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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have an absolute favorite local bike shop (LBS) in town. The owner is a family man, one-man enterprise who’s been riding and wrenching for 30+ years…and he’s the nicest guy you’ll ever deal with. He’s treated me so well with service and is also willing to work with me on a payment plan for a new bike (I don’t have much disposable income).

I really want to buy a bike from him, but as most of you know, we don’t get to pick how a brand makes a certain model. Some times we find bikes that seem to really suit us, but they’re not the brand our LBS carries.

Herein is my conundrum. My LBS carries the following brands: Marin, Rocky Mountain, Esker, Knolly, and Scott (who hasn’t provided bikes in over a year).

I just started riding a year ago, and have quickly taken on every green, blue, and black near me. The double blacks are the only thing I haven’t felt at all comfortable on so far. I’m riding a super cheap starter bike (Fuji Nevada) with a decidedly traditional XC geo. I also think my bike (XL) is too big for me at 72” with a 32” inseam and long torso/arms.

While I’m still learning, I would like something more stable on the downs and in rocky, ledge drop situations, among other scenarios. I also don’t want to feel like I need a new bike in a year, so if I got something only slightly different than what I have I’m afraid that would end up being the case. I’m trying to somewhat future proof this decision.

I ride northwest Arkansas. My home Trails are rock based, with unavoidable technical areas, and as much climbing as descending. There are no lifts or long run DH parks around here and I don’t travel much. I say all that to make it clear I don’t ride as much enduro/DH as some guy, but it’s not smooth flow trails either.

Of the brands listed above, are there models that stand out to you that would seem to suit me? I was interested in the Team Marin 1, but wonder if it’s too much of an XC bike? The Growler seems more like an enduro bike that would be cumbersome on climbs and slow maneuvering. San Quentin has a super low stack (and I can’t get over that for some reason). The Japhy has a low stack too but I’m intrigued by the ride quality and steel in general.

if I didn’t buy from my local bike shop, I would likely get a frame and build it from scratch. Since I wouldn’t have a payment plan option, this suits my budget as I can buy parts as I can afford them. I’ve looked at all of the Honzo models from Kona, in this scenario.

I actually could build a bike from one of the frames my LBS carries too, like the San Quentin or Japhy, for instance

Any thoughts?
 

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I've always been a fan of building up a bike from a frame. Especially when disposable income can be scarce. That way you can build your frame up to how you exactly want it. Just save what money you can for the parts you actually want on the bike. It's more in the long run doing this, but you can find deals on new/used parts to help save costs. I built up my Jamis Dragon Race this way several years ago. With deals online, through my local shops, and through friends, I was able to build up my bike exactly how I wanted to. Ended up costing me out of pocket close to $3k total, but it was totally worth it. I got the exact bike I wanted.

Buying a complete bike gives you the instant gratification to just go out and ride. But with a complete bike, you don't always get the components you want, costing more for upgrades.

Either way, whether you buy complete or build up, you may run into supply issues if you have to order anything these days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Buying a complete bike gives you the instant gratification to just go out and ride. But with a complete bike, you don't always get the components you want, costing more for upgrades.
Right, and there is also the "bike mfrs get parts cheaper" aspect. I can't build a bike with the same components for the same price...and I can do takeoff and upgrade...so that's kind of a factor. Ideally I would want to build my own bike though. Primarily for things like cassette, fork, wheelset, dropper, grips, saddle. Bar and stem is something I'll have to dial in, so I need a starting point. Stock parts are fine to get a baseline. Derailleur honestly isn't a huge deal to me. Deore or XT isn't going to be super noticeable to me personally. I guess I'd pick the XT shifter for the marginal cost increase because I do like the double up shift and tactile feel.

I guess the main thing was: I wonder if anyone else has ever been in the predicament where they had a hands-down favorite LBS they reallllly wanted to support...but weren't sure the brands they offered met the bike they were looking for...?
 

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I guess the main thing was: I wonder if anyone else has ever been in the predicament where they had a hands-down favorite LBS they reallllly wanted to support...but weren't sure the brands they offered met the bike they were looking for...?
Here is a little more for thought. My local LBS that I use (used to race for, maybe next year), is a multi dealer. Niner, Jamis, Fuji, Breezer, Santa Cruz, etc.

