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I’m looking to buy the best all around FS bike for trail riding for around the $1K mark. I’m a beginner having only had a Toys ‘R’ Us bike the last 4 years and not really riding it very much. I do know that bob on uphill climbs is something I want to avoid after trying to ride that cheap bike with the cheap front shock uphill. Also I have a 33” inseam and weigh around 180lbs. I know from the work I do the more upright and less bent over riding position would probably work better for my back as well. After doing some reading on the net I’ve come across these 7 bikes that seem to fit my price range. One of the problems is that a few of these would have to be online purchases because there are no dealers near me to try them out. Also, I don’t really know as far as stock components where my money would be best spent considering these bikes. We have very wet Spring and Fall seasons where I live with very dry Summers so I thought the disc brakes might be important but again I really don’t know. Ok now the list by lowest to highest price I can find.

GT idrive 2.0 - $799.99

Frame Material:
Frame Angles: 70.5 head, 73.0 seat
Sizes: s, m, l, xl
Fork: Rock Shox Pilot SL 100mm
Rear Shock: Fox Float Air Shock
Brake Levers: Shimano Deore Integrated
Handlebar: Syncros New 6061 Butted Alum Adventure bar with 50mm rise and 7 degree bend
Stem: GT MTN, Tig welded threadless, 10 degree rise with 4-bolt face plate
Headset: Tange Zero Stack system for 1 1/8”
Front Der: Shimano Alivio
Crankset: TruVativ Firex, ISIS driveAlloy Outer, 42,32,22
Rear Der: Shimano LX
Pedals: Ritchey ’03 Logic v.3 Comp Clipless pedal, with new Shimano 959 system
Tires: Front Tioga Factory XC Extreme 26 x 2.1 Rear Factory XC26 x 1.95

Specialized FSR XC - $849.99

Frame Material: Specialized A1 aluminum, double butted
Frame Angles: 71.0 head, 69.0 seat
Sizes: large, medium, small, xlarge
Fork: Answer Manitou Axel Comp, 100mm travel
Rear Shock: coil
Brake Levers: Shimano M420
Handlebar: Specialized aluminum
Stem: Specialized riser
Headset: 1 1/8" threadless aluminum
Front Der: Shimano Deore, clamp-on/34.9mm
Crankset: Shimano Hollowtech, 22/32/44 teeth
Rear Der: Shimano Deore
Pedals: aluminum platform
Tires: 26 x 2.00" Specialized Roll-X

Giant NRS 3 - $899.99

Frame Material: ALUXX SL double butted aluminum
Frame Angles: 71.0 head, 72.0 seat
Sizes: 16.5”, 18.5”, 20.5”, 22.5”
Fork: RockShox Pilot XC, 80mm
Rear Shock: Fox Float R Air, 3.75”
Brake Levers: Avid SD3 direct pull
Handlebar: Easton EA50 low riser
Stem: Easton EA50
Headset: Integrated Ahead
Front Der: Shimano Deore LX
Crankset: RaceFace Ride XC ISIS, 22/32/44T
Rear Der: Shimano Deore LX
Pedals: Shimano M505 Clipless
Tires: Hutchinson Python Air Light, 26x2.0

Gary Fisher Sugar 4+ - $949.99

Frame Material: aluminum
Frame Angles: Unspecified
Sizes: 16", 17.5", 19", 21"
Fork: Answer Manitou Axel Super, 70-100mm travel
Rear Shock: Rock Shox Bar Adjust
Brake Levers: aluminum linear-pull
Handlebar: Bontrager Crowbar Sport
Stem: Bontrager Sport
Headset: 1 1/8" threadless Aheadset / Semi-Cartidge
Front Der: Shimano Deore LX
Crankset: Bontrager Select, 22/32/44 teeth
Rear Der: Shimano Deore LX
Pedals: Shimano PD-M505 SPD
Tires: 26 x 2.10" IRC Mythos XC

Kona Kikapu - $999.99

Frame Material: 7005 aluminum
Frame Angles: Unspecified
Sizes: 14", 16", 18", 19", 20", 21", 23"
Fork: Marzocchi MZ Comp, 100mm travel
Rear Shock: Fox Vanilla, 3.5" travel
Brake Levers: Avid FR-1
Handlebar: Kona Riser
Stem: TruVativ XR
Headset: 1 1/8" threadless Victor VP-A71
Front Der: Shimano Deore, top-pull/clamp-on
Crankset: TruVativ Five D, 22/32/44 teeth
Rear Der: Shimano Deore LX
Pedals: Wellgo A9 w/ clips and straps
Tires: 26 x 1.95" Tioga Terra Firma

