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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,
I am looking into getting into mountain biking and need a suitable bike. I'm currently riding a Trek 820 that's been perfectly fine for paved roads and light trail use. I am fond of Trek bicycles being that I've purchased a few bikes from them and I like my local dealer. My initial plan had been to buy a Marlin 5 and upgrade it throughout time until I built it up to where I wanted it. My dealer advised that I consider the Marlin 7 as the 5 really isn't suited for real trail use out of the box, of course the 7 is a couple hundred dollars more and still suffers from what appears to be mediocre components.

I'd like to get some feedback on a few considerations I had on bike choices.

My first choice is going with the Marlin 7. Its reasonably priced, equipped with 29ers and is good to go. Considering the amount of money that I would have to spend to upgrade it to a comparable next tier bike, I would just leave the bike as is, no upgrades. I figure I will eventually upgrade to a better bike from this one and the low cost wont make it hurt so much if it gets thrashed.

My next choice is the Roscoe 7, which is the mid tier one. This bike has wide 27.5 inch tires and is advertised as 'easy to use' and for beginners. This bike seems well equipped and I wouldn't see myself doing any upgrades to it. I suspect this bike would be adequate for a long period of time.

Next up is the X-Caliber 8. This bike is also the mid tier one and seems similarly comparable with the Roscoe with different components. It's fitted with 29ers and I get the gist that this bike is built for performance and speed. Again, another bike that seems like it would be suitable for a long period of time.

Lastly I'm sure it seems farfetched but I have considered just upgrading my Trek 820. If I took the same money that I would spend on a Marlin 7 and put it towards the 820, the components would be far better than what I would get with the Marlin and even rival the X-Caliber and Roscoe. Of course it would still be a steel frame, have 26 inch wheels and a rear rim brake.

I am open to considering other bikes but I've so far put all my efforts towards the Treks. My Trek dealer says they'll be having another sale here in the next few months so that will give me time to save and choose the right bike. I look forward to your replys, thanks!
 

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First, you almost never get more bike for the money than by buying a complete bike. Upgrading, other than as parts fail or wear out tends to be an expensive way to buy a bike.

Neither Marlin is a major step up from what you're riding. The X-Caliber 8 is, and the Roscoe 7 a little less so, despite its comparable price. The difference being that the X has an air fork at least. But the X has slightly less trail-oriented geometry. It's more what we call a cross-country (XC) bike.

Frankly, if you want to upgrade to a more trail ready bike at the $1000 price point, find a used hardtail, or broaden your horizons beyond Trek at retail. The things you are looking for are: an air fork, a tapered headset, hubs with through axles (as opposed to 9mm QR skewers).

If M fits, this is about as good a hardtail as you will find new at this price point. https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/marin-nail-trail-7-27-5-hardtail-bike-2018/rp-prod186796

If you are willing to consider a full-suspension, this is a steal. https://www.chainreactioncycles.com...-27-5-full-suspension-bike-2019/rp-prod186811
 

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Single(Pivot)and Happy
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I wouldn't throw money at the Trek 820. The 820 is fine as it is. It doesn't fit into my definition of "upgradeable". Nothing wrong with your bike as is.

If I only had the options that the OP has offered, I would go with the Roscoe. Simply for the slackest head angle. Unless you you are going full blown XC racer, the Roscoe, in my opinion, will make the better trail bike.
 

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There may be one cheap drivetrain upgrade for your 820. I always hated climbing hills on my 830, gearing not low enough and they got the Oval chainring thing wrong. I recently put on a 13x34 cassette, removed the large chainring and replaced the small chainring with a 22t. One hell of an improvement, finally the old goat is an OK climber.
 

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The Roscoe 7 might have a coil fork but for a beginner I feel like it's a pretty nice bike for starting out in mountain biking. I recently picked up the women's specific version for my wife and rode it myself the other day on some local trails that would be considered beginner/intermediate singletrack by most. It's a fun bike and I don't think most beginners would notice the limitations of the coil fork for some time. If you do lower end air forks like the Rockshox Judy and Recon pop up all the time slightly used on eBay and pinkbike for cheap if the idea of a coil fork bothers you or your skills grow to the point you need something else. As someone who doesn't race and only rides for fun on intermediate trails I would buy the Roscoe 7 all over again.
 

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I also give a nod to the Roscoe as a good all around bike. We picked one up a couple of weeks ago for my wife, WSD 8 because of color and components. I have ridden it around a couple times, and even though it is very small for me, 15.5/S and I ride a 19.5/L, it was very fun and playful.
 

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https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/vitus-sentier-mountain-bike-deore-1x10-2019/rp-prod173163

This is another pretty good deal (and cheaper than Roscoe). It's slacker than the Roscoe, but not 27.5+. I'm not sure the + confers much advantage to the newer rider, who probably isnt going to be mucking around with wheels and tires too much. Roscoe does come with 2.8 tires, which probably mitigates the fork a little.
At $999US plus the shipping its a little less than the Roscoe 7 for sure, but there is something to be said for buying local, having a warranty, and having somewhere to take the bike if it needs repairs, especially if you're new to mountain biking. With that said I wouldn't be afraid to order from Chain Reaction Cycles as I just purchased the Vitus Nucleus 24 from them this spring. It arrived well packed in a little over a week and probably would have been here sooner if it wasn't for the Memorial Day holiday. It was easy to put together and could be done by some one with minimal knowledge of bike mechanics and even came with a multi-tool that had everything needed to put it together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for your responses everyone! I also felt like the Roscoe would be a good entry bike thats good to go despite the front fork. I suppose I would upgrade to an air fork with time if I felt I needed it and would be able to do the labor myself.

