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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am currently shopping for a new bike. And rather than getting into a this one vs. that one debate (which may come later), I have a question about options.

Is it worth the step up the higher, more expensive model to get disc brakes? And if I were getting a bike with a front fork suspension, is it worth the step up to get a lock out function?

I know, it depends on what type of riding I'll do, how of Iten, how tall am, which bike, on and on and on.

I really want to know if the disc brakes are worth the price of the upgrade over V brakes, and if a shock is adjustable but not lockable, is it worth the extra money to look for a lockout shock. Are these things I may wish I had later on? And is the $100 difference in price on a new bike better than a $500 upgrade later?

What do you think?
 

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If you are riding in wet/ muddy conditions, I'd say the disc brakes are worth it however, v brakes in any dry condition are as good or better than any entry level disc brake if not in stopping power, then just more reliable. On the other hand if you're going to make the jump to discs, just do it now. I run v brakes but dont ride in rain or mud and havent found a mechanical disc brake set up that impressed me enough to make the leap. I also havent had any desire to get a lockout fork, I suppose if the trails I rode were extremely rooted or rocky I might want one for climbing. Much of it depends on your budget, you dont NEED a lock out fork or even suspension for that matter, much less disc brakes. Whether its really worth it or not will come down to the difference in price vs the parts you'd recieve. It would also depend on you as you'd have to be the final judge. I'd say ride both, then decide if those are things you need or would appreciate.
 

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The Martian
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My bike buying philosophy (in general):

1) Fit, fit, fit (currently trying to sell a bike that doesn't fit me; won't make that mistake again!!!)

2) Front suspension and frame (buy the bike with the "best" front suspension and frame you can afford. These are what cost you the big bucks to upgrade later and what make the biggest difference in ride quality, IMO). Lockouts are nice, yes, I use mine because I like my shocks plush which means I like to reach down and turn them off on long out-of-the-saddle climb efforts. May not be something that's important to you, but most high end shocks come with them now I think.

3) brakes (cheapish to upgrade, but an extremely important part of my ride. Won't make or break a purchase though). If you want to upgrade to disks make sure you at least buy a bike that is set up for disks already (disk tabs on frame and fork AND disk compatible hubs/wheels).

4) Wheels are nice, but that's more likely to be one of my first upgrades rather than worrying about which stock wheelset is better than the other.

5) everything else.
 

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I'd take good v-brakes and a good non-locking fork over lousy disks and a crummy locking fork. If you give us an idea of what bikes you are looking at we'll be better able to tell you if any specific case is worth it.

Anyway, my general philosophy is to buy want I want up front. You'll waste more time and money going down the planned upgrade path. Are good disks and fork w/ lockout worth it? Yeah, I'd say so. Are they required? No.
 

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disc brakes IMO are 100% worth it, upgrading crappy discs to good ones is just a matter of replacing them, where upgrading Vs to discs may require new hubs.

lockout forks... I'd have to know which forks specifically to really offer an opinion. If it where... [I don't even know if any forks are sold like this now] say a F100RC (I don't know that such a thing exists) vs an F100RLC, and that was the only thing that was different between the bikes (IOW, the same fork, just one has l/o the other not), no I probably wouldn't pay an extra $100 for the lockout. I'd bet that isn't the case, and you are getting something else for the extra money, so it's hard to answer in general terms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Which bikes I'm talking about

Because it always helps to know - I am jumping between 2 different bikes. First let me explain (briefly if I can.) I plan to ride to work all on streets, about 15 miles total, growing into riding the full 25 down the road. However I would like the bike to be rugged enough to ride on dirt trails while camping and on the trails around my house (OC CA). I know, I can't get a bike that will do both well - that's why I tried to simplify my dilemma to only the options in question.

If I get a bike more geared to the street - I like the Giant TranSend DX. The DX model is the lowest in the line and as you go up to the EX, bicycle magazine best commuter bike 2008, you get upgraded to disc brakes and a front shock (I assume geared for street riding.)

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bikes/lifestyle/1436/29313/

Then, if I decide to go with something more suited for the off road trails around my house, I like the Giant Rincon. Because "they say" it's good for the streets too. Now if I had a LOCK OUT on the shock, it would perform better on my street ride to work. And the Rincon's shock does NOT have a lock out.

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bikes/mountain/1260/29302/

Some other bikes I've looked at, like the Specialized CrossTrail, have the shock lock out when switching to street. Gary Fisher also has a mountain bike-like ride with a lock out and 700mm tires.

So I want something good for my commute to work - that can handle easy dirt trails - NOT MOUNTAIN BIKING in the true sense. I can guarantee I won't ride up one side of Idylwild and down the other without a path. No jumps and no tricks.

So the question is - is it worth the money ($300) to upgrade the TranSend DX to the EX to get the disc brakes and other upgraded components?

Or, if I go with the Rincon - should I consider the extra money to get into the Specialized CrossTrail or a Gary Fisher - basically to get a better front shock with a lock out feature (and I'm sure other upgraded components.)

