$100-$200 Bike recommendations...yikes let the flaming begin.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    $100-$200 Bike recommendations...yikes let the flaming begin.

    My friend/roommate basically wants me to come up with some kind of miracle. He really wants to get into mountain biking and wants a bike he won't outgrow skill wise. He's a bigger guy around 6'2" so of course I recommended a used bike, and possibly a 29er for his size. I suggested a baseline budget of $400 and I could get him on something that would suit his needs and be of quality.{Also mentioning a Cannondale Jekyll size XL that my brother is trying to sell}. However he is still telling me that amount is out of the question and I absolutely will not recommend a Walmart bike and cringe at some of the box store offerings. I really don't want to be his trail side mechanic when we ride. Any ideas..I know its a long shot..
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    Nashbar AT-1 ? $200
    Nashbar AT1 Mountain Bike

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnum Ti View Post
    Any ideas..I know its a long shot..
    Yes, try to relate it to something he understands, like ask him to build you an awesome gaming computer for $50, or a match-rifle for competition shooting for $200, or a car for rally racing for $2000, or whatever he DOES understand. Some people just don't get it and they will never be happy because they don't get it. Either get them to get it, or just leave them alone to try and figure out why they keep failing.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  4. #4
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    Let him demo your brothers bike for 5 rides, then take it back.
    Then go over to Walmart and he can buy a $200 bike which won't be in his size. 90 day return.
    See what he thinks then.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NZDarren View Post
    Nashbar AT-1 ? $200
    Nashbar AT1 Mountain Bike
    Damn.
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  6. #6
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    Yes you can get a ridable bike off craigslist for $200. The part that makes this impossible, is where he wants "a bike he won't outgrow skill wise." The only way he's not going to outgrow a $200 bike skill wise is if he never rides it. Does he really not have the money, or is he just cheap?
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  7. #7
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    Seriously, try to explain as per Jayem's suggestion, if you friend still doesn't get it tell your friend he's an ass. No sense wasting your time on someone who doesn't get it. If you can find a decent used bike with components that still have good life left in them for that price you'll have done well.
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  8. #8
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    That nashbar bike isn't much better than the best walmart bike you can get, which still isn't saying much.

    If you have a local co-op, you might get inluck, Craigslist, or if he's willing to spend some time assembling it, bikeisland.com (the scratch & dent site for bikesdirect) has some bikes in the 200-300 range. I've bought some from there that had busted forks. Do something like that and get a used rigid fork. should cost about $250, and it's hard to outgrow a rigid fork.

  9. #9
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    Used bike's your best bet for sure, though at that price even used might be a rough proposition. If it was me, I'd find a less cheap friend. (kidding. sorta.)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by LyNx View Post
    Seriously, try to explain as per Jayem's suggestion, if you friend still doesn't get it tell your friend he's an ass.
    This part is true...
    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Let him demo your brothers bike for 5 rides, then take it back.
    Then go over to Walmart and he can buy a $200 bike which won't be in his size. 90 day return.
    See what he thinks then.
    I may actually go this route and let him ride my brothers bike. I have already done the work on the bike and this may be a great way for him to get his feet wet and see if he even likes it.
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  11. #11
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    Your brother's bike is a great solution, but if you can, take him out on a test ride on a rigid SS. It is truly the one bike he will not outgrow skill wise.

    And on the used market it may be possible to find a decent one in that price range.

    Then again, after a few miles he might be begging to spend more.

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  12. #12
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    Helmet: $40
    Shoes: $40
    Shorts: $20
    So, now his budget is $100? Seriously, if he can really (really) only afford a $200 bike, he should probably put it off for a while. Riding doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive (did my crank really cost $3,200?) but there is a minimum. I don't know what that minimum is... I do know it's above $200.
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    Definitely get him on the Cannondale to test the waters and see if he likes it. If he does, follow the other suggestions and relate it to what he understands. $200 is virtually impossible to get a decent bike for when half that will be spent on a helmet and any other needed accessories.

    Depending on what your used market is like, start browsing craigslist and see what you can find. Another option is to visit local co-ops or bike shops that have used bikes on hand. He would be much better off to save some more cash before buying a bike.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
    Your brother's bike is a great solution, but if you can, take him out on a test ride on a rigid SS. It is truly the one bike he will not outgrow skill wise.
    John
    That's why I ride one. Thats my other option, let him ride my rigid Soul Cycles Hooligan. It would be a long shot size wise, but would get him an idea. The guy is kind of a meat head idiot, and I may just leave things as they alone. I had to convince him that wearing a helmet when we ride is mandatory...yea that's what I have to deal with. Its just when someone tells me they want to get into the sport, I probably get more excited than they do.
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  15. #15
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    Ouch.

