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Hello everyone!! I hope this post finds you well. I am stuck choosing between the Cannondale trail 8 and the specialized rock hopper as my first entry level mountain bike. I will be biking paved trails and gravel for now. This is me not knowing much about mountain biking...
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I'm a converted fan of Motobecane for a first/entry level mountain bike 馃憤.
They're more than competent entry bikes at very reasonable prices. Leaves room to upgrade some parts as you go, or just use as is and sell after you gain experience and want to upgrade to something more capable down the road.
 

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I like the Rockhopper as a first bike, had one for myself and my twin daughters. My one recommendation would be to see if you can move up one model and get the hydraulic brakes. The cable brakes on the base model we got one daughter were atrocious, borderline unsafe for a young kid. Much happier once we swapped them out for some hydos.
 

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I like the Rockhopper as a first bike, had one for myself and my twin daughters. My one recommendation would be to see if you can move up one model and get the hydraulic brakes. The cable brakes on the base model we got one daughter were atrocious, borderline unsafe for a young kid. Much happier once we swapped them out for some hydos.
Both are probably fine brands/lines of bikes.

I 2nd what Underdog said, try and get Hydrolic brakes, they are really great compared to mechanical. Looks liek you'd have to be at the "Sport" model on the rockhopper. Trail 7 or above for cannondale.

I'm partial to Specialized over Cannondale, I don't know why, but it looks like a more modern style bike. I had a Specialized Camber before I got my current ride, so maybe that is why i relate.
 

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Starter bikes are all the same style. Pick one that suits your budget and ride it on the paved trails/gravel roads like you mentioned. If you decide to hit up trails, either starter bike will work just fine. In the end, you will sell the bike next season for something that suits your riding style. Starter bikes are great for discovering what you like to do.

Regardless which bike you choose, get rid of those stock pedals and get a good set for better grip!
 

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Probably want to stick with a bike-shop bike for service and/or warranty needs, unless you鈥檙e mechanically inclined. Agree with the rest of the posters re hydraulic brakes, but if you鈥檙e just going to stay on roads and smooth paths, the mechanical brakes may be ok. Polygon bikes are an online vendor and offer a lot of bang for the $, but your local LBS won鈥檛 honor any warranty repairs, obviously.

If it was between these two, I鈥檇 probably opt for the Specialized.


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These aren't mountain bikes. They are fine for paved trails and gravel. Just way too expensive. The 'forks' are designed for that. Take them on mt bike trails with rocks and roots and the plastic bushings inside will quickly begin to fail. Real forks have metal. And the forks have no adjustable rebound damping. On fast bumpy downhills they'll pogo and make you grqab for the brakes. But the brakes have liitle stopping power. . . So you'll experience shots of adrenaline. Can be fun if you can avoid crashing.
 

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These aren't mountain bikes. They are fine for paved trails and gravel. Just way too expensive. The 'forks' are designed for that. Take them on mt bike trails with rocks and roots and the plastic bushings inside will quickly begin to fail. Real forks have metal. And the forks have no adjustable rebound damping. On fast bumpy downhills they'll pogo and make you grqab for the brakes. But the brakes have liitle stopping power. . . So you'll experience shots of adrenaline. Can be fun if you can avoid crashing.
I'm curious as to whether this is true. The 700 dollar rockhopper fork is a SR Suntour XCE 29 Coil model, clearly at the beginner end but will they really fail in short order during modest trail use- for which Specialized certainly markets them as suitable?
 

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I'm curious as to whether this is true. The 700 dollar rockhopper fork is a SR Suntour XCE 29 Coil model, clearly at the beginner end but will they really fail in short order during modest trail use- for which Specialized certainly markets them as suitable?
I don't know. I see people comment like the above, and think there are clearly different expectations.

"Fast bumpy downhill" is not what these bikes are for. However, there is a lot of terrain in between fast bumpy downhill and paved path.
 

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I'm curious as to whether this is true. The 700 dollar rockhopper fork is a SR Suntour XCE 29 Coil model, clearly at the beginner end but will they really fail in short order during modest trail use- for which Specialized certainly markets them as suitable?
They don't last long. They are not really off road forks. I bet that yellow sticker on them will say something to that effect. Bikes like those are suitable for green trails only, and would be classified as category 2 bikes under ASTM F2043-13 international standard for bicycle usage.

