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Short-Change-Hero
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok so my wife and I just got back from a vacation visiting family in Steamboat Springs, CO (bout 5hrs east of Park City,UT). We were there for a total of 9 days and pretty much when we are there we only bike everywhere. The wife and I took out 3-speed beach cruisers to get around town and one day while the girls all out my bro-in-law and I decided to go out for a mtn bike ride. He took me to mount Howleson (which is like 15 mins from where we were staying) and took me on some single tracks.

Now this was my first ever mtn bike ride and they have been trying to get me to do it for some years now. I have to say that I loved it, I was borrowing one of their friends completely custom Specialized while he road an '08 Gary Fischer. Anyways, I took my first "endo" and bent the crap out of a very nice XR420 front rim to the point where it was not recoverable!.

Anyways, I am now looking for a decent/good entry-level hardtail to use around where we live (Carson City, NV only 30 mins Lake Tahoe and some awesome trails. So I need some advice, I visited two local shops here in town; one sells Specialized and Trek the other sells Giant and Felt. Now I am familiar with Specialized, Trek, and Giant but not so much with Felt. My brother is big into road biking and swears by Giant as great entry level bikes (to him anything less than $3k is "entry-level"). I am not really sure what to look at but here is some general information about me.....

Budget $500 (can always save a bit longer and get more if it will get me more/better components, etc.
6'0"
190lbs
32 inseam
Size 11 shoe
Athletic build and generally decent/good fitness level

My wife and I have been working out pretty hard as of late and for a first ride the climb was definitely a cardo workout that I am not used to. So with that said, what should I be looking for? Note: this will not be for hardcore off-roading. At the most I will probably go out with friends/brother/etc and do some single-track cross country trail riding.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Fit, fit, fit.

All of those brands will have very similar offerings at $500. So try them all, try to ride at least one or two bikes that are too big or too small, and then buy your favorite. If you find you do a lot of riding, you'll wear out or break a lot of the components fairly quickly. 2011 bikes are starting to come out, though, so you might be able to find something that's been sitting on a shop floor for a season and stretch your budget a lot further.

Giants are kind of like the Kias of bikes. They're not the sexiest, but they do the job. I think they often have a really good value for their cost.

Let us know what you get.
 

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live 2 ride, ride 2 live
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Your first bike is like your first computer

AndrwSwitch said:
Fit, fit, fit.

All of those brands will have very similar offerings at $500. So try them all, try to ride at least one or two bikes that are too big or too small, and then buy your favorite. If you find you do a lot of riding, you'll wear out or break a lot of the components fairly quickly. 2011 bikes are starting to come out, though, so you might be able to find something that's been sitting on a shop floor for a season and stretch your budget a lot further.

Giants are kind of like the Kias of bikes. They're not the sexiest, but they do the job. I think they often have a really good value for their cost.

Let us know what you get.
That's good advice AndrwSwitch. Your first mountain bike is like your first computer. You don't really know what you need until you've had it for a while, so don't sweat this purchase too much.

Find a 2010 sale as the 2011 bikes are coming in. You'll get even better value for your 500. I'd probably favour the Giant too - they're always good value, even without a sale. If it fits and you like it - buy it. Then ride it to the death.

And don't forget... Budget bikes usually come with ordinary tires. The Giant should come with Kenda Nevegals. That's good. If you choose another brand bike first check how good its tires are on mtbr or ask the shop (make sure it's mountain bikers you're asking). If the stock tires are ordinary then spend some extra cash on better, confidence inspiring and all round grippy tires. Kenda Nevegal or Maxxis ADvantage perhaps. Have the shop fit these tires before you take the bike home. Good tires make a huge difference, even more so when you're a beginner. And they'll make your entry into mountain biking so much more enjoyable.

Cheers.
 

