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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was directed to this site while researching used mountain bikes on craigslist, so with hopes of making as "informed" of a purchasing decision as possible I thought I'd get involved with the forums because there's clearly lots of knowledge and differing opinions on here.

I'll try and keep this short-ish, but as background I'm looking to get back into regular, hard riding after about 8 years being too busy with "stuff". Bikes have changed a whole lot since I bought my last bike; a cannondale m500 in 1996. I don't recall seeing a FS bike back then, and front shocks were for the hardcore and wealthier-than-me. Now, on the trails around town that I run frequently, it seems like everyone has a FS bike, which leads to my first and biggest question: WHY? I'm having a hard time envisioning trail conditions where folks would say they wish they had a FS bike, but I don't want to regret this purchase after a short period of time.

Right now I'm on the verge of visiting some of the local bike shops for determining general fit and getting info on the different makes and models and how they feel. It seems like there are way too many options for someone with my product knowledge to make a smart decision that's not significantly influenced by a dealer wanting me to buy the product(s) they sell. Honestly, I'm not even sure what questions to ask about some things. I'm not even sure if I should buy new or used, but am leaning toward new for warranty reasons.

I'm 37, have developed a bit of a desk belly (for now), and wanting to retire from [trail] running because all the running I've done over the years is really starting to wear on my joints. But I'm no slouch either; I've ridden a road century, mountain biked a lot (it's been a while, but I went at it pretty hard when I did), and ran cross country and played soccer in college. Am I going to participate in local races? Don't know but wouldn't be opposed. What's my budget? I'd spend up to 2k but don't know why I should.

I suspect the best thing to do is visit as many local shops as I can to get on as many different bikes as I can, but any input (especially on the HT vs FS question) from members would be greatly appreciated. Apologies for the long post and if I've omitted any vital information for better input.

Thanks,
Bill
 

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i'm a total newb so maybe my approach can be of use to you. i became interested in mountain biking primarily because i like bikes, hate running, want to exercise, and drive passed a good bike store every day. so one day i stopped by to check out some stuff.

i just dropped in, told the guy what i wanted to do, what i think i needed, and listened to their advice. the guy suggested a specialized rockhopper bcause i'm 6'2", have a proclivity to tinker/modify, and tend to be a bull in a china shop. after thinking about it i pulled the trigger on the new bike. everyone i've talked to suggested the hardtail BTW

i know i could get another cheaper bike online and maybe even save some cash but to me a good local shop that wants to support you and your bike cause you're an actual customer that spends money there (as opposed to online) tends to be more advantageous for stuff like this. they're literally like 5 blocks from my apartment so that i decided to trust em. they sponsor local bike events, too, and seem to know their stuff. ya just gotta go with your gut, man.

thats my totally noobariffic opinion.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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The rule of thumb with new bikes and suspension is that until you spend over $1000, full-suspension is a bad idea. At $2000, you can get a pretty badass hardtail or a perfectly good full-suspension bike. To me, even at $2000, hardtails are still fairly similar to one another, unless you're getting something niche.

To be more concrete about it... I ride a Specialized Hardrock. For $2000, if I went hardtail, I could get a Stumpjumper HT Comp (and $250 worth of accessories.) If you can find something on the SJ HT Comp that "needs" upgrading, you need to develop a sense of proportion - there are a few things that could be lighter, I guess, but then you'd just have a lightweight show bike because it's already a pretty strong racer or trail bike.

If you spent the money on a full-suspension, you could get the top-of-the-line FSRXC. Personally, I don't see any holes in that spec either, but it's also not the Stumpjumper, FWIW. Neither it nor the Stumpjumper tends to be thought of as a racer, but IMHO a racing bike is whatever bike you bring to a race. Certainly the shock and fork have the right dampers not to screw you, although it's not an Epic or a Hardtail either.

EDIT: in this paragraph, I mean the full-suspension Stumpjumper, which has more travel than the FSRXC and is sold as a "trail" bike - basically code for "We're sorry we broke XC."

Other brands are going to be pretty similar in terms of what you can get for $2000. That's also a pricepoint with bikes that you're likely to have more difficulty finding used, although it's certainly not impossible. Research a used full-suspension bike very well before committing - all of the brands have had problems with their linkages in some model years, so you'd want to avoid that.

The big advantage to a full-suspension bike for a rider with strong technical skills is that it's less of a beating to ride one. Descending fast or riding flat and nontechnical but rough singletrack on a hardtail can be a lot of work. In the hands of a skilled rider, neither platform is significantly faster for the length of a XC race.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the input Killr and Andrw. Guess I won't really know whether to go HT or FS until I ride each. The simplicity of the HT is appealing, but the mechanics of the FS are interesting (at least from a presently uninformed perspective). I'd posted originally that I'd spend up to 2k, but I'd rather it be closer to 1500. Wondering if that price point would lead anyone more toward HT over FS, assuming both are new. It seems from scanning this forum that personal preference plays a measurable role in that decision as well though, of which I haven't any just yet.

So for another related question; Can someone explain the significance of the manufacturer warranty to me please. I've seen on here people say it's irrelevant (presumably because of loopholes?) and others seem to consider it when purchasing.

Thanks again for the help.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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At $1500, within Specialized's line, you still get an okay full-suspension rig. The components aren't bad, but the suspension dampers aren't as good, so possibly higher-maintenance and likely a little frustrating to race. You can go slightly higher and get hydraulic disc brakes or a fair amount lower and get V-brakes. Hydraulic discs are pretty awesome in any conditions. Upgrading from V-brakes to discs requires a bunch of new braking components and a new set of hubs, unless the wheels have both a six-bolt hub and a rim with a braking track. I'd be a little surprised to run into something like that, stock.

You also have your choice between the base-model Stumpjumper HT, still a pretty serious race rig, just with V-brakes instead of discs, and the top-model Rockhopper SL, which specs a little better but has a less expensive (but probably fairly comparable) suspension fork.

Test-riding is obviously an important part of the process. I think it's even more important with suspension linkages - they have different behaviors when riding. Specialized, Trek and Giant seem to be pretty popular among XC racers, but there are a lot of other bikes that are just as competitive for the right person.
 

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local jackass
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Specialized FSR XC Pro

I have a Expert and i love it. I have both a hard tail and a fs and its not that i needed fs but i wanted it I no longer feel beat up after riding the roots section on a flat xc trail overall i still ride my ht but not nearly as much as i used to just because of how comfortable my fs is

as for warrenty claims i do consider this when i do buy and that is why i have 3 specialized bikes in my house I know that if i manage to break my bike i wont have any issues getting it fixed or replaced at very little to no cost
 
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