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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

First time here. My son is a freshmen and signed up for the mountain biking team at his high school (5' 8" 160lbs). I am looking for a bike that would be good for a beginner that he can grow into as he takes up the sport. And if he decides it is not for him then I guess I will take up the sport again lol. He is going to start practicing in October and then their season starts in January with six races.

I haven't looked at mountain bikes in probably 20 years or more and for the past week been researching what would be best for him that he could use as a racing and practice bike. The coaches said to look for a cross country hardtail.

Any recommendations that would work for him? I was thinking of spending about $1500 but may have to up it to 2k to get something that would work. Right now I was looking at the Trek Procaliber 9.5 or a Specialized rockhopper expert. I guess he would need a dropper post at some point as well? Hopefully we can add that on the bike later.

Any recommendation on different bikes or the bikes I mentioned above?

Thanks
 

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Join the local Facebook bike sales group and try to find a used version of the bikes you mentioned. You can spend less than $1k on a used bike 'that will work'. If he loves it, great. If not, you've not punted $2k on something you might not enjoy riding either.
 

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I’m a coach with a High School team and both of my kids race. I would suggest a big name brand hardtail to start with. We have kids on bikes from $700 team loaners to full suspension carbon XC race bikes. Get your kid on the best bike you can afford and make sure they want to stick with riding before going for higher priced bikes. New market has been tough, but doesn’t hurt to try. Go to every local shop and see what fits and what they suggest.


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My son is on his jr. high team and he rides a giant stance 2. We had to add a dropper, coach wanted everyone with droppers because they actually ride often and he is learning proper technique for all types of terrain. His bike is probably middle of the road at races. Some kids have bikes worth $7,000—$10,000 out there which is crazy, others are cruising $1000 bikes and all are having fun. I wanted him on a hardtail to start but my local shop got his stance 2 in and he fell in love with it. The stance is about $1800 and it seems like a solid 1st bike for him that works well for jr. High/high school fun races.

I did look hard on Facebook marketplace also but decided to call dealers daily until something that fit him came in stock. I would seriously call dealers and let them know what you want, you will find something.
 

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Hi,

First time here. My son is a freshmen and signed up for the mountain biking team at his high school (5' 8" 160lbs). I am looking for a bike that would be good for a beginner that he can grow into as he takes up the sport. And if he decides it is not for him then I guess I will take up the sport again lol. He is going to start practicing in October and then their season starts in January with six races.

I haven't looked at mountain bikes in probably 20 years or more and for the past week been researching what would be best for him that he could use as a racing and practice bike. The coaches said to look for a cross country hardtail.

Any recommendations that would work for him? I was thinking of spending about $1500 but may have to up it to 2k to get something that would work. Right now I was looking at the Trek Procaliber 9.5 or a Specialized rockhopper expert. I guess he would need a dropper post at some point as well? Hopefully we can add that on the bike later.

Any recommendation on different bikes or the bikes I mentioned above?

Thanks
NICA? Might be able to get a nice discount on Trek or Specialized. Ask your local dealer if they participate.
 

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When I was on the hunt for my son, they were not doing NICA discounts, my son is a member. It's a sign of the times I guess.
I know our local Trek dealer was still doing NICA discounts (friend bought a bike for his son about 2 months ago) while the one near my parent's house isn't doing discounts. So you just need to ask as it's dealer to dealer.
 

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I coach the older NICA group and notice they ride the full spectrum of bikes. Though most ride Trek or Specialized hardtails with inexpensive well used tires. They ride faster and harder than most of my adult friends on fancy carbon FS bikes.

My suggestion would be a new or gently used hardtail in the $1,500-$2K range as you mention. I think the important thing is that it's mechanically sound. Even people selling a used bike might give you a little discount if you say it's for a NICA student/athlete.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
When I was on the hunt for my son, they were not doing NICA discounts, my son is a member. It's a sign of the times I guess.
Yeah I am pretty sure that is the association that he will have to join. I will give it a shot, it can't hurt but I was told during the first meeting that those discounts are hard to get, us consumers have lost any leverage because of COVID :)
 

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Trek is still doing NICA discounts, Specialized has told dealers they won't be for next season. The issue with Trek is availability. The good news is they can give you an approximate date when things are available.

My son started on a Marlin 5 and it was fine for the first season. I was on a Rockhopper Comp, and my twin daughters ride Rockhopper Sports. Great bikes for getting started, lets you find out if everyone is into mtb before dropping big coin. The whole family has gotten into mtb so we are going through a round of upgrades after a year and a half.

My son is rocking a Stumpy because we take trips to the mountain and some of the stuff we ride just isn't fun on a hardtail. It's a great bike, but it isn't a "race" bike. However there are things you can do to help the bike be faster for not too much money. I picked up a set of wheels from an Epic Comp for $250 dollars. Threw a used cassette on, found some used rotors, and some Fast Trak tires and dropped 2.4# of rolling weight.

That being said we are probably going to pick up an Epic Hardtail ($2400) to be his race bike, they are trickling into the local shops. Saves me from going full weight weenie on the Stumpy and trying to make it something it isn't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Trek is still doing NICA discounts, Specialized has told dealers they won't be for next season. The issue with Trek is availability. The good news is they can give you an approximate date when things are available.

My son started on a Marlin 5 and it was fine for the first season. I was on a Rockhopper Comp, and my twin daughters ride Rockhopper Sports. Great bikes for getting started, lets you find out if everyone is into mtb before dropping big coin. The whole family has gotten into mtb so we are going through a round of upgrades after a year and a half.

