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Brand new to the mountain biking world. In fact, I haven't even started yet. I am a photographer and am looking for a way to get around town and around trails to get shots and exercise. Right now I do a lot of hiking but I am looking to have some fun in addition to shooting images. So here is the deal . . .

6’3” and 240lbs. with $500 to spend. I have no clue about hardtails/disc brakes/banana seats/etc. I am willing to get a used bike, so I hope that opens more options if needed. Another slight problem is the fact that I am looking for some immediate gratification so I am hoping to make a purchase this week. Can anyone point me in the right direction? What should I look out for (good or bad)? Is there something I should say to make the sales guy think I know what I am talking about?

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
 

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Decent hardtail for $500

You should be able to get a decent name brand hardtail for $500 and probably a fair front suspension fork. This is a good time to look because those shops with a lot of '04 bikes are starting to discount them in anticipation of the '05 arrivals. I would look for a name brand like Trek, Giant, Cannondale, GT or Specialized. You should be able to get a good chromoly or aluminum frame with low to mid range Shimano or Sram components.

Look for a bike with a good suspension fork and make sure the fork is either air sprung or can be upgraded with springs appropriate for your weight. RockShox, Marzocchi or Manitou all make decent lower end forks and if you get real serious you will upgrade later anyway. V brakes will stop you fine, but you may find a bike with discs in that range. Make sure you get a bike that fits.....Make sure you get a bike that fits....Some shops either don't know how to fit you or will put you on a bike thats sized wrong if it fits your basic description and they can make the sale. I'm guessing you will want a Large or XL bike depending on how you are built and how the brand is sized, probably a 20-22 inch frame. You can go to the product reviews and manufacturers website links from this site to do some preliminary browsing before you hit the shops if you are inclined.

If you are in decent shape (or want to be) and like to keep things simple, you can get a Singlespeed for $400 and up. Check out the Redline Monocog or KHS Solo-One. They are a blast and most of us who own them ride them more than our geared bikes, many have sold their geared bikes all together.

Do not buy a bike from Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc., it won't last and it will be heavy.
Good luck, I hope this helps some. let us know what you get.
 

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At that budget, I'd go used.

Your $500 isn't going to get you much on the dealer floor, other than a warranty. If you have a knowledgable friend, you should check your local classifieds, eBay, bulletin boards at the bike shop, craigslist, etc. You'll get a lot of used bike from a private party for $500.

Jim
 

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I'll be willing to sell you my 2003 19.5 Trek fuel 80. I'm 6'4, 235 and it has treated me well as my first mountain bike. I work in a shop, so I'll replace all the cables and housing before it gets shipped out. If you are interested, let me know and I'll post more information/pictures. Have a good one.

-Mitch
 

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Velociraptor tires, salsa saddle, shimano 520 pedals, new chain, and a brand new pair of salsa grips that were installed a few days ago. I'm a mechanic in a bike shop, so I'll install new cables and go over the entire bike before it ships out. There is only mild wear on it, some worn paint on the crank arms (a black marker is your new friend), and some wear on the fork.









Let me know if you have any questions, or would like specific pictures taken. You can reach me at [email protected] or on AIM at: VolRdr
 

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Oh, for the love of...

Well, there you go... a prime candidate to be shipped off to the classified section of the website. But that does bring up the possibility of looking at the classified section here. :)

I like the idea of hunting through craigslist. You might also start talking to friends and people at local colleges. It's the start of a new year, and some people are thinking about new bicycles, so you might be able to get a deal on an old one. Look around as much as you can before you make a final decision, but when you decide to buy, here are a few things to consider.

-For $500 you may be able to get all kinds of "deals," on various bikes. And some of them may or may not be sexy. Beware of fancier high end stuff. replacement costs for parts can be a hassle. Around town, a shiny bike will get mroe attention from thieves than an older one with some obvious use on it.

-You'll get more hardtail for your money than you'll get from a full suspension. Both up front costs and future repair costs will be minimized. Things like shocks cost money, and moving parts will suffer wear over time. Especially if you're a big guy.

-Disc brakes are a lovely thing to have, but you'll get more out of V brakes if you're on a budget. That's not to say there aren't some budget disc brakes out there, but you'll get more stopping power for your dollar if you go with V brakes... even if it means buying upgrades after you buy the bike.

-Shock forks are pretty much standard these days, so it's pretty unavoidable. Marzocchi seems to have the best reputation as far as being generally bulletproof, but rock shox and manitou aren't too far behind, I don't think. That said, I still have a rigid fork on the bike I use around town every day. So if you find a rigid bike, don't discount it right away.

-DO NOT buy any brand being sold at toys R us, walmart, etc. That includes schwinn, mongoose, and I think GT, too. Brands that previously were reputable have been sold to Huffy and Pacific, and quality has suffered as a result. "Shock Absorbing" forks, don't... they're just spring loaded jack hammers for your wrists. To add insult to injury, the people assembling these bikes are paid by the bike, not by the hour, so they put a lot of crappy bikes together in a crappy fashion, further resulting in bad shifting, and marginal braking power.

-Don't be afraid to spend $300 on a rigid forked bike with cantilever brakes. That leaves money to spend on things like a repair manual and a few minimal tools, a seat bag, a good lock, and maybe some parts later on if you decide you need em. But I emphasize the manual and tools here, especially for folks on a budget. Learning to do your own adjustments will save you a lot of time and trouble later on, and they're really not hard to learn at all. The bicycle is a very simple machine that anyone can learn to understand, and things like tune ups get expensive. You'll have a better running machine if you can properly do things yourself.

That will also enable you to do little things like install better brakes later on if you're so inclined. And, really... once you get the hang of tuning things on your own, it's my opinion that an attentively tuned beater bike can be a lot more fun to ride than a high end bike that isn't shifting or braking as well as it could. Especially with the advent of indexed shifting, since too much cable slack means the gear you want won't shift until you're halfway to the next gear, and.. well, I guess I sound snobby. People get used to their bikes, but I keep mine very well tuned, to the point where I fiddle with barrel adjusters at least once a ride to get that shifting point 'just right."

The more you know, the better you'll be able to recognize problems with your bike, and once you're in tune with the bike, the bike will become in tune overall, and it'll do what you want almost when you think it. That way you don't have to shift halfway to the next gear to get the one you want, and you'll be able to stop fast if you have to.

I've seen people ride around cambridge on bikes with rear wheels shaped like pringles, disconnected rear brakes to compensate for the wheel, afraid to use high gear for fear the chain will fall off the edge of the gears into the dropouts, and a variety of other things. So they can't go fast enough to get out of their own way, let along someone else's. They can't shift too well, so they can't react to places where faster or slower gear settings would be an advantage. And they couldn't stop fast if they had to. But they do it every day. People get used to the condition of their bikes. That doesn't mean YOU have to.
 
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