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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just moved to Arizona from Ohio. Looking into my first ever mountain bike. I haven’t rode a bike since I was a kid. Obviously finding a bike that’s in stock is hard enough in itself right now. But I have an opportunity to pick up a Specialized Rockhopper Elite this week for $1100. My budget was originally between $1k-$1800. Do you think i should pick this up or is it worth it to wait around for something a little better? 27.5 or 29? Again, first ever mtb but I want to start with something that can get the job done. Should I skip the hard tail and go straight for the full sus? Thank you in advance
 

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First welcome to AZ. Are you in Phoenix, Tucson, or elsewhere? Knowing what local trail system you'll be riding will help in making a bike decision. For most of Phoenix and Tucson blue and green rated trails, a hardtail is going to be fine. But if you really like this sport and want to move on past just cruising up and down those trails and want to ride Sedona, South Mountain, and bigger stuff in Tucson, your going to want FS, and not a cheap one. For a FS that will get the job done for years to come, your looking at $2500ish+. I bought my FS last year for $2200, upgraded the brakes $150, and just built a new wheel set $1000.

For the Spec Rockhopper Elite, Thats over priced for the spec your getting. The biggest thing that stands out right away is the 9mm QR axles. For bike paths and gravel roads they'll work fine. But any type of rocky trails (we have lots of those here) they're going to be flexy. Then the 1x10 drivetrain, while not the worst, I believe you can find better spec'd quality elsewhere. And no dropper post, being new you don't know what you really want, but a dropper post is going to be a really nice addition.

Here's a spec list of features you want on a decent starter hardtail...
  • 15x100 front axle, 12x148 rear. That is the most popular standard. Which makes replacing wheels or forks later on, much easier. The 9mm QR, not so much.
  • 1x11 or 1x12 drivetrain. not that 1x10 doesn't have enough speeds, but generally the other two will be higher quality parts.
  • Air sprung fork. Cheap coils are heavy and do not allow for much (if any) adjustment.
So what is your plan long term? Going to be really riding MTB or just cruising the greenways? What trail system do you think you'll ride the most?

Lastly, be patient. Don't settle and buy one bike because its in stock. Buy the right bike even if that means a little wait time.

*EDIT

Forgot to say, unless your short, 29er wheels are much nicer for AZ riding. We don't have enough tight switchback riding where 27.5 will shine. 29er's are faster and have better roll over on small endless rocks.

Also check this out Wasatch Peak | Fezzari Bikes® They're direct to consumer, wait times aren't too bad, and you can see how much further your $1200 would go there. Hell yuo can get their top spec'd model for under your budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the quick response! I’m definitely not in a huge rush. I want to make the right decision here. I’m in Glendale and my current plan was to start with a hardtail and work my way up if I decide this is something I’m serious about. I really enjoy hiking and the outdoors so I’m confident this is something I will enjoy. But I’m still a bit hesitant to spend $3k on a full sus for now. I don’t see myself riding anytbjbg too technical off the bat but I do want to eventually get out to Sedona and areas similar. Any other brands/models out there in my price range that I should keep my eye out for? Thanks!
 

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ilmfat
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The YouTube channel Hardtail Party rides in Sedona. And he rides lots of hardtails, surprisingly enough.

I'm super jelly of your Craigslist.


Get a used $500 hardtail to start. Should give you some ideas regarding your preferred style. (I was surprised when I ended up taking off my front sus instead of adding some rear.) Save money for either a better hardtail or FS. When ready and you've found the right bike, sell used bike on CL for $500.
 

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Thanks for the quick response! I'm definitely not in a huge rush. I want to make the right decision here. I'm in Glendale and my current plan was to start with a hardtail and work my way up if I decide this is something I'm serious about. I really enjoy hiking and the outdoors so I'm confident this is something I will enjoy. But I'm still a bit hesitant to spend $3k on a full sus for now. I don't see myself riding anytbjbg too technical off the bat but I do want to eventually get out to Sedona and areas similar. Any other brands/models out there in my price range that I should keep my eye out for? Thanks!
The link I provided above is where I'd start for another bike. I own a Fezzari and they've been one of the best companies I've dealt with. Over the last year, each time I've had a problem, call them up and a day or two later I've got the new part in the mail. I broke a part of my frame last week, that shouldn't have broken, they're sending a new part under warranty with two emails sent. Also that top end model they have for $1600 is very well spec'd. The Giant Fathom also gets pretty good reviews and there are a few local Giant dealers on the West Side of Phoenix.

You have White Tanks Park, Lost Creek, Estrella Park, Fins/Pirate Trails, Lake Pleasant, Pyramid/Deem Hills all hardtail friendly within a 30 min drive of Glendale (depending on where in Glendale)

As for a $500 used bike, I'd stay away. If you have to end up dumping money into the bike, your going to be close to the new bike price, with a used bike. Plus no warranty. Used is a good way to go also if you know what your looking for/at. If your new to bikes in general, a lot of things can get over looked when buying used.
 

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ilmfat
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Those Fezzari hardtails look to come stock with 2.25" tires. Can fatter be fitted? The rims are 25mm, so could squeeze up to a 2.5. But what can the frame handle? If it's limited to 2.3" tires you may as well get a 2014 29er for $500 so you can assess your interest in which aspects of mtb and save for something not limited to skinny tires. You may find you like fast and aggressive and then will have saved a bit more towards full sus or a higher Tier Hardcore Hardtail like a Hnozo ESD or Chromag. Or you may find you ride pretty tame and could go with a rigid. 2.5" on a 30mm rim with a bit of clearance would be the minimum I'd go if I was buying a new bike. Especially as rocky as things can get out there.
 

