Houston Area Bike Recommendation- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Houston Area Bike Recommendation

    Hey, a friend who lives in the Houston area is interested about getting into mountain biking. I was hoping to give her some guidance before she starts hitting the bike shops in the area but I don't know the area well enough to advise the right kind of bike. She was eyeballing Memorial Park as a place to begin. Is that area rocky/rooty and technical or smooth and flowey? Is full suspension recommended for the area or is hardtail best? Are 29ers worth looking into? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Last edited by Adrian!; 06-01-2010 at 08:55 AM. Reason: Typo

  2. #2
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    We have roots everywhere and zero rocks. I just switched from a 26er hardtail to a 29er hardtail and can easily tell the difference with all the roots. Nothing wrong with a short travel FS either, lots of people around here ride them.

  3. #3
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    I'm in Houston & can easily recommend a hardtail 29er. It may depend on her size though... it has been said that smaller riders might have trouble on 29ers depending on their fitness level & bike handling ability.

    My wife (who is a beginner) at 5'3" on a 29er, no way. My friend's wife (who races) at 5'4" on a 29er - she leaves us all in the dust.

    There are plenty of places to ride in Houston & I'd say that just about all of them will lend themselves to a hardtail. The extra weight of an FS bike isn't necessarily worth it here.

    Check out Memorial (great mix of trails, generally crowded), Terry Hershey Park (the Anthills), Stephen F. Austin State Park is great for beginners, Bluff Creek Ranch (90 minutes away in Warda, TX) is fairly technical XC and never crowded. Lots more trail info HERE.

  4. #4
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    see if she might want to rent a bike for the weekend and explore Mem Prk. West End Bikes rents and they're minutes from there. She maybe able to rent an fs bike as well to get a comparison. might be a good route for size & style of bike if she is not in a hurry to purchase.

    as far as which bike fs, ht, 26 or 29 it is all personal preference and how you like to ride and hit the trail. there's not one better option. 26" djer is fine for Memorial if you have skills.

  5. #5
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    go with a hardtail 26r or 29r. Lots of bike shops, just tell her to figure out what brand she likes. Then shop shops specifically for that. lots of bike radicals here.
    www.TheTexasOutdoors.com

    ^^^ everything outdoors in Texas

  6. #6
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    I've been riding Houston for the last 4 years and I would not reccomend Memorial Park as a place for beginners to start. Don't get me wrong, it's a great place to ride but there are better trails for beginners to learn. Stephen F. Austin State Park, Sugar Land Memorial (aka Justin P. Brindley Trail), Double Lake, and Flintridge (aka George Mitchell Preserve) are my reccomendations and in that order as well. Memorial Park has too many roots, whoop-ti-doo's and I hate to say it, rude bikers, that it makes it a poor choice for beginners. I've taken a few beginners out there any every one has returned a little shell-shocked.

    Not everyone wil agree with my advice regarding Memorial Park but I'm sure everyone who's been to one of GHORBA's skills clinics will agree they're more than worth the time. GHORBA has a skills clinic coming up on Saturday, June 12th at Sugar Land Memorial that your friend shouldn't miss. They have classes for beginners, intermediates, and advanced riders. The instructors there are top notch! Go to www.ghorba.org and become a member. Skills clinics are free for members.

    As for what type of bike to buy I say spend the extra dough and get a full suspension. It's true that you won't need it for most Houston trails but if you or your friend begin to wander away from Houston towards Austin, San Antonio, or Waco you'll be glad you have a rear shock. Go to Sun & Ski and check our their bikes and ask about the Pay as You Play layaway they have. It's a zero interest layaway but instead of waiting till you've made the last payment to get your bike or goods you get to take them home on the first day! I've used it to buy my bike plus all sorts of goodies over the years.

    Soccerdude (Fatbiker)
    Last edited by soccerdude; 06-01-2010 at 07:19 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by soccerdude
    As for what type of bike to buy I say spend the extra dough and get a full suspension. It's true that you won't need it for most Houston trails but if you or your friend begin to wander away from Houston towards Austin, San Antonio, or Waco you'll be glad you have a rear shock.
    Good advice. I was going to make the same suggestion.
    Pedigre


  8. #8
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    "Memorial Park has too many roots, whoop-ti-doo's and I hate to say it, rude bikers, that it makes it a poor choice for beginners. I've taken a few beginners out there any every one has returned a little shell-shocked"

    .........damn, that sucks. Ive heard the samething about Memorial Park, thats too bad. It would only take one or two bad experiences for me, and then I'd say screw it! Im way out in Deer Park and ride Pasadena's little secret trail. It's quiet, not crowded at all, and everyone seems pretty cool.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dadstoy
    Im way out in Deer Park and ride Pasadena's little secret trail. It's quiet, not crowded at all, and everyone seems pretty cool.
    oh...?
    Pedigre


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedigre
    oh...?
    Yeah,...you read about it. Couple of weeks ago,...titled,..."New Trail to Ride, Pasadena, Tx". You and RAGEman went back and forth about it.

