Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there guys,

Thank you for taking the time to read this and possibly respond. So first of all, I'm completely new to the scene and I have no idea what I am getting myself into. As far as riding, I plan on riding around town to start out with a local trail here that I don't think is too rugged. I would like to later advance into some real mountain riding, but that'll come with time. I've visited a couple LBS that have offered me their advice and pointed me in some direction as far as what kind of bike I should be looking at. My price point is around 400-500 with 600 being the absolute maximum if I could get some crazy deal on a mtb. I'm 5'5 130 lbs and I've been suggested that a 15-16" frame would suit me best. So here's the list of bikes I've looked at....

2011 Trek 3700 that is priced at 450.
2010 Specialized Hardrock sport disc 499
2010 Hardrock disc 429
2010 Gary Fisher Advanced disc 420
2011 Hardrock disc 480
2010 Rockhopper (Not sure price)
2010 Cannondale F4 for 659 (Supposedly a steal at this price?)

I could list more but hopefully this list gives you an idea of the range of bikes I'm looking at. I don't know what I'm looking for, but so far I like the 2010 Rockhopper with disc brakes since it's more around what I'd like to pay, but like I said before if it's an amazing deal I don't mind it. Also, please give some input as to what model you feel is the best for the price. Thanks again.
 

·
Fat-tired Roadie
Joined
·
18,453 Posts
Have you ridden any of those bikes?

When you do, you'll narrow your list a lot.

In general, try to start with the best bike you can afford. Things will last longer before they break and you have to replace them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've only sat on a couple of the bikes, but the thing is I don't know what I'm looking for when I sit on the bike or ride it. The best deal I guess I have found is the Cannondale F4. I also like the Specialized hardrock sport disc. What's the main difference between the hardrock and the rockhopper?
 

·
Fat-tired Roadie
Joined
·
18,453 Posts
Borrow a friend's bike. Doesn't really matter if it fits, as long as the saddle can be adjusted to some semblance of the right height. Go for a ride or two with him. Try test-riding some bikes again. Failing that, rent a bike. Try to go for enough, long enough rides that you're not just sitting on the bikes you're trying - you need to really ride them to get a feel for them.

You want something that's the right length, with a reasonably-sized stem, to put you in a neutral position in which you can get your weight over the back wheel or the front wheel depending on the needs of the moment. It's near impossible to get a sense of which bikes fit right to provide you with that if you don't have a basis for comparison.

A lot of people say that the first bike an adult buys is almost guaranteed to be wrong in one way or another - it's a throwaway purchase. I don't think that has to be true, but it's a real challenge to get it right.

When you're test riding, go through all your paces on each bike. See how it feels when you sprint, cruise, descend, climb in and out of the saddle, etc. Ride up a curb. Manual off a curb. Pop a wheelie. Ride down a small stair set. Obviously you need to be able to do all of those things in order to try them on different bikes and to have any sense of what right and wrong are. (Honestly, I still can't hold a wheelie. I spent some time practicing it a while ago and it's made me a lot better at putting the front wheel on top of things, which is valuable, but getting onto that weird balance point and then staying there - beyond me.)

One of the things you can do to help yourself gain a feel for sizing is have your shop put you on something that's too big and on something that's too small, so you know what that feels like. Fit can be fine-tuned, but it needs to be fairly close to right in the first place or you'll be making some compromises.
 

·
Fat-tired Roadie
Joined
·
18,453 Posts
Oh yeah - Rockhoppers are the next line up from Hardrocks within the Specialized brand. There's been some overlap in the past, but I think that in their current lineup, it's pretty sequential. So the Rockhopper has a lighter frame and better components. Work your way up within the Rockhopper line and you keep getting better components, but I believe they all share the same frame.