SR Suntour categorises them as 'Casual MTB' forks.

That said, they are fine for the OPs intended use. I would recommend going for something more path oriented though. Ditch the boat anchor fork, go full rigid like a flat bar road bike. I've owned similar bikes to the one is the OP. They are ok but the forks seize up and stanchions get rusty after not a lot of time.

I love mountain bikes and own several but I ride a lot of paths too and I use a drop bar bike for that because they are better suited and much faster. They aren't for everyone though, and more expensive, but there are still better flat bar options for path riding than entry level XC mountain bikes.
 

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My bike came with the SR Suntour SF19-XCT30-HLO-DS-29 fork. I'm sure it falls into the above category. I currently ride blues and some blacks with it. Our blues are chunky as all getout with rock ledges, baby heads, gravel, tire cutters, small mandatory drops, ruts, roots, etc. My fork might have "failed", I don't know. I'm still riding :)

I basically tell myself I don't have a suspension. It compresses, but there's no damping at all. I don't wreck going fast. I'm still alive. It can be done...but I want a new bike 馃槵
 

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My bike came with the SR Suntour SF19-XCT30-HLO-DS-29 fork. I'm sure it falls into the above category. I currently ride blues and some blacks with it. Our blues are chunky as all getout with rock ledges, baby heads, gravel, tire cutters, small mandatory drops, ruts, roots, etc. My fork might have "failed", I don't know. I'm still riding :)

I basically tell myself I don't have a suspension. It compresses, but there's no damping at all. I don't wreck going fast. I'm still alive. It can be done...but I want a new bike 馃槵
Well it has wheels so it will roll down anything a bike can. Doesn't necessarily mean it should lol.

I'm sure you are aware a catastrophic fork failure can lead to serious injury.

Stick a Manitou Markour on your current bike. Pretty cheap upgrade to a basic MTB that will give you adjustable air spring and compression/rebound damping. They are worth about $250 and available in straight steerer/QR.
 

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Well it has wheels so it will roll down anything a bike can. Doesn't necessarily mean it should lol.
Sure, I just think that the more we ride, the more we think, "How can anyone ride on that setup?!?" that we used to ride on...lol. I wouldn't tell anyone to get a bike with a cheap spring fork and expect to ride it on blacks for a year. Blues for a year, maybe. I guess like everything it's relative to the trails and rider. :)
 

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Stick a Manitou Markour on your current bike. Pretty cheap upgrade to a basic MTB that will give you adjustable air spring and compression/rebound damping. They are worth about $250 and available in straight steerer/QR.
I think $250 would be better served as part of a down payment on a new bike :)
 

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Have you looked into an older used bike?
Not sure of your budget but Ive picked up some pretty sweet rides for $500 to $600!!
Or less!!
Hit up craigs or facebook market possibly even on here!
If you start upgrading, your going to probobly put more into it than its worth.
Avid bb5 or bb7 are great mechanical brakes!! perhaps if you ask the shop to swap out they may give some credit for your stock brakes.
 

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If Suntour's "Casual MTB" forks won't work for MTB riding then that should be an issue. Would be nice if one of their reps could stop in here and help clarify what the SR Suntour forks will withstand.

From Suntour in this thread:(1) Confused about low end Suntour suspension forks | Mountain Bike Reviews Forum (mtbr.com)
Finally, if you are shopping for a bike that is less than $1,000 I'm sure you have seen that many of those bikes are equipped with SR Suntour forks. The primary reasons for this are based on the fact that the bicycle brands have come to trust SR Suntour to supply them with a reliable product that performs well. (that may seem simple, but its a big deal) Additionally, we operate service centers in North America, Asia and Europe to back up our product.
 

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If Suntour's "Casual MTB" forks won't work for MTB riding then that should be an issue.
They will work for 'MTB riding' but they are not designed for fast, rough trails. Sure some people push them beyond their limits and don't die, doesn't mean its advisable for everyone to hit double blacks on these bikes.

Any bike shop worth their salt will advise similar. If you want to ride fast and hard on rough trails, get a bike that is appropriately designed. If you are not interested in riding trails then it doesn't really matter. Sub $1k bikes are reliable because 99% of people buying them don't take them off road. The only people I see on these bikes on trails near me are very casual riders who ride infrequently, and slowly, usually with kids in toe on green trails. Everyone bombing the rough trails at speed are on better equipped bikes.
 
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