    I enjoy it,.wish it was longer though. But I will try out Jack Brooks and maybe Double Lake. Then whenever I go to San Antonio to visit family,..I'll hit some stuff out there and Austin.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dadstoy
    Yeah,...you read about it. Couple of weeks ago,...titled,..."New Trail to Ride, Pasadena, Tx". You and RAGEman went back and forth about it.

    I enjoy it,.wish it was longer though. But I will try out Jack Brooks and maybe Double Lake. Then whenever I go to San Antonio to visit family,..I'll hit some stuff out there and Austin.
    Ah yes,that's right.
    Pedigre


  12. #12
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    Thanks

    Thanks for all the advice I've gotten so far regarding my question. She is looking at a budget of $500.00 but since I live out East I couldn't advise how much she should increase her budget. She might go with a HT 29er since she seems tall enough for it and Specialized and Giant have bikes, while above her budget, they aren't excessive either. I don't know if there are any decent full suspension bikes out there close to her price range. She was planning on renting/demoing a few, so maybe depending on how the bikes feel, she can might increase her budget to suit.

    Thanks for the additional recommendations on parks, shops & organizations. I really got into mountain biking last year and have been encouraging other people to be get involved as well but this is the first time I had to do it for someone not in my area.
    Last edited by Adrian!; 06-02-2010 at 10:53 AM.

  13. #13
    meh
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    at that price range, it would be a really bad idea to go FS
    esp for a beginner

  14. #14
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    I read all the time that $1000 is the magic number for buying a full suspension bike. Anything less than that and you might as well buy a hardtail. I completely disagree. While it's true that $500 will buy you a nice hardtail with quality components I've seen excellent deals on FS bikes with quality components for $600 or so. My friend bought an 08 Haro Shift R3 for $599 at Sun & Ski two weeks ago and they have quite a few of them left and in most sizes. I bought my 06 Shift R3 on sale years ago for $729. Now the Shift may not be a top of the line FS bike but it's served me well over the last 4 years and taken quite a beating. My friends 08 Shift has much better stock components than my 06 did. Of course I've upgraded a few things but who doesn't do that with a stock bike? There are always good deals to be had if you take the time to look around.

  15. #15
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    There are always good deals on model year leftovers but the cheap FS bikes are almost always single pivot rear suspension designs. They are the least efficient pedaling flatform (i.e. above average pedal bob) but can still be good bikes with a really good rear air shock but the cheap ones don't come with a really good rear air shock. Everyone has a different level of compromise but at that price range you are better off directing that rear suspension money into fork and component upgrades. Then you don't have to worry about pedal bob or the squeaks and creaks that can develop. Of course be sure to do a lengthy test ride to make sure your happy before buying.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by soccerdude
    I read all the time that $1000 is the magic number for buying a full suspension bike. Anything less than that and you might as well buy a hardtail. I completely disagree. While it's true that $500 will buy you a nice hardtail with quality components I've seen excellent deals on FS bikes with quality components for $600 or so. My friend bought an 08 Haro Shift R3 for $599 at Sun & Ski two weeks ago and they have quite a few of them left and in most sizes. I bought my 06 Shift R3 on sale years ago for $729. Now the Shift may not be a top of the line FS bike but it's served me well over the last 4 years and taken quite a beating. My friends 08 Shift has much better stock components than my 06 did. Of course I've upgraded a few things but who doesn't do that with a stock bike? There are always good deals to be had if you take the time to look around.
    your magic number is low

  17. #17
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    A good question to ask would be where is she in Houston? This is a pretty big city and it looks like there are at least a few who've posted in this thread that might be willing to help her out.

    As far as shop rec's go:

    West End is a solid shop & they are near Memorial Park. Specialized & some other brands. They can do high end.... Moots / Indy Fab / etc. They rent bikes & are smart.

    Bike Barn has locations around town, they deal in Specialized, Fisher, Trek & Cannondale. I bought my 29er at the 1960 / Champions location.

    Sun & Ski has a good selection of 26" bikes & are starting to get a few more 29er's in (at least at Katy Mills Mall). They sell lots of Scott bikes locally & I saw a built Niner recently so they can do that too.

    Performance has a couple of shops in Houston; my wife bought her Fuji road bike & GT mtb at the one on Westheimer @ Voss. Love them or hate them, you can get a good bike at a good price here. Good selection of bikes & a few 29ers starting to show up.

  18. #18
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    For beginner trails, also have her try Lake Houston Park. Often times I can ride there and not see a single other rider. Nice and easy stuff for beginners yet still has the feel of an out-of-the-way forest trail. Double Lake and Huntsville are other options once she gets used to whatever bike she decides on.

    I'll agree on Performance Bike; my wife and I got our Mongoose Teocali's there for a good price and they treated us spectacularly. I'd also agree on the point that she may want to venture elsewhere later, and that a FS bike would be nice. If she can swing the $700-1000 range there are quite a few nice entry level FS bikes to be had. Have her keep an eye out for previous year models still on the floor.

  19. #19
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    I agree on the rude nature of some riders out at Memorial. Seems to be a lot of Treked out individuals who get all pissy when you approach them going opposite directions even after calling out Rider. Had a few get angry at me for messing up their "flow".

    It can be a great place to ride, but sometimes the yahoos make it not as enjoyable as it would be.

