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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been looking for a good bike in my price range, and that is a profoundly frustrating experience.

From local bike shops to craigslist to general sports stores like REI, I have learned enough to know I know nothing, and haven't found the one yet.

The bike will be used for urban commuting from time to time, but I don't need something set up for that really. Mostly I will be hitting the trails, mostly fire roads and singletrack, but nothing that warrants a full suspension rig.

I can spend about $800 or so; I know it's more costly in the long run to upgrade the components later, but it's the only route I can go for now. So my question is, does anyone know a good set up in that price range that has a frame worth upgrading on? Is the Cannondale Trail 4 a decent buy or this purpose (even though it's nearly $1000 around here)? If not, what can you recommend?

Thanks for the help.
 

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Frame focus points..for me.
Size ~ I am 6' 205 and ride a 19" L
Light & Strong ~ Each brand has different models, each model has diferent build packages, get the "top of the line" for that model as sometimes there is a frame switch, like in my case with the Hardrock. The HR SPORT Disk came with a lighter frame than the base model HR Disk so keep your eye out for that. BTW look at the Specialized HArdRock Sport Disk 29 if you haven't yet..it's in your price range and comes with Hydro brakes!!
Steer Tube size ~ ...alot of high end bikes..well most all have the "tapered 1.5" steerer" the "recreational size" 1-1/8" steerer wich works fine too and most high end air forks come in both sizes so just as easy to upgrade.
Disk Brakes ~ not all frames can be upgraded to Disk if not originaly equip..
Wheel Size ~ I love my 29er..rolls over just about anything
What "type" of riding you want to focus on can change the type of frame/bike you buy...another pile of details to weed thru there...LOL
Good Luck
TEST RIDE EVERYTHING!!!
 

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Honestly while it's frustrating, I would keep looking and expand your search online to places like ebay or local riding clubs. A lot of guys are likely to have an older hard tail in their garage that is well equipped and has been maintained that they will sell to a new rider cheaply. You can buy bikes a couple years old that have much better components and really wouldn't need upgrading for less than $800 that would require you to throw half the parts away, especially when it comes to the fork.

I purchased an older Specialized Hardrock several years ago that was rideable for $160. I've since added a used Fox fork for $60 ($500+ new), Formula hydraulic brakes for $90 ($400 new) and SRAM X-9 drivetrain. I have around $700 in it total, but to purchase that level of bike new today would cost around $2,000.

While its ideal to be able to ride the bike you purchase, when it comes to hard tails, if you get the right frame size, the ergos can be adjusted with the bars/stem/seatpost, all very inexpensive parts. Something like this stands out as a good deal to me with a rock shox fork (better than sun tour) SRAM drivetrain (their lower end stuff is very similar to higher end, just a bit heavier), and Avid BB5 brakes (great mechanicals).

Specialized Rockhopper Comp 17 Mountain Bike | eBay

Even the ones that say "local pick up only" could probably be persuaded to drop the bike off at a LBS, who will disassemble, properly package, and ship bikes cheaply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Not overly familiar with Marin bikes - whats the consensus on their quality?

Good info to have, Burt4X4, thanks for that. I will keep the details in mind

Never thought about Ebay but it looks like there are some good deals to be had there.
 

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Although not as popular as brands such as Specialized, Trek or Giant...Marin bikes are on par with them in terms of quality and reputation. They're not some cheap company so it would definitely be worth a look. I still have a HT Marin Team Scandium that I absolutely love.
 

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Not overly familiar with Marin bikes - whats the consensus on their quality?

Good info to have, Burt4X4, thanks for that. I will keep the details in mind

Never thought about Ebay but it looks like there are some good deals to be had there.
Marin Bikes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Marin Bikes | About Marin Bikes | Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, and City/Commuter Bicycles | us
The quality is top notch. Normally they are more expensive than other brands. But here they are selling stuff much cheaper to make room for a bunch of new 2014 frame designs. They have been on the cutting edge of rear suspension design for about the last 20 years. I have only test rode one of their hardtails an it was an older Titanium frame. Pretty awesome.

Not saying they are the best, but right now these bikes are some of the best bang for the buck out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Marin Bikes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Marin Bikes | About Marin Bikes | Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, and City/Commuter Bicycles | us
The quality is top notch. Normally they are more expensive than other brands. But here they are selling stuff much cheaper to make room for a bunch of new 2014 frame designs. They have been on the cutting edge of rear suspension design for about the last 20 years. I have only test rode one of their hardtails an it was an older Titanium frame. Pretty awesome.

Not saying they are the best, but right now these bikes are some of the best bang for the buck out there.
Thanks - very solid info. I don't think they are sold around me; how do I go about sizing? Their website says go to a bike shop, but I get the feeling my size in a Specialized or Trek won't be the same as Marin... if it helps, I'm 6'2, 215, with a 32 or 33 inch inseam.
 

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I purchased one of their Palisades Trail bikes last October (paid $640 out the door) from that seller. Bike came in a box, had to put some parts on myself (I've always done my own work so this was easy, if you haven't you could take it to a shop to have assembled). This is my second Marin and I have been very happy with both (previous one was an Idian Fire trail that I am still kicking myself for getting rid of). I checked the geometry on Marin's web page, made sure it was in line with my previous one, and ordered the same size. So far so good!
 

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I should add, I got a 15.5" (I'm 5'6") and it fits great. The bike weighed in at 29 lbs stock, I replaced the wire bead X Kings with kevlar folding ones (on sale at Performance for $25 each thank you) and added lightweight tubes which knocked it down to 28 lbs. When I swap out the XC 30 fork this summer for a Manitou, I should be down to 26.? lbs, and only plan to replace other parts as they wear out.
 

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I'm 6'1 with a 32.5" inseam. I currently ride a 19" frame, although ideally, I would probably fit a 19.5" frame much better. The next size up is a 20.5" for most companies which is too big for me, so you generally want a bike a little too small than a little too big. With a full suspension, I can probably ride a 20.5" full suspension frame with all the modern frames having a dropped top tube. Your best bet is to head to your local LBS and just try a few bike sizes to see which works for you.

For $1000, and if you don't mind putting the bike together yourself, then you should look at Airborne bikes. More specifically, the Seeker.

Airborne Bicycles. Seeker
 
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