Rockhoppers also have a little longer top tube, so they fit a bit differently, and they use a longer-travel fork. Assuming that the Rockhopper doesn't screw up the fit you liked on the Hardrock, and the money's fairly similar, I'd consider it to be a better purchase. I was in a hurry when I decided to get back into mountain biking, so I have a Hardrock - it's what I could afford at the time, and I've been bolting nicer bits to it over time. That's a terribly inefficient way to have a nice bike, though. Better to get it right, or closer at least, in the first place.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,330 Posts
If you can spend 700 this is the best bang for the buck not as flashy as the others but the parts are much better. Some people may not like the frame because its not name brand but its still good. I would be happy to have this bike for my HT. The fork has adjustable travel from 85 to 130mm with a click of a button. The wheels have sealed bearings the drive train is better it has 27 gears ext. If I were in the market for a HT in that price I would get this one. http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/fantom_comp08.htm
 

·
...i'm just big boned
Joined
·
11 Posts
I would ask you... generally, do you try new things and move on? or investigate and research and stick w/ it?

If you try many new things and move on... borrow or rent!

If you investigate, research and stick it out... AndrwSwitch is giving you good advice.
Bikes are a tough purchase because of price. We usually think of bikes as kids toys. Not any more!
Any amount EXTRA you can lay down in the begining is worth it.(research the parts, easily done online)
A good shop will save you money in the long run.(investigate the shops in your area, hang around, listen, talk to the other customers)
When you've done this. Test ride, Test ride, Test ride. Be fair and upfront w/ the shop(s) then choose the shop you are most comfortable w/. (notice... I have not mentioned brand)
Then choose the bike w/ the best FRAME and components that will suit YOUR riding needs and is within budget.(still no brand) You will get more for your $$. My thought is if you don't like mtn biking after a while it is easier to sell a good bike to recoup more of your $$.
Buying a good frame will last... components break/wear out. Do not buy just because of brand and color and comfy saddles. Saddles, bars, stems, grips can all be changed before purchase to make things comfy. Let the shop help you.

Hope this helps?! Welcome to the community.

Cheers, James.
 

·
smalljeans
Joined
·
55 Posts
i'm also 5'5" at 130 and was told 14-16" frames are what I should be looking at... WRONG!

test test test, it's the only way you'll find what works for you. Do you have long legs, arms or torso? how long are the cranks on the bikes you're looking at? It's all about what feels right to you.

fwiw I ride a 17" frame with a 80mm stem and it fits great and handles even better, I like that I get the sprawl from my top tube not an outrageously long stem.

like i said before it mainly boils down to what feels good to you. ride as many bikes as possible: friends, shops, rentals, and keep searching these forums for all the info your brain can handle.

also now is a good time to get some good deals on last years bikes, do some searching and you should come out on top:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the replies guys. I went down to another LBS today and test rode a Gary Fisher Advanced that had a 16" frame size. I have a 5'10 wing span so my arms are definitely longer in proportionate to my body. I also rode a Trek 3700 and 3900. The 3900 was an 18" and it felt more comfortable but my stand over clearance was none. The guy at the LBS said that I should stay within the 16" frame size but get a longer stem that will help with the arm length. Also, I like the aggressive position more so than the sitting straight up position when I am riding.

I am preferring the Cannondale and Specialized over Trek for some reason. They seem to me better built.

I do have a couple more questions for you guys though.

1. Main differences between hydraulic and mechanical brakes?

2. I am leaning to get the Cannondale F4, even though I've never ridden it. I'm also considering the Rockhopper comp disc 2010. I've chosen these two bikes with the feedback I've been receiving in mind. "If you could spend a little more upfront, it's worth it."

3. Lastly, how do you negotiate with a LBS? When the guys have been giving me prices, they use a circular "% profit" paper. What kind of discount off MSRP should I be expecting for 2010 models? Also, is 2009 too old to be considered a good buy? Sorry for the wall of text.
 

·
Class Clown
Joined
·
3,643 Posts
I went with a Rockhopper as my first "real" bike and it's been great. The Hardrock might be a little beefier in terms of rims but also heavier. I'm not as up to date on the newer ones though. Any bike at that price level is going to have compromises, and you will notice them more as you get more into trail riding. So I would pick the frame that looks more upgrade-worthy.

As for sizing, stand-over clearance is very important if you care about the family jewels. I am 5'10" and ride a 17" but probably an 18" would be better, but the 19" was too big. Whatever you get make sure you try it out in the shop before you buy.

I use mechanical brakes and they work fine and are easy to install. Hydros are probably better in general, but I'd take decent mech's over cheap hydros.

The LBS I bought my bike at was 10% off MSRP. I would expect a better deal on an older bike. I don't see anything wrong with an older model, you could probably get a "pro" model for the price of a newer "comp".
 

