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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, after almost a year now of riding my full rigid 26er (Trek Mountain Track 800) I'm on my way to save up for a new bike. I really took this whole year to perfect riding on such an unforgiving bike and made it into a bike that I trust 100% in every movement...however, it gets very tiring on my body to take the beating the full rigid 26er does and it even becomes a little less safe when having to roll over larger roots, stumps, and boulders.

Height: 5'4"
Weight: ~145 lbs
Price Range: 500-$700 (preferably around 500-$650)

What should I upgrade to? 650b/27.5 or 29er?

Bikes I'm considering
- Trek Wahoo > 29er
- Trek X-Caliber 5 > 29er
- Raleigh Tokul 1 > 650b\27.5

Any other bike choices?

Extra - From what I hear, someone of my size would be able to better utilize a 650b since I'd be able to control it more and take advantage of my weight control over the bike. However the 29er would still be able to roll faster and over more things *or at least easier*. I'm stuck guys...I really want a bike I can enjoy riding both a little technical but primarily cross country trails.
 

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You're thinking too much about wheel size and not enough about how those bikes actually feel when you're riding them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You're probably right, I have actually tried the Tokul 1 and the Wahoo and from what I could tell, I slightly enjoyed the quick acceleration of the Tokul 1 more so than the turbo like lag of the Wahoo. I felt a little more comfortable riding the Tokul 1 since the wheels were quicker to react than the 29 on the Wahoo. The only thing that got me on the Wahoo was how fast it rolled once it got past the initial slight lag to get it moving.
 

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Once you get those bikes on trail the cheap($60) fork will be much worse for control than riding rigid. Flexy(28mm), heavy(6.2lb) pogoing with no adjustable rebound damping Suntour 'X' fork. Coil spring for a 185lb rider.
A 15" Marin Bobcat 29 off ebay has a tapered aluminum steerer, sealed no maintenance oil cartridge damper, adjustable rebound Raidon air fork you can set to your weight.
It weighs 4.5lbs.
2013 Marin Bobcat Trail 29er 15" MTB Hardtail Bike Shimano 9S Hydraulic Disc New | eBay

The other components are good. You could eventually upgrade the brakes to M615 Deores for $100.
 

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Your best bet would be a used bike with 26 inch wheels. You'll get a lot better components that way. Wheel size is not the most important factor. I agree with eb1888 - you won't be doing yourself any favors with a cheap suspension fork. Right now good forks are $700-1000 and you want to pay less than that for the entire bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I really appreciate all the information! I might consider getting a used or older model bike. I'm not sure what I can upgrade on my Trek Mountain Track 800 other than better derailleurs and maybe wheels, but the bike frame is chromoly and it's a bit on the heavier side plus it's fairly old. I do enjoy riding rigid, but I kind of want to roll a bit faster than my 26ers do, that's mostly why I want a bigger wheel, also since I'm expanding my riding scene to areas that are less technical.

I wouldn't say that I'm a super serious hardcore mountain biker, but since I'm just a college student who doesn't really have the play money to buy a 1K+ bike, I just want a decent bike to ride trails locally then eventually when I'm done with college, have a higher paying job, then I'll invest a lot more into a nicer bike, but for now I really don't have a whole lot to work with since my job is a part time job anyway lol.

If this helps determine the quality of bike, here are the places I ride.
- Coyote Hills
- Lake Chabot
- Hayward Plunge
- Mission Peak (very rarely)
- Livermore Hills
- Niles Canyon (nice area for technical trails if you can find them)

Basically I don't do anything super radical or anything, just nice cruising trails. Eventually I might transfer from my junior college to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where I hear there are some nice riding areas out there and I may bring my bike there (also why I don't want it to be super expensive and nice)
 

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go for a 26"er imho. vs a 27.5" is like a an inch difference in diameter = you won't know the difference. However, at any used bike price point, you can get twice componentry tier level the 26er for their firesales vs a 27.5" bike. Th
 

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I'm 5' 10". My SS is a 9ber (29er up front and 650b in back). Rollover is good. My FS is a 26". Rollover is good. A bike that fits you is more important than wheelsize. Next is geometry for your riding style. This is where the 26" and 650b show the largest differential, imo. Much more than the rollover. Pick the one that feels best to you. 3 seconds faster on your local trails does not equal a funner ride.