Iron Horse Hollowpoint Sport - $1,079.00

Frame Material: 7005 aluminum, double butted
Frame Angles: 71.0 head, 71.4 seat
Sizes: 15", 17", 19", 21"
Fork: Rock Shox Duke XC Air, 100mm
Rear Shock: Manitou QR Air, 4.5"
Brake Levers: Avid Speed Dial 7
Handlebar: TruVativ XR-XC
Stem: TruVativ
Headset: 1 1/8" FSA, threadless
Front Der: Shimano Deore
Crankset: TruVativ Firex SX, 22/32/44 teeth
Rear Der: Shimano Deore XT
Pedals: Shimano PD-M520L
Tires: 26 x 2.35" Maxxis Hansventure

Cannondale Jekyll 600-disc - $1249.99

Frame Material: 6013 T6 aluminum
Frame Angles: 69.5-71.0 head, 72.0-73.5 seat
Sizes: large, medium, small, xlarge
Fork: Answer Manitou Black Elite
Rear Shock: Fox Float RL with ProPedal
Brake Levers: Cannondale Fire
Handlebar: Cannondale Earth
Stem: Cannondale HeadShok SI
Headset: 1 1/8" threadless FSA Converter
Front Der: Shimano Deore LX
Crankset: TruVativ Five D, 22/32/44 teeth
Rear Der: Shimano Deore XT
Pedals: Cannondale clipless
Tires: 26 x 2.00" Hutchinson Scorpion
 

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thoughts....

YES you want discs, in the wet you'll wear thru the walls and pads like mad if you start to ride a lot.

Next, FIT is key. Sit/ride on as many of the bikes as you can. A poor fit = pain, suffering, wasted money, and you won't ride it. Make sure the cockpit (seat to handlebars) is perfect for you and feels like the bike was made for your pleasure.

Next, service: if you can't get parts and service and you're wanting to ride, guess what?

All the bikes are good ones, these days it's hard to buy junk except at dept. stores. Do some homework, and I'm sure you'll find that perfect ride. The only one I'm personally familiar with is the Kikapu, it's a proven design and a good strong ride. Sorry, I don't know the others well, while I have an Enduro, the Spec. you're looking at has no discs, that for me puts it out of the running even if it is a great ride.

Good luck, Jim
 

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My experience with i-drive and NRS

I had a 2001 GT i-drive 3.0 for 2 years before the frame cracked. I know that the newer GT i-drives have a new frame design with extra supports to prevent the overwhelming number of cracks. The frame was under warranty so they were going to replace it for me. My LBS told me that this crack was a common thing with the i-drives. They said that they still had people waiting on frames for over 10 months, and some waiting longer. I guess that they were just backed up on their orders due to the overwhelming number of cracked frames. I waited 2 months and decided to trade the frame in with my LBS for a 2003 Giant NRS2. The GT was a great bike before it cracked on me. My only complaint was the climbing wasn't very good. The NRS on the other hand is more of a cross country race bike. I bought the bike with intentions of being serious about xc racing. I raced a few times and decided that it wasn't for me. The NRS definitely had a more rigid feel than the i-drive. The NRS was amazing at climbing because of the no-bob suspension. I am more of an aggressive trail rider so the NRS was definitely too rigid for me. I made upgrades to it to make it more of a xc-trail bike. I was able to increase the travel with new rockers to give me 4.5 inches in the rear and bought a manitou black elite fork 100/120 to give me 4-5 inches in the front. I am loving this setup now. It makes the bike so much more plush.

This is just a little story of my experience with the 2 bikes. You really need to decide what type of riding you would be doing. The i-drive has a slightly more upright position than the NRS. This is because the NRS is more of a xc race bike. Discs are good, definitely get them if it is wet where you are. The $800-$1000 range will only give you entry level components. You can always upgrade components once you get more comfortable with riding. Test ride as many of those bikes as you can. Good luck with your search.

Hope this info was helpful.
 
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