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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all. I have been wanting to get a MTB for about 3 years now and since I have finally graduated from college I think now is the best time. The only riding I have really done is at the local county park which has some nice trails (nothing I would consider too advanced) but also on a crappy Sears bike. I have about 400 dollars to spend and I have only visited one of my LBS which mostly carries Gary Fisher. The guy that spoke to me was very knowledeable and showed me the Gary Fisher Mako and Tarpon. He told me the Tarpon was a little better for more trail riding than the Mako. My question is as a beginner what bike would be the best choice for my money? Gary Fisher seems like a great brand but what about Trek or other popular brands? I would say I would like a great bike for trails (some rocks, roots, dirt) as well as some grass and gravel riding. Any help would be great! I also saw a LBS that sells used bikes. Any advice on new vs. used?
 

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You could get a better bike for your money by buying used. Does the shop service their used bikes like they do a new one?

As for the brands, fit is key. I know some people who love their Fishers, but I am just no comfortable on them. For the price, any of the major brands will be of similar quality. If you plan on keeping the wheels close to the ground and pick smooth lines around the rocks and roots, you shouldn't have much trouble with the entry level models.

Is that your total budget? You'll want to make sure you have money for a helmet, gloves, glasses, something to carry water in, and a few basic tools like a pump, tire levers, and spare tubes. My LBS gives a discount on any accessories you buy with the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
emtnate said:
You could get a better bike for your money by buying used. Does the shop service their used bikes like they do a new one?

As for the brands, fit is key. I know some people who love their Fishers, but I am just no comfortable on them. For the price, any of the major brands will be of similar quality. If you plan on keeping the wheels close to the ground and pick smooth lines around the rocks and roots, you shouldn't have much trouble with the entry level models.

Is that your total budget? You'll want to make sure you have money for a helmet, gloves, glasses, something to carry water in, and a few basic tools like a pump, tire levers, and spare tubes. My LBS gives a discount on any accessories you buy with the bike.
Thanks for the quick reply! No that budget is just for the bike. I got some christmas/birthday money I would like to use for the bike! I have not checked out the shop that sells used yet, but from what I hear the guy builds custom bikes and sells used/new ones. I will probably stop by there tomorrow. As far as servicing....what exactly does that mean? Does the shop do free tune-ups for the first few months? As far as riding, I don't wanna do any jumps or anything. Just some singletrack, long distance type of riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Dremer03 said:
Gary Fisher = TreK

I would get the bike that feels the best to you.
By that do you just mean similar components? I know the LBS guy that I talked with said he owned two gary fisher and loved their geometry. Is this type of geometry found in other bikes for that price range?
 

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^^ GF is now part of Trek, however they still retain their own geometry and other identity from Trek.

As for servicing, I do mean tune-ups and other adjustments. For example, an exceptionally good shop near me will perform the basic adjustments that can be made without replacing parts for free, for as long as you own the bike. The shop I go to most will do this for a year, but within the first 60 days you own the bike, they'll do a complete tune up of anything that needs adjusted or trued.

Used bikes can be a gamble, if your shop will service anything they sell, used or new for the first couple of months, I wouldn't hesitate to go used. If their policy is "as is" on used, I would buy new or go somewhere else.

Fishers tend to be a little longer than other bikes. The geometry makes up how the bike handles in certain conditions and how comfortable the bike is to you. We won't be able to tell you what is best, it is all how the bike feels to you and handles how you want it to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
emtnate said:
^^ GF is now part of Trek, however they still retain their own geometry and other identity from Trek.

As for servicing, I do mean tune-ups and other adjustments. For example, an exceptionally good shop near me will perform the basic adjustments that can be made without replacing parts for free, for as long as you own the bike. The shop I go to most will do this for a year, but within the first 60 days you own the bike, they'll do a complete tune up of anything that needs adjusted or trued.

Used bikes can be a gamble, if your shop will service anything they sell, used or new for the first couple of months, I wouldn't hesitate to go used. If their policy is "as is" on used, I would buy new or go somewhere else.
Ok, thanks for the help! As far as geometry, is that something that plays a big part in singletrack type of riding?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So I checked this LBS online that sells used bikes near me. Apparently this guys doesn't sell new but he rather refurbishes used bikes himself and sells them. I might take a look there.
 

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Here is a short example about geometry - on my bike, by using a longer stem with less rise, I was able to place the handlebars farther out over the wheel. This lets me climb better, helps prevent the front end from rising up as quickly. I'm also hunched over a tad bit more. I don't mind this, I'm still comfortable and the bike handles how I want it to.

However, when my dad, who has a similar build, gets on my bike, he's too stretched out and hunched over to be comfortable. He prefers a more upright position. When you get on a bike you will know very quickly if the frame is a good match for you.
 