Disclaimer: I'm not trying to sway you from a 650b bike. I like bigger wheels, too. But, i honestly don't notice enough difference to make a bike decision based on the wheel size. If i did, i would be a pro and wouldn't be looking for advice on the interwebs. Demo, demo, demo. Wait until you find THE bike you want. If you don't, you will regret it and only end up buying another bike. Thats also not really a bad thing, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think I'm going to try and find some bike stores that carry 26er hardtails. I almost forgot to consider the fact that the rollover of a 26er with a front suspension fork (esp a nice one) will be a noticeably better ride from my rigid front fork. One of my main concerns for rollover was when I almost took a spill at Coyote Hills when my wheel some how bounced off of a water trench and got very loose on me...another time I was trying to cut over a water trench and my wheel ended up skidding and almost sliding into the trench itself. After that, it's got me kind of worried since those are usually the downhill parts and I don't really have much time to react or else I plummet into the ground going 30mph.

Anywho, yea I guess I really need to take some time to demo some bikes and see what I like. After everything everyone has been saying, I think I'll really take a look at the 26er hardtails (I know I can't afford a dual sus. 26er). One of the guys I met playing tennis bikes a lot and he also told me it was mostly preference and that 26ers are dominant in terms of agility hands down. Although, I'm curious to know why consumers seem less inclined to get 650b's even when the companies like Giant, Jamis, etc...have a lot of confidence in 650b's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHDEzZ6u2ps

Any good 26er hardtails I can consider in my price range?
 

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rigid vs suspension fork >> 26 vs 27.5 bike.

Falls will still happen no matter what you riding. Different bikes and different geometries just need to be ridden differently from each other. That's part of the fun and challenge.

I personally hate riding rigid. For me, it's really rough and limits what kind of trails I can tackle.
 

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After 29 years of 26 inch Mtb, the last 16 on a vey high quality, race ready steel ht, I've gone to 27.5. Don't tell me one cannot feel the difference.

Also, at your height 27.5 makes much more sense than 29. Sure, smaller riders can ride 29 successfully but that is not common.

If you want to feel the difference simply grab a 27.5 in your hands and flop it back and forth as if you were shaking and distributing sealant for tubeless. Then grab a 29 and do the same thing. You can feel the extra floppiness in the 29. That will show up in your steering.

The larger size and weight has more rotational mass and you will feel that every time you accelerate. The difference between 26 & 29 is greater than that from 26 & 27.5.

I am not saying that 27.5 is superior to 29, though that is my personal preference. I am saying that the difference is real, measurable, and will effect your experience.
 

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I would start hitting CL, Pinkbike, LBS, see what you can find used. You could find a decent used bike for $400- $600. If you get a good bike for $400 you still have 2-$250 left to upgrade or buy new tires/cables, etc. Good luck.
 

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Doesn't your 800 have a 1 1/8" head tube? You could get a used 100mm Fox, get it pushed, get a new headset in, and have a pretty sweet hardtail for possibly even less money than you were talking about. Someone will probably say it will screw up your geometry, but IMHO, it will probably just be more forgiving on aggressive stuff.

It WILL, however, put more stress on the head tube, so you'd want to keep an eye on that if you're getting all aggressive with boulders, but at least if you screw up your frame you have a nice fork to put on a new one... :)

Good to hear you've been having fun on that thing. I love those bikes.

edit: Oh, and I don't want to get into the religious discussion with sizes, but I have more than a bit of height and weight on you, and I'll be jamming my 26" this afternoon. Be sure to ride what you like. ;)
 

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I kinda scanned.

But I think maybe you're better off leveraging the bike you already have and the money you have and getting a "real" fork.

Or, buy secondhand. $500 is enough to do fairly well. How old is the 800?
 

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I would say $500 is plenty to buy a bike that is a significant upgrade from your trek 800.

Shop craigslist for something lightly used or local shops for last years models for the best deals.