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ilmfat
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New geo and tire tech are leaps and bounds ahead, tho. Even with hand built wheels and top tier tires, that 2014 CL 29er won't ride near as well as probably even the Fezzari. But CL saves you money and gets you on a bike. You can demo around and see what you like while not having to jump all in on your first bike. And that 9er will sell for 85-90% of what you paid for it.
 

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The biggest thing that stands out right away is the 9mm QR axles. For bike paths and gravel roads they'll work fine. But any type of rocky trails (we have lots of those here) they're going to be flexy.
Everyone did fine with these things on all sorts of terrain for ages.
I rode them for decades and they were fine; a beginner is never, ever going to notice the "flex" outside of a salesman or someone on the internet telling them about it.
 

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Everyone did fine with these things on all sorts of terrain for ages.
I rode them for decades and they were fine; a beginner is never, ever going to notice the "flex" outside of a salesman or someone on the internet telling them about it.
Your right. But I believe, you know as well as I do, if the fork or hub goes out on a 9mm QR finding a new one limits your choices. Plus with all the bikes out there in the $1200-$1800 price range, why would you buy a bike with an aging standard?
 

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Those Fezzari hardtails look to come stock with 2.25" tires. Can fatter be fitted? The rims are 25mm, so could squeeze up to a 2.5. But what can the frame handle? If it's limited to 2.3" tires you may as well get a 2014 29er for $500 so you can assess your interest in which aspects of mtb and save for something not limited to skinny tires. You may find you like fast and aggressive and then will have saved a bit more towards full sus or a higher Tier Hardcore Hardtail like a Hnozo ESD or Chromag. Or you may find you ride pretty tame and could go with a rigid. 2.5" on a 30mm rim with a bit of clearance would be the minimum I'd go if I was buying a new bike. Especially as rocky as things can get out there.
The 27.5+ version comes with i35 width wheels and 2.8 wide tires. So I'm sure you can fit a larger tire/wheel in the frame.
 

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Your right. But I believe, you know as well as I do, if the fork or hub goes out on a 9mm QR finding a new one limits your choices. Plus with all the bikes out there in the $1200-$1800 price range, why would you buy a bike with an aging standard?
I would have no problem finding a new one, though in 30+ years and countless miles of riding, I can count the times I've had a hub 'go out' on me on one hand.

"Aging standard" is marketing crap. Today's standards are aging even faster than the old ones. More marketing crap.
IME/O of course.
 

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Your right. But I believe, you know as well as I do, if the fork or hub goes out on a 9mm QR finding a new one limits your choices. Plus with all the bikes out there in the $1200-$1800 price range, why would you buy a bike with an aging standard?
9mm QR is indeed an aging standard, esp. when it comes to forks. You're going to have a hard time finding a good selection of something other than bottom-of-the-line maintained-for-legacy forks when you want something new.

Source: I have a bunch of mid-Aughts (straight steerer, 9mm QR or 20mm Maxle) MTBs that I tried to update at the beginning of the pandemic.
 

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9mm QR is indeed an aging standard, esp. when it comes to forks. You're going to have a hard time finding a good selection of something other than bottom-of-the-line maintained-for-legacy forks when you want something new.

Source: I have a bunch of mid-Aughts (straight steerer, 9mm QR or 20mm Maxle) MTBs that I tried to update at the beginning of the pandemic.
They don't seem to be any harder to find than any other fork right now.

Source - Google search 2 minutes ago.
 

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ilmfat
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What other sports/activities do you do? Moto? B-ball? Tennis? Hiking? Rock climbing? If any of those things, or something else, how seriously do you take it? Are you a death march hiker looking for 8 miles of heavy slope scrambling to find a place few have seen? Or a leisurely 3 mile walk up the graded gravel path to see the overlook that already has a brazzilion pics on The Gram? Being honest with yourself, you can kind of assess how hard you're gonna ride by looking at other areas of your life. Kinda.
 

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If you watch some of Steve's videos on Hardtail Party you'll see he also talks about frame compliance. How much a frame beats you up.
One model he likes in your price range is the Ragley Big Al 1.0.
Get on the notification list at Wiggle and CRC. There are a couple US distributors.
 

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and my current plan was to start with a hardtail and work my way up if I decide this is something I'm serious about. I
This is the crux of the matter, isn't it? If you overspend and then abandon the hobby, you've tossed a lot of money down a hole. If you buy a cheapie then really love it, you'll have to replace your first bike fairly soon. OTOH, in the latter case let's face it, you'll probably be doing that anyway ;). Your first bike (or snowboard, or whatever) often becomes unsatisfactory fairly quickly. So maybe think of it as a startup cost rather than an investment. Once you have a better idea of what you want to do, you can buy the bike appropriate for your use.
 

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ilmfat
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Admittedly, if you find you like it, but aren't hardcore, one of the plethora trail hardtails, such as the Fezzari, would turn out to be a perfect first bike. But that is rare. It'll always be something to be tweaked. And iirc, a $500 CL 29er and a Fezzari could both fit in your budget. When the Fezzari lands or you find something local, sell the CL bike. Or save it for loaning to friends. If you're the sort that has friends, that is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I’m liking the look of that Fezzari Wasatch Peak. Do you think it’s worth upgrading to the elite package? Is a dropper post add on really worth it for an extra $200? By then I’m looking at around $1800.
 
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