My son is rocking a Stumpy because we take trips to the mountain and some of the stuff we ride just isn't fun on a hardtail. It's a great bike, but it isn't a "race" bike. However there are things you can do to help the bike be faster for not too much money. I picked up a set of wheels from an Epic Comp for $250 dollars. Threw a used cassette on, found some used rotors, and some Fast Trak tires and dropped 2.4# of rolling weight.

That being said we are probably going to pick up an Epic Hardtail ($2400) to be his race bike, they are trickling into the local shops. Saves me from going full weight weenie on the Stumpy and trying to make it something it isn't.
I was on Trek's website and it says there is a Procaliber 9.5 in stock at a LBS so going to call today to see if that is actually the case and will inquire about NICA discount. I found this post on craiglist for an epic hardtail specialized epic hardtail - bicycles - by owner - bike sale My concern with used for now is knowing if the components need to be replaced or not. Once the season goes along I am sure by proxy I will most likely get experience with servicing his bike lol. The coaches have already said that the parents will all have a role and have to help which I am fine with to support the team.
 

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Some kids have bikes worth $7,000-$10,000 out there which is crazy, others are cruising $1000 bikes and all are having fun.
It's a shame for school based competition they don't set a price cap. No kid needs a $10,000 carbon world cup XC bike and if the manufacturers are to be believed it gives them a massive edge over the kid on a $800 bike. Any parent who can afford to put their kid on a bike like that can afford to have a second 'spec' bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If you don't mind direct to consumer brands, Vitus has some nice hardtails with droppers under $1500 and $2000 that are regarded as being a good value.
Thanks for the recommendation. I looked at Vitus website and for the next four weeks there doesn't appear to be any new Sentier bikes being built. I would be fine with direct to consumer brands but would really need to research proper sizing as that would probably be my main concern to get the right size for him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I would guess that bike will be too big for your son right now. At 5'-8", he's probably going to be best on a medium. That said, at his age, a large might fit him next week - LOL.
Yeah he grew like 6 inches in 6 months and eating anything in sight lol. He has always enjoyed riding his bike but if he had his way he would sit behind his computer playing video games all day, which is why I am really trying to encourage him and hopeful he will like it. Is there things to look for when looking at used bikes? Or just the standard take it for a ride and make sure it rides good, check the frame, make sure nothing is broken?
 

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It's a shame for school based competition they don't set a price cap. No kid needs a $10,000 carbon world cup XC bike and if the manufacturers are to be believed it gives them a massive edge over the kid on a $800 bike. Any parent who can afford to put their kid on a bike like that can afford to have a second 'spec' bike.
I get your point, but I also see the side of buying high level gear for dedicated young athletes performing at a high level.

From an early age, I told my daughters that I would support their activities/sports/hobbies in direct proportion to how much effort they put into it. My youngest daughter started playing softball at 8yo in the local rec league. At 10yo, she moved to a travel ball team, which demanded many hours of practice, lessons, and playing a ton of games pretty much all year long. She's also a catcher. When she made the commitment to play at a higher level, I started buying the best gear for her. It not only performs better than cheaper options, but it lasts longer. For example, her catcher's mitt cost almost $300, and is a top-of-the-line product. It has lasted over 4 years, and is still going (with some expected maintenance along the way). A $100 mitt would be getting replaced at least ever year. Top-level composite bats don't generally last longer than a year, and currently cost $300+, but the performance difference over cheaper options is significant. My daughter's dedication to her sport, and the effort she puts in to playing at the highest level, easily justifies to me that she deserves the best gear. A year from now, she will be playing in college.

There is a young rider (graduated HS last year) in my area that has has some very nice mountain, road, and gravel bikes. Like my daughter, he has dedicated himself to his sport, and performs at a very high level. He crushes at the pointy end of go-fast group road rides, and is at or near the top of the list on most local Strava KOMs - dirt and road. The kid is good a damn good rider, and I would not be surprised to see him with a pro contract in the near future. He also comes from a family where both parents are former racers, and his dad continues to be one of the strongest riders in the area. They know bikes, and understand that their son is at a level that can get the most out of a high-end machine.

Buying an expensive high-end machine for a kid just getting started, however, is not a wise decision, even if you can afford it (IMO).
 

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Yeah he grew like 6 inches in 6 months and eating anything in sight lol. He has always enjoyed riding his bike but if he had his way he would sit behind his computer playing video games all day, which is why I am really trying to encourage him and hopeful he will like it. Is there things to look for when looking at used bikes? Or just the standard take it for a ride and make sure it rides good, check the frame, make sure nothing is broken?
Pretty much. If everything is functional and in good condition, you should be fine, but know what you're looking at. Take the time to educate yourself. My last bike purchase was for a used bike over the internet, that I didn't even get to ride first. I asked the seller for some additional pics to clarify a question I had, and pulled the trigger. However, I also knew what I was looking for, and had done a ton of research on that specific bike. That said, my success isn't a guarantee for anyone else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Trek is a great choice IMO. I was going to suggest something in the Marlin line, but they're only 50% of your budget.
I was looking at direct to consumer and it appears that wiggle has a ghost in stock right now. Lector Base Hardtail Bike (2021)

Does anyone have thought on this bike and the specs? It is in my price range and seems to fit the requirements but I have never heard of ghost brand so not sure generally if they are a reputable brand.
 
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