Maybe even shop a big box sporting goods store. My family chipped in and bought my mom a new ride on black friday for her birthday, I think we paid $179. Granted we knew what we were shopping for and she doesn't really ride that hard. She loves the new ride.

http://www.*****sportinggoods.com/p...1&cp=4406646.4413986.4417717.4418012.12458051

Edit: Apparently that particular retailer's name doesnt agree with mtbr's editing software lol.

we paid $179 for this guy
Diamondback Bicycles - 2012 Response Sport
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I spent 6 months researching and talking to numerous bike shops about upgrading my Trek 800, but most if not all of them told me that it wouldn't be worth it. The Trek is older than me and I'm 20, so the bike is quite old. Likewise, the derailleurs are old too and my rear derailleur lost some tension in the spring and since it's only an Altus, when try to adjust it, it eventually just reverts back to the sluggish low tension in a matter of a ride or two. Also the bike is sort of falling apart in some ways, I'm not entirely sure why, but the joint that holds the rear derailleur to the frame is basically stripped of all the rivets that created the abrasive hold and my rear derailleur occasionally just gets loose and slides up against the bottom of the frame bar that goes above it (SEE PICTURE)

1305341_10202098231441581_1629321860_n.jpg

My Trek looks like it is in fabulous condition from a distance, but everything tells me that it was sitting around for too many years before I used it, and even with taking care of it after I fixed it back up, the parts on the bike weren't able to keep up with what I was demanding (or at least after a year of almost 3-5 days a week going up the hills and riding it for some 3-4 hours per day).

1305434_10202308543419249_1354258111_n.jpg

Basically, as much as I hate to say it, my bike is sadly getting worn down, mostly due to the age of the parts and the fact that it was literally sitting around in the garage for some 18 years with stuff piled above it and some gnarly grunge on all the gears, joints, and everything you could think of. My dad and I did a total fix up on in, but the parts were just aged in general.

A side note: I'd love to buy my dad's bike off of him! He has a custom built Cannondale head shock suspension (must be before the fork shock) and a full set of Shimano XT components (back when XT was the 2nd from top-of-the-line) Sadly, but with good reason, he doesn't want to let me buy it off him even for $900 *Although I was joking* since his bike is worth close to $1200-1300...mostly he wants to keep it because he wants to keep the bike if he ever decided to bike again.
 

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A friend of mine doesn't want to sell me back the Schwinn Mesa I sold him when we were in college, for much the same reason.

Truth is if he sold it to me, it would just hang out in my Mom's garage instead of his. So it's just as well.

To return to your original question, I don't think wheel size is that important. Your budget isn't going to do much with a new bike. But it could be a really nice ride secondhand. So everything you can do to widen your selection will help, particularly not boxing yourself into a more recently-introduced wheel size.

So approach this from the other direction. Find out what's available to you for $700 and under. Check out your local shops. Check out Craig's List. Check out the online catalogs. I think you can get into a bike with a modern, functional drivetrain and a real suspension fork for your price. Just not at retail.

Since you're at a place in your life where putting aside some money takes some time, I think starting with a solid package will save you a lot of angst. I know my $600 Hardrock ended up needing a fair number of aftermarket parts and a lot of time to keep rolling. While it's a pretty reliable bike now, I sometimes wished I'd just started with a more solid build, and taken a little more time to explore my options. As it was, every time I broke something, it was a new mission to figure out what I needed to avoid a repeat, and how to make it fit my budget. Now that I have another degree and a steady job, I have a bike that came out of the box targeted at XC racing. I still put on a different stem and saddle dialing in the fit and put on "my" pedals and tires, but so far, it's been much more reliable and easy to own than my Hardrock, and I feel really good about the choice.

When I read reviews of bikes that say "After I put bla bla bla on it for $XXX, it really came alive, it's a great bike," I think, "No, it's a crappy bike. You had to spend $XXX on it right after spending $YYYY buying it." I'd rather buy a bike and have it be fit for purpose and easily maintained right out of the box.

So some meandering. I guess the tl;dr is that a sub-$1000 retail bike isn't going to be the upgrade that a bike for your price can be through other channels.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Essentially, if I can manage to get a good deal on a bike like the Raleigh Tokul 3 like this one (2014 Raleigh Tokul 3 - BikePedia) Would that be a decent bike to upgrade to without much upgrade? I was considering the Tokul 1 or 2, but if it truly makes that much of a significant difference in terms of reliability...then I'll put aside my young urge to get the bike so quickly and just buy a decent bike instead. I haven't really seen any 26er's that I'm really interested in at the moment and I honestly want to get a 650b just for the experience since I've already used a 26 wheel size (ill probably get a nice hardtail 26er in the future if I really dislike the 650b) but at the moment, while I am still young and able to pick up things quicker, I'd like to try something new and master that too if I can :)
 
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