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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone! I'm looking for a new mountain bike and I need some advice. First of all, I'm not going to use it for true mountain biking. I live in Houston, Texas - which is as flat as it gets. I'll ride off-road trails and while I realize that mountain bike is an overkill for this, it is my personal preference.

My price range is $500-$700 bucks and I'd like the best bang for my buck in this range. I need front suspension and I definitely don't need the rear one - so I'm looking at hardtails only. Given the purpose, I don't think I need disc brakes, but I kind of like them. Hydraulic are probably too much though - I think mechanical is enough.

I am kind of picky about shifters though - I'd love Shimano Deore in the rear - which is very hard to find - but I'd like an Alivio or about the same. I don't know much about suspension forks and other components - so I'm looking for some basic guidance in do's ad don'ts here.

I used to have a Felt Q620 years ago (I think it was a 2004 model) - which came with Deore at the time at below $500. If I could get the same one again, I would - but they don't have such deals anymore.

I seriously looked at Giant Talon 27.5 4 as well as Trek Wahoo Disc 29 and recently zeroed in on Giant Revel 29er - but the store had issues with the lead time from the factory and now I'm back looking again.

Given all of the above, what bike(s) would you advise I look at? Any input is appreciated!
 

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You may get better/more answers by posting in the beginners section with this topic as the kind of riding you're talking about doesn't fit the all mountain category. That being said I would look at the Raleigh Tokul 2 as a potential bike that would work for you. It has an Alivio rear derailleur and Altus shifters and front derailleur, a 120mm SR Suntour fork with lockout and 650b (27.5) wheels. Definitely a bike that would be well suited for your needs and one that would make a good beginners trail bike.

Raleigh Bicycles - Tokul 2

You're not going to find bikes speced the same way in your price range as you did in 2004. I had purchased in 04/05 a Raleigh M80 that retailed for $550 and if I remember correctly even by 2008 a similarly speced M80 was closer to $800, that's just how inflation works. If you're more set on a specific component group than your price range I'd wait until you can spend a little more so you can get what you want off the bat instead of being dissatisfied with your purchase. Although for what it sounds like what you're using the bike for the Tokul 2 should be more than enough.

In your price range I wouldn't obsess too much over the suspension or other components. Nothing's going to be outstanding or high end, but it won't be junk either. What comes equipped on the Tokul 2 will get you down unpaved paths and fire roads and will be a decent bike to ride if you start dipping your toes into more technical single track. I've ridden with guys who rode bikes that weren't nearly as nice as the Tokul or the bikes you listed and they got down the same trails that I was riding on my Stumpjumper just fine.

The Tokul 2 is just one option, I think it's a really solid option for a beginner mountain bike and Raliegh is doing $50 rebates on them right now, but the other bikes you listed would be great options too. I would suggest taking each model on a few test rides to see which one rides the best for you and talking with the guys at your local bike shop about your particular wants and needs. Keep in mind too that small shops often have bikes left over from previous years and buying a NOS bike that the shops been sitting on for a while is a good way to get something nicer while not going outside of your price limit.
 

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In your price range I'd spend some time looking a quality used bikes. I bet you can find a 2 year old $1000 bike in very good condition for $500-$600. I probably wouldn't buy a $2000 bike that has been abused to the point of being worth $500 as it probably will need a few $100 in repairs to get it running.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You may get better/more answers by posting in the beginners section with this topic as the kind of riding you're talking about doesn't fit the all mountain category. That being said I would look at the Raleigh Tokul 2 as a potential bike that would work for you. It has an Alivio rear derailleur and Altus shifters and front derailleur, a 120mm SR Suntour fork with lockout and 650b (27.5) wheels. Definitely a bike that would be well suited for your needs and one that would make a good beginners trail bike.

Raleigh Bicycles - Tokul 2

You're not going to find bikes speced the same way in your price range as you did in 2004. I had purchased in 04/05 a Raleigh M80 that retailed for $550 and if I remember correctly even by 2008 a similarly speced M80 was closer to $800, that's just how inflation works. If you're more set on a specific component group than your price range I'd wait until you can spend a little more so you can get what you want off the bat instead of being dissatisfied with your purchase. Although for what it sounds like what you're using the bike for the Tokul 2 should be more than enough.

In your price range I wouldn't obsess too much over the suspension or other components. Nothing's going to be outstanding or high end, but it won't be junk either. What comes equipped on the Tokul 2 will get you down unpaved paths and fire roads and will be a decent bike to ride if you start dipping your toes into more technical single track. I've ridden with guys who rode bikes that weren't nearly as nice as the Tokul or the bikes you listed and they got down the same trails that I was riding on my Stumpjumper just fine.

