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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!
My 8 year-old son wants to get into mountain biking. We cycle a lot along Rail Trail towards Brantford. He is a competent little cyclist.
But he sees people going off the Rail Trail and wants to try as well.
What is a good one to try for a beginner? I have to go with him. I don't have a mountain bike, but I have a good fitness hybrid.
If there is something else in the area that is better suited for beginners - it's not a problem, we have a bike rack to get bikes there. I am basically looking for an easy cross-country rolling trail.
Thank you very much in advance for any advice.
 

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Welcome.

If you are riding the rail trail, it's easiest to start exploring off the rail trail in Dundas Conservation area.

Spring Creek or Sulphur Creek trails run parallel to the rail trail. They are similar in surface to the rail trail, but start adding some hills and a little more dirt here and there. You could potentially ride out on the rail trail from west Hamilton and then return (at least partially) along either of those trails. Unfortunately Dundas Valley can have some steeper hills, so be cautious going down and you may have to walk up occasionally.

I really suggest you download an app called 'Trailforks'. Its what most mountain bikers use to navigate new areas. Anything green should be suitable for your son and your bike to try.

The other area that would be REALLY good to try is Christie Conservation Area. There is a wide variety of trails, from double track , to simple, but mtb specific trails (Trillium trail is a great start). Then move onto the blues if everyone is having a blast.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you very much for your reply! I will download the app and go from there.
I will also check out Christie Conservation area. We need to have a parking pass for that, correct?

p.s. downloaded the app. Spring Creek Trail fits the bill. We will try it today. Thank you!
 

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As mentioned, Dundas valley and Christie are both very good and offer beginner to intermediate trails.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you very much again. We rode Spring Creek trail as an alternative for Rail Trail on the way home and had fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Another question, if I may, as it makes more sense to ask here.
I have two bikes, well, three really, but one of them is a fun vintage bike to ride around the neighbourhood.
I currently ride a fitness hybrid (set up as commuter) and a women specific gravel bike (early gravel, so more endurance, really).
Both are enough to ride on rail trail, but not really off road. We recently came back from Mont-Sainte-Anne, where I rented a bike to ride XC trails. I really loved riding a mtb and want to get more into it. So, I will need a bike.
What should I be looking at to ride around Hamilton and to be able to take to places like Mont-Sainte-Anne? I understand that it is very hard to find one bike that fits the bill...
Should I be looking at FS?
I am 5'1, 105 pounds. I have longer than average inseam for my height, 74 cm, and longish arms. I ride a 48 cm Specialized gravel.
Budget. I am a decent amateur cyclist. My gravel set up is Tiagra. I would like something I decent, I can grow into.
 

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Which bike to buy is a tough question. I’ll try to keep this brief, and if you want more information and opinions, post on the Beginners Corner.
It’s not the bike it’s the shop. Find a good local shop first. How? Post on the Eastern Canada forum for help finding a golden horseshoe shop. With new bikes being scarce due to the pandemic, maybe expand that search area.
Ask these shops if they have bikes that might work for you; describe what you want to ride and your size info. Bonus if the shop has a women you can work with, as they will be more familiar with your needs. Don’t be surprised if these shops don’t have bikes, but ask them when they expect to have something. Early 2021 might be a better time to shop. This might sound harsh, but if any of these shops don’t seem interested in taking your money, go elsewhere.
When you find shops with bikes that might work for you, go test ride them. This is the only way for you to know. Some shops might let you rent a bike and apply the cost of rental to the purchase.
Pure opinion follows next. You didn’t mention budget, other than “budget”. Based on that, you’ll be looking for only front suspension. Decent full suspension bikes cost more than CDN$2.5k, and it’s better for a beginner to learn how to ride MTB trails before getting a FS bike imho.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you very much for everything you wrote.
I pretty much know all the bike shops in the area. I do ride quite a bit, just not MTB. I have two Specialized bikes, but I am open to anything. It is really unfortunate Liv doesn't make anything decent in terms of hardtail and Giant's men's bikes are too big for me. After doing a lot of research, it seems that in Canada Giant/Liv bikes are incredible value compared to other store brands.
Budget. I want a middle of the pack bike. At least Shimano SLX or Sram GX. At least Fox 32/24 or alternative fork. I don't see any point buying anything with lesser components. I will want more a month later, just know myself.
My biggest question is whether I should skip hardtail route altogether and buy a short-travel FS, such as Liv Pique 100/100. One store in Toronto has it in my size like right now.
 