If money were no object - skies the limit. But while I've been riding my Nirve Fifty Three, 3-speed cruiser to work - I realized I need a bike better suited for my new needs. So I started out looking at the Target bikes - like many of us do. And I thought, Shoot! For $100 I can get a sweet mountain bike. Of course, with a little bit of research you realize it's going to run me more like $500. 5 times more than I originally thought I'd spend. So jumping up to the $800 bikes is even more of a price challenge.

I'll take ANY advice, but I tried to boil it down to something simple. Is it worth the extra money to get the disc brakes? And if I were to get a bike with a big shock, should I consider a more expensive bike, with a better shock with Lock Out?
 

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First, the TranSend isn't an MTB by any stretch of the imagination. Not sure what the trails look like around your house but I wouldn't take it on anything rougher than a groomed gravel path. Not knowing your true riding style it's tough to say whether the dic brakes would be "worth it" to you. Thats kind of individual to the rider anyway. If you are commuting though, and pplan on commuting rain or shine, I'd say go with discs. If you're going to be a fair weather commuter and easy on the trails, I'd say V brakes. Unless you rally plan on getting into some long distance mountain biking Id say the lockout probably isnt necessary. You're not going to get a long travel fork that eats pedaling power in the bikes you're looking at. You may appreciate some suspension even on the street, I know I do. If you really want rigid but a bike capable of the light trails, look at the Giant Tran Sport. Looks like the EX model even comes out fitted with racks and lights along with discs.
 

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CougarTrek said:
My bike buying philosophy (in general):

1) Fit, fit, fit (currently trying to sell a bike that doesn't fit me; won't make that mistake again!!!)

2) Front suspension and frame (buy the bike with the "best" front suspension and frame you can afford. These are what cost you the big bucks to upgrade later and what make the biggest difference in ride quality, IMO). Lockouts are nice, yes, I use mine because I like my shocks plush which means I like to reach down and turn them off on long out-of-the-saddle climb efforts. May not be something that's important to you, but most high end shocks come with them now I think.

3) brakes (cheapish to upgrade, but an extremely important part of my ride. Won't make or break a purchase though). If you want to upgrade to disks make sure you at least buy a bike that is set up for disks already (disk tabs on frame and fork AND disk compatible hubs/wheels).

4) Wheels are nice, but that's more likely to be one of my first upgrades rather than worrying about which stock wheelset is better than the other.

5) everything else.
definately #1 is very important. test ride to be positive before you buy, dont settle if the size they have in stock isnt the one for you

mind you, if you like the transcend family, all bikes fit similar due to sharing geometry. in this family, the suspension fork isnt going to be a offroad performer, so they are moot. what is different is the internal drivetrain. if you test ride the dx, but decide you want disks, the lx is going to feel the same. however the ex is going to fit you the same but drive in a different manner, if you test ride another alfine bike and like the gears, then youd be hard pressed to find a better deal then the ex, beacuse the drivetrain is worth at least 1/2 the bikes cost, and the suspension is most likely designed to be worry free and effective at taking the hit out of holes on the road.

#2 imho would be drivetrain. a road shock doesnt need lockout, due to the travel being relatively small and designed for roads. its probably going to be stiffer to begin with, and the main point is it'll reduce the road noise from entering into your wrists. if you test ride a rigid for a few hours, but find a rigid bike to be too rigid, this might help. but moreso, a strong drivetrain would be what i'd look at next.

#3 the dx comes with a rear disc hub, if you get the dx, and are biking in wet and muddy conditions, you can easily throw a disc on the rear, and if that isnt enough, the fork is disc compatible, so you can add that later with the addition of a disk wheel. i have used rim brakes, and salmon pads in wet work fine, mud otoh, gets ground into brake surfaces and poses a problem. and most stock disc pads arent optimum for wet, so that might need to be changed even if you get the discs.

so id suggest doing some research on the alfine, and see if you like it, if you do, the shocks and discs come with it. other wise, the dx could be better to begin with. if you decide to do some bikepacking down the road, you could almost buy a dx and a boulder se. or a xtc2 with a lockout.
 

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Disc brakes are worth it as long as they're decent HYDRAULIC discs. Don't get any of the mechanical crap which will be, at best, as good as a V-Brake.

Same goes with the forks... don't get a crappy fork and expect it to be worth the money. You should research, and buy a good shock that will not disappoint you. Fox makes great shocks right now, and the higher end Rock Shox stuff is good too. Make sure you stay away from Suntour and low-end Marzocchi. You'd be better off with a ridgid than that crap.
 

