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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been riding my first bike: a $800 Marin hardtail with air fork for the last 8 years on and off.
As I am getting more into the sport, I wanted to get a FS bike and went ahead bought the Intense 941 trail bike from Costco which come out to be around 3.5k
After looking around more, the Polygon Siskiu T7 also seems to be really good option too at around 2k.

Now I am questioning myself if I really need the Intense for my skill level and type of riding. I ride mostly XC single track(80% of time 10mins away) and love rocky downhill(20% 1hr away). Also, just start practicing jumps mainly to ride faster. I don't see myself doing huge jump/drop in the near future or ever.

As I am pushing to learn new skill and riding harder trail, I expect I will crash a lot. Should just get the Polygon, have it beat up and upgrade later? I feel like the carbon frame on the Intense will always make me worried every time I try to push myself on new things.
 

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Mountain biking is such an awesome sport with so many benefits not just to your own health but socially, for family, mental health, etc. If your budget allows it, it’s a worthwhile investment in my eyes. The most expensive you can afford will not always mean the best for you, sometimes (like in my experience) you’ll be unlucky with components or maybe the bike isn’t the right fit, which is why it’s important to test them out if possible. But investing in something that you foresee yourself spending more time with developing your skills, fitness, health, and exploring places for trails, having a reliable bike is very important, especially in making the experience that much better.


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Don’t worry about the frame material; yes, carbon fiber can break under certain circumstances, but so can aluminum, or any other frame material. If carbon fiber were as fragile as some like to act like it is, then it wouldn’t be used, especially on high end bikes. I’ve had carbon fiber frames since 1996, a few of those years were spent not riding, had some decent crashes in rock gardens and have yet to break a frame (knock on wood). I’ve done far more damage to my body and aluminum parts than to my carbon fiber frames.

I would recommend reading some reviews on the bikes, and the key components and see which provides a build that fits the skill level that you want to progress to. Overall, I think the Intense has better components that justify the higher cost. If I were to buy that Polyon, I would probably end up spending twice the difference upgrading to better components. So, I would feel like I would be happier with the Intense, but that’s just me. You may have a different opinion after reading reviews on both bikes. Overall, I think you would be happier and progress more effectively on the Intense.
 

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You are wondering if you spent $1500 too much. The polygon is a great bike, I really like that someone is finally building a full suspension bike under $2000 so beginners no longer have to hear that baloney refrain that they should learn on a hardtail. That being said, the Intense is a better bike in every single way. It will grow with you as you ride more. The rockshox recon is a fine fork, but the fox 36 will feel better and track better. I had a recon and replaced it with a fox 34 and felt the difference, the 36 will be even better.

Carbon fiber will be fine. If you crash hard enough to damage the carbon fiber, you would have dented the aluminum anyways, possibly rendering it unsafe. That being said, I once had a pair of carbon fiber handlebars that creaked like crazy, they had been installed correctly with a torque wrench and carbon pasted, but every time I rode I lost a little bit of confidence wondering if the bars would break. I didn't replace them because I didn't want to "waste" $100 until eventually I just threw on the old bars. They were heavier for sure, but the peace of mind made my rides much more enjoyable and I found I rode more, so if you think the carbon fiber frame will eat away at your enjoyment, regardless of what us internet experts say about the strength, then get the polygon. Costco has a great return policy and the polygon will be fine. You may eventually want to replace the fork, but you can get damn good forks for $500-$600, and then your still $1000 under.
 

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there's a certain logic behind buying a bike that you can grow into. something that's capable of more you can do. when I was a new rider, I started on a bike where it didn't take long to find its limits. Same was true, though slightly less so, for my 2nd bike. It wasn't until I got to my 3rd bike that I found something with enough of a margin that my skills could grow into the bike. I still eventually found its limits, but that took a long time and even when I found them, I wasn't blowing past them and breaking stuff.

one thing that riding a bike that's more capable of what you as a rider are capable of doing is the extra component durability you'll get. be clear, I'm not talking about the typical "overbiking" scenario where you buy a burly enduro bike for xc trails. you'll have improved component durability from that, too. and that kind of overbiking might make sense for durability if you're a big rider who breaks xc grade parts. what I'm talking about is if you're a beginner rider, but you spend more than a usual "beginner's budget" on a bike to get something nicer that's still sorta within the use type of your usual trails. there may be elements of both in OP's question.

