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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. I'm looking to purchase a mountain bike for myself and I think I've narrowed it down to two choices: Specialized Hardrock Disc 29er or Trek X-Caliber 4. Yes, I understand that these are entry level models, but I'm not looking to spend over $600 if I can help it since I spend most of my time on a road bike. I'm also trying to stay with a brand that is carried by one of my local bike shops.

I've seen a lot of posts in here comparing the Specialized and Trek brands, but not really anything for the entry level models. So, does anyone have thoughts between these two? Or perhaps there is a model a little bit higher (i.e. X-Caliber 5) that I should try to splurge for? This will be used primarily for around town riding and some single track, but nothing crazy. Thanks for the help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm assuming that I would have to step up to the Rockhopper in the Specialized line for "trail-ready" components? I was hoping to stay out of that price range and stay in the main LBS line of bikes (I know...probably impossible). Does the Diamondback Overdrive 29er reach the trail ready spec or no?
 

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The weak point is the Suntour'X' series fork. It does not have adjustable rebound damping. This can lead to pogoing when you are going downhill over multiple bumps. The fork is heavy at 6.2lbs. right at the front of your bike where weight has the most impact on performance and handling. The stanchions are 28mm instead of 32mm like other forks and flexy when under pressure in turns or angled over. The interior bushings are low quality and subject to failure when pushed past its bike path designed use. Any bike with one of those $60 forks is crippled from the start and can be scary if you go down a fun/difficult trail.
Nick at Suntour offers a $200 upgrade deal for a shipped 4.5lb Raidon air fork if you buy a new bike with that fork.

Regular Rockhopper is still junk. Comp just barely adequate and the same as an Airborne Guardian for 675.

This Marin Bobcat Trail 29 has the Raidon fork and good drive components for 600 or so.
2013 Marin Bobcat Trail 29er 17" MTB Hardtail Bike Shimano 9S Hydraulic Disc New | eBay

The Overdrive Comp uses a RS XC 30, with 30mm stanchions so is slightly better than the Guardian.

This bike is really for skill development so the Marin is the best for the money. In 2 years you will be looking for a good deal around $2k for your next bike.
If you want to skip this step and save the $600+ I'd recommend going right to the $2k bike. It is phenomenally good.
 

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eb1888 has it right, but between the two posted, X-cal every time. Just ride each, and you'll see that the G2 Geo is pretty special stuff. Have an X-cal 8 and love it to death.
 

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What do you think of the Marin Pioneer Trail? Yes, I know, I'm trying to get the price down and I'm sure I'm losing quality components...but it looks like it at least has MLO.
Crappy Suntour 'X' fork.
You don't need no stinken LO... on a hardtail. You don't get pedal bob enough to matter without a rear shock.
What you need is a fork that doesn't bounce your hands off the bars when you hit the bumps at speed. Looks like the Center Trails might have some technical sections.

Pay the same for the Bobcat Trail on ebay.
The Trek geo with 51mm offset fork compared to 46mm on other bikes and stable slacker head tube angle is the most current, especially on the Superfly with 435mm chainstays. I'm building one now.
 

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I went to a couple lbs wanting an xcal 6 and walked out a couple weeks later with the xcal 8. While it's more bike than I have skill now, I can grow into it rather than grow out of in a few months
 

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If you go for the X-Cal 4 and start finding and riding fun/difficult bumpy, rocky, rooty trails with some faster downhill sections you can upgrade the fork like the many other riders in that same situation. Nick at Suntour has a program with a $200 shipped Raidon if you promise to trash the 'X' fork.
But I'm not sure on that frame. The 4 only uses a 75mm travel fork. A 100mm Raidon might not be a good fit. The 5 level starts the 100mm travel design.
You may be better off with a 80mm Manitou Tower Pro off ebay or CRC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks eb. I've nixed the Hardrock from contention and have my eyes set on the XCal 4. However, my LBS that sells Marin is open today (but a bit of a drive). Since you mentioned Marin, is the Pioneer Trail any sort of upgrade over the XCal 4 or should I just stick with Trek. Also, would jumping to the XCal 5 let me use the upgraded Raidon? Anything else about it worth the jump? Thanks.
 

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Thanks eb. I've nixed the Hardrock from contention and have my eyes set on the XCal 4. However, my LBS that sells Marin is open today (but a bit of a drive). Since you mentioned Marin, is the Pioneer Trail any sort of upgrade over the XCal 4 or should I just stick with Trek. Also, would jumping to the XCal 5 let me use the upgraded Raidon? Anything else about it worth the jump? Thanks.
Trek has the best geo imo. The 5 would benefit greatly from a fork upgrade, but it comes with an equally poor RST fork and doesn't qualify for an upgrade from Suntour.
A Manitou Tower Pro or RockShox Reba in 100mm would fit.
The Pioneer appears to be a 26" bike. I wouldn't suggest that size.
 

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Trek has the best geo imo. The 5 would benefit greatly from a fork upgrade, but it comes with an equally poor RST fork and doesn't qualify for an upgrade from Suntour.
A Manitou Tower Pro or RockShox Reba in 100mm would fit.
The Pioneer appears to be a 26" bike. I wouldn't suggest that size.
Many accomplished riders would call BS on the trek geo being best. Then when you uprade to those two you mention shocks you just killed the Trek Geo as they do not come in a 51 mm offset . I like the Treks fine , but not if you are wanting to find a good budget replacement fork. as you are tied to 51mm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yea, I'm looking for the best "budget" bike and I'll be keeping it stock for quite awhile. More than likely, I'll upgrade to a different bike if I ever grow out of this first buy. I just want to make sure it has decent components for an entry level bike. I'm going to check out the XCal4 in person again and maybe consider the 5 or 6 (although it's really more than I want to spend). The Marin Pioneer does come in a 29er, but it's the price of the XCal5 and it doesn't seem like anyone thinks it's worth it.
 

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Many accomplished riders would call BS on the trek geo being best. Then when you uprade to those two you mention shocks you just killed the Trek Geo as they do not come in a 51 mm offset . I like the Treks fine , but not if you are wanting to find a good budget replacement fork. as you are tied to 51mm.
Forgot about that. Manitou is close at 48mm but Reba would be 46. 2014 Manitou Marvel Pro 29 is available in 51mm, but the price wouldn't likely be as reasonable. I'd probably go Tower Pro or takeoff 51mm G2 Reba on ebay. And that's Trek geo compared to the other options in this range of 29 hard tails, imo. Ibis and others are picking up 51mm offset for 29 trail oriented bikes. If I were buying a Pike it would be 51mm.
 
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