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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone

I started mountain biking around 6 months back and am now looking to upgrade my bike. I have visited a few LBS and need advice on the bikes they have offered me.

Currently I am riding a Jeep Comanche 26" that I got cheap on craigslist, which I am now looking to upgrade. The features I am looking for is a hard-tail, front suspension, durable bike, that is lighter than my present one, which I suspect is a steel frame. I intend to ride on trails in my area (Tallahassee, FL). Being new to mountain biking, I am not looking to get into too technical trails (yet) and break my bones. I'm hopeful i'll graduate to those soon, though. My budget is around $500-550

Following are the 29"/27.5" bikes that the LBSs suggested me,telling me they are better than the 26", and that i'll be prone to upgrade to a 29" even if i got a 26". Basically I am not going to use the bike for racing, and don't really care about the speed. All I want is a good quality bike that I can learn on, and is low maintenance. And I don't care about the sticker, as long as its a good bike.

All the following bikes have 29" wheels, except the Giant

2013 Raleigh Talus - $590 (and a $50 rebate from Raleigh, says LBS)
2014 Fuji Nevada 29 1.9 - $450
2014 Trek X Caliber 4 - $550
2014 Giant Talon 5 - $570 (This one's a 27.5")
2014 Specialized Hardrock Disk SE - $520

I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.
 

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Look at year or two old used bikes. Other than a warranty peace of mind, you can get much more bang for your buck used. I lucked into a 2013 Specialized Camber FS for $825 just recently.

At that price range, you're going to get the lower end forks and components, even on hardtails AFAIK.

John
 

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If you like the Raleigh, then I'd do that. Model year doesn't make much difference as most of those bikes came from the same OEM. I'm not a fan of Sinyard/Specialized. At all. Don't reward them for their bad business practices.

Buying used is a great deal, but you have to be pretty competent about what you are looking at and the non-obvious signs of abuse.
 

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if you get a 26" bike and then want to "upgrade" to a 29er, that means basically buying a whole new bike- frame, fork, and wheels/tires. if you think you want a 29er, just get a 29er.

I don't know about your specific terrain, but it seems like most of Florida is pretty flat. have you considered a single-speed? that's not for everyone, but it certainly is "low maintenance." a used Redline Monocog, Surly Karate Monkey, Kona Unit, Raleigh XXIX, etc would get the job done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies guys, they are really helpful. I think it is safe to assume that getting a $500-600 new bike will get you poor components. I am trying to increase my knowledge about the bike components. The local craigslist does not have many MTB, so is a bit hard to get a used one. LBS in my area mostly deal with new ones. I am a bit wary about getting a bike online, mainly because i want to be able to ride it and get a feel before I buy it. That's why I thought that LBS would be the best. I'll be going today to scout for some more used bike stores, though.

I did find the following two bikes on craigslist. What do you think about these? Good deal? These are a little over my budget, but i can get it if they are worth the extra money in terms of durability and higher quality components.
Stumpjumper 29er 17" 1x10 Full rigid - $800
2013 Medium specialized 29er - rockhopper - $700

I read a bit about forks after reading the reply from eb1888, it looks like Suntour forks are considered lower end stuff, but I was wondering how much does it matter to a beginner. I am not going to be racing anytime soon. Is putting up extra money worth it? Any inputs are really welcome. Thanks.
 

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Thanks for the replies guys, they are really helpful. I think it is safe to assume that getting a $500-600 new bike will get you poor components. I am trying to increase my knowledge about the bike components. The local craigslist does not have many MTB, so is a bit hard to get a used one. LBS in my area mostly deal with new ones. I am a bit wary about getting a bike online, mainly because i want to be able to ride it and get a feel before I buy it. That's why I thought that LBS would be the best. I'll be going today to scout for some more used bike stores, though.

I did find the following two bikes on craigslist. What do you think about these? Good deal? These are a little over my budget, but i can get it if they are worth the extra money in terms of durability and higher quality components.
Stumpjumper 29er 17" 1x10 Full rigid - $800
2013 Medium specialized 29er - rockhopper - $700

I read a bit about forks after reading the reply from eb1888, it looks like Suntour forks are considered lower end stuff, but I was wondering how much does it matter to a beginner. I am not going to be racing anytime soon. Is putting up extra money worth it? Any inputs are really welcome. Thanks.
I have a Trek 4300 with a Suntour fork and its been great so far. I'm sure a more spendy fork is better, but I have not ever thought, Damn, this fork SUCKS yet. Rode on some chunky trails too.
 

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You can build a nice bike for $500.

Start with something like this, spend the other $400 on tools and parts.

Rocky Mountain- Fusion

You'll be ten pounds lighter than that bikesdirect piece of **** posted above.

Find out what you like then put it back to stock and get your $100 back.
 

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In the hope of keep things easy and simple, my three cents (from working at an IBD).

1- See what your local shops have to offer from prior years. You could luck into a ~$800 bike for around $550 just because its a 2013 model!

2- Typically, bikes in the ~$400 to ~$700 range do not come with "trail ready" components. By this I mean, the suspensions/frame geometry/components are not designed to be ridden 'hard' on single track. This is where point 1 comes back.

3- If you are looking for a bike that will let you explore more trails and see just how much you enjoy mountain biking, buying used is not a bad option. Just be sure to try and get a neutral (local) shop to take a look at it before you buy it so you know that everything is as stated in the ad. You may have to pay a little bit, but it gives you peace of mind that the bike is in good condition.

Hope this gives you something to think about..