it's worth considering if a bike that has extra extra squish will turn your usual trails into something dull. I've encountered this with demo bikes in the past. show up to a demo event on my local trails and take out a variety of bikes. at a certain point (it sorta varies a bit depending on the bike), the longer travel bikes got more boring to ride on the demo loop. they're still fun bikes, but they need some nastier terrain to make them come alive. what's the difference between OP's "xc singletrack" and "rocky downhill" type trails? it may be that the rocky downhills are rocky enough and are ridden often enough to ride a squishier bike on the xc stuff, too. maybe it's a 2 bike situation eventually. maybe OP's xc singletrack is more technical than we think and a bigger travel bike works well. or maybe the rocky downhills are nasty enough that the Intense still isn't the "ideal" bike for them. there's a lot of possible scenarios that only OP can answer.
 

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I had this same problem when I first started biking, thinking It was ridiculous to spend 2 + grand on a bike as a beginner....I'm glad I did!!! it's helped progress my riding to where I am today.

Go for it, feel no buyers remorse, and shred away
 

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Only 2 things too add.

1) maintenance on a high end bike costs a ton more too. Factor that in to the cost.

2) you can never have too much bike.
My 190mm FS bike works on everything from xc and cyclo-cross races to full on DH.

Get what you think will be most fun.
 
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Only 2 things too add.

1) maintenance on a high end bike costs a ton more too. Factor that in to the cost.
Kinda sorta. Low end drivetrain bits wear out faster and are less durable than better parts. So higher quality might cost more outright, but reduced service frequency is less cost over time. Each part has sort of its own curve as it will so it'll vary. But a nice example are the chain durability analyses that show cost per mile, with the top level chains costing less in the long run.

Suspension is its own thing, too. A low end fork, for example, is going to wear out pretty quickly if used hard and it'll need replacing outright. Maintenance on these is sometimes possible, sometimes not. A high end fork will be more maintainable, so long as service parts are available. If you DIY these jobs, parts tend to be cheap. But if you pay someone else to service them, the labor probably isn't going to vary much. And that's assuming a shop will be willing to work on the low end fork. Quite likely, the labor will cost more than a brand new low end fork. Not many people do this in light of that info, so shops that are willing to service them likely don't see many.

I know with my own first low end bike, I did not take care of it. I killed a lot of the bits because I didn't take care of my stuff, and it became a major handful when everything needed replacing all at once.


2) you can never have too much bike.
My 190mm FS bike works on everything from xc and cyclo-cross races to full on DH.

Get what you think will be most fun.
Yeah, I wouldn't have fun riding a 190mm FS bike on most of the things I ride. It would be fun for me on a much smaller subset of things I do. Things that I already ride on other bikes. Some things I ride would be pretty boring on a 190mm FS.
 

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IMHO, there are a lot of factors. But Which bike do you want? How much are you going to ride? a lot a little? Do you have enough money that this isn't a huge deal?

basically buy what you want and buy what you'll use. When I bought my first real mountain bike since the 1990s, I went with a $1800 Specialized Camber after looking at the $600-1000 bikes. It was a good move honestly, getting into a full sus mountain bike worked well for me. I liked it a lot, i rode a bunch and was happy with not getting an entry level hardtail like a rockhopper to then decide I wanted something more. I just upgraded to a $3K Ibis Ripley AF, 5 years later. I like that a lot.

I couldn't justify the $3K bike when I bought my Camber, I didn't know how much I'd ride, whether I'd enjoy it as much as I did and I really didn't understand the differences between the bikes, how much suspension i'd want etc besides more $ = "better bike". Now I do understand those things, and I picked out my bike with eyes open and appreciate some of the differences.

Which Intense did you get? the XC or the Trail? does that travel match what you want in your trails? its one thing to get a nicer bike than you need, its another to get more travel that you need. More travel isn't always better.

IF this was your first bike and you weren't out riding as much, the Polygon T7 seems like a great way to get into a full suspension rig for not a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
To give a bit the background when I ask the question. I received the bike and rode it around the community and storm pond with steep slope. I didnt feel like this Intense trail bike much or even any better than my old hardtail. It just feel different and that was all. Then, I thought.. OK, maybe when I get used to bike and ride it on the trail, it will be like 20% better than my old bike at my skill level and for things I do? So I wonder maybe I should just get the Polygon that might yield 10-15% improvement and save that $1500 for 5% improvement.

