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Hey guys, I'm new here.. and to the mountain biking world.. I've been doing some research lately and I have come up with two bikes that I am interested in. I'm looking around the 400-600 price range. I don't want a Full Suspension and I do mainly XC. I don't want to spend too much money at first, because I want to know if I am going to stick with the sport. So that is why I am looking at these two bikes. I found 04' K2 Zed 3.0 for 430 down from 600 at REI and an 05' Specialized Rockhopper at one of my LBS for 440. Which would you guys personally choose if you had the decision? I know some are biased but I want to hear your opinions anyway.. Thanks..
 

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Hmmm....well, I'm biased, I like Specialized bikes...

NajaScutellatus said:
Hey guys, I'm new here.. and to the mountain biking world.. I've been doing some research lately and I have come up with two bikes that I am interested in. I'm looking around the 400-600 price range. I don't want a Full Suspension and I do mainly XC. I don't want to spend too much money at first, because I want to know if I am going to stick with the sport. So that is why I am looking at these two bikes. I found 04' K2 Zed 3.0 for 430 down from 600 at REI and an 05' Specialized Rockhopper at one of my LBS for 440. Which would you guys personally choose if you had the decision? I know some are biased but I want to hear your opinions anyway.. Thanks..
So that's probably what I would recommend. But not just for the standard "I like Spec" reasons. The main reason would be that you are buying the Rockhopper from you local LBS! I am assuming that you would be mail ordering the K2 from REI. Think about it, do you know how to service and maintain your bike? What about warranty? If you break the frame or have some other warranty problem will REI be there to take care of you? Maybe, if you ship the bike back to them and then you get to wait for them to receive the bike, check it over and decide if they should bother K2 with the claim. By the time it gets sorted out half the season could be gone. With your LBS you just toss the bike in the car and take it in to them, and they do the rest. Another down side to buying online is, unless you are very knowledgable about the size bike that you will need, you have the very real possibility of getting a bike that does not fit correctly. This is the single most important factor in the purchase of ANY bike. If it don't fit right you may as well have burned the money that you spent. With your LBS you can test ride various sizes and find the one that fits you right, and find the bike that rides the way you like. It may not be a Specialized that you end up with, but some other manufacturers bike that feels better to you. Either way I would recommend the Specialized or at least that you limit your shopping for now to your local bike shops. They'll make sure, or should anyway, that your bike fits, and take care of you after the sale as well. Just my 2 cents worth. Of course if you live next door to REI then take your pick, and I'm all wet here!!! :)

Good Dirt
 

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Tuff decision

REI is an excellent store with an incredible return policy not to mention that member discount. Depending on what your LBS is like, could be cheaper and more reliable in terms of service to boot. Given that you live close to an REI, and assuming your LBS has been around a while and doesn't price gouge like so many do (I live in Colorado which has a bike shop every three blocks so prices and service tend to be very competitive and high quality), then select the bike based on the bike, not the shop.

The K2 and Specialized you mention are both great bikes and it looks like your price quotes are incredible. Either bike will do well for you and at those prices, I wouldn't delay and simply select the bike with the best frame size.

If you do have time to compare at these prices, then ride both and compare the feel & fit of each. Since you're just getting into the sport is might be difficult to determine feel from one ride to the next, however, try as best as you can to ride more than just around the block. If you're at the REI and they have one of those dorky test tracks, jump the fence and actually ride for several minutes.

At these price points, both bikes are most likely built by the same mfg in Korea (probably Giant) and the quality will be the same on the frame. You might also consider Giant which typically has more to offer for the price in this skill range and makes most of the low to mid level frames for all bike companies anyway.

Splitting hairs, I would select the Specialized as I think they'll be in the bike business much longer than K2. I doubt K2 will get out of bikes in the next five years, but you never know. K2 is a public company owned by an old time metal/fibeglass/bass fishing outfit in LA that purchased K2 (the cool company with Skis & Snowboards) a few years back and dropped their name for the more sexier K2 moniker. They are a good company but their product portfolio includes fishing gear, boat supplies, sheet metal and oh yeah bikes & skis.

Time will tell if it all stays together. If earnings get small,K2 might shed their bike business which could prove harmful to your parts/return policy regardless of where you purchased the bike. Specialized has the same risks of doing business, but I think they'll be in the bike business much longer than K2.

my three cents.
 

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The above posts are all good and valid points. I would like to add that, in addition to those points about sizing, quality, shops, repairs, you should also consider warranty. If you take a gander at the thread here titled (something like) "Specialized Warranty Stories" you can see that the overwhelming majority of people who have had major problems with Specialized frames (i.e. cracks or damage) have been taken care of by Big S in the form of new hardware. Impressive.

Giant is a good bike manufacturer and should always be considered. Your first bike, depending on how much you ride, might be your only bike for years, so consider the alternatives closely. Do remember that, however, when talking about warranty repairs the components (stuff bolted to the frame including forks) are covered by whoever makes them. Also, while this may seem shortsighted, at the pricepoint you're looking at comparing the number of actual namebrand parts on the bike is a good step at determining quality. You can even go so far as to take a higher priced model and see what parts carry over and which are replaced as you move up the foodchain.

Hope my comments help. Good luck!!
 
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