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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The only thing I dislike about this forum is that there are too many guys who think a 3k bike is basic and two many threads discussing the pros and cons of 5k plus bikes.
So I've created this thread for those of us who can't afford bikes that cost as much as cars.
Tell us stories about your beloved budget bike. What have you got? what sort of riding do you do on it? What cheap upgrades have you done to make it better? Post some pics if you want.

I'll start with my jamis durango a1 (780 USD). Just put some $40 alloy pedals on it cause one of the plastic ones broke. Been hitting some intermediate Xc trails, small jumps and drops. Think I've already found the limit of what the fork can take.
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Planning on building a 630$ bike. Will post it here after finished. Shimano M7100 drivetrain and Sram Guide RS breaks, thru-axle frame, boost fork, can't wait to build it, but I don't have the time right now. Love to see people making every penny count and building very nice bikes with low prices. We'd like to see more of it, please surprise us with your bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Planning on building a 630$ bike. Will post it here after finished. Shimano M7100 drivetrain and Sram Guide RS breaks, thru-axle frame, boost fork, can't wait to build it, but I don't have the time right now. Love to see people making every penny count and building very nice bikes with low prices. We'd like to see more of it, please surprise us with your bike.
Would love to have the knowledge and skills to build a bike.
 

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Sounds fun, even though my current bike does cross the $1k mark. My previous was worth about half of what yours is now though, and I rode it on most of the same trails I ride now :).

People talk about $3k bikes as being the line in the sand where full suspension bikes truely become good/upgradeable/reliable/etc. And at this point with bike prices continuing to rise, that price point is pretty accurate. However, as you rightly point out, there are much cheaper ways to have fun on a bike. As I mentioned, I started out on a bike I paid $600 new for before I commuted on it for 4 years and first tried mountain biking. And one of my riding buddies is still riding a 2014 XC hardtail that he paid $350 for a few years ago.

My first bit of good low budget upgrade advice, is tires! Tires make a huge difference in how the bike performs. A good rubber compound, and tread pattern that fits your local needs can make a huge difference. They can be expensive, but you can usually find a good option that isn't the $90/tire Schwalbe or Maxxis.

The other cheap upgrade that can be totally worth it is adjusting the stem length, and handlebar rise to something that fits your body, and the types of trails that you ride.

My buddy above with the old XC hardtail, riding trails here in the PNW with us? When he moved here he was quite scared, and slow, as the trails were very different than where he used to live in Tennessee. And his bike wasn't setup/equiped to work well on them.

We swapped his 100mm stem for a 35mm one, and his narrow 600mm bar with 0 rise, for a 800mm bar with 38mm rise. Then changed his worn XC tires, to a Magic Mary soft compound on the front, and an old WTB Vigilante on the back. Those changes totally transformed the bike for him. He was no longer afraid whenever it got steep (the stem and handlebar change helped keep his weight back), and he was no longer timid in the corners (since his tires had grip for the first time).

Anyway, personally I enjoy seeing people out riding, no matter what bike its on :).
 

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We need more threads like this. As far as upgrading budget bikes, best bang for the buck is tires and cockpit as ocnLogan mentioned. Right on the heels of that is the fork, but that is much more difficult because you can explode your budget in about three seconds. It does make for a markedly better experience though. For someone like you who bought a bike with a Suntour fork, they have an upgrade program that can get you into something better for a reasonable price, so it is worth looking into.
 

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As others have mentioned, touchpoints are the best bang for your buck upgrade. You can have a $10k bike, but if it's not set up for you, your riding or comfortable it's pointless.

If you really feel you've maxed out the fork and need an upgrade, looking for an OEM takeoff can save a ton of $$. The Fox 34 Rhythm is typically a fork you can pick up pretty cheap as a take off and punches well above its cost, just stay away from any Fox FiT4 equipped fork.

Another good place to invest, your workshop. You can save a ton of money and frustration being able to repair and maintain your own bike. Again a $10k bike with untuned or clapped out parts will still ride like garbage. It's amazing how much better a bike will feel and ride when it's well maintained.
 

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My first bike I bought it for around $650. I am only 130lbs but the brakes were nearly worthless so I upgraded to Shimano Deore and later added a dropper post. The totally cost was just under 1K. I still ride it at the locally trails and pumptrack. In many ways It鈥檚 more fun than my other the long and slack bike. The fork came with the bike is Suntour Raidon and it works surprisingly well, prob because I am light.
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Planning on building a 630$ bike. Will post it here after finished. Shimano M7100 drivetrain and Sram Guide RS breaks, thru-axle frame, boost fork, can't wait to build it, but I don't have the time right now. Love to see people making every penny count and building very nice bikes with low prices. We'd like to see more of it, please surprise us with your bike.
I'm intrigued about this because as far as I can tell you're spending $500+ on the brakes and drivetrain, so you've got $130 to buy everything else....
 