In short, after testing riding the Intense in my community, I thought the improvement will be relative small and the Polygon at much cheaper price might get most of the improvement as well.

Then... today, I rode the Intense on trail... OH BOY, I WAS WRONG.
I flew through tight, rooty corner like twice of my normal speed. I can lean so much and maneuver back to back corner much quicker well ahead of time. What surprised me the most is climbing since everyone says hardtail climb better. I usually have to get off the bike at 3,4 spots with are steep and rooty climb on this route. Not on this bike, not even once and I felt using less effort both technical and normal climb. All that on the first trail riding!!!

I should have tried the bike on trails before coming here to ask. Given all that and I don't need to think about any major upgrade in the near future, I am definitely keeping the bike. I can afford the bike easily but just isn't rich enough to throw a few thousands dollars to it if it only provides minimum improvement.

Now, I am so happy that I am not as bad as I thought in term of skill level and super excited about this beast.

By the way, I think this as a product provide very good value. Not just the bike itself but all the accessories come with it (suspension pump, whole torque wrench set, tubeless sealant and 10+ well made videos on Youtube specific for the bike that talk and explain every detail of it and the setup. Well, I don't have any experience with other high end brand/bike. Maybe these are standard.

I am not too worried about maintenance as I don't ride a whole lot. once or twice a week and 4-6miles a time. The carbon frame still worries me though. With my old bike, when I stop, I just let go and let it fall on the ground without thinking about it. Well, not with this bike...
 

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Kinda sorta. Low end drivetrain bits wear out faster and are less durable than better parts. So higher quality might cost more outright, but reduced service frequency is less cost over time. Each part has sort of its own curve as it will so it'll vary. But a nice example are the chain durability analyses that show cost per mile, with the top level chains costing less in the long run.

Suspension is its own thing, too. A low end fork, for example, is going to wear out pretty quickly if used hard and it'll need replacing outright. Maintenance on these is sometimes possible, sometimes not. A high end fork will be more maintainable, so long as service parts are available. If you DIY these jobs, parts tend to be cheap. But if you pay someone else to service them, the labor probably isn't going to vary much. And that's assuming a shop will be willing to work on the low end fork. Quite likely, the labor will cost more than a brand new low end fork. Not many people do this in light of that info, so shops that are willing to service them likely don't see many.

I know with my own first low end bike, I did not take care of it. I killed a lot of the bits because I didn't take care of my stuff, and it became a major handful when everything needed replacing all at once.




Yeah, I wouldn't have fun riding a 190mm FS bike on most of the things I ride. It would be fun for me on a much smaller subset of things I do. Things that I already ride on other bikes. Some things I ride would be pretty boring on a 190mm FS.
As you say, it's a bit complicated, but the trend is there.

Anyone who thinks spares are cheap has never owned a Dorado.
In turn, anyone who thinks a 190mm FS bike isn't fun on everything hasn't owned a dorado =)

The perk of high end adjustable kit is you can set it to ride like you enjoy.

Mine is generally set to ride like a trail bike.
Poppy, lively, but when I mess up there is a ton of room for error.

I'm 100% behind you on investing in a good chain.

The Eagle x01 just seems to last forever.
I kept the last one on until death just to see how long it lasted. It was still going strong at 15-22% wear (depending on how you measured it).
Very expensive, but great.
 

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...That being said, I once had a pair of carbon fiber handlebars that creaked like crazy, they had been installed correctly with a torque wrench and carbon pasted, but every time I rode I lost a little bit of confidence wondering if the bars would break. I didn't replace them because I didn't want to "waste" $100 until eventually I just threw on the old bars. ...
You're probably not helping the OP's carbon concern with this story. :) That said, I've used several carbon bars in the past, and have never had any creak. To me that sounds like a defect or fab issue, or maybe something not quite right for your weight. (The highest quality bars ask about your kitted-up weight and offer an appropriate fab.)

The saying of "light, cheap, reliable - pick 2" has never been more accurate as with carbon.

...


1) maintenance on a high end bike costs a ton more too. Factor that in to the cost.

...
I'd mostly disagree with this. Everything can break of course, but I've seen a lot of cheapo components fail. Most recently a new-to-riding buddy was forced to buy a very inexpensive bike (basically Walmart-ish) because of Covid availability. He has pretty much broken something each time out.