I was in the market for a new hardtail. Preferably steel. Between the manufacturers, I was able to test ride a couple of steel frame bikes (Niner, Jamis, Breezer) that had framesets avail as an option. For me the Jamis and Breezer rode very similarly. Didn't like the Niner and it was a little out of my budget. Ended up with the Jamis over the Breezer (better colors according to my son)

Go talk to your guy. Test ride 3 or 4 bikes if you can and see what will work best for your current and future needs. Then maybe talk about going with a frameset as an option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Go talk to your guy. Test ride 3 or 4 bikes if you can and see what will work best for your current and future needs. Then maybe talk about going with a frameset as an option.
Were it that easy…he’s only had in stock one HT that I was remotely interested in. There are no bikes. Esker is the one I really want to try/buy but he hasn’t had Japhys in months. Beyond that, I think the Team Marin is too much an XC bike for future proofing my needs. Marin’s other HT offerings are 27.5. Scott hasn’t supplied bikes in over a year and similar with Rocky Mountain on the Growler. This shortage nonsense is real
 

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Always test ride the bike before buying. Yes, supplies are short and are forecasted to get worse. However, your LBS owner should know a few customers who may let you test ride their Esker Japhys--just be sure to thank them with beer, pizza or whatever.

I'm 6' tall, 33" in seam, an XL SantaCruz Tallboy fits me to a "T". I test rode Large and XL SantaCruz Tallboys, HighTowers, and MegaTowers the summer of 2019 when the SC demo crew was in town. Unless you've got a BMX pedigree, I'm inclined to believe the XL is closest to the correct size.

If you're LBS cannot get you the bike you want (brand, model, size), then let the LBS owner know. He sounds like a good guy who'd help you out even if circumstances don't allow you to purchase from his shop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Always test ride the bike before buying. Yes, supplies are short and are forecasted to get worse. However, your LBS owner should know a few customers who may let you test ride their Esker Japhys--just be sure to thank them with beer, pizza or whatever.

I'm 6' tall, 33" in seam, an XL SantaCruz Tallboy fits me to a "T". I test rode Large and XL SantaCruz Tallboys, HighTowers, and MegaTowers the summer of 2019 when the SC demo crew was in town. Unless you've got a BMX pedigree, I'm inclined to believe the XL is closest to the correct size.

If you're LBS cannot get you the bike you want (brand, model, size), then let the LBS owner know. He sounds like a good guy who'd help you out even if circumstances don't allow you to purchase from his shop.
it's so tough. I'm Ape +1, 32" inseam. I think my ETT feels a little long when seated on flat ground, but that's the only time my bike really bothers me...well, I need a shorter ST bike. 520 means I had to cut 1cm off the ST to slam a 150mm dropper in. I would like to be even lower on the bike with the seat down. I rode a XL Team Marin around the parking lot and it felt good. Steeper STA helps the longer reach and ETT to what I'm riding. Still has a very tall ST though. I feel like everyone new gets put on a larger bike nowadays because: stability. I like the idea of "playful" but not sure I'm there yet as a rider. Will I be in a year? Can't keep buying bikes every 10 months or the better half will eat me for lunch.
 

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Get the bike that is right for you, not the closest the LBS can supply. You can support them by buying parts and accessories from them. Chains, cassettes, tyres, tools, shoes, lights etc and get your servicing done there if you're not willing to DIY.

Not sure what your budget is but I just ordered a Nukeproof Scout Comp 290 from Wiggle. They have them in stock in Medium and Large at the moment. Pretty good trail hardtail. I can't wait to get mine.
 

