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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've never mountain biked before, but I'm taking a chance and buying a bike. I know the difference between the differences in travel, but would it be a safer bet to get a 110mm or a 120mm if you're not sure what kind of rider you are?
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Did you have some specific bikes in mind? It's too small a difference to necessarily be a difference in the designer's intended purpose - just a difference in the suspension design. So, better to choose between bikes based on something else - which one fits you better, which one fits the riding you're interested in better, which one has components you like better, which one gets you a better deal, etc.

Do you know anyone who rides mountain bikes?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm considering a Cannondale Scalpel or the RZ One Twenty. I've ridden both briefly in a parking lot, and they both feel comfortable... and their components are very comparable.

My roommate rides.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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The Scalpel and RZ are marketed for different purposes. You're also misremembering the travel numbers, at least unless it's a model not listed on the web site. The Scalpel is 80 rear/100 front, while the RZ is 120 front and back.

The Scalpel is a racing bike. The geometry is surprisingly similar, but you sacrifice some low gearing and the components are definitely in the XC race/weight weenie vein. If you're planning to race XC, great - it's a bike that comes out of the box almost ready to roll onto the starting line. But you might be happier with the RZ if you're just learning, riding for fun, might want to air off of things, make mistakes now and then, etc. Even the lowest level Scalpel also seems like quite a lot of money to throw at a first bike. The One Twenty won't slow you down if you do decide later that you want to race, at least in the beginner and sport classes.

Does your roommate have a loaner bike? While not everyone gets their first few trail rides in before buying, I think it's better to do that if you have the opportunity. Maybe a shop in your area does rentals...
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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You risk breaking things if you do any kind of jumping with any bike.

Dirt jump bikes are usually made with heavier tubing and more reinforcement at the joints, in the hope that they'll withstand more crashes. The same is true, to a lesser degree, of AM and trail bikes. While I think people overstate it, XC bikes generally have the minimum amount of material used in the frame that the manufacturer considers sturdy enough. Their definition of "sturdy enough" typically involves at least some crashing, but not as much as a dirt jump or downhill bike is expected to go through.

A smooth enough rider with a good enough landing zone could jump road bikes all day without a problem - it's really when you make a mistake that a sturdier, more forgiving bike becomes important.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Dude...

Rent or borrow a mountain bike. Ride some trails. You'll understand why most mountain bikes have suspension. Purposefully trying to learn on an unforgiving bike strikes me as being like the batting cage scene in Happy Gilmore. You'll also have a much better idea how to evaluate your choices, and how to tell if a bike fits you.

Don't worry about being dependent on suspension or "cheating" or something. You'll move up to being able to negotiate rough flat or descending trails faster, sooner. According to some posters, you'll also be able to handle rough climbs sooner. It'll mean you feel less like a boat anchor when you ride with more experienced friends, it can make the learning curve less frustrating, and there's almost always a rougher trail or a quirk or option to add to a trail to make it more interesting.

If, later, you decide you want to work on line selection on a bike less forgiving of doing it badly, get a hardtail or a rigid bike.
 

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Wow!!

You're throwing down some coin for your first bike. The Scalpel is 7K online and the RZ is 3K. Guess you're pretty serious. (take a look at the Norco Range... sweet!)

I don't really have any room to comment as I'm still learning myself but in my noob opinion I think the advice about renting different bikes should be considered. I posted on a different thread how I started out with a cheap Costco Diamondback with minimal suspension and then bought a bike with 6" of travel. HUGE difference in how I perceived the sport and how quickly my confidence grew. Turned me from liking the sport to being addicted. Looking to the future and my personal likes I probably wouldn't even consider a bike with less than 6" of travel unless I started racing or something of that nature...
 

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T.W.O.
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Leighton said:
I just want a bike that will allow me to become a good, strong rider... I don't want to become dependent on an overly forgiving suspension.
FS bikes today are quite efficient, they can climb and bomb downhills. A lot of 5.5"(140mm) travel bike can do that easily and still weight under 25lbs. Choosing FS bike is more for intended use, and budget for most. Plus I doubt that if you spend a lot of time riding Rigid or HT to hone your skills would make significant difference than riding FS.

For example Scalpel is a 100r/110 front with lefty, same as Transition Doubles 100r/100f but the 2x is perfect for Dual Slalom and Dirt Jumps. Race bike has aggressive geometry for climbing, steep head angle, and/or steep seat angle, low BB. It's nimble thru twisty singletrack but may be not as stable as the bike that has slacker head angle or more relax geometry.
 

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Jumping into the mix here...

My first bike was a Kona Dawg Deluxe. IIRC that was a 130mm bike. Scandium from, XT build and it was solid.

I know have a quiver of three bikes but I have learned what I like and what works where....

When your ne you're gonna ride "hard" meaning you won't take the best lines, you'll bash your way thru stuff and lack the skill of smoothnees. A XC race bike isn't going to reward you in those instances.

Your budget allows you to get into the sweet spot on DS bikes. For $3000-$3500 you can get great value.

I would at least try to purchase from a local shop if you can. Maybe they have a demo or can get you a 2010 leftover.

Your best bet is going to be a burly XC bike (which you can lighten up if teh XC racing bug bites) or a solid trail bike. A full on racing bike isn't going to be a good choice IMO.
 

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Never trust a fart
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SLOCanucker said:
Wow!!

You're throwing down some coin for your first bike. The Scalpel is 7K online and the RZ is 3K. Guess you're pretty serious. (take a look at the Norco Range... sweet!)
The RZ has a price range of $1600 to $3200 depending on model.

The Scalpel has a range of $3900 to $10k depending on model.

To the OP, I'd recommend the RZ 120. Its a great bike and would probably work best for you since you are starting out. It does have the capability to be raced, but if going full racer, the Scalpel is your ticket.
 

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i suggest you rent some bikes and try all different kind of riding... dropping 3K on a bike and then figuring out you don't like that riding is going to hurt.

what kind of riding does your roommate do?

check out the Trek Fuel EX or Remedy lines as those bikes seem to do almost everything fairly well...
 
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