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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking to purchase a new mountain bike for the local trails by my house. Most of the trails I will be riding will be average to moderate (nothing crazy like any jumps or drop offs). Here are my issues, I am trying to choose between these three bikes (see below) and I am not sure which would be the best. From what I have read online it seems like most people think that the Specialized Hardrock Sport is the best but I am not sure why. I am so new to all of this that I can't compare the two specialized versions and see/understand why the more expensive one is better and what that translates in to for me. When I look at the specifications basically all I see are the words Shimano and think, "ok I know that's a good brand (not sure why it is but) then I see one use Shimano "A35" parts (just example I made up) and the other uses Shimano "B57" parts and I have no idea what the difference is or if I would even care. I don't plan on upgrading anything once I buy my bike except for maybe the saddle or something minor as I am in grad school and wont have the extra money. I also keep hearing that I should simply buy a bike from BikesDirect but again I run into the same problem. I like the prices I see but I don't know what I am looking for so I may end up buying more bike than I need or (even worse) less bike.

Thanks for your help I just found your website a few days ago and am trying to read through it to learn about this as much as I can between a fiancé and work and school. Anybody that has any other sites they can recommend on learning about bikes (like components and why A is better than B) feel free to toss them my way.

Would prefer the first two because they are cheaper

Giant Boulder SE

http://bicycleworldandfitness.com/product/giant-boulder-se-57989-1.htm

Specialized Hardrock

http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=45755&eid=4340&menuItemId=9253

Specialized Hardrock Sport

http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=45756&eid=4340&menuItemId=9253

PS in case it comes up none of the dealers in my area have discounted any of these and when I look on CL people are still over charging for their bikes.
 

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They are basically the same, but the Specialized Hardrock Sport has a lockout fork.

Otherwise if they all feel the same go with the one you think looks better
 

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If you can stretch your budget a little bit I would go with this 2011 Giant Rincon/Revel 1. The 2010 models and before were called the Rincon and in 2011 catalog they have changed it to the Revel. I am at basically the same price point that you are and have taken a number of bikes out to test ride (Trek 3900 Disc, Raleigh Talus 5.0, Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc, Giant Rincon/Revel) and liked the Raleigh and Giant the best with a bit leaning towards the Giant. After looking around and talking with a few people, including my brother who is an avid mtb rider and has done it for years, they have all pretty much told me the same thing...."if you can afford disc go disc."

My brothers reasoning behind it (and the shop he uses) is that this is the newest technology and it is quickly maturing for mtb's. As this technology matures and grows it will become harder and harder to find companies that are supporting wheelsets and forks that will take rim brakes. Also, if you happen to be riding in wet weather, you do not have to rely on the braking mechanism clamping on the one thing that is wet, the wheel. Instead, the brake rotor is in the middle of the wheel which makes it less likely to be wet to the point where it will compromise braking.

To get to your first bike with an ok set of disc brakes you are not talking about jumping in price that much. Now there are going to be a lot of people that say "if you can't go with XX brand/style of disc brake then it is not worth it." I say don't listen to them because while with rim brakes you primarily have the top of the line no with what you get you can upgrade the braking system on the disc system to improve them (i.e. once I decide on mine I will probably upgrade to the BB5/BB7 disc system within a year or so).

Most of all make sure you feel comfortable riding whatever you get, make sure the shifting, steering, spring compression and just overall how the bike acts/reacts is predictable and is how you want it to feel. I am currently in a toss-up between the Raleigh and Giant, however when I went and test road the Giant the back brake felt really sluggish. This bothered me so the next day I happened to be near the shop, went in and talked to the same guy and he adjusted the brake for me and gave it to me to ride around again. We discussed why they may be different (i.e the Raleigh may have been broken in and the Giant was brand new just off the truck) and after playing with it some more it began to become very predictable. Once the feel of the brakes was similar between the two I felt that the Giant was a bit better fit and feel, and most of all the shop guys TOOK THE TIME to work with me (which the other shop did a bit, but not to this extent).

Just my $0.02
 

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I am in the same boat as the OP. I am also looking at some Treks (3700, 3900, 4300), and a Felt Q520.
They all feel great and I don't have a preference. I haven't tested a Giant yet because the dealer is a bit far but I may make the trip.

When it comes down to it, I will go with the dealer who gives me the best deal. If they all are selling at MSRP, I will go with the best looking bike.
 
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