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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a buddy who's buying a mountain bike for the first time. For his 50th birthday this year. He's a big biker. In fact he doesn't own a car. He lives in San Francisco. Pedals pavement a lot and has a gravel bike. So he's in shape, but hasn't done a ton of mountain biking.

there's a good chance that he will pedal through the city up into the Marin headlands on a fairly regular basis. And I'll probably come out and ride with me in the Bay area at all the standard spots riding single track.

so the combination of these two ideas, what would you recommend he get? For me the biggest question is the consideration between a 27.5 and a 29er. He's never been on a 27.5 or a 29er. And it's his first mountain bike. So I don't want the bigger wheels to weird him out if he goes 29. but to me seems like a 29er is a good choice since he is going to be doing so much pedaling on pavement.

This is the part you would say, get a gravel bike. But that's already in the mix. He's also considering the difference between going XC and Trail. I think he's going to want to do more single track riding in the future so I'm recommending trail, even though XC would probably be the best option for that long ride.

I'm thinking tallboy, hightower, 5010, SB 4.5, Ripley.

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Gravel bike - assuming he rides 700cc - is the same size wheel, so I cannot imagine a 29er would feel that foreign and it will be a lot faster on his rides out of the city than a 27.5 as you suggest. If it was only for riding in the Headlands, then I would suggest an XC bike, but given your point about riding further a field (and due to his relative inexperience on an MTB) I would concur with the Tallboy / Ripley. If he’s handy he can swap tires from XC to Trail to make the bike more appropriate for either the Headlands or, say, Demo.
 

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29 for sure.

I wouldn't worry about shopping for a 27.5, leave the tiny wheels to the kids (and midgets / dwarfs).

:lol:

new tallboy / ripley / sb100 / etc are all really good bikes.
 

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just another bleepin SSer
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29 inch wheel mtn bike uses the same diameter rim as a road/gravel/cross bike. The overall diameter difference is in the size of the tire.

I live in SF also. When I ride dirt, it is often ride from home over bridge into the Marin Headlands. I find I push my cross bike a little too hard for long dirt rides (so risk flats), so prefer a hard tail. If I didn't push as hard, the cross bike (or in his case, the gravel grinder) would be an excellent choice for the fire road heavy Headlands.

The full suspension bike is more for when I load up and drive some place, like Skeggs or Demo.

I guess it goes on where you really see the riding happening. If it is mostly Headlands, the gravel grinder may be just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the response. Yeah he already has a gravel bike. He's looking to branch out and get onto more single track.

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That new Tallboy is a pretty attractive option is someone is only going to have one MTB. You can find stuff up in the Headlands to shred on! I'd go Tallboy, or Ripley - or maybe the SB100 cause I think it punches above its weight class on downhill.

I have a sick Blur 3 XO1 in Medium for sale if he's interested. In Mill Valley :).
 

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No car, pedal to Marin headlands, already has gravel bike.

Honestly, this sounds like a bad recipe. 29er cross-country (down-country) bike for sure. These are 29ers with about 100-120mm travel, fast tires, light. The geometry on the new ones like the Pivot Mach 4 SL and Yeti SB100, Ripley are good for lively descending too.

The thing is... if someone had to pedal 10 miles of paved to get to a trail on knobby tires, will they have fun and how often will they do it, realistically. Road bike and gravel are made for this.

Maybe buy a good value, used rad bike first and see if he actually likes that traverse.
 

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I don't know, SF is nice to bike in. Maybe even with a MTB. Half of the ride is through Presidio and across GG. But it would be far, and wear out the tires if you did it a lot. I might even say a less aggressive hard tail with some bike packing tires to even out the two environments. That's what I'm commuting on. Or maybe take transit.

Do a rental or a demo and see if it's something he even likes.

Incidentally, if you just type "San Francisco" as a destination in Google Maps, it will give you Market and Van Ness
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yeah for sure. If he's riding a lot of pavement up to the headlands he'll probably just take the gravel bike. but on occasion he would pedal out on the mountain bike. I live where he would land up there and it's mostly fire roads pretty boring. But he does have interest in doing trail riding which is the direction I'm pushing him in.

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Wēk Sôs
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XC race tires (basically semi-slicks or almost) are not too bad, or a true semi-slick. They roll fast, and have plenty of traction for that area. It'll be a gravel bike +, basically. I've got a drop bar Rockhopper (1990) with big slicks, and that's fine to go from SF to Marin, with no issues, and plenty fine to ride in the headlands with enough pneumatic suspension to not rattle too much. You can do most of it on semi-slicks without issue. To Tam, though, might suck a bit more than not, but still not that bad with fast rolling tires. Manufacturers may stuff beefier tires on these bikes (DHF/Aggressor), so even a demo of a XC bike may not be the same unless it's a XC race bike. To make it to China Camp (if that's in the cards), or Fairfax, would be a long ride on slow heavy tires and not very interesting. I'm guessing Tam is about as far as he will go.

Lately I've been thinking of a drop bar MTB, like the Salsa Cutthroat. The novelty of 40c tires is starting to wear off. That's still a novelty though, but I'm old, and buy what I want, for what I want, for as long as I feel like doing it.

Personally, I would recommend a hardtail (Ibis DV9 for example, as it's not super slack with a steep seat tube angle, and upright pedaling, and it's not too expensive for the frameset). I have a gravel bike, with MTB gearing (kinda, 42/28 and 11-32), and a full suspension bike with Eagle, and sometimes I wish I had a hardtail again, for when the gravel bike is uncomfortable, but the FS is too much.

Take into account the "forward geometry" of today's full suspension bikes and the fact that you're going to be doing the antithesis of what that was designed for, that is 70+% road to get to the trails. Quad biased, upright, flat land pedaling, not that great for long rides. The hardtails tend to be more "normal" to have a more rearward seat to employ more muscles seated.
 

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Hardtail's probably a good call here. As for city riding don't overlook the trails on Sutro and some of the other SF Urban Riders maintained trails. Nothing super ambitious technically, but fun, and worthwhile for practice or low effort after work rides.

I spent 4 years commuting on a full rigid 26er with slicks and fenders and had a blast exploring the trails hidden around the city, but frankly find the trails less fun on a more aggressive bike.
 

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Hella Olde
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Hardtails for over 50 year olds are for a unique subspecies of rider. Dude already gets plenty of 'efficiency' and 'simplicity' on other bikes. Let him experience the full squish and the joys of plowing rocks and hitting jumps and venturing out of the urban locale and mentality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hardtails for over 50 year olds are for a unique subspecies of rider. Dude already gets plenty of 'efficiency' and 'simplicity' on other bikes. Let him experience the full squish and the joys of plowing rocks and hitting jumps and venturing out of the urban locale and mentality.
What I'm thinking. ..

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Hella Olde
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How about a YT Jeffsy CF Comp 29" $2,995.00 Pick-up in SoCal and get free suspension tune and beer at the YT Mill. Warning: The Bro-Factor might be high AF. Never been there myself. Yes, this is a complete, dialed-in bike for less than the frame-only cost of any good dentist bike. The AL versions are cheaper. Feel free to spend more on higher end models, too.
 
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