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The Pique looks like a nice bike. Take it for a test ride!
FYI, Trailforks just introduced a subscription plan, but a free version remains available with limited map access.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you.
I am planning to check it out this weekend. I called the store yesterday, they have it in stock.
 

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There is a fall bike show coming up at the CNE Sept 25th. You might find a good deal there. I went two years ago and got a Specialized rockhopper pro with the Manitou Markhor front suspension for a great deal. Saved about 400.00. There were a lot of high end racing bikes and full suspension bikes when I went. I didn’t stay long as it was packed. I’m going to assume this year will be a bit different due to COVID.

If you are going, get there early. I was there 2 hours before opening and there was already about 30 people in front of me.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It's September 25th of 2021.
It's cancelled this year due to Covid-19.
Otherwise, I completely agree with you. I bought one of my bikes at the spring show 2 years ago.
 

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Sorry I didn’t even look at the year. I just assumed they were having one with COVID protocols in place.
 

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an opinion. Unless you are aiming at riding gnarly, roots, rocks and such the HT is my choice. I have numerous bikes, from 26, 27,5, 29, MTBs and a couple of road bikes and the one bike I haven't ridden in a few years is my FSR S-works. I ride mostly in the Hamilton area and sometimes down in Ellicottville, raced for many years, and find the extra effort on the hardtail helps keep up my riding skills. Maybe the hardtail will have better components for the money you would spend on the FS. BUT if you have your heart set on FS, be sure to try to find a bike to borrow, loan or rent as it sounds like this might be the last bike you buy or at least for a while.
 

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Welcome.

If you are riding the rail trail, it's easiest to start exploring off the rail trail in Dundas Conservation area.

Spring Creek or Sulphur Creek trails run parallel to the rail trail. They are similar in surface to the rail trail, but start adding some hills and a little more dirt here and there. You could potentially ride out on the rail trail from west Hamilton and then return (at least partially) along either of those trails. Unfortunately Dundas Valley can have some steeper hills, so be cautious going down and you may have to walk up occasionally.

I really suggest you download an app called 'Trailforks'. Its what most mountain bikers use to navigate new areas. Anything green should be suitable for your son and your bike to try.

The other area that would be REALLY good to try is Christie Conservation Area. There is a wide variety of trails, from double track , to simple, but mtb specific trails (Trillium trail is a great start). Then move onto the blues if everyone is having a blast.
I believe that if you need a good top chart of online lenders you should check out the loanwinners. They have everything
I can't call them easy
You still need to be a little bit prepared and have at least half a year of experience to take them
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Where would you suggest we gain the experience? I would really appreciate any information about very easy off-road trails in the area. I finally bought myself a mountain bike.
I find Spring Creek trail a fairly easy ride, except for the section immediate to the Sanctuary park, the steep climb to the soccer field. We walk it. Other than that I find the ride fun and not challenging.
 

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Short local rides will help, Hamilton has lots of areas of basic trails to build up skills. Iroquois Heights CA near the rail trail has some, Dundas Valley has lots, there are some in East Hamilton in Red Hill Valley and Felkers Falls CA. The Bruce Trail has some easy stretches and some extremely difficult areas. Initially walk areas you aren't sure of and watch more experienced riders go through them as a learning exercise. Remember that falling off a mountain bike is part of the fun, learning when to bail and when to keep trying comes with experience and practice. Have fun!!
Group rides are great, but parent and child groups can be difficult to find.
 
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