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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,
So I am thinking about getting into mountain bike riding again. I’m 29, 5’11, 185 lbs. I live in CT so plan on doing a good mix of road, trail, and rocky trails. Everything seems so expensive and honestly I really don’t know the difference between all the bikes now but I did look at the Trek’s earlier in the year and I love the look of those. Hoping to get some suggestions as to what style of bike to buy and what people think would be a good fit. Thanks! Matt
 

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There are so many hundreds of options out there, it's impossible to know where to start.

Start with realistic expectations for budget. You need a bike, helmet, comfy riding shorts, some way to carry water, a floor pump, and some basic tools. Some sort of glasses to keep debris out of your eyeballs and gloves for when you fall are a good ideas too. You can find many of these items cheap online. For your first bike, I would buy it in person in a shop.

A bike that is going to hold up to mtb trail riding at any level is going to retail for at least $750. Deals exist, of course, but that level is where decent bicycles start when you look at original retail prices. "Expensive" is relative. What kind of budget did you have in mind? Opinions vary, but if my bike was stolen and I had to buy a new one at regular retail prices, I would not bother with anything the market has to offer for under $2k. Yeah, that is a lot of money for most people but that's what it costs to buy something that does not suck.

Find a few local bike shops and ask around about what will suit your needs. If you want to ride "rocky trails" you will need a legit mountain bike, not a hybrid. It will be a bit of a pig on the road, so if you want to spend a lot of time on the road, forget about trails and get something pavement-oriented.

Test ride some bikes and buy a bike that is fun from a shop that provided the best service. All the popular brands you see in bike shops compete with one another mercilessly, so they will have similar bikes in the same price range. The shop itself is likely the main difference for your first bike.
 

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I'm in Eastern CT and have been riding all singletrack here since mid 80's. Lots of great uncrowded locations with plenty of challenging terrain. Starting out it's best to ride less technical terrain to learn the ropes before getting your butt handed to you and/or getting hurt.

Everyone is different but I prefer a good all-around bike that can handle the bone and also climb's well. I've had nothing but FS bikes since 2001...as I aged I got tired of the pounding from a hardtail. The most I've spent on a bike in all that time is my 2018 Kona Process 153 ($2300 on-line). I considered a mid-fat bike but I was skeptical about how the extra wheel/tire weight would affect maneuverability. I'm 6'4" so an XL framed bike is pretty big for these tight trails...especially factoring in the longer geo and "+" sized wheels. My sweet spot is 27.5 X 2.5 but many folks are on 29ers and they love them. I saw lots of fat bikes when they became the craze a few years ago but there's very few out there now. I never had carbon...not worth the extra $ to me for a pound or two weight savings. Terrain here is tough on bikes and I've broken a few frames so I'm more focused on sturdy/robust design vs weight savings.

If I was you, I would go with a hardtail to learn the ropes. Your main decision would be geo and wheel size. The newer geo bikes are super fun and very capable but some have low BB height which sucks in technical terrain due to increased pedal strikes. Beyond that your main decision would be wheel size/width. I see quite a few '27.5+' sized hardtails out on the trails.

I do everything myself so I save tons buying on-line. If you don't have the knowledge, tools, patience to learn, etc. you may want to work through a shop. Lots of great choices out there...shop around and demo a few if you can. You should be able to get a good modern geo hardtail for about $1000. Also check around for used bikes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have the majority of the gear already as I have been riding quads and dirt bikes most of my life. Thinking 2-3k at max for a budget. FS bikes seem to be the way to go now, especially since many companies make FS bikes with suspension lock out so it locks the suspension allowing it to basically be a road bike. Was hoping to find something like that with Trek! 27.5” seems to be the most common size but I could be wrong? I’m not sure about frame size either.
 

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Not all forks and shocks will completely lock out. You should find a local Trek dealer and speak with them about bikes. They can get you started with some test rides and you can get a feel for what works best.
 

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I would disregard the lockout as a reference to a road bike.
+1, no where close to being the same. Maybe get a gravel bike and don't plan on riding too rocky trails.
 

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As has been mentioned, disregard lockouts altogether. First, no lockout is going to make a FS into a road bike. If a lockout serves any purpose at all anymore it's to make a FS bike a better climber or more efficient pedaler. I say "anymore" because suspension design is such that lockouts don't seem to be needed for climbing. If someone is that concerned with efficient pedaling they are probably an XC racer and not riding an FS because of the weight. They aren't common anymore.

A lockout should not be something you look for in your bike, period.

A FS MTB is lousy on the road, for all but really casual riding (excluding commuting or riding any distance with roadies) and hard on expensive tires. If you don't want a bike that's a complete compromise on the trail, don't consider riding it on the road much (and vice versa).

If you are willing to commit that kind of budget and apparently have a Trek dealer nearby, go ride some Treks. 29, 27.5, Hardtail, Full Squish, and the proper frame size. See what grabs you. Try riding it down some stairs or off some curbs in the parking lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I should clarify. I plan on using 50/50 really, half for rocky trail/dirt trails, and half for road. That’s the only reason I want the lock out so that way when I do want to ride on the road or if I am riding on the road to get to the trail I’m not putting all the effort into the suspension.
 

