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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys..

Calling on some insight from the forum for help...

Just returned from a 2nd visit from my LBS and rode (again) a 2014 Trek X-Caliber 4 and this time a X-Caliber 6 to check out the hydraulic discs and lockout. Was offered the bikes at $500 & $690 respectively, with the X-Caliber 6 being at the very top of my limit.

Being a complete novice, I could not really appreciate the upgraded components on the X-Caliber 6 (other than the hydraulic brakes) over the X-Caliber 4. I need to make my decision within the next day if I am to take advantage of the Trek sale going on now.

I realize that most everyone says to get the most bike you can afford as it is cheaper in the long run. However, I'm thinking that this will mainly be a bike I use around town with some light trail duty (I live near both Carter Park and Alafia Trails and plan to check the beginner trails out).

I'm 5'6", 190 lbs, with a 29" inseam, which places me on a 15.5" frame. I've decided on a 29er, mainly because I prefer the stability compared to a 26. The 26er was definitely more nimble, but that made me feel less stable, if that makes any sense.

I was all set to decide between these two Trek models, mostly because I liked the way they ride and my LBS was very friendly and helpful. Plus being a new rider, I figure I could use all the help I can get. However, after doing some research on the forum, I came across several recommendations of the Marin's being sold for steep discounts online. I ended up coming across a few models that fit into my price range, but I don't know anything about them...

  • 2013 Marin Bolinas Ridge - 15" ($520) + assembly $
  • 2013 Marin Alpine Trail - 15" ($640) + assembly $
  • 2013 Marin Bobcat Trail - 15" ($700) + assembly $


vs.


  • 2014 Trek X-Caliber 4 - 15.5" ($500)
  • 2014 Trek X-Caliber 6 - 15.5" ($690)

Each of these would require assembly (not sure how much that typically runs), but seem to have better components (I think I have them listed in the order of quality?).

So with all that said (sorry if I've punished you with my ramblings), I'd like to hear some feedback on which way you guys would go? I greatly appreciate any assistance and thanks in advance!

TLDR:

Want a 1st bike - I'm short and fat, so it's hard to find used. Rode a Trek X-Cal 4 & 6, but can't appreciate the difference in components. Like the LBS and would like to support them. However, found (3) Marin models online within similar price points and want feedback. Need to make a decision soon. Thanks!
 

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K. One. Go for the trek OVER the Marin. Why? Because you rode the x cal...it fit and you like the ride. A part of that is Treks G2 geometry. It seems to suit you. You have not ridden the EBay deal and have no idea how it feels to you. Fit is everything.

Two. Lbs support. Break the trek? Go talk to the lbs and get it sorted. With eBay....err...good luck.

Three. The difference will be the quality of the components. Sometimes this is not apparent after the dealer test ride. But guess what...it will be six months down the road. Sometimes better components = better ride...sometimes it just means they will last longer.

Go for the 6.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the input... You make some very good points. I do feel that their is intrinsic value of having creating a relationship with the LBS, both short term as I just get into this hobby as well as potential benefits from long-term goodwill.

As for your third point, this was the main reason I looked at the Marin line. Dollar for dollar, the components on the Marin bikes appear to be better quality than what I would get on the trek. Granted this is because I would be getting them at a substantial discount to MSRP.
 

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if it was me I would go with the 6, the thing is ride the bike and don't do a thing to it. Save for a nicer bike then a couple of years down the road you can look at nicer HT if that is what you still like to ride.

The 6 has a nicer fork, hydraulic brakes and nicer drivetrain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
No friends who ride at the moment... I'm actually getting into the hobby as my girlfriend has a Trek 3700 that she wanted to start riding again since she recently moved to Brandon and there are a lot of places nearby that she thought it would be fun to ride to (mostly as a way to explore her new city). When I did a little searching I found that there were actually a couple of well regarded trails nearby (Carter Park and Alafia Trails). I've convinced her that we should go check them out as something we can do together and perhaps make some new friends in the process.

I was considering second hand, but didn't have much luck in finding anything in my size (15") that I thought was a good option. Add to the fact that I know very little about the various components and I felt I was at a disadvantage. In the end I decided I was okay paying a bit upfront for the education. If I find this is more than just a passing interest I will likely look to upgrade once I have a valid reason and not just to look the part.
 

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I would recommend the Marin Bobcat Trail 29 off ebay.
2013 Marin Bobcat Trail 29er 15" MTB Hardtail Bike Shimano 9S Hydraulic Disc New | eBay
It has a trail grade Raidon air fork. The fork uses a sealed cartridge and is nearly maintenance free. The Trek 4 & 6 have bike path forks not designed or built to work on bumps going fast downhill. It has Alivio/Deore drive components and hydraulic brakes. You can ride it on any hills for two seasons of skill development.
Bikes need a little time and minimum skills and a multi-tool to assemble. Look on YT for Bike Direct assembly vids. If you run into a problem usually a 1/2 hour of time online or a trip to the lbs will solve it. You also benefit from learning the tuning/maintenance things you will need out on the trail where you have to do it yourself.
Skip the Bolinas. It has a Suntour 'X' series bike path fork.
The Alpine Trail has an adequate RS XC 28mm coil spring fork. It is also ok. The Bobcat is worth the extra 60.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I actually have the Marin Bobcat that you reference on my Watchlist on Ebay. I was strongly considering it, mainly due to seeing several of your other posts praising the components compared to the cost of the bike. Too bad I missed out on some of the others that sold for quite a bit less. However, I would like to test ride one before buying a bike online. It looks like the nearest LBS that carries Marin is about 90 minutes away. Maybe I can get out there this week and give one a spin.

