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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all-

New, but not so new here. As the kids are getting older, I'm getting back into biking. I've been racing BMX with them for the past few years, and figured a new bike for all our local trails and to run my dogs off of could be in order.

I'm not brand loyal, but was intent on visiting some local shops as my previous bike is 25 years old (specialized rockhopper comp) and had been sitting in the attic for a good 10 years. Went to two different shops, got two very different opinions.

First was just get a trail bike- spend $500, be done. I stated that I'd be hitting some singletracks - and though I'm not going to be launching off 5 foot drops, I do have some biking skills and do not wish to get something I'd "outgrow" in a way. They then recommended the Giant Talon. Were insistent I didn't need more than that.

Onto second shop. I gave the same back story, and immediately they stated they could get me into a lesser bike, but always recommend starting everyone in that $700-800 price point- showing me the specialized pitch expert. I asked several questions concerning components, what's worth buying in their eyes, why jump up a price group, etc.

My mindset - I'm a buy once cry once type of guy, and don't mind paying for something that's worth it, also understanding what I'm really going to use it for and where it makes sense to draw the line. I'm set on a hardtail, only from a price point perspective. Features I'd LIKE to have, but not necessarily need- dropper post, and probably a 1x drive. Air shocks would be nice, though not a necessity, and with what I'm looking at- most models have the same or similar shocks. Brake/shifters seem to be plus/minus one level across the various brands.

Local shops sell Giant, Specialized, Cannondale, Marin (though I'd have to order). The main limiter is that complete bike with the dropper post it seems.

SO, I was looking at the Cujo 2 and the Specialized Fuse- haven't sat on them yet as the locals did not have in stock; so I was going to venture elsewhere to try out. I'm hopeful to find a closeout of something over the next two months; but will stay at one of the LBS for service over buying something online or further away (most likely).

Figured I'd get some thoughts as to my mindset, the Cujo vs Fuse, what other recommendations may be, and where you might steer me otherwise?

Riding will be 50/50 woods track/path trails or pavement with kids. The woods is singletrack of varying difficulty- which ideally I'll progress at. There are some two-tracks and logging roads as well that I'll run the dogs on while riding. I'm OK spending a little more to get something better, but to a point. I'm not going to be abusing the bike or even quite using it to the full potential, at least not for a while.

Thanks in advance!
 

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since 4/10/2009
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You're always going to get varying opinions. Shops are no different.

First shop probably heard you talk about casual riding in the neighborhood, which is what the lesser priced bikes are going to be best suited for.

Honestly, if someone like you was asking me about a bike, I'd be pushing you to a nicer one to start with, too. The reason being is that you're not coming into this as a complete couch potato. You've got some mtb experience in the past, and recently you've been racing BMX with your kids. You're going to be capable of doing a whole lot more with the bike as soon as you walk out the door with it than the usual entry level bike buyer who's coming in straight off the couch.

The 2nd shop sounds like they have a better concept of where trail-worthy entry level hardtails are.

The other part of it is what you'd like from the components. I'd honestly be recommending you go a touch higher in price than the 2nd shop recommended, even. $1000 give or take puts you at a point where you'll be seeing air forks and dropper posts, though maybe not both of those things PLUS quality 1x drivetrains. Some might.
 

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I'm inclined to agree with Harold. You'll likely be miles ahead of the average "I want to get into riding, so time to get a bike" sort of customer.

I did a lot of research into the $1000-1500 hardtail market close to a year ago. What I found was some of what you noticed.

1) Bikes in any given price bracket, commonly have many of the same components. Sometimes they have a bit better in one area, but less in another.

2) Internet direct bikes do tend to have better components than bikes from some of the more traditional brick and mortar brands. The flipside, is of course that you may not have the ability to sit on/ride the bike, and maybe more issues with customer service/etc. Meaning, depending on what is important to you, either could be a "better deal".

Personally, I was more focused on components/geometry when I was looking at hardtails, as I generally do most of my work on bikes/cars/etc myself.

The Nukeproof scout race, Vitus Sentier, Ragley Big Al/Marley/Mmmbop, Diamondback Sync'r and Whyte 901 are all really good value for their components, and also have great geometry (for a 'goof off and have fun' hardtail, rather than a cross country race bike).

All of the above are in the $1000-1400 or so price range. All have 1x10 or 1x11 drivetrains, all have good (but entry level-ish) brakes, and air forks (most use the Rockshox Recon fork, with 130-150mm of travel). Many offer dropper posts (the ones over ~$1300 or so anyway) standard, but all are setup to allow for internal dropper routing if you decide to add one after the fact.

