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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am just getting into Mtn biking and I have two bikes in mind for my first bike. I would appreciate any input, thoughts, or opinions on these two bikes or first bikes in general. Below are links to the bikes.

I am looking at this Cannondale Trail SL 3
Cannondale Trail SL 29er 3 - Kozy's Chicago Bike Shops | Chicago Bike Stores, Bicycles, Cycling, Bike Repair

as well as this previous model Trek Mamba
Trek Mamba (Gary Fisher Collection) - Village Cycle Center - Chicago's Best Bike Shop, The Bike Experts for Bicycle Sales and Service.

The Trek is a lot cheaper at $820 but the Cannondale won't exactly break my bank at $1,030. The Cannondale is as much as I am willing to spend though. Any thoughts?
 

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Hard to tell from the specs but I don't think either bike has an air spring front fork.
If they don't, check out the airborne seeker, it is in your budget. Also, Airborne has an active forum, so check there for reviews. The other key thing is you want hydraulic disc brakes, not mechanical. Finally, craigslist. A bike shop in my area is dumping new Santa Cruz Superlight 29ers for around $1,519 right now. More than you want to pay, but you could just ride it for years without any upgrades and it is full suspension. Chicago is a large city, there has to be some good used bikes on craigslist. I live near Boston and I have seen some great deals on craigslist in your price range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for the suggestion. I've never heard of airborne but their seeker model does seem to be specd out nicely (from what I can tell). I saw the bike at this link here: http://www.vitalmtb.com/product/guide/Bikes,3/Airborne/Seeker,13765#product-specs

Neither of the bikes I mentioned have an air spring fork which I'm told are lighter but aren't necessarily better. I've also read about some people saying the XC32 forks on the Trek are better than the XC30 on the Cannondale but I have also read the opposite. I did make sure to search models with hydrolic and not mechanical disc brakes. Initially I was searching for used bikes, as bikes today can be as expensive as cars, but when I started looking I got discouraged bc many people said its hard to know what your getting or how well someone took care of the bike and others said that it is good to buy from and have the support of a local bike shop. I'm 6ft 175lbs. I just need a solid bike I can grow with. I've always been a bit hard on bikes (did bmx when i was younger) and don't plan on being gentle while riding this one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What is it about Trek that makes for a good first bike over the better spec'd Cannondale? Also, is there really a big improvement in air shocks over coil? Obviously the higher tier models come with better shocks but I really don't want to have to spend more than what I previously said. I am looking to go test ride them side by side hopefully this weekend.
 

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RAKC
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Cannondale isn't better specced by much, maybe slightly better brakes but that's it. I will say trek too, imo rides better than cannondale, just like the feel better.

And your question of air over coil isn't quite right, both bikes come with rockshox bottom end entry level forks. Though they work decently well, I have no complaints about my xc32tk for what it is, the lighter weight and better tunability of air forks is nice, plus they are built stiffer, less flex (which I don't get why that is)

But honestly unless ur all about weight and having the best, the coil forks will work good for u. I know the xc32 is solid and reliable im a 270lb Clyde and its been serving me very well on my Trek.

Sent from my Nokia Stupidphone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank for the input! Looks like everyone is leaning towards the Trek. Some other people have also Suggested a Specialized Rockhopper Comp but it looks like the Trek comes with some better components. Although I hear Specialized makes quality frames. Any last thoughts on that before I head out this weekend to make my first purchase?
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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The secondhand Trek in eb's link.

Or something along those lines.

Make a few phone calls. $1000 goes plenty far at a shop if they sell used or consignment bikes or if they have some '13s to get rid of. Closeouts and old demo bikes typically still have a warranty. Shops dealing in used vary concerning after-sale support, but often warranty their bikes themselves, though for a pretty short term. They tune before reselling.

Yes, with a used bike you're starting in "that part" of a bike's lifecycle. But you are with an inexpensive new bike too. Having a nice fork is a huge step up.

(I've been assuming you want to get into mountain biking. Do you?)
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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I get that you're looking for a mountain bike.

The question is, do you want to use it to ride trails? A lot of people get them to ride to work or up and down greenways and bike paths. Those are perfectly valid uses too, and change how important some things are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ah, yes I plan on doing all trail and offroad use. I wont be using it for urban commuting as I have a cheap road bike that I won't cry over if it gets stolen. As I progress I would like to get into rougher and rockier terrain possibly introducing jumps at some point. I realize the bikes I am looking at are only meant to handle so much but I am still a novice and full suspension bikes are a lot more expensive and my budget is what it is. Last summer I got to rent a Norco full suspension bike out by grand junction Colorado and had a blast on the trails. I asked the LBS owner what they went for and he said around $4,000.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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I think for MTB purposes, it's worth some effort to get something with a "real" fork. This is an expensive part to replace if you do it after purchase. $350 and up for a worthwhile one at retail. Of course, EBay etc. change things.

Anyway, be patient and keep reading ads.

Do you remember the size of the bike you rented? How big is your road bike? One of the problems of secondhand shopping is that if you're doing CL, you need to make a trip for each bike. So if you have a good idea of which bikes will fit you, you can maybe just look at one, and not mess around too much. Knowing your size also makes catalog bikes a better choice than if you were throwing darts or had to trust a size chart.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I am not 100% sure what my size is but when I walked into the bike shop to look at a Trek the guy said I would need a 19" being 6ft tall. Awhile ago I was looking at the Cannondale and they guy said I would be a large as I guess that brand comes in s, m, L, Jumbo. (I haven't test rode any I've seen bc the lbs arent doing test rides until the wintery conditions are gone.)I believe my road bike is around this size. I paid very little to use it in a limited capacity so I didn't put a lot of time into that purchase.

I wish I did remember the size of the bike I rented. At the time I wasn't worried about it and he was fitting it for me. Now I regret not asking him more questions since I want to get into the sport. Everyone says to spend as much as you can to save yourself $ in upgrades later but you can spend a lot on a bike and still get a crappy fork unfortunately.
 

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I guess I'll go against the grain here and give a huge shout-out for the Cannondale. I spent last year on a C-dale Trail SL 1 29er and absolutely loved the frame and the feel of the bike. I am also 6ft tall - I was on a large frame. The one you mention has a different fork and components, but the frame and the feel should be the same. And just about everyone who rode the bike thought it felt great, too.

Have fun looking!
 
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