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I've only been riding for two years now and when I was a beginner I bought a 2008 Trek 6000 but it was $700. As a beginner, I was already pushing myself to ride hard and as a result I crashed numerous times. My bike has held up. Point being, get a bike with good components cus next thing you know your addicted, riding harder trails , and crashing.

I'm not the most experienced rider, but what I can tell you is that my Trek has taken some beatings. Thats just me though, I'm now planning to get my first DH rig. OOPS...getting off topic. Save a couple hundred more if you can for a better entry level bike if possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
mullen119 said:
700 is a lot of money to spend on a beginers bike because you think you might get addicted. i also took my first bike, a 200$ GT avalanche from dicks, to one of the hardest traills in northern ohio and didnt have anyproblems.
speaking of GT, I saw that the GT Aggressor is in my price range. For some reason I though GT were cheaper bikes. Are the entry levels similar to others?
 

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its not a bad starter bike because the frame would be worth doing upgrades to as parts break or you decide to upgrade. i looked at your profile and saw you are from PA. if your going to be riding trails with long down hills, you might want to look into upgrading to a bike with disc brakes. to upgrade the aggressor to disc would take buying a new fork ,rim, and the brakes themselves.

here is the review on here for the aggressor
http://www.mtbr.com/cat/bikes/xc-hardtail/gt/aggressor/PRD_365015_1527crx.aspx

keep in mind to take all the comments into consideration.
 

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Ride as many bikes as you can , I also suggest starting out with a bike that already has disc brakes as they can be an exspensive upgrade .
 

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Ahh, the questions that get asked every week.

Geometry is the most important thing, but sitting on the bike and riding it around the parking lot only tell part of the story. Go with your gut, but understand that what feels weird in the parking lot may feel great on a trail. Geometry design is compromised in some aspects of riding to make it better in others. Fortunately, all those sub-1000$ hardtails handle pretty darn similarly, so you're not gonna get a lemon. The frame is ~15% of the weight of the bike.

Getting the right size is even more important. "I like the feel of a smaller bike" is a load of crap- it's confusing design with size. DJ/AM/FR bikes are going to have that feeling while fitting properly. The best way to know what size you need is to get fitted- shops should have tools to do this, ask! You care about the length from the saddle to bars, not how close the frame is to your junk.

Craigslist has a couple great deals, and a lot of... not so good deals. People think the bike they rode for 2 years and bent some parts is worth more than a new bike on clearance. Everyone wants a basic good quality used bike, so there isn't much savings anyway, due to demand. At the high end, yeah- the seller is better informed and the demand isn't so high, but not at the 2-500$ range. It's easy to screw yourself here, so be sure you know what you're looking at.

Almost all the manufacturers make high end quality stuff and also make some cheap junk. At a given price point all the bikes will have about the same total value, but the product designer chose different places to spend the money. Just because a bike has 1 nicer part doesn't mean it's a better value.



As far as parts go, here's my priorities.
Good heat treated double wall rims are so worth it. If you pop off the tire and rubber rim strip and the spoke nipple is in a little hole, that's a real good sign.

brakes are tricky. Disk brakes are nice, but bad ones are horrible. If the manufacturing tolerances are loose, or the pads are unique and suck, they're a poor-performing rub-headache. If it's not hydraulic or hayes/avid mechanicals, i would rather have V brakes. V's are lighter, can be more powerful, easy to adjust, and don't have rotors to knock out of true.

Forks you want something hydraulically damped, or else you have your wheel held on by a pogo stick. If you can afford a tora 318, so much the better, it's a standout less expensive fork. If you're over 180lbs, ask if there's a firm spring you can order- that's a real benefit, and i know RS darts have one available.

Get a set of cranks that don't have riveted chain rings. You wanna see allen bolts holding the rings on. I wouldn't get too hung up over the rest of the drivetrain, but definitely learn how to tune it while the bike is pretty new. It's an essential cyclist skill.


Yeah, i commented on a lot of stuff that was only marginally brought up, but i expect to cut and paste this thing.
 

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scottzg said:
As far as parts go, here's my priorities.
Good heat treated double wall rims are so worth it. If you pop off the tire and rubber rim strip and the spoke nipple is in a little hole, that's a real good sign.

brakes are tricky. Disk brakes are nice, but bad ones are horrible. If the manufacturing tolerances are loose, or the pads are unique and suck, they're a poor-performing rub-headache. If it's not hydraulic or hayes/avid mechanicals, i would rather have V brakes. V's are lighter, can be more powerful, easy to adjust, and don't have rotors to knock out of true.

Forks you want something hydraulically damped, or else you have your wheel held on by a pogo stick. If you can afford a tora 318, so much the better, it's a standout less expensive fork. If you're over 180lbs, ask if there's a firm spring you can order- that's a real benefit, and i know RS darts have one available.