If you want to stay with what your bike shops near you have, I'd say to also look at the Marin San Quentin, or perhaps the Nail Trail. I rode the San quentin once, and thought it was a very fun hardtail. The Nail trail is a bit more traditional in its geometry, but is still good value/spec.

I don't really have any experience with the Fuze, or Cujo, so I can't comment on them much, other than I think from the specs/geometry, they seem like decently put together/spec'd bikes, and I'm sure they'd work well for you. I would just personally prefer the San Quentin, or one of the internet direct bikes. But thats a personal call.

Good luck finding something that works for you :).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for the comments. I was looking hard at the San Quentin- knowing I couldn't sit on it though immediately. It appears only the 1 model has the dropper post, and at quite a price jump (I know you are getting more for that money).

My original mindset was this was going to be a $1500 purchase. Finding various options around $1000-$1200 was a pleasant surprise - as I was also looking at things at the $2k range (MSRP). What I'm struggling a bit with is getting a 'complete' with those features (yes, maybe not as great of individual components) for say $1200, but like many other hobbies, better gear for $1400 though missing a dropper post, which after another $200, why not pay $1800? Because the $1200 model would've done just fine all the same! ha ha.
 

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Thank you both for the comments. I was looking hard at the San Quentin- knowing I couldn't sit on it though immediately. It appears only the 1 model has the dropper post, and at quite a price jump (I know you are getting more for that money).

My original mindset was this was going to be a $1500 purchase. Finding various options around $1000-$1200 was a pleasant surprise - as I was also looking at things at the $2k range (MSRP). What I'm struggling a bit with is getting a 'complete' with those features (yes, maybe not as great of individual components) for say $1200, but like many other hobbies, better gear for $1400 though missing a dropper post, which after another $200, why not pay $1800? Because the $1200 model would've done just fine all the same! ha ha.
Yeah, if you can't sit on the San Quentin, that basically makes it the same as all the other internet direct bikes (buying sight unseen). The upside is that you'd still get local dealer support.

Also, if you wait until the end of the "riding season", there are more deals to be had then. Same thing around the new year. I grabbed my bike for 33% off in January. So deals do exist, but can be hard to find, and/or short lived.

As of right now, you could have your cake, and eat it too, if you went with the Nukeproof Scout Race 290, or Vitus Sentier VRX (depending on what size you need, both models are low in stock in some sizes). Both of those are in your initial price range, and are "complete".

$1350 for the Nukeproof (or they have one model up in spec, for $1700). Comes with dropper, decent specs, etc. This was actually the exact bike I was going to buy for a long time (before I found the deal on my full suspension bike I mentioned previously).

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/nukeproof-scout-290-race-mountain-bike-2019/rp-prod170310

$1530 for the Sentier VRX, which basically adds 1x12 drivetrain to the mix.

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com...vrs-mountain-bike-nx-eagle-2019/rp-prod173159
 

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If your Marin dealer will order a bike and let you ride it some before pulling the trigger (friggin Performance Bike would do this), they have really done a great job with their latest bikes at putting together a package that is greater than the sum of its parts.

You may be able to beat the price for a slightly better spec, depending on what you stumble upon, but with Marin I can practically guarantee you that you will get a bike you will enjoy at a very, very competitive price point, provided it fits you and "feels right."

Go look at the Rift Zone (29) and Hawk Hill (27.5) threads in the Marin forum. People are putting high end components on them for their special (downhill) needs, but everyone loves their bike and agrees that it's perfect for a majority of riders, at least those disinclined to drop $4k on up on a bike.
 

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Thank you both for the comments. I was looking hard at the San Quentin- knowing I couldn't sit on it though immediately. It appears only the 1 model has the dropper post, and at quite a price jump (I know you are getting more for that money).

My original mindset was this was going to be a $1500 purchase. Finding various options around $1000-$1200 was a pleasant surprise - as I was also looking at things at the $2k range (MSRP). What I'm struggling a bit with is getting a 'complete' with those features (yes, maybe not as great of individual components) for say $1200, but like many other hobbies, better gear for $1400 though missing a dropper post, which after another $200, why not pay $1800? Because the $1200 model would've done just fine all the same! ha ha.
To get everything with no compromises, you're going to have to spend. In your case, I'd be looking at what I'd call "minimum compromises" that are easily addressable with component swaps.

A notable one here would be the dropper post. I wouldn't get hung up on buying a bike that included the dropper right away. What you SHOULD hold out for is cable routing for a dropper post. Since most are internally routed these days, be sure your frame has that option. It makes looking for a dropper as an aftermarket purchase a lot less painful.