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The only thing I dislike about this forum is that there are too many guys who think a 3k bike is basic and two many threads discussing the pros and cons of 5k plus bikes.
So I've created this thread for those of us who can't afford bikes that cost as much as cars.
Tell us stories about your beloved budget bike. What have you got? what sort of riding do you do on it? What cheap upgrades have you done to make it better? Post some pics if you want.

I'll start with my jamis durango a1 (780 USD). Just put some $40 alloy pedals on it cause one of the plastic ones broke. Been hitting some intermediate Xc trails, small jumps and drops. Think I've already found the limit of what the fork can take.
I got into MTB a couple of years ago riding a ~2006 Cannondale F5 26" hardtail that I 'borrowed' from my father when I moved to the US from the UK in 2009.

The chrome coating on the stanchions on the cheap coil fork was peeling, so I upgraded to a Manitou Markhor. The tires needed replacing so I went with a 2.3" WTB Vigilante on the front, 2.1" WTB Velociraptor on the rear. The 3x9 drivetrain slapped around like crazy on the trail, so I did 1x11 conversion with Deore XT shifter and mech, sunrise 11-50 cassette, Wolftooth Goat Link and a OneUp chainring using the existing cranks. The Shimano hydraulic brakes pre-dated the current 'easy bleed' design, so I binned them for some Deore M6100, 160 rear, 180 front, I threw on a PNW Components Coast suspension dropper, and I replaced the narrow handlebar with something cheap and wide from Amazon. All in I must have spent $1000 in upgrades, but it was fun to do and it got me and now my wife into the sport.

I rode it like that in 2020 and the start of 2021, from rail trails all the way to black diamond flow trails at the bike park, until I got a full suspension in June. My wife has used the Cannondale this year and I've now ordered her a Polygon Siskiu T8, but I'll take the Deore brakes off the Cannondale and put them on the Polygon, swap the 11 speed XT drivetrain onto my oldest son's bike, maybe put the dropper onto my youngest son's bike, and then decide what to do with the Cannondale frame, probably build it back up with the takeoff parts and sell it as a complete bike.

A brand new sub-$1000 will likely be much better than I was starting with, but as you mentioned with finding the limit on your fork you'll very quickly be looking to make upgrades and the problem you have with those less expensive bikes is they use older standards which limits your options. Example - straight steerer tube and QR axles doesn't give you many options for a better fork.
 

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With 4 riders in the house, plus me having ridden for over 30 years, I have many bikes to choose from, including sub 1k and plus 3k steeds. While I generally prefer my main (expensive) bike, I can absolutely rip with the cheaper bikes on the right trails.

There are some very tech trails where the cheaper bikes are a bit slower and less forgiving, but I can still have fun. A basic mountain bike, like my daughters sub 1k hardtail, is extremely capable.

The obsession with weight and carbon this or that is fun, but the performance improvements do not keep pace w/ the escalating prices.
 

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One of the best upgrades for a budget bike is contact points.... and then maybe finding a good fork. Awhile ago new fox 34 rhythms could be found for 230 bucks!.... but tons of people take off "entry level" 34's and other similar forks to upgrade. Can be had almost brand new for a fraction of the cost. I just sold one in perfect working order for 250. Not saying 250 is cheap.... but if you save up and wait around you can find a great deal. Really does make a difference.

Besides that I think it's funny that a lot of the mtb community consider 10/11 speed drivetrains obsolete.... or they upgrade from a 36 to a 38 when they haven't progressed enough for it to make a difference. To each their own.... but also just ride the damn bike 馃槀.

Another pet peeve is all of the new riders from the covid era who are on massive enduro bikes, but only ride xc trails.... and then complain how much they hate pedaling, and now want a massive enduro e-bike. That's where the marketing is pointing them, but damn it really grinds my gears!

/rant
 

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Besides that I think it's funny that a lot of the mtb community consider 10/11 speed drivetrains obsolete....
When I upgraded my Cannondale Microshift hadn't released the Advent X otherwise I'd have bought it in a heartbeat, just like I did to upgrade my son's bike and then again (with the available brifters) when I did a 1x and drop bar conversion to turn my Cannondale Quick 4 into a 'gravel bike'.

I've just bought a new gravel frameset, but I'll be moving the Advent X over.

The biggest challenge for 10 and 11 speeds drivetrains now is 12 speed Deore...
 

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Besides that I think it's funny that a lot of the mtb community consider 10/11 speed drivetrains obsolete....
This one is so strange to me.

I just purchased an entire Microshift Advent X drivetrain (shifter, cassette, derailleur).... for less than 75% of the price of a GX Eagle cassette (which is $230 IIRC). And it weighs less.

Its range is a bit less, but 48-11 is pretty good on range, and I can live with a cassette that costs $55 to replace, instead of $230, and give up that range and 2 gears.
 
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