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How far is the road ride to the trail?

I’m thinking two bikes. Or go for something like a fully rigid trail bike.

OTOH, a Trek Stache might be fun for the rocky areas. https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/bikes/mountain-bikes/trail-mountain-bikes/stache/stache-7/p/29049/?colorCode=black
 

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Unless you can afford 2 bikes, get a hard tail 29er.

Lock outs work, I did a 10 mile urban ride on my full suspension bike Saturday morning and locked out front and rear suspension on the steep climbs so I could stand up when needed.
 

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I should clarify. I plan on using 50/50 really, half for rocky trail/dirt trails, and half for road. That's the only reason I want the lock out so that way when I do want to ride on the road or if I am riding on the road to get to the trail I'm not putting all the effort into the suspension.
I ride 10 miles total to the trail and a lockout isn't needed. Just sit and pedal. If I stand and mash on the climbs I'll get a little bob on the road, but nothing I cannot live without for a 30-40 minute ride to the trail. Don't overthink it if this is all the road riding you plan on doing.

If you got a hardtail, you could get a second set of road wheels and a rigid fork. I have two friends that have done this and it wasn't for financial reasons. It works really well. You're not as aerodynamic as a road bike, but you could easily go out for road rides, group rides, and a century.
 

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I was gonna put about 10 miles as kind of an upper limit on road riding of MTB. And 15mph is kind of a pedaled upper speed limit. But that's a weight and tire and maybe even gear thing more than a suspension thing.

I find that low, trail tire pressure causes more "bob" or bounce than the suspension itself. They have that pretty well worked out on modern bikes.

The tire thing is one thing that irks me the worst about riding my MTB on the road. I don't mind the rest of it too much, but I also hate road riding.
 

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I ride 10 miles total to the trail and a lockout isn't needed. Just sit and pedal. If I stand and mash on the climbs I'll get a little bob on the road, but nothing I cannot live without for a 30-40 minute ride to the trail. Don't overthink it if this is all the road riding you plan on doing.
Agreed. I honestly don't think the OP has to overthink the road piece, and may not even have to consider it.

If you got a hardtail, you could get a second set of road wheels and a rigid fork. I have two friends that have done this and it wasn't for financial reasons. It works really well. You're not as aerodynamic as a road bike, but you could easily go out for road rides, group rides, and a century.
I'm a bit surprised by this. I did the same over a decade ago, but it was on the 26" platform. I found that the combination of different gearing, smaller wheels, and ride position ultimately put me at a big disadvantage against dedicated road bikes. Probably a bit better on a 29er, but I applaud anyone who can do a whole century.

I was gonna put about 10 miles as kind of an upper limit on road riding of MTB. And 15mph is kind of a pedaled upper speed limit. But that's a weight and tire and maybe even gear thing more than a suspension thing.

...

The tire thing is one thing that irks me the worst about riding my MTB on the road. ...
Funny you mention 15mph. To mix it up, I do a 1 hour fully road course on my 29er. I target to maintain 25 km/h, which is about what you say. That is maintaining a really good pace, and includes some severe climbs. I'd agree beyond that is an unrealistic speed, and it is mostly due to the tires.
 

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You have a healthy budget there.

many companies make FS bikes with suspension lock out so it locks the suspension allowing it to basically be a road bike.
Lower your expectations there. A locked out FS bike is still a mountain bike and will feel like a drag on long stretches of pavement compared to a road bike.

I gather that 29" tires in the 2.25-2.4" range and and 27.5x2.8 inch "B plus" platforms are the most common these days. Not a lot of regular 27.5" platforms, although more common for FS bikes.

For sizing, the only way to know is to visit some bike shops and demos and throw a leg over some bikes!
 

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Agreed. I honestly don't think the OP has to overthink the road piece, and may not even have to consider it.

I'm a bit surprised by this. I did the same over a decade ago, but it was on the 26" platform. I found that the combination of different gearing, smaller wheels, and ride position ultimately put me at a big disadvantage against dedicated road bikes. Probably a bit better on a 29er, but I applaud anyone who can do a whole century.

Funny you mention 15mph. To mix it up, I do a 1 hour fully road course on my 29er. I target to maintain 25 km/h, which is about what you say. That is maintaining a really good pace, and includes some severe climbs. I'd agree beyond that is an unrealistic speed, and it is mostly due to the tires.
I have two friends that have done this. They are veru fit but a century is no big deal on their converted 29ers. One guy whos extremely fit has every kom here on his bike.

Youre definitely at a disadvantage, but both of these fuys go out and average 21 mph on these setups

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Averaging 21 mph on a road bike is pretty f-fast. 21 average on a mtb is ridiculously fast. Those guys should quit their day jobs asap.
One just competed in worlds last weekend and he does these rides solo. The other friend is doing these in a group.

The slower of the two got 3rd overall at a local race on his ss. After the first lap at a race yesterday, he came out of the woods 2nd overall after the first lap on the SS. They're crazy fast

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One just competed in worlds last weekend and he does these rides solo. The other friend is doing these in a group.

The slower of the two got 3rd overall at a local race on his ss.

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These are well above average people. Good for them that they are kick ass athletes , but I am not sure what your point is.
 
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