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it's so tough. I'm Ape +1, 32" inseam. I think my ETT feels a little long when seated on flat ground, but that's the only time my bike really bothers me...well, I need a shorter ST bike. 520 means I had to cut 1cm off the ST to slam a 150mm dropper in. I would like to be even lower on the bike with the seat down. I rode a XL Team Marin around the parking lot and it felt good. Steeper STA helps the longer reach and ETT to what I'm riding. Still has a very tall ST though. I feel like everyone new gets put on a larger bike nowadays because: stability. I like the idea of "playful" but not sure I'm there yet as a rider. Will I be in a year? Can't keep buying bikes every 10 months or the better half will eat me for lunch.
It's pretty much impossible to test the bike in the proper spec and size, even in the best of times. Unless you live in a giant city, and even then, it's difficult to find the proper size and spec that has the suspension that you'd use. IME, it takes about a week to dial in suspension in various terrain, several rides, several days, etc. It's just not something you can figure out from a few test rides. It takes having the bike for a week or so, having the proper spec and size, having the opportunity to ride the correct terrain. The chances that all of these things line up are pretty low IME. Again, maybe you live somewhere that this is a possibility for the brand/model you are looking at...but I'd wager for most, it's not. It's generally just not realistic.
 

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I have a Canfield N9 that's somewhat similar to a Marin San Quentin and haven't had any troubles riding around NWA with it.

Since you don't have the tools and a parts bin to pull from, building a bike is going to real pain right now. If you can get a complete bike I'd go that route and build the next one when things are better
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Since you don't have the tools and a parts bin to pull from, building a bike is going to real pain right now. If you can get a complete bike I'd go that route and build the next one when things are better
I mean, I have tools, just not a ton of bike specific tools. Hex wrenches get a lot of bike work done, for instance. I could go to my LBS to press things in like headset, etc. if needed. He rarely charges me much, if anything, for minor stuff. Which is probably because he hopes I'll buy a bike one day...I know the markup on bikes is significant compared to parts, swag, accessories, etc. I'm not helping keep the lights on by purchasing a few tires, chains, and t-shirts...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It's cool. I'm really interested in the Esker Japhy anyway, which he does carry (well, there aren't any on the floor right now, but he is an Esker dealer). I'm hoping he gets a Large in that I can at least look at in person and tool around the parking lot to get a feel for the geo in limited situations. I know I can't build it cheaper than a complete bike...but I can pick the wheelset, cassette, cranks, BB that I want...shaving some weight off a non-light bike and getting a better spec in the process. Who knows. Thanks for the discussion, peeps!
 

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I mean, I have tools, just not a ton of bike specific tools. Hex wrenches get a lot of bike work done, for instance. I could go to my LBS to press things in like headset, etc. if needed. He rarely charges me much, if anything, for minor stuff. Which is probably because he hopes I'll buy a bike one day...I know the markup on bikes is significant compared to parts, swag, accessories, etc. I'm not helping keep the lights on by purchasing a few tires, chains, and t-shirts...

Over the last 15 years, I've built up 3 bikes from frames, and 1 bike totally upgraded (new fork, crank, wheels, etc). I invested in most of the hand tools like cassette tool, chain whip, torx and hex bits, etc. The only 3 things I've had to take into a shop to do work was making sure the headtube and bottom bracket was reamed/faced/chased properly and when I built my 3 wheelsets to get them trued. I've worked in 4 different shops since 2008-2020, so I had access to all the tools I needed that I didn't want to purchase (bottom bracket and headtube tools are very expensive). Everything else I completed at home. My next home purchase will be a good wheel truing stand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Over the last 15 years, I've built up 3 bikes from frames, and 1 bike totally upgraded (new fork, crank, wheels, etc). I invested in most of the hand tools like cassette tool, chain whip, torx and hex bits, etc. The only 3 things I've had to take into a shop to do work was making sure the headtube and bottom bracket was reamed/faced/chased properly and when I built my 3 wheelsets to get them trued. I've worked in 4 different shops since 2008-2020, so I had access to all the tools I needed that I didn't want to purchase (bottom bracket and headtube tools are very expensive). Everything else I completed at home. My next home purchase will be a good wheel truing stand.
I'd like to have a truing stand as well. Heck, I don't even have a bike stand rn. I just rig something up with a 2x4 clamped to my work bench. Does the job for now, but I'm thinking of either picking up a stand secondhand or making something. As I said, I know I'm not helping my LBS much taking small things in for him to do. Not to mention the 45 minute round trip to only go back and do it again when I pick it up. And moreover I don't like feeling helpless. :)
 
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