The Tokul 2 is just one option, I think it's a really solid option for a beginner mountain bike and Raliegh is doing $50 rebates on them right now, but the other bikes you listed would be great options too. I would suggest taking each model on a few test rides to see which one rides the best for you and talking with the guys at your local bike shop about your particular wants and needs. Keep in mind too that small shops often have bikes left over from previous years and buying a NOS bike that the shops been sitting on for a while is a good way to get something nicer while not going outside of your price limit.
Thanks for the advice. How does Raleigh compare to prime brands such as Giant, Trek, Specialized, etc.? I don't think I've ever heard of it, so I'm honestly a bit skeptical, especially given that the price difference is not all that much.

As for the previous year's leftover bikes, this is what I usually do - both with bikes and with cars. You can get some really good deals on these. Unfortunately, my local stores are all out of 2013 deals already. I should've started looking earlier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
In your price range I'd spend some time looking a quality used bikes. I bet you can find a 2 year old $1000 bike in very good condition for $500-$600. I probably wouldn't buy a $2000 bike that has been abused to the point of being worth $500 as it probably will need a few $100 in repairs to get it running.
I'm not a big fan of used items. I definitely see your point, but I'd rather get something brand new.
 

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Raleigh is a large established brand out of England, as is GT. GT makes some awesome high end mountain bikes, I've ridden a GT Sanction from a while back that is phenomenal. Raleigh isn't as big of a name in mountain bikes, they're not making any $10k full suspension dream bikes (or any FS bikes for that matter), but for a nice midrange bike like you're looking for they do well. My first mountain bike was a Raliegh and for most of its life I used it the same way you plan on using yours. I rode it mostly on non-technical fire road trails but when I started getting into technical trail riding it was definitely enough to get me started in that sort of riding. It's held up great through some major abuse. It seems like Raleigh is taking another stab at getting into mountain bikes, the Tokul 4130 which is the high end model of the one I suggested to you is a really nice hardtail that I would love to own. You're definitely safe going with Raleigh or GT, or any of the companies you've already listed.

The GT that was posted is a great bike for the money, but if I were in your shoes I would prefer a bike I could test ride before buying it. Just because a certain bike gets a lot of hype online or has nice specs doesn't necessarily mean it's going to fit or ride as well as another for you. It's worth putting in the effort to test ride as many as you can.

Also I'd stay away from used as well. If you're just getting into mountain biking you can get a nice entry level bike at the top end of your current price range and you don't really need anything super nice for riding fire road trails. Using the entry level gear when you start helps you appreciate the nice stuff when you upgrade as you get more into the sport. Plus nothing is going to make you not want to ride like having to dump money into a bike you bought used just to make it rideable. A friend of mine who bought the GT Sanction I mentioned did so because he wanted to have a high end FS bike like myself and another riding buddy but couldn't afford a new one and found the Sanction well used for $1200. Long story short he dumped a ton of money into it, it was rideable for a few months before more parts broke, and now it's for sale.

If the bike shops in your area have already sold out of their NOS bikes that they have in the store that doesn't mean you're out of luck. Your local shops will have access to old model year bikes that the manufacturer is still sitting on that are available to order. The shop likely won't just tell you about this, but if you bring in a six pack and talk with the guys at the shop for a while they might be open to letting you in on a deal like that. At this point in the year the availability of close out bikes to order might not be great and limited to a few sizes but it's worth a shot.
 

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I'm not a big fan of used items. I definitely see your point, but I'd rather get something brand new.
you are limiting yourself at that budget buying new. there are tons of great deals on barely used bikes out there in your price range. people are giving away their 26" bikes to hop on the 650b bandwagon. it is a great time to be looking for a used bike with an open mind
 

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I would suggest getting a used bike since you're going to get the best bang for your buck, if you go new I would suggest looking at Giant, best quality/price brand IMO.
 

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I understand the desire to get a new bike. But speaking plainly, your budget is rather limiting. New bikes in your price range usually have pretty low-end components like Deore and Alivio. They work, but not for a long time. The difference in longevity between Deore and, say SLX or XT is MASSIVE. I'd bet money that a brand new Deore derailleur will fail you FAR more quickly than a used XT. When you have finally had enough of components screwing up, you'll spend a lot more money trying to upgrade them. You could most definitely find something with SLX or XT components in your price range. Or better yet, get some Sram components!! I made the switch, and I'm so glad I did. Sram's X7 is very doable for your budget. Bikes lose a lot of value when they are used, and you can find incredibly good bikes for very little money. I strongly suggest considering it. There is ZERO shame in getting a used bike. I'd pick a used bike with good, durable components over a new bike with crappy components any day of the week. And I second the vote for Giant. I rode one for 3 years and it was a fantastic bike.
 
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