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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm looking to purchase a decent 29er to use to feed my fitness junkie habit. I hurt my back and got fat 7 years ago. I spent the last 2 years walking, jogging, and then running to lose 100+ lbs, but at 6'5" 229, I'm still not a little guy. I have a tendency to go a little overboard wiith my exercise (in the past 2 years, I've run 3 marathons, cutting my time by more than an hour to 3:45 minutes for my last very hilly race). But my knees and heels don't seem to like the 50+ miles / week I was running. So I decided to buy a cheap Walmart bike to see if I liked it. Turns out I love it. The Mongoose will be going back to Warlmart as soon as I can decide what to replace it with, but I'm paralyzed by the choices. I've gone from looking at hybrids to cyclocross and now back to 29er MTB (that's what the Mongoose from Walmart is Impasse29 rigid frame with disc brakes).

In 6 weeks, I've ridden about 320 miles on the Mongoose, so far my top speed has been 35 mph, in other words I just ride as hard as I can wherever I can. So usually I average about 15 mph when I'm alone. I live in rural West Virginia and ride at least 10 miles per day usually 7 days / week. My workout rides by myself, I usually try to ride about 45 minutes keeping my heart rate above 140. That gets me about 10 miles up and down mostly rolling hills, depending on which road I take. I also live on a farm and have a rough fire lanes with downed trees, rocks, roots, etc. that climbs 250 ft in about 1/4 mile one direction or 3/4 mile in the other direction (literally starts at the edge of my yard). I discovered tonight I can't make it up the 1/4 mile stretch on the current bike, just too steep for now so I had to run the bike up. (The Mongoose after 6 weeks is missing at least 6 teeth from the rear cassette so it does a lot of ghost shifting when I pound up a hill too hard and appears from the loud metallic click to be having issues in the bottom bracket also).

I also have close access to calmer trails and good rocky trails. My primary desire is to stay in shape and continue to have fun. That means I'll eventually do some racing, but I don't have any delusions about being very competitive, just having fun and pushing myself. Running marathons, I've discovered I love endurance challenges 3-4 hours is great, so I'll probably do some local off-road triathlons or possibly even on-road. I don't really think I want a road bike, because I like riding through the woods and over rocks too much and my budget isn't unlimited, so whatever bike I buy I need it to last for at least 6-7 years until my son's out of college.

All that to say can some of the less expensive ($500 - 1000) 29er's from Trek (Fisher or not I don't care), Specialized, Cannondale (I'd love to find one made in Bedford since it's less than 1 hour away and I'd like to support the local economy, but I understand they're shipping a lot of work to Taiwan like everyone else), Redline, Surly, Salsa, Felt, etc. etc. I'm really not stuck on any brand. Most of the nearby LBS's stink, but I can get to decent ones in an hour and great ones within two.

Any advice would be appreciated. If you were willing to read this much, thank you!

Blessings,
Lee
 

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Hey, good work on the recovery. I had some back issues that left me in knots for several months, so I can relate to the rejuvenation of turning full circle. It's almost like coming back from the dead, eh?

Find a good bike shop first -- service oriented, helpful, etc. Starting from your experience level, you'll want to get some good help choosing something that fits (most important detail here). Once you have a good idea about fit, see what they can offer in your price range. At 6'5", a Rockhopper 29 is probably a good first inquiry. I like Redline's Monocog if you're interested in going SS (cheaper and more bang for your buck when fitness is concerned), but I'm not sure if they make a frame large enough for you. Someone can probably clarify this. Most companies are offering entry-level 29ers under $1000 now, but finding a good shop in your area that can get you one is the key.

Good luck.
 

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Definitely I think you can find something in the $1k< range that'll get and keep you going. BTW congrats on the weight loss and sticking with it - that's the biggest and hardest thing. As for suggestions for a bike, @ 6'5" I'd say fit is the key thing, definitely hit up a local to you shop and try to test ride some of their XL offerings, maybe even XXL.