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Short-Change-Hero
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok as a webdesigner I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE the Giant website.... Dear god is it hard to find out what bikes are what!?! /rant

So once I get a chance I am going to go test out some of the Giants. If they are the best bang for the buck then I will see if I can get my hands on a 2010 model and go from there. One question I do have is should I worry about disc v. pad brakes now or is that something I should do in the future? Also, the Giant/Felt shop guy said that one thing he liked about the Felt was their entry-level ($650) bike came with hydrolic disc brakes? I take it that is better than cable pull?
 

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Granny Gear Guru
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gregnash said:
Ok as a webdesigner I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE the Giant website.... Dear god is it hard to find out what bikes are what!?! /rant

So once I get a chance I am going to go test out some of the Giants. If they are the best bang for the buck then I will see if I can get my hands on a 2010 model and go from there. One question I do have is should I worry about disc v. pad brakes now or is that something I should do in the future? Also, the Giant/Felt shop guy said that one thing he liked about the Felt was their entry-level ($650) bike came with hydrolic disc brakes? I take it that is better than cable pull?
I had no idea you could get a Felt for $650... if I were you I'd look seriously at that Felt if you can swing the extra cash, Hydraulic brakes are nice. They aren't a necessity though.
 

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Short-Change-Hero
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

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Granny Gear Guru
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That is a nice looking bike. Despite Giant's terrible website their bikes are made well so if you do go with the Giant you won't be disappointed. I like the Felt myself though :D

I have Suntour fork on my bike right now and I was very skeptical but it's taken a beating so far and that's the only questionable thing I see on the Felt. That's a nice bike. This is only my opinion though.
 

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Short-Change-Hero
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yeah the guy at the shop said for a little more than my budget that it was probably the best "bang for the buck" I would run into seeing as it had a little nicer components and hydralic (instead of cable pull) disc brakes. Both shops told me that I definitely should not start with the most entry level ($300-$400) bikes as I would be back in about a year looking to replace a lot of components.

Wish the Felt site had a comparison module... Like the look of the Q520 over the Q620 but cant really see what the differences are?!
 

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Have you considered an internet bike? You can get something like this that is comparable to the Felt for $400 - http://www.forgebikes.com/saw5charcoal.asp

9-speed vs 8
Dart vs Suntour
BB5's vs Tektro

It weighs about the same as the Felt, and you can drop a pound off it just by changing the tires. I'm sure your friends would be glad to help you assemble the handlebars and front brake.

The funky frame on the Felt looks pretty cool, though.
 

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Granny Gear Guru
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There usually isn't a whole lot of difference in the price range. Since you have a Felt dealer local that actually keeps bikes in stock I would take advantage of it, that is a sweet bike. I am sure you can find some reviews on this site on that model too. Shimano Deore components are usually pretty solid, I haven't had any trouble with them.
 

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The Felt looks like a decent bike that will last you for awhile. Felt is a solid company so rest easy. Test ride it though to make sure it fits you well. Have the shop make adjustment before you leave the shop to make sure you're set-up properly on the bike. Just tell them exactly what you've told us about your riding style. If you're not comfortable on it, go try the Giants, treks etc... A better fit will do you better than a better deal. That's why buying an internet bike would not suite you at all.

Good luck and welcome to the sport.
 

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Short-Change-Hero
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the info guys. Yeah both shops said that they have you test ride bikes before rolling out and they will adjust EVERYTHING to fit you before you walk out with the purchase (just good CS in my opinion). I am going to talk to my brother and see if I can borrow one of his mtn bikes while he is gone in Costa Rica in the coming month and then try to make a decision from there. From what I am reading, here and on the net, it seems that the Felt really is the best deal. Hopefully I can get the price down a bit from the $650 tag but we will see.
 

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gregnash said:
Ok as a webdesigner I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE the Giant website.... Dear god is it hard to find out what bikes are what!?! /rant

So once I get a chance I am going to go test out some of the Giants. If they are the best bang for the buck then I will see if I can get my hands on a 2010 model and go from there. One question I do have is should I worry about disc v. pad brakes now or is that something I should do in the future? Also, the Giant/Felt shop guy said that one thing he liked about the Felt was their entry-level ($650) bike came with hydrolic disc brakes? I take it that is better than cable pull?
Definitely get disc brakes no matter what the bike.....I made the dumb mistake of getting rim brakes (to save money and thinking I dont really need disc brakes) and after riding my buddies TransAM with disc brakes I had to make the switch. I upgraded my wheels and went to BB7's on my 4300 - stopping power imo is much better and more confidence inspiring.
 