Get a set of cranks that don't have riveted chain rings. You wanna see allen bolts holding the rings on. I wouldn't get too hung up over the rest of the drivetrain, but definitely learn how to tune it while the bike is pretty new. It's an essential cyclist skill.
.
i agree with alot of what you said but if your not looking to spend more the 400 you can not get a new bike with all that stuff. so whats the most important of the things you listed.

bad disc brakes are horrible, rim brakes work much better... until your rim gets wet. if a bike come with promax disc brakes, you can updrade to bb5's for like 30 bikes a set or bb7 for about 50 a set and you know you dont need a new wheel or a new fork to do so. so in the long run it will save you money. brakes are for safty and this is not a place you want to skimp out. if you get a bike with bad disc brakes, upgrade ASAP

having a fork that isnt dampened is somtimes annoying. i rode on sr suntour forks with no damping and its not even close to as nice as a good fork. that being said, it mostly just gives you soar wrists after long rides and i dont think you can find a good fork without spending more $. your looking at a minimum of 90 for a uprade here on your own. the cheapest "good" fork i know of is the rock shox dart 2 on pricepoint.com

the crank having removable chain rings is nice for when you bend a sprocket or dont like your gearing. i dont think its really a must if your just starting out.

double walled rims are pretty imortant if you plan on doing any drops or jumps. even if its just a foot or two, cheap rims can hurt you so its something to look for in the bike you buy. cheapest whe upgrade i know of is sun ryno lites for about 130 a set. they are dencent rims that i use in that past. but they are nearly impossible to put tire on :madman:

it drives me crazy on here that people act like if you dont ride a trek or a gary fischer, and if it didnt cost thousands, your bike is crap. i have had bikes ranging from 200 to the bike i have now that was 1200 and all kinds inbetween. i also know people with treks that have cracked ther frames at the head tube riding the same things i have done on my gt's diamond back's and now my mongoose. the rider makes the bike... not the other way around:thumbsup:
 

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I humbly suggest that if the OP cannot buy a bike that includes the things in scottzg's list , keep looking and saving until you find one that does include them .
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ok, thanks for all the great info!! Speaking of brakes, i'm not that knowledgeable about them. But just looking at what the gary fisher mako and tarpon have: (Tektro 845AL linear pull) is this what most bikes around this price range will have as far as brakes?
 

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scottzg said:
Ahh, the questions that get asked every week.

Geometry is the most important thing, but sitting on the bike and riding it around the parking lot only tell part of the story. Go with your gut, but understand that what feels weird in the parking lot may feel great on a trail. Geometry design is compromised in some aspects of riding to make it better in others. Fortunately, all those sub-1000$ hardtails handle pretty darn similarly, so you're not gonna get a lemon. The frame is ~15% of the weight of the bike.

Getting the right size is even more important. "I like the feel of a smaller bike" is a load of crap- it's confusing design with size. DJ/AM/FR bikes are going to have that feeling while fitting properly. The best way to know what size you need is to get fitted- shops should have tools to do this, ask! You care about the length from the saddle to bars, not how close the frame is to your junk.

Craigslist has a couple great deals, and a lot of... not so good deals. People think the bike they rode for 2 years and bent some parts is worth more than a new bike on clearance. Everyone wants a basic good quality used bike, so there isn't much savings anyway, due to demand. At the high end, yeah- the seller is better informed and the demand isn't so high, but not at the 2-500$ range. It's easy to screw yourself here, so be sure you know what you're looking at.

Almost all the manufacturers make high end quality stuff and also make some cheap junk. At a given price point all the bikes will have about the same total value, but the product designer chose different places to spend the money. Just because a bike has 1 nicer part doesn't mean it's a better value.

As far as parts go, here's my priorities.
Good heat treated double wall rims are so worth it. If you pop off the tire and rubber rim strip and the spoke nipple is in a little hole, that's a real good sign.

brakes are tricky. Disk brakes are nice, but bad ones are horrible. If the manufacturing tolerances are loose, or the pads are unique and suck, they're a poor-performing rub-headache. If it's not hydraulic or hayes/avid mechanicals, i would rather have V brakes. V's are lighter, can be more powerful, easy to adjust, and don't have rotors to knock out of true.

Forks you want something hydraulically damped, or else you have your wheel held on by a pogo stick. If you can afford a tora 318, so much the better, it's a standout less expensive fork. If you're over 180lbs, ask if there's a firm spring you can order- that's a real benefit, and i know RS darts have one available.

Get a set of cranks that don't have riveted chain rings. You wanna see allen bolts holding the rings on. I wouldn't get too hung up over the rest of the drivetrain, but definitely learn how to tune it while the bike is pretty new. It's an essential cyclist skill.

Yeah, i commented on a lot of stuff that was only marginally brought up, but i expect to cut and paste this thing.
Stickie this post ? Please . :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
 
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