·
Permanent Noob
Joined
·
344 Posts
Like the others have said, ride, ride, ride. Don't be tempted to go with something you haven't ridden. As far as stand-over, I read a post by someone on here once before that went like this, 'how often do you dismount with both feet at the same time over the top tube?'

In other words, I usually put one foot or the other down, and lean the bike that way. My hardtail give me about zero clearance. My full-suspension gives me more, but that's due to the shape of the top tube. I can only think of once where the boys met the top tube, and that was more due to my error than the bike.

If you have short legs and longer arms, effective top tube (ETT) I would imagine is more important. Yes, you can change the stem and slide the seat to a point so long as it doesn't mess up your knee-pedal alignment, but you can only get so much before you mess up the handling (stem) or cause yourself pain (bad position due to seat being in the wrong place).

Find a LBS that will let you test ride, not just sit on the bike. If they don't, I'd look for a different shop. It's too big of an investment to base it on, "seems right" or "but it's a good deal". If you're not comfortable, you won't be riding much and then where did your $$$ go?

Hope that helps some, sorry if it came off as preaching, but I have a friend that went with the first thing that was "close enough" and now it just takes up garage space.
 

·
Class Clown
Joined
·
3,643 Posts
JCullen said:
As far as stand-over, I read a post by someone on here once before that went like this, 'how often do you dismount with both feet at the same time over the top tube?'
Not every day, but it happens, and when it does if you don't have clearance you are in for a world of pain. And once you've experienced that it could make you hold back because in the back of your mind you'll be thinking about that painful experience. I'd say it's more of an issue on rocky/technical trails. It's not a controlled dismount situation that you'd be concerned about but a sudden stop like if you hit a rock and your body lands over the top tube.
 

·
Permanent Noob
Joined
·
344 Posts
:blush:/\ /\ /\

True - exactly how it happened! Hope you don't have a video - it was a bit embarrassing actually!

I'm not sure an extra inch of standover would have saved me anyway!!!

:blush:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So I went in to the LBS again, and rode around a couple of the bikes. I liked the feel of the Specialized and the Cannondale. I didn't get to ride a Cannondale that was specifically my size,as they didn't have any in stock. I did like the Specialized Rockhopper but the price point is a little high for me. They can't get any 2010 Rockhoppers so they just have the 2011 models, and the disc model is 699. They can get the Cannondale F4 2010 model for 723 out the door with tax and some $25 freight charge. I'm leaning towards the F4 but I can't ride the bike. Once the bike is ordered, I am obligated to purchase it. Is the Specialized Hardrock that much of a drop off for a beginner, in comparison to the F4? I could get the Specialized Hardrock Sport disc for about 500, or just the Specialized Hard rock for 429. Thanks for all the replies.
 

·
Fat-tired Roadie
Joined
·
18,453 Posts
bikepedia.com can compare components side-by-side now. Pretty cool feature for these discussions. ;)

Hardrock Sport Disc vs. Cannondale F4 is a really big difference. The Cannondale's drivetrain is much better. It's all Deore, which, while not sexy, is functionally really good. I have a Deore rear derailleur on my MTB, with LX and SLX shifters and front derailleur (one step up.) The Cannondale's hubs should also give you more seasons of riding, if you take care of them.

The difference between the Hardrock Sport Disc and base-model Rockhopper is very slight. I wouldn't consider it worth a $200 price difference, unless you're set on some aspect of the geometry difference.

The base-model Hardrock is very, very basic. I'd say it's worth the extra $60 to start with the Hardrock Sport Disc.

Worth getting more bike for a beginner? I don't understand this question, actually. Unless you're planning to destroy your equipment, it's the same bike you'll have as an intermediate rider, and has the potential to be the bike you have as an advanced rider. I think it's also easier to learn on something that doesn't constantly come up with new ways to be frustrating. Extra weight and components that won't stay tuned make it harder. If you're planning to buy a more expensive bike later, just do it now. If you need to get it right this time, try to get it right. If you do tend to destroy your gear, try to start acting like an adult. Accidents happen - you shouldn't bolt things to your bike that you can't afford to replace - but most equipment damage, IME, is from poor maintenance, and that a rider can control.
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top