    Back in college I build a rigid singlespeed. Started with a cheap, used, aluminum $30 unknown frame from ebay. Got some unbranded cockpit bits. OEM takeoff steel fork from a 90's Rockhopper. A friend gave me a wheelset (had to buy spokes for rear drive side and replace them all). Bought some used stuff. Bought some cheap new stuff. I think I was about $200 all-in on that bike. It wasn't a terrible bike. Got some trail use out of it, but mostly used it as a commuter. Sold it several years later for about $300, long after I got my use out of it. Would be a fun bike to have where I live now.

    Not much chance you'd get something of similar quality with gears or suspension, but if you start with the right platform, those things could be possible additions in the future if your buddy decides he enjoys it and wants to spend more money on it.

  16. #16
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    Helmet definately. Bike specific shoes and shorts? How many of us started out riding in shorts and shoes we normally wear. Back to basics. a bike that works and a helmet.

    I remember starting out on a cheap bike, a beatup and used 7-speed trek 520. It was heavy, had a bad shock, and the gear range was horrible. but it's a bike that didn't fall apart and made me appreciate better parts on my new bike. Only cost about $60 after I replaced some parts. It will never compare to the cannondale from a performance aspect, but I rode it, and it was fun.

  17. #17
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    My Wal-Mart Schwinn, that I bought for $150, is a pretty good bike. It helps to get it turned up by the lbs. I will use it to get my wife on a bike and I'm anxious to get it to the ranch again. I 've ridden it around the ranch twice and the roads out there are pretty rough.

  18. #18
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    No flaming here. Honest question. To find that, yes, Craiglist and other "used" areas. And it's going to have to be a few years old probably "pre" disk brakes.

    My take on it though. He wants to get out there and mountain bike but has he been riding yet? I would look to see if I can "borrow" a bike for him to try on a few rides. This will get him a bit more into the "introduction" of riding off road.

    Now, remind him that even if the bike's cheap, if he doesn't ride it and it's not fun and it sits, then it's wasted money. Therefore, riding needs to be "as fun as possible" with the "budget bike". So yes, probably around $400 used is a great place to start.

    I won't rec any specific bikes because you're going to have to find something in your area. Shipment will kill that price real quick.

    Again, look for one you can borrow for a bit and then shop at the same time.

    Good luck with that, hope you find something. Post back and let us know what you find.

  19. #19
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    A bike that his skills will not outgrow, $200 budget, and has to be convinced that a helmet is a necessity? Sounds pretty hardheaded.

    Tell him to keep saving more money while he looks for Craigslist items for you to check out. By the time he finds something possibly suitable in that price range, he might have saved enough money to actually get a decent mountain bike.

    Otherwise, there are plenty of road options in that price range that will take a long time to outgrow.
    Live like there's no tomorrow. But pay your bills just in case there is.

  20. #20
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    Awesome that your buddy wants to get into the sport. I just looked at the Minneapolis craigslist page and there is a 2004 trek 4100 on there for $200. There is nothing wrong with this type of bike and the great news is that if he wants to "trade up" at a latter date then he can sell this type of bike for $200 to someone else in a couple of years. This bike doesn't need to be the bike for rest of his life but it could be if he wants it to be.

  21. #21
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    $200 and doesn't think he needs a helmet for mountain biking? warn him once, explain it to him again, then wash your hands of the whole thing and let me do what he wants. after he destroys a crappy bike and smashes his head somewhere, he will come around.

    the co-op where I used to work would let you build just about anything for $35. most of the time, you could just build a functional commuter from the parts at the shop, but I helped a few people build very capable mountain bikes. see if there is one in your area.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnum Ti View Post
    My friend/roommate basically wants me to come up with some kind of miracle. He really wants to get into mountain biking and wants a bike he won't outgrow skill wise. He's a bigger guy around 6'2" so of course I recommended a used bike, and possibly a 29er for his size. I suggested a baseline budget of $400 and I could get him on something that would suit his needs and be of quality.{Also mentioning a Cannondale Jekyll size XL that my brother is trying to sell}. However he is still telling me that amount is out of the question and I absolutely will not recommend a Walmart bike and cringe at some of the box store offerings. I really don't want to be his trail side mechanic when we ride. Any ideas..I know its a long shot..
    You gotta go used. $100-$200 is walmart territory. Even the worse, lowest end bikes at most bike shops are $500+. Hell, SPOKES on a decent wheel build can easily cost more than his budget.

    Keep trying to get him to bump his budget. I've seen plenty of used bikes $300-$400 that I'd feel confident recommending to friends. He's going to outgrow a $100 bike pretty quick unless he only rides once a year.