I came across another post of yours where you mention that if one were so inclined to go with a lower model X-Caliber that taking advantage of the fork upgrade offer down the road and maybe getting a Raidon. That may likely be my upgrade path if I find this to be more than a passing hobby. Also your thoughts on the Trek having the better geometry makes me wonder if I will find the Marin to be as good of a fit.

Nonetheless, thanks for the info!
 

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The Trek geo depends somewhat on the offset of the fork-51mm. Using the Suntour upgrade program will get you a 46mm offset fork. This slows the steering a little bit. Getting a Manitou Tower Pro with 48mm offset would be a better fork for small bump compliance and almost as quick steering as a 51mm. You can also watch ebay or the classified listings here for a G2/51mm take-off or used fork. You kinda need the fork as soon as you start trying the fun/difficult trails. The difference is night and day. As long as you know and aren't discouraged you can ride the oem fork until you line something up.
 

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I bought my first MTB used off CL and got more bike for my money. Better components vs what I would have gotten if I bought new for similar prices. You can still support your LBS by buying accessories from them. Become a familiar face and they will treat you like family.

I didn't get too picky with my first bike either. I test rode enough bikes that I knew I wanted a 26" hardtail. I took about a month before I found a used one after visiting a number of local shops to see what I could get new or what was in on trade.

Whatever you do, get something that fits and don't get shortsighted by a deal!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks again eb for the insight... I'll definitely keep the info for future reference. I've never been the most gifted in terms of athleticism so it will likely be a while before I out ride even a basic setup. That should give me plenty of time to consider potential future parts and/or bikes, lol.

oKay, good points... If only I were a little bit taller (Skee-lo anyone?), I'd seem to have better luck second-hand. Most used bikes I'm finding tend to be in the 17" range, which makes sense given the average male height.
 

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Thanks again eb for the insight... I'll definitely keep the info for future reference. I've never been the most gifted in terms of athleticism so it will likely be a while before I out ride even a basic setup. That should give me plenty of time to consider potential future parts and/or bikes, lol.

oKay, good points... If only I were a little bit taller (Skee-lo anyone?), I'd seem to have better luck second-hand. Most used bikes I'm finding tend to be in the 17" range, which makes sense given the average male height.
I am 6'3" with a 34" inseam. It took me a while to find one in my size, but it popped up!

Get a bike, make sure it is in good mechanical order, and go put in time on the trails while having fun. Don't overly caught up in components, geometry, etc. Anything is better than nothing. I knew I didn't want absolute bottom shelf components from my road biking experience, but I didn't trip over getting a few years old, mid-level stuff. Link up with some n00b friendly rides. You'll progress faster with a group of faster guys that you can follow that also will take time to teach you a thing or two.
 

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Coming from someone that has older version of the Xcal 6. The Trek Marlin. I did alot of upgrade partially cause im over 100lbs heavier than u.

The forks, will work fine. Heavy but work pretty well for what they are, I had them on my old 26" and are great for beginners on easy level trails. XCM versions do more than these guys realize. They aren't nice but they work and put up with me when I was over 300lbs with 0 issues for 2 seasons (at which time I discovered 29ers).
Rest of the components I will say again are good for what they are. They will work well for a beginner as again they all held up great for me on my 29er and were since moved to other bikes as I upgraded parts.

For your money, supporting lbs and lbs warranty and maint support, buy the 6.

Sent from my Nokia Stupidphone using Tapatalk
 

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For used, start with the conventional outlet: local bike shops. Make some phone calls. Ask about used bikes. Ask who they know of that deals in a lot of used. You may not have to do Craig's List.

That said, I bought my most recent secondhand bike via CL. I set up a saved search, so new listings with the right keywords went to my email. Still took a couple weeks, but it wasn't like I was going online and searching through the ads every day.

Friend of mine got his bike at a pawnshop. So there's also those, and general used sporting goods stores, like Play It Again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks again to everyone for the input, there definitely is some excellent advice. I think I'll check out a few of the suggested places prior to making my decision. Either way, I'm beginning to realize that no matter which bike I decide on it will likely be more capable than I am and provide me with plenty of enjoyment.

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So after some back and forth I ended up going with the Trek X-Caliber 6 in the Matte Dnister Black/Bright Silver. Actually just picked up the bike this past weekend as it had to be ordered in my size (15.5) and assembled. Took it out for a short 5 mile ride to get acclimated as I haven't ridden a bike in many years. I'm definitely out of shape and won't be tackling any crazy trails for a while as I work on improving my endurance.

Bicycle tire Bicycle wheel Bicycle frame Wheel Bicycle wheel rim
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Nice color choice... I looked at that one as well. Much preferred the red on the X-Cal 4 versus the red on the X-Cal 6. I am definitely looking forward to getting some ride time in over the summer down in Florida. I find it a bit too hot to ride the motorcycle all geared up, so I'm hoping the bike will be an enjoyable alternative.
 
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