Thanks for sharing the bikes from ChainReactionCycles TwiceHorn, I haven't heard of those brands nor that site but they sure do seem to give the Roscoe a good run for its money. Mlindberg, how are you liking the Nucleus? Browsing through Chain Reactions website the Marin Nail Trail 6 seems like a perfect fit

https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/marin-nail-trail-6-29-hardtail-bike-2019/rp-prod186795

The bike seems excellently equipped and looks to check off all boxes, most importantly the price seems is too good to be true. At the same price as the Marlin 7, this thing totally sh*ts on it. Only thing is the color, doesn't look great but I don't care if its a good bike for a good dollar.

Mack Turtle, I'm not too sure what kind of riding, I guess just some single track riding through local mountains, would be doing climbing and descending, maybe some small jumps? Not trying to go too aggressive, trying to avoid breaking bones.

Is Chain Reaction US based? What do you all think of the Marin Nail Trail 6?
 

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Chain Reaction is UK based. But they shipped the Vitus for $43 in shipping and I didn't have to worry about customs or duty as they took care of it all. The bike arrived well packed in a little over a week. That Marin looks like a great bike for the price. I don't think you could find anything equivalent for under 1k.

I really can't speak to how I like the Vitus Nucleus other than the ordering experience as it's the 24" version for my 10 year old son and he hasn't gotten a chance to ride it yet with all the rain here this week.
 

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Chain Reaction is in Europe. I thought they were in Northern Ireland, not sure now.

A note about local bike shops versus mail order: there are a lot of great internet shops, CRC is one of them. You can get more bike for your buck, but the price at a good local bike shop includes assembly, adjustments, maybe some fitting help, and a lot of other intangibles that you won't get from an online seller. That may or may not be worth the extra cost of doing business with a local shop. Either way, you can get a quality bike.
 

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The Roscoe coil fork is a RockShox so it has adjustable rebound and metal bushings inside. With the wide tires and rims it'll give you good performance over terrain that includes challenging fun trails as you progress for a couple seasons. A good deal on a used/new fork and you may ride it for longer than you think.

The XCal hasn't been upgraded with new geo and space at the rear for 2.6 tires like some competitors. Maybe next year. I'd pick a Nukeproof Scout 290 Sport from CRC instead of an XCal.
Scout 290 Sport 2019 | Nukeproof
https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/nukeproof-scout-290-sport-mountain-bike-2019/rp-prod170308
It's been in and out of stock all season so get on the email list.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Great feedback, I've heard of the Scout, but as you said it's out of stock. The more I look at the Nail Trail 6 the more I'm liking it. I see that they have it in both 27.5 and 29 inch. I'm 5'11" and weigh 200lbs, I anticipate that a Large 29er would be best suited for me. The price and performance has me sold, and it looks like the offer lifetime warranty for their hardtails. Not many reviews for it though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

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What do you think about the nail trail 6? This bike falls more into my original intended price range, checks off all the boxes and looks like it would be good for a few seasons. Maybe I'll upgrade to full suspension after this one.
Marin makes about the best bargain bikes going. Edit: I didn't notice the 6. That's not quite as grand a steal as the 7, but it does check all the boxes and is a good deal at that price point. Hard to beat, also. The fork is a step down, but still air and comparable to most entry-level airs. The brakes and derailleur are also a step down, but still quite decent. Frame is the same, so it's boost and modern geo. You could upgrade fork wheels brakes and anything you wanted over time.

I ride a Rift Zone 2, which is comparable buildout wise and have been happy for a year. Everything has held up fine.
 

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What do you think about the nail trail 6? This bike falls more into my original intended price range, checks off all the boxes and looks like it would be good for a few seasons. Maybe I'll upgrade to full suspension after this one.
Yes, 779 for the NT6 is a killer deal that should not be passed on ... though I'd turn trix for the xtra 300 to get the NT7, damn... Won't even mention what I'd do to get that Wolf Ridge 8 for 2700, WTF is CRC up to?
 

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Yes, 779 for the NT6 is a killer deal that should not be passed on ... though I'd turn trix for the xtra 300 to get the NT7, damn... Won't even mention what I'd do to get that Wolf Ridge 8 for 2700, WTF is CRC up to?
CRC bought Performance Bike Shop's inventory when Performance went out of business. Obviously at a fire sale price. Which is great for everybody except a bike shop owner in the USA that sells Marin bikes.
 
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Ah, now it all makes sense! I had wondered why the AMain PB site has no bike inventory and CRC started selling Fuji. I’m still in disbelief the deal with HEAD fell through.
 
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