Not sure if most bike shops will really have much selection in XL or XXL bikes on the floor for you to test, but they might know someone locally who has one that you could sit on and at least parking lot test. Heck you could even check around here to see if there's anyone local to you rocking an XL whatever.

Oh and don't forget to browse around/down the forum and use the search feature for similar posts - bikes under $1k - there's 1 about every few days to a week :skep:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the advice! I think I'm getting there finally. I learned the hard way tonight that I need a bike with gears that work, preferably without metal pedals with studs in them. That and as someone mentioned in the pedals vs clips debate, I need to learn to walk before I start trying to fly! Ouch!
 

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I absolutely love my RL MC29er and it works perfectly for rail trails and moderate to technical MT biking. If SS isn't your style, then D400 is the same bike geared. I've done 3 foot drops and even ridden through trails that look like fields of bricks and it takes it all. Only component changed out of necessity was the headset, but it was already toast from when I bought the bike of Ebay due to lack of grease. Call me crazy, but I'm even gonna race it this weekend in the beginner class at Fair hill. :thumbsup:
 

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I will second the RedLine. I think the D600 16 speed would be a good choice for under a $1000 if you want disc brakes and front suspension. Or if 8 speeds is simple for you go with a D400 for around $500 and upgrade your fork and brakes when you have it to spend. My reason for Red Line is the frame material. As big as you are I do not see an aluminum frame lasting 7 years. Find a bike with a decent CM frame (not heat treated) they are more brittle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys. So far the local shops are a bust.The guy at the closest one (who I'd heard was unpleasant) was actually pretty good. He told me I needed a jumbo (XXL), which unfortunately he couldn't get shipped before Sep 13! That was for a Trek / Fisher Cobio I believe (he only sells Trek/Fisher/Cannondale). Other shops have told me over the phone, we can always jack up the seat and add spacers to the stem to make an XL work for you. He actually recommended against that even though he had one in the shop. I'd like to find a way to work with him, but I don't know that I'm patient enough to wait 8 weeks!

Thanks for the tips on Redline.

Lee
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks to all of you. I finally found my bike. Had to drive a little to get it. But Eric at Freeze Thaw in State College hooked me up. Redline D600, swapped the crank for a Shimano with 3 gears. Brought it home and did a quick 3 mile loop up the hill in the time it usually takes me to do the last mile. Aside from nearly going OTB a few times with the new brakes and the suspension vs rigid frame. It's pretty awesome to shift gears going uphill and to have more range than I needed. Pics tomorrow.

Thanks again,
Lee
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Loving the new bike. Rode about 22 miles today mixture of off-road by myself and on-road with my wife. What a treat to not have the gears jumping furiously all the time. Thanks again, here's the bike.

Lee

 

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Damn, they've sure done somethign with the graphics on those new Redlines :eek: Looks sharp as heck :thumbsup: Glad you're enjoying the riding, stick with it, push yourself as often as you can and you'll be amazed at how fast you get fitter and your skills sharpen up ;)

wleebrown said:
Loving the new bike. Rode about 22 miles today mixture of off-road by myself and on-road with my wife. What a treat to not have the gears jumping furiously all the time. Thanks again, here's the bike.

Lee

 

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That bike looks awesome ! What size did you end up getting a 22'' ? I've been looking to budget build a 29er and I'm 6'5 200lbs as well. How much did this beauty set you back if you don't mind sharing - Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Lynx and Greg! I like the bike.

Redline tops out at 21", but the ETT was about the same as others 23", so it seems like it's going to work well for me. It's very different being on a bike that just works and fits closely to my size. I'm not sure I can say with much certainty what a good fit is supposed to feel like. The bike was at the high end of my target price but was worth it.

Thanks,
Lee
 

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wlee, exciting times! Looks like you've put in the work & done the research & are now ready to enjoy your biking future. ;-)

I did notice though that you mention being new to biking & that you shift gears while riding uphill. Be careful not to crank hard while shifting. Even the best drivetrains will eventually fail under that stress. Try to shift into the climbing gear you'll need as you approach an incline & your bike is beginning to slow down...while you can still shift without a ton of force on the pedals. You may already know this & my post might seem presumptuous. But, if it saves you some $$, some frustration, or prevents an injury then it was worth it.

