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Hi! I'm new to the forums, but have lurked for a little while.

I do mostly road riding but have been getting the itch to start trail riding too!

Looking for an entry level bike has been challenging...I'm looking to spend less than $500 but might to to $550 if there was a big difference.

I've hit up several LBS, but no one has ANYTHING my size (14" or 15" depending on company) to test ride.

I don't know what I really should be looking for...

I don't weight much...and am just getting started so SUPER technical stuff or big hits aren't quite on the radar yet. I'd like a bike that will grow a bit with me (though I understand at the price range I'm looking at...it might not grow TOO much :)

So far I've "looked at" (but haven't ridden):

Kona Fire Mountain
Kona Blast
Gary Fisher Wahoo Disc

Is there anything I should know of GF vs. Kona? build quality? what one is known for vs. the other?

Other bikes I should look at? or even the types of things I should be looking for?

Sorry for so many questions...even if you can push a noob in the right direction, that would rock!

TIA!
 

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If you live near a Performance Bicycles location I would recommend looking at the Iron Horse Warrior Comp they carry, which is usually priced at $550. I bought one a couple of months ago and love it. As a newby, I did a fair amount of research and really couldn't find a better value than the Iron Horse at this price point. Having taken many rides both on and off the road, I have been very satisfied with the performance of the bike. It has handled everything I've thrown at it with ease. In my opinion, the Warrior Comp has got to be one of the best values for an entry-level bike out there.
 

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Well, I am in a similar position to you. Along with the Wahoo Disc, some bikes I have seriously looked at are:

Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc - $500
Trek 4300 Disc - $550
Ibex Alpine 550 - $500 (Great bike for the money)
Cannondale F300 - $550 (If disc brakes are not important to you, this is probably the best choice)
Haro V4 - $580 (Steep price, but has nice components for not much of a premium)

The Kona Fire Mountain has an attractive price, but the component set does not compare with any of these other bikes, so I am avoiding it

I hope this helps! :D
 

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Don't go by looks alone! You shouldn't buy without test riding the correct frame size. All of the components are going to be very similar in this price range. After frame fit, service from the local bike shop is important also.

You will need things after your bike purchase like tune ups for components after you break them in-some shops do this for free while others charge. Most bike shops will offer advice to new bike owners as well (best way to clean a chain, adjust an air fork, etc...)

Remember this... disk brakes look cool, but the cheap ones are a pain to adjust! My new bike has good v-brakes that stop a LOT better than the basic disc brakes I had on my last bike...
 
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