As far as the bikes go, Giant, Specialized, and Trek are the big 3 of the bike industry and have good quality bikes. Fuji and Raleigh are smaller, but make good quality bikes as well. Any of them will be a noticeable step up from a department store behemoth. My advice would be to take each out on a test ride and see how it feels under you, as every company has a slightly different frame geometry. If I shop won't let you test ride a bike, don't buy it from them.

I would avoid building your own until you know what you are looking for.
 

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It wasn't too long ago that my buddies and I were going through the same stage- tried mountain biking on our cheap department store bikes, wanted to ride more and needed better equip. Between the few of us, we all took different approaches. One of my buddies bought a new $600 Gary Fisher hardtail (similar choice to what your considering). Another guy bought a new $700 Full Suspension Schwinn. I was lucky to have been loaned an older Jamis full suspension. Looking back, here's our conclusions:

All three of us were happier on these new bikes, rode a ton that year, and progressed our skills considerably. We've since moved on to better bikes.

I was very lucky to have been loaned the Jamis; I was on the best bike out of the three of us. Though it was not the right size frame or geometry for my riding style and area. The components were also not super reliable, because it was so used. This is the risk of buying used- a bike that's not properly fitted to you or that may cost you money in maintenance MAY not be the best choice. It would be different if you came across a decent used bike in your frame size, or that's been cared for very well. (My next bike, on the other hand, was a used 2004 Trek 8000 for $450. GREAT bike, fit me well, allowed me to improve even more.)

My buddy who bought the schwinn- although at the time he felt like a big-timer with a brand new full suspension - the bike was a heavy piece of crap, and the components barely made it through that one season of riding. It wouldn't be worth $50 if he ever tried to sell it; it's junk.

My buddy who bought the Gary Fisher, I think made the best choice. It was a decent bike at the time, the components have held up fine, it wasn't a feather-light but it wasn't a boat anchor either. He actually still has it but if he wanted to sell it I bet he could get $300 for it.

I'll repeat, that year we had a ton of fun riding, progressed a lot, and at the time, had no complaints about any of our bikes because they were each such an upgrade at the time. But looking back, as far as the most effective route, I think that in the absence of a pretty great used bike, you'll probably be in pretty decent shape on a properly fitted, new $500-600 hardtail. I don't know enough about all 5 of those models to distinguish one from the other, but as a general rule, the big-name bikes will have a better reputation and resale value later on. My choice would be the Trek or the Specialized. You're going to have a blast nomatter what you buy since it'll be such a big upgrade and it'll allow you to begin to experience 'real' mountain biking.
 

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I've ridden all the trails in Tallahassee extensively, and while there are no very difficult ones, they are much more technical than people think of in Florida. If you don't care about XC racing a 26" is fine, and better for how twisty some of them are. There are no major rocks but enough roots that you probably don't want a rigid fork as a new rider. Since it is a college town, there are plenty of deals to be found from students in need of cash. I bought a Hardrock similar to this one for $160, and upgraded to a Fox fork an X9 1x9 drivetrain over the years, and it is perfect for the area. If this bike fits you I would go snag it today. It does look like a 15" frame which would be for someone 5'8" or less typically.

Specialized HardRock

Specialized Bicycle Components

The fork isn't great but will do until you break it, you can then upgrade it to a much better fork for $150-$200, and still spend less than you would on a new bike with the same fork. Good luck!

Here's a couple more:

15.5" 29ers
15.5" trek x cal 4 29er Gary fisher edition
2013 Trek Marlin

17.5" frame, typically 5'8"-5'10" or so
2011 Specialized Rockhopper 17.5 inch

21" frame, usually you won't want this unless you are over 6'1"
Men's 21" Specialized Rockhopper
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for advice everyone. I have been looking for closeouts and used bikes in my area. The LBS told me that the closeouts generally start in Fall, so I'm kind of late (or early, however you look at it) looking for previous year models. I am 5'6", and feel that the 17.5" frame fits me better, so that's what i am looking for.

For used ones, I found a
17.5" Gary Fisher Advance - $250
I'll be going to check it out today. I figured, I might use it to increase my skills, and get a better one once i am ready.

Any advice on what should I look for while getting a used bike? I'll ask the owner to let me get it checked at a LBS, but just in case it doesn't materialize, i'll have to check it myself.

Thanks a lot for your opinions and advice again. They are really helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for advice everyone. I have been looking for closeouts and used bikes in my area. The LBS told me that the closeouts generally start in Fall, so I'm kind of late (or early, however you look at it) looking for previous year models. I am 5'6", and feel that the 17.5" frame fits me better, so that's what i am looking for.

For used ones, I found a
17.5" Gary Fisher Advance - $250
I'll be going to check it out today. I figured, I might use it to increase my skills, and get a better one once i am ready.

Any advice on what should I look for while getting a used bike? I'll ask the owner to let me get it checked at a LBS, but just in case it doesn't materialize, i'll have to check it myself.

Thanks a lot for your opinions and advice again. They are really helpful.

Finally got the Gary Fisher Advance for $225. I am not sure if its a 2010 or 2011 - the seller said it was 2010 but the bikepedia says otherwise. I guess it should do for a starter bike, and I can upgrade the components or get a better bike once i increase my skills on the track. For now i guess i need to get it tuned, since the chain is rubbing against the front derailleur. Here are a few pics.

IMG_20140421_193209.jpg IMG_20140421_193234[1].jpg IMG_20140421_193246[1].jpg
 

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Do yourself a favor and learn how to work in your bike yourself. It'll save you time and give you the ability to fix it on a ride.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk 2
 
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