I will give you that on the high end, there are a lot of finicky things (like the Specialized "brain"), which does require expensive, ridiculous maintenance, but I see that as more of a corner case.


...
I flew through tight, rooty corner like twice of my normal speed. I can lean so much and maneuver back to back corner much quicker well ahead of time. What surprised me the most is climbing since everyone says hardtail climb better. I usually have to get off the bike at 3,4 spots with are steep and rooty climb on this route. Not on this bike, not even once and I felt using less effort both technical and normal climb. All that on the first trail riding!!!

...
I think you've made a good choice, and I've ridden both HT and FS bikes and love both.

Given this is Beginner's Corner though, I thought I'd chime in about the scenario you mentioned. I'm going to go out on a limb and say your $3500 bike is more capable (and adjustable) than your $800 bike, climbing or otherwise. Heck, your FS might actually be lighter given the frame material, despite the added linkages and shock.

I'm saying this because a new rider shouldn't discount a quality hardtail as an option. An FS might be a great choice too, but newer riders tend to equate the cheapest possible Walmart bike with a "hardtail", when often it is barely a bike of any kind, i.e. the bike-shaped object.
 

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You're probably not helping the OP's carbon concern with this story. :) That said, I've used several carbon bars in the past, and have never had any creak. To me that sounds like a defect or fab issue, or maybe something not quite right for your weight. (The highest quality bars ask about your kitted-up weight and offer an appropriate fab.)
It's also worth pointing out that not all carbon paste is created equally. I have used some carbon paste products in the past that have rather large grit particles that are very sharp and angular. They HOLD fantastically. But they creak like a mofo. I have some Tacx assembly compound I bought years ago that's bad about this. It's also hard to put it on evenly (I suspect getting an even layer would help prevent creaks) because the base is really thin and it's hard to evenly coat the part because it just runs and drips.

Lately, I've mostly been using little single use blister packs that have come with various parts. I think it's usually FSA branded, and it is MUCH better about not creaking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Given this is Beginner's Corner though, I thought I'd chime in about the scenario you mentioned. I'm going to go out on a limb and say your $3500 bike is more capable (and adjustable) than your $800 bike, climbing or otherwise. Heck, your FS might actually be lighter given the frame material, despite the added linkages and shock.

I'm saying this because a new rider shouldn't discount a quality hardtail as an option. An FS might be a great choice too, but newer riders tend to equate the cheapest possible Walmart bike with a "hardtail", when often it is barely a bike of any kind, i.e. the bike-shaped object.
I am sure it is a more capable bike and thought that capability will mostly only show on high skill stuff like big jump/drop, high speed on rough terrain ect. I didn't expect it will help that much on normal riding. Although, the intense has carbon frame but it also have heavy fork, dropper, wider rims and tires ect. so both bikes actually have the same weight 31lbs. I still dont understand how it makes climbing so much easier..

My real first bike was actually a $170 FS bike from Walmart lol. I learned to ride bike at age of 16(yup..16) and have ridden bike probably less than 3 miles of my whole life before start riding trail.. so I crash a lot. That Walmart bike almost have everything broken after 5 trail rides. Not too bad for $170 that completely change me from "how come bike can cost more than $300" to "I need to look into some real bikes"
 

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I think most of you are thinking about this all wrong. The OP can afford to spend $3500 on bikes not a bike. The OP should get the Polygon, return the Intense and with the $1500 get a road bike, fat/snow bike, single speed mountain bike or Dirt Jumper bike.
 

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Sounds like a good update.
I 2nd guess literally everything I do. So I can relate. You'll appreciate the nice bike, and to some extent, stop reading reviews of other bikes. There will always be the, would I be just as happy if I picked X and saved this much, or picked Y and got the nicer drivetrain etc... You made your decision, paid your money unless you're really unhappy, ride the bike it will be head and shoulders better than what you had and make you want to do more things.

This is an unprecedented time where you buy a bike on monday new and could sell it for what you paid for it the next weekend. It may give you options, but it will drive you unnecessarily crazy.
 

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If you delay gratification before purchases and try a lot of stuff you can best know if you made the right choice. There are many styles of trail, riding and bikes. Knowing what's best for you and what you like most is a worthy exercise before a bike purchase just so you have the right one and most satisfaction.
 
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