  23. #23
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    As I myself am new to mountain biking and don't have any knowledge with regard to this sport in short of sitting on the bike, I can understand where your friend/roommate is coming from.

    I too am very hesitant in spending $400 or more on something that I might try a few times never to look at it again but luckily I'm getting pretty into it and am very interested in this sport the more I ride. Especially since living in NYC where almost everything from costs of goods & services costs are equivalent to an arm and a leg.

    Am I cheap, frugal or thrifty is up for debate?

    This may not be the case for your friend but I think it's worth noting.

    Someone else mentioned Nashbar AT1 earlier in this thread and that is exactly what I got. Is it a good bike? I've ridden it the past 4 weeks and to be quite honest, I still don't know. I've poured over forums here and several others and found that I had no idea what anyone was trying to describe because I had no point of reference as a rider as to what I do and don't like. It seems to be the consensus amongst all hardcore riders that everyone has their own tastes that fit their range of expectations. The circumstances may be a little different for your friend/roommate because he has you as a good point of reference but I think like myself, he won't really know what works for him and what doesn't until he tries it.

    For example, I learned that plastic pedals are not durable (I know, lack of common sense) so I browsed through amazon and purchased something that looks to be more durable. I also learned that I do not like twist grip shifters. All in all, I didn't know any of this until I actually rode the bike.

    If you're trying to sell this sport to your friend and he's hard pressed on staying around the $200 price point, make sure to temper his expectations. To believe that there is a single product out there in the world that will fit all of these needs is nonsensical and foolish. Any sport you come across most people will eventually outgrow the equipment skill wise... hopefully.

    Since you are the ambassador to him with regard to Mountain Biking, I'd give him a few options at different price ranges and realistically talk to him about the pro's and con's of those said options.

    Another thing that may help you make your case is to ask him what his fears and objections are in purchasing a more expensive bike. If they're reasonable as I'm sure you have enough knowledge in this arena, you should be able to overcome those fears and objections.

    I agree that you get more for what you pay for but throwing money at it isn't always the answer. Pardon my grandeur statement but speaking for all noobs... we all have to start somewhere. For some it starts at $500, $1k, $2k, $10k but for me $200 was the limit to test the waters and I have no qualms about riding the hell out of it, learn and throw it away or give away when I'm ready to get something better.

    Sorry for the long rant and I doubt most will read this at this point but I am a kinesthetic learner. I plan on fiddling with parts so I learn all components of mountain biking.

    Good luck and God Speed!

  24. #24
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    What you said is an accurate statement. I started on a $130 Schwinn from target, realized the longevity isn't there for what I wanted out of it. bought a bikes direct cheap $250 full suspension, learned a lot about shifters and derailleur setup and wheel bearings. Definitely learned cheap suspension is not efficient on a trail. bought a hard tail, learned it's fun as heck but will hurt if you don't get off the saddle. Now, I'm happy with my bike, but I've changed everything on it except the wheels and the rear shifter/derailleur.

  25. #25
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    He could always rent one. It would likely cost less than 75 dollars for the weekend and he could see what a nice bike is really like, and if he enjoys the sport.

    If not, I'm going to echo what everyone else is saying here. He should be prepared to spend 350-500 on the bike alone. It is his choice whether or not he "outgrows" it. (which is a huge fallacy in my mind.)

  26. #26
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    I see abandoned bikes all the time just laying around. Find one, throw a new chain and tires and tubes on it and go thrashing. Much less than $200.

    Otherwise, try yard sales and swap meets. Epic deals to be found out there if you put forth the effort.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidkim0827 View Post
    If you're trying to sell this sport to your friend and he's hard pressed on staying around the $200 price point, make sure to temper his expectations.
    THIS!

    My biggest concern about "budget" bicycles is that people think that a $200 bike is going to perform like a $2000 bike, as if a bike is a bike. I work in a shop and often meet people who recently bought a cheap bike and, within a few months of riding, so many parts on the bike are worn out that they have to spend more than they initially spent on the bike to keep it running. used bikes often come in immediately after being purchased through a Craiglist ad needed enough dollars worth of new parts that it would have been cheaper for the owner to have purchased a new bike instead.

    buying a cheap bike is fine so long as the rider expects that it will not hold up for the long haul and more funds will need to be injected into the hobby eventually.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    THIS!