    If she doesn't want to ride the trails just yet tell her to find a few bike paths and work her way up. I am close to Jack Brooks, but wouldn't recommend that to any beginner.

  20. #20
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    a-holes & elbows are always present just gotta ride around them & not let them disturb your "flow". I've had riders yell out rude shite while I've stopped to offer aid or directions to people because their pace was interrupted.

    guys who get upset are only going fast..."flow" is an entirely different level where you're actually aware and respectful of other things besides yourself.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 53119
    a-holes & elbows are always present just gotta ride around them & not let them disturb your "flow". I've had riders yell out rude shite while I've stopped to offer aid or directions to people because their pace was interrupted.

    guys who get upset are only going fast..."flow" is an entirely different level where you're actually aware and respectful of other things besides yourself.
    Yeah you are right on the flow thing. I am too slow to know about such things hahahaha.
    Yeah sometimes Houston makes me sad, but most times it's pretty good. I have found midday during the week to be a great time to ride most trails without having anyone to piss off around.

    Oh and I appologize to anyone who rides Trek, but the guys that give me the most grief are the ones on a Trek, with a Trek helmet, Trek clothing, Trek everything really lol. At least the Specialized people only look down on my bike and not me hahaha.

  22. #22
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    mid week mid day(xcept when the hell index is high) agree with you on that schedule.
    maybe memorial will be rideable sat morn.

  23. #23
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    There's nothing in the Houston area that merits a full suspension bike. If she's just starting out, she'll become a much more competent rider on a hardtail. It's her money, of course, but I can't think of anything in that area that would require more than a hardtail with a 100mm fork.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian!
    Hey, a friend who lives in the Houston area is interested about getting into mountain biking. I was hoping to give her some guidance before she starts hitting the bike shops in the area but I don't know the area well enough to advise the right kind of bike. She was eyeballing Memorial Park as a place to begin. Is that area rocky/rooty and technical or smooth and flowey? Is full suspension recommended for the area or is hardtail best? Are 29ers worth looking into? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    "So let's recap here:
    You asked a question.
    You got an answer.
    You proceed to make an ass out of yourself."

  24. #24
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    I'd say she can start at Memorial, but she'd be better off going during the week, and with someone who knows the trails. Some are pretty smooth, while others have more roots and obstacles than a beginner probably would want to deal with. Double Lake up near Cleveland is the smoothest I've ridden around here, and isn't nearly as crowded. . . . though it's a good bit further away. I'm on a 26" hardtail for now, and it's been a great bike, but Jack Brooks and Armstrongs(Austin) ranch leave me wishing I was on a full suspension, and I'll probably sell the hardtail and buy one VERY soon. I doubt she'll be riding anything that warrants a FS for a while, so I'd look into a hardtail.

  25. #25
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    With regards to the HT vs FS at the same price, I would go with a HT. You're spreading the money around more components which will decrease the quality of parts. Considering that can affect the bikes, I must ask another question. How are the hills in the Houston area? Are we looking at some long and/or steep climbs or is it short and/or gradual elevation changes?

    Thanks

  26. #26
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    Houston is FLAT. I believe there are several videos of memorial park on Youtube if you'd like to actually see the trails.

  27. #27
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    Wink

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian!
    . How are the hills in the Houston area? Are we looking at some long and/or steep climbs or is it short and/or gradual elevation changes?

    Thanks
    none on all of the above BUT if you like a mostly flat, rooty, sandy slalom type course you're in luck!

    if you want to be able to redeem air miles the Anthills on the west side of town has a nice dj area

  28. #28
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    What I got my girl for MP

    My girl and I just got into mt biking about three months ago. I did alot of online research of product reviews and found the Trek Skye for my girl. She is not into extreme trails but has been through every trail at Memorial Park without much problem. Some of the drops do scare her and she will sometimes walk them, but overall im very proud of her.

    I started her out riding down Memorial drive towards downtown. Its a nice paved ride with some good hills, to get her in shape. Once she was used to the bike we hit the trails and its been great.

    Note: If you start at Sabine and go down Allen Pkwy to Shepherd, then back to Sabine down Memorial Dr its a 5 mile ride thats all trails wihout having to cross any streets. They are also adding alot of concrete paths for a nice casual ride.

    I went to the bike barn and picked up the skye for $320. It is a great little bike and she really likes it. It has a pretty good seat and padded brake levers which she likes. It also has grip shifters which were easy for her to learn. The bike so far has held up great without any problems. Bikebarn gives you a free tuneup after the first thirty days. They have given me three tune ups on my new Trek 4500 at no charge cause I had alot of cable stretch. They are very understanding and helpful.

    This bike may not be the best for extreme trails with an extreme rider but for my girl it has been perfect. My girl is a shorty and the skye having the lowered beam makes getting on/off a snap.

    If your friend isnt trying to melt her tires and just ride for fun and health she might really like the Skye. It has regular brakes but I figured that would be best for her first bike. I didnt want to give her a bike that was to complex for her to understand or easy for her to break.

    Hope this helps.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by srey
    There's nothing in the Houston area that merits a full suspension bike.

    this ^^^^

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