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jwohlfeil said:
Or, if I go with the Rincon - should I consider the extra money to get into the Specialized CrossTrail or a Gary Fisher - basically to get a better front shock with a lock out feature (and I'm sure other upgraded components.)
IMHO, the Crosstrail is worth a look if you are after a bike for commuting and some trail riding. A few things that I like about the Crosstrail are that it takes the larger, 700c and 29er tires, it has dead-easy rack and rear-fender mounting, and the frame is strong enough for cross-country mountain-biking. You can put 29er mountain-bike tires on the Crosstrail and use it for a mountain-bike. (Not all 700c commuter bikes have clearance for 29er tires). Or you can run the stock tires, or even some narrower tires, and run it as a commuter bike. Right now I'm running the stock tires on mine, and I routinely go from pavement to gravel to sand, over bumpy roads, and up/down curbs, and the bike handles all of that. I've even had the bike out on mountain-bike trails--with 29er tires on it. It's a versatile bike.

The Rincon is nice too, but I like the larger wheelsize of the Crosstrail for commuting.

I'm afraid I don't know enough about those two Giant models that you mention to really comment on them. Giant makes good bikes though. They are a good brand.

On lockouts: I personally don't use them very often. Some like them. Some do not. But regardless of lockout, I agree with the earlier advice about getting the best fork that you can. You will likely not regret moving up a model to get a higher-quality fork.

On disc brakes, you might consider how hilly your terrain is. If you deal with a lot of steep downhills, disc can be nice. I personally prefer disc, but my winter bike takes v-brakes. And those v-brakes work fine in winter, even with snow and such. I think I would prioritize suspension higher than brakes.

Good luck. Try as many bikes as you can. That's part of the fun.
 

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The Martian
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jwohlfeil said:
Because it always helps to know - I am jumping between 2 different bikes. First let me explain (briefly if I can.) I plan to ride to work all on streets, about 15 miles total, growing into riding the full 25 down the road. However I would like the bike to be rugged enough to ride on dirt trails while camping and on the trails around my house (OC CA). I know, I can't get a bike that will do both well - that's why I tried to simplify my dilemma to only the options in question.

If I get a bike more geared to the street - I like the Giant TranSend DX. The DX model is the lowest in the line and as you go up to the EX, bicycle magazine best commuter bike 2008, you get upgraded to disc brakes and a front shock (I assume geared for street riding.)

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bikes/lifestyle/1436/29313/

Then, if I decide to go with something more suited for the off road trails around my house, I like the Giant Rincon. Because "they say" it's good for the streets too. Now if I had a LOCK OUT on the shock, it would perform better on my street ride to work. And the Rincon's shock does NOT have a lock out.

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bikes/mountain/1260/29302/

Some other bikes I've looked at, like the Specialized CrossTrail, have the shock lock out when switching to street. Gary Fisher also has a mountain bike-like ride with a lock out and 700mm tires.

So I want something good for my commute to work - that can handle easy dirt trails - NOT MOUNTAIN BIKING in the true sense. I can guarantee I won't ride up one side of Idylwild and down the other without a path. No jumps and no tricks.

So the question is - is it worth the money ($300) to upgrade the TranSend DX to the EX to get the disc brakes and other upgraded components?

Or, if I go with the Rincon - should I consider the extra money to get into the Specialized CrossTrail or a Gary Fisher - basically to get a better front shock with a lock out feature (and I'm sure other upgraded components.)

If money were no object - skies the limit. But while I've been riding my Nirve Fifty Three, 3-speed cruiser to work - I realized I need a bike better suited for my new needs. So I started out looking at the Target bikes - like many of us do. And I thought, Shoot! For $100 I can get a sweet mountain bike. Of course, with a little bit of research you realize it's going to run me more like $500. 5 times more than I originally thought I'd spend. So jumping up to the $800 bikes is even more of a price challenge.

I'll take ANY advice, but I tried to boil it down to something simple. Is it worth the extra money to get the disc brakes? And if I were to get a bike with a big shock, should I consider a more expensive bike, with a better shock with Lock Out?
With this info in mind I would say don't worry about the lockout on the front shock. I rode/ride my 5" travel full suspension bike 5-12 miles on the road to get to the trails and never locked out either shock. I'm not standing up and hammering on a 12 mile commute to and from the trail (or work for that matter) so I don't notice what little energy (if any) I'm wasting into the shock. The shocks only got locked out on crazy climbs and similar on the trail.

I'd hazard a guess that most of the shocks you are looking at on those bikes are lower end coil sprung forks that are likely going to be stiffer than what I'm used to anyway. I don't have a lock out on my Trek 4500 hardtail with a RS Judy and I don't miss it because the fork is stiff enough (and low travel enough) that I don't really waste any energy making it move. That also means it really only functions to take the nasty hits (especially at my 110lb weight), but that's ok.

I still say buy the best fork you can afford within reason, but that's based on your preferences and riding style. I probably wouldn't be worried about lockout if I were you unless it was super easy for you to move the fork through it's stroke (something I never have to worry about at my weight... which can actually be a bit frustrating).

If you intend to head off groomed fireroads I'd personally lean more towards the mountain bike end of things only because they'll take the bumps and abuse better (and be geared properly for it). You can put road slicks (tires) on a mountain bike and it will go pretty well on the road (you won't keep pace with the roadies in a race because of gearing, but that doesn't sound like your goal), but you can't put mountain bike tires on a road bike and it handle as well in the dirt.
 
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