That would probably be the part that I'd be willing to compromise on first. I'd want a decent fork and brakes first, and add the dropper a little later. A significant part of the decision-making process for installing a dropper post will be the dimensions of the post itself. It's not rare for some people not to fit the dropper post equipped on a bike. Meaning, the dropper post the manufacturer equips is too long for the rider.

This is the case for me on Santa Cruz bikes. It's actually fairly uncommon for a dealer to do a swap for you to get one that fits you right (without you just buying the new post outright). Some will do it, but it's kinda rare, since they're likely to lose money on it. Most will tell you to buy a new post, then sell the old one yourself as a takeoff. So when I want a dropper, I'd rather measure measure measure so that I can be absolutely certain that the dropper post I buy will fit the bike (and me).

A suspension fork is a fairly expensive part to buy, and you're not going to get much at all for a non-air fork as a takeoff. If I'm buying a complete bike, that's one of the items I'm going to want to be exactly what I want so I don't have to mess with it later. Brakes are one of those parts where there are lots of pretty good quality options out there, even at lower prices. Plus, you can make little changes to make the brakes work a bit better for you. New rotors (esp if you put a bigger one up front, or if you switch to a rotor that allows for metallic pads), better pads, that sort of thing can give you a modest improvement in performance if you want it, without needing to buy all new brakes. That's why I'd be more willing to compromise on the dropper before the other bits.

Plus, you can put off the dropper purchase a few months if you need to build up the savings a bit, and it'll give you time to get your seat height dialed on the bike, so you can use that as part of the dimensions you'll need to measure to find a post that'll fit best. AND, keeping that rigid, fixed post around for the times when your dropper is being serviced gives you the chance to continue riding the bike if your dropper is being worked on (they all need maintenance eventually).
 

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Yeah, hard to give concrete answer. You can do a lot with an upper entry level bike. But given your background and it sounds like youre pretty certain youll stick with it, it would be worth it to aim higher.
Things i would want, discs, preferably hydro, although cable works too and less maintenance. Decent fork, air gives tuning options. Everything else (aside from a frame that fits!) can be tinkered with easily later.
Dont get hung up on dropper, you wont need it unless you get into jumping or technical stuff. And if you’re going to session jumps you can always manually lower seat.
Decent midline components good, nice to have parts you can replace. Lower end stuff like cranks are often riveted/stamped together and you cant replace individual gears.
Through axle wheels would be nice, although old school qr works too. Better stuff will likely have better bearings and last longer.
 

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So, generally speaking, higher spec models of bikes come with a better deal on all the upgraded parts over the lower ones. That is, if you were to buy a lower spec one, and then upgrade it to be exactly the same as the higher spec one, it would cost you a lot more than the higher spec model.

That said, if you don't plan on upgrading EVERY part, you can often get a bike that is better for your needs by buying lower spec, and upgrading the few things that you want/need to change.

I did this with my bike. I personally don't value 12 speed drivetrains much/if any, and that, plus going from low end brakes to "middle of the road" brakes were the only differences between my low end bike, and the next model up (same suspension).

So I kept the 1x11 drivetrain, and spent some money on high end brakes, and got a bike that is better for me, with less spent than the midrange bike.

Unfortunately, many times the bikes with better suspension are also the builds that have 1x12, and other things that may be less impactful to skimp a bit, so its not always easy to do.

And I agree. I'd make sure that you at LEAST get something with thru axles, and hydraulic disk brakes. An air fork is preferred as it lets you set it to your weight, but as others have said, most of the stuff past that is just icing on the cake :).

Good luck on the search :).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks all... for blowing my budget...

Seriously though- great feedback and suggestions. I had taken my 25 year old bike for a ride and immediately stopped to lower the post (maybe all the bmx...) and thought- wow- wouldn't a dropper be great!

Definitely something I could add later if I chose to stay within a tighter budget.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Cannondale should have their '19's on sale this month. Where I live, you talk to the shop ahead of time, and they order from the distributer as soon as they are marked down.


Sounds like you need a solid mid-range bike to me.
 

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Thanks all... for blowing my budget...
If you want to blow a budget, we can talk. Not hard to spec a $15,000 mtb.

But in all honesty, there's a WHOLE LOT going on in the $1k - $2k range that lets you get a pretty great bike for 10% the price. A solid trail/all mountain hardtail in that price range is going to be incredibly capable. I built a hardtail in this general category earlier this year and I'm just amazed at how well it does certain things I never thought a hardtail would be good at. It's night and day compared to the last hardtail I bought 20yrs ago.
 
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