Fischer, Giant and Specialized are popular in my neck of the woods and all offer decent values.

    Bikes are like lots of other recreational items, guys (like me) often like to upgrade their rides and are looking to sell their old (many times well cared for) bikes just to recoup some of the cost.

    Of course you have to be careful of scammers and bikes that have been abused. In an ideal situation you could go to the LBS, find a couple of options you like, size them for you and compare on ebay or the classifieds.

    Even though you are just getting started stay away from cheap bikes. They will cost you in the long run when they fail - and you may get hurt in the process.

    One of my all time favorite quotes is, "If Huffy made a plane would you fly in it?"

    My wife says I'm a bike-snob, even looking at cheap bikes makes me itchy.

  10. #10
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    I have to admit, I HATE hybrids...

    its not a road bike, its not a mountain bike its..........NOTHING.

    I suppose if you're 60+ they could have some use, but other than that........ick.

  11. #11

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    I went to a different bike shop over my lunch break. My co-worker knows everyone there, so he braught me in. I looked at a Raleigh M80. Seems like good components, and it even had mechanical disc brakes. The Price was $550 USD. This bike seemed like the best combination of components I've seen this week in my price range.

    So I've looked really close at a Kona Blast, and a Raleigh M80. The Trek's I looked at seemed to have inferior components for the same price as the other bikes.

  12. #12
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    Something else to consider

    I'm not familiar with the M80, so I can't really comment about it, but something else to consider is upgradeability (I think I just made a word). That is to say that many bikers (such as myself) get a lot of satisfaction out of upgrading components. It is a way to make your bike (i.e. set up) unique to you. It kinda becomes a hobby of its own. If you think you might want to get into this, I would focus mainly on the frame and fork as they would be the most expensive to upgrade. Actually, I would focus mainly on frame and fork regardless of interest in upgrades. These are the backbone of your ride. Truth-be-told there probably isn't too much difference in entry level components anyway.

    The bottom line is it is good to be informed, but you can drive yourself crazy with this stuff too. Sooner or later you will need to buy something you like, something that fits you well.

    Here's a couple from a quick search on ebay to give you an idea of what I'm talking about
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=27947
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=27947
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...category=27947

    I didn't know your size, but you get the idea. Happy hunting.

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