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Granny Gear Guru
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travman said:
Definitely get disc brakes no matter what the bike.....I made the dumb mistake of getting rim brakes (to save money and thinking I dont really need disc brakes) and after riding my buddies TransAM with disc brakes I had to make the switch. I upgraded my wheels and went to BB7's on my 4300 - stopping power imo is much better and more confidence inspiring.
I had a bike with Hydraulic disc brakes and now ride a bike with V Brakes...:confused: I start braking a lot sooner now but you have to love the noise they make once you've ran through some mud :mad:
 

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Short-Change-Hero
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So seems like everyone has great things to say about the Felts and it would be nice to not be a carbon copy of everyone else (GF, Specialized, Trek, etc) on the mountain.

So here is a new question.... With there being little difference between the Q620 and Q520 (higher end has hydro brakes, better fork, better drivetrain components) is the $150+ price difference really worth it? The guy at the Giant/Felt shop said that you should never buy a bike and then upgrade, you should buy what you need bike for bike?! However, I was under the impression that the frame and geometry were really the main selling points as the rest of the items can be upgraded with better components down the road if needed and that is probably something I would do.
 

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Short-Change-Hero
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So just got off the phone with my bro... Wow apparently he has two custom built, full suspension bikes now and his hardtail is completely taken apart as he was going to build it into something for his wife. Anyways, he is going to try and get the Rocky Mountain put back together for me to use but also gave me the lowdown on his FS bikes and said I could use one while he is gone.

Anyways, talking with him I think I am going to stick with something with disc brakes. He had to replace the fork on his wife's bike this summer and ended up having to special order a fork that would fit V-pads from the UK. His tech told him that basically everyone is pretty much moving to disc brakes and it is going to become harder and harder to find forks that will accommodate pads.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Disc brakes are nice, and upgrading a bike that came with V-brakes to disc brakes is frequently very expensive - it often requires replacing the wheels too. I don't know the Tektro Aurigas, but I don't know if I'd consider them better than the BB7s. Just different. Definitely get a bike that has disc brakes to begin with, whether they're hydros or mechanicals, if you think you'd like them later. Most other things can be upgraded one at a time if the urge takes you.

The shop guy who told you not to upgrade wasn't just trying to get you to spend more. The best deal you'll ever get on bike parts, outside of a team or scouring the internet, is on a complete bike. Except maybe on a complete bike bought as a team purchase. :D

A better drivetrain is nothing to sniff at. Every time you shift, quality makes a difference. Maybe not as much as maintenance, but still... test-ride them both. If you can't tell the difference, buy the color you prefer.
 

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Short-Change-Hero
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Ok so here are the two drivetrains... can you tell me which is better???
Q620 - Drivetrain: Shimano FC-M361 crankset; Alivio shifters, front derailleur; Shimano Deore Shadow rear derailleur
Q520 - Drivetrain: SR-Suntour XCM crankset; Shimano Altus ST-EF50 shifters; Shimano FD-M310 front derailleur; Shimano Alivio rear derailleur
 

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Granny Gear Guru
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better: Q620 - Drivetrain: Shimano FC-M361 crankset; Alivio shifters, front derailleur; Shimano Deore Shadow rear derailleur
 

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Short-Change-Hero
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ok, with the added nicety of the hydrolic discs and better forks it looks like the $150+ difference is justified then as I am assuming that upgrading the drivetrain would cost me close to that much. Hmmm..... When to the local Sports Authority after my softball game last night and they are having a mtb sale... had a DB Topanga for $449 and K2 Zed 4.4 for $649... How do these stack up against the others?
 
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