    My biggest concern about "budget" bicycles is that people think that a $200 bike is going to perform like a $2000 bike, as if a bike is a bike. I work in a shop and often meet people who recently bought a cheap bike and, within a few months of riding, so many parts on the bike are worn out that they have to spend more than they initially spent on the bike to keep it running. used bikes often come in immediately after being purchased through a Craiglist ad needed enough dollars worth of new parts that it would have been cheaper for the owner to have purchased a new bike instead.

    buying a cheap bike is fine so long as the rider expects that it will not hold up for the long haul and more funds will need to be injected into the hobby eventually.
    A beginner mountain biker only needs a $200 bike to start with. Then, as his/her confidence and skill level builds, they move up to the $2000 bike.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawg View Post
    I see abandoned bikes all the time just laying around. Find one, throw a new chain and tires and tubes on it and go thrashing. Much less than $200.


    Otherwise, try yard sales and swap meets. Epic deals to be found out there if you put forth the effort.
    I'd agree. If it were me, I'd either buy something for $400 or more or get something nearly free. Anything in between is a waste, in my opinion... Either shell out proper money, or get seriously cheap.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hawg View Post
    A beginner mountain biker only needs a $200 bike to start with. Then, as his/her confidence and skill level builds, they move up to the $2000 bike.
    His point was that a $200 mountain bike will need $200 worth of upgrades or repairs in a short time if it's being seriously ridden... And at that point a $400 mountain bike would have been a better option.

    I work at a shop and see this all the time too... Guys want to buy hybrids for mountain biking to save money. I always tell them it won't be as fun to ride, which makes it less likely the hobby will stick. In my opinion in order to truly get a feel for the sport of mountain biking you need to spend around $400.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDwayyo View Post
    His point was that a $200 mountain bike will need $200 worth of upgrades or repairs in a short time if it's being seriously ridden... And at that point a $400 mountain bike would have been a better option.

    I work at a shop and see this all the time too... Guys want to buy hybrids for mountain biking to save money. I always tell them it won't be as fun to ride, which makes it less likely the hobby will stick. In my opinion in order to truly get a feel for the sport of mountain biking you need to spend around $400.
    I agree but my point was that a beginner mountain biker doesn't ride it seriously enough to need $200 worth of repairs/replacement right from the start. Go with me on this since you work at a shop. I was trying to push a new bike sale here on an upgrade when the time came.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawg View Post
    I agree but my point was that a beginner mountain biker doesn't ride it seriously enough to need $200 worth of repairs/replacement right from the start. Go with me on this since you work at a shop. I was trying to push a new bike sale here on an upgrade when the time came.
    Ya I could see that point of view... But my thinking is that a better bike would make them want to ride more seriously more quickly. Of course they won't start off riding hard and often if they get a $200 POS. On a proper bike that same rider might get hooked immediately.

    My mindset when selling bikes is that the more fun, comfortable, capable, etc. a bike is the more it will get used. I'm not just selling bikes, I'm selling a hobby... I want that hobby to stick and I think my best bet for making that happen is getting the customer on the best bike possible right from the start.

  32. #32
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    I've been in your shoes. I would let him demo your brother's bike. If he really likes it, he may increase his budget.

    If not, show him the bikes you can find on CL for 200. Say this will work, but you would outgrow it faster than the other bike. If he insists, then buy him what he can afford.

    Oh yeah, when he refuses to wear the helmet or listen to any advice, let him crash. Then he'll learn and purchase a helmet. At least that's what my friend did.

    Last but not least, good deals do exist on CL. I found a Monocog 29 for 200. I drove 3-4 hours one direction for it though.

  33. #33
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    The nashbar AT2 is better equipped than the AT1, and only $256 after 21% discount in cart. Thats pretty hard to touch at that price. Otherwise, Im a big fan of bikes direct bikes, but you'd need to move into the 300-400 range before they make sense.

  34. #34
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    What kind of trails are we talking about here?? If he is relatively new to cycling all together, I say just get him a Craigslist beater and take him up and down some gravel/fire/logging roads to build him up. Ride upgrades. If he is on such a budget, a rigid bike and this style of riding is really his best bet. Cheap suspension sucks and noobishly beating around a cheap used rigid is stupid.

    Will he even want to burn gas to drive to trailheads? He should just ride like kids do, pounding out dirt piles at the local parks and schools, hammering whatever he can. Sounds like a F-ing blast to me.

  35. #35
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    I started my mountain biking adventure almost 20 years ago with a <$200 Huffy. The bike was heavy, had no suspension and didn't even allow the wheels to be removed without bending a factory stamped tab. But it had gears that allowed me to climb the hills. I had hours of fun riding this bike and it convinced me that I loved to ride trails. I've since moved on to higher end bikes but this was a great starter model. I don't think you need a super bike to prove to yourself whether you like mountain biking or not. Walmart offers some great starter bikes with suspension and disk brakes.

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