Ride on!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Msujedi,

No sweat. I'd actually come to that conclusion without breaking the new bike, while riding behind someone, waited too late and had to stop and shift manually (lift rear wheel crank by hand). I clearly have lots of learning to do. But I always appreciate a good word of advice. Still can't make the climb behind my house, it starts right behind the picture of my bike. I have the strength and stamina, but not near enogh balance. It's steep with loose dirt, moss, leaves and sandstone.

Thanks,
Lee
 

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wleebrown said:
Msujedi,

No sweat. I'd actually come to that conclusion without breaking the new bike, while riding behind someone, waited too late and had to stop and shift manually (lift rear wheel crank by hand). I clearly have lots of learning to do. But I always appreciate a good word of advice. Still can't make the climb behind my house, it starts right behind the picture of my bike. I have the strength and stamina, but not near enogh balance. It's steep with loose dirt, moss, leaves and sandstone.

Thanks,
Lee
How wide is the route you ride up? It does require balance to 'switch back', but you could reduce how steep it is by riding at an angle, then giving a good push...turning the bike directly uphill...then angling slightly back in the direction from which you came. Kinda the opposite of a skier carving down the slope. This has worked for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
msujedi said:
How wide is the route you ride up? It does require balance to 'switch back', but you could reduce how steep it is by riding at an angle, then giving a good push...turning the bike directly uphill...then angling slightly back in the direction from which you came. Kinda the opposite of a skier carving down the slope. This has worked for me.
It's actually wide enough for a medium sized farm tractor. The problem is I have so little control right now that sometimes the bike wanders back and forth on it's own. I found some suggestions about weight distribution last night that I'll try this week. But I think I need to practice on a slightly less steep hill first. Unfortunately, you have to climb several hundred yards up a moderately incline then take a sharp probably 60 degree turn back to the left and then really start climbing, so you can't get much momentum going into the steepest part of the climb. Right now I can make the turn and go about 20 yards before I start to either lose traction on the rear wheel or balance on the front. I was making it worse by trying to stand and push up the steep part. As soon as I took my weight off the back wheel it would start to spin, then when I'd lean back the front would wander. Fortunately there are small (about 1 bike length) plateaus about every 25 yards for drainage. So I can push a little and try again. I'll tackle it, but it's a beast.

Thanks again. I think I'm going to try the suggestion I read last night from the other direction, it's not as steep but still soft, challenging, and about 3/4 of a mile long.
 

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Good advice on selecting the gear you'll need before the climb, something a lot of noobs don't know or do and then wonder why their drive trains don't perform flawlessly ;-) However there is such a thing as 1/2 shifting, which is done when under load going up a steep hill when you absolutely need to shift (heck you shold practice it all the time shifting) but basically you pedal real hard through 1/2 the pedal stroke and then ease the pressure off on the 2nd 1/2 and shift.

msujedi said:
wlee, exciting times! Looks like you've put in the work & done the research & are now ready to enjoy your biking future. ;-)

I did notice though that you mention being new to biking & that you shift gears while riding uphill. Be careful not to crank hard while shifting. Even the best drivetrains will eventually fail under that stress. Try to shift into the climbing gear you'll need as you approach an incline & your bike is beginning to slow down...while you can still shift without a ton of force on the pedals. You may already know this & my post might seem presumptuous. But, if it saves you some $$, some frustration, or prevents an injury then it was worth it.

Ride on!
To wleebrown, keep at it, and then in a year or so think back to that hill and you'll have a nice little chuckle when you think what it was to you when you started compared to the present when it prob will seem like nothing :D Best thing is, once you keep riding that feeling just keeps happening, again and again as you continually improve your skills and technique.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I made it! After my wife and I went for a ride this evening I thought I'd tackle the hill again with my new advice on balance and switch backs. I had to stop twice on the way up for a few seconds so my lungs didn't explode, but I made it all the way up without walking!

Thanks again all!
 
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