mountain bike purchase

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TSR
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mountain bike purchase

Post by TSR »

Since the market is going downhill fast, my partner is looking for a mountain bike upgrade from the REI starter model she purchased a number of years ago. She doesn't need absolute top of the line, but she does want, in her words: "front suspension, hardtail, disc breaks, 27.5 wheels for technical riding." Any recommendations for a serious upgrade but perhaps not something she needs to take out a mortgage on? Strong preference for something she could buy in one piece rather than spend a lot of time and effort on doing custom work, but we're open to discussion on that point.

Thanks all!
Shallowpockets
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by Shallowpockets »

If she wants the 27.5 for technical riding she must have skills that warrant that desire. So I am thinking she already has a bike in mind. Your specs are seen as a normal upgrade from what she must not have now - disc brakes and front suspension. Any mountain bike worthy of trail riding would most certainly have those features. She must now have a non suspension bike, no disc brakes and 26" wheels. Your basic mountain bike.
She can go with the 27.5 or the 29er wheels.

Why not go back to REI and see what they have?
sixtyforty
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by sixtyforty »

What is her budget ? Without that, it's hard to make any recommendations.
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TSR
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by TSR »

Shallowpockets wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:56 am If she wants the 27.5 for technical riding she must have skills that warrant that desire. So I am thinking she already has a bike in mind. Your specs are seen as a normal upgrade from what she must not have now - disc brakes and front suspension. Any mountain bike worthy of trail riding would most certainly have those features. She must now have a non suspension bike, no disc brakes and 26" wheels. Your basic mountain bike.
She can go with the 27.5 or the 29er wheels.

Why not go back to REI and see what they have?
I think she has front suspension currently, but the bottom-of-the-line version. Let's say her budget is somewhere between $900 and $1500, with a willingness to be talked into more if something is "necessary." She used to live near an REI and now she doesn't. She's looking at a Trek model (Roscoe 7?) in the $980 range at her local bike shop, but wants to find the best bang for her buck. She's also concerned about being sold something only because it's convenient and someone with perceived expertise tells her it's good.
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TSR
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by TSR »

sixtyforty wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:56 am What is her budget ? Without that, it's hard to make any recommendations.
See my other response. Thank you.
Millennial
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by Millennial »

Shallowpockets wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:56 am She can go with the 27.5 or the 29er wheels.
It's tough to make a smaller sized frame with 29er wheels and keep the geometry ideal. Unless she's well above average height for a female, 27.5 is probably the right call.
Bnjneer
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by Bnjneer »

Bikes are so expensive. My wife and I upgraded to Giant Trance Advanced bikes. Full suspension, disc breaks, carbon wheels (27.5"). However, we bought them used off of the internet (ebay and Craigslist). With the options and upgrades these bikes had they were nearly $10k bikes new, but we bought them used for a fraction of the cost (about $2k each) and they had been fully serviced and were in almost new condition as they were less than a year old. It took a while to find the right bikes and sellers, but we are super happy with these bikes.
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sunnywindy
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by sunnywindy »

TSR wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:48 am Since the market is going downhill fast, my partner is looking for a mountain bike upgrade from the REI starter model she purchased a number of years ago. She doesn't need absolute top of the line, but she does want, in her words: "front suspension, hardtail, disc breaks, 27.5 wheels for technical riding." Any recommendations for a serious upgrade but perhaps not something she needs to take out a mortgage on? Strong preference for something she could buy in one piece rather than spend a lot of time and effort on doing custom work, but we're open to discussion on that point.

Thanks all!
I used to work in the bike business. My recommendation would be to go to all the shops in your area and buy a bike from the shop you like the best. All the bike manufactures make good bikes these days so there is little risk of buying a 'dog', but there is risk of buying a bike and having it serviced in a place you don't like (not that they won't do a good job in repairs, but bicycle riding is all about fun and you should go to a place you feel most comfortable). If it is a tie between shops, go to the one you can ride to.
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Millennial
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by Millennial »

The way to really get good bang for your buck with bikes is an online, direct to consumer company like YT, Canyon (on the higher end) or Bikes Direct (lower end). These come with some significant drawbacks though, as it's tough to determine sizing, it won't be tuned perfectly out of the box (or re-tuned at 30 days like most shops) and some assembly will be required.

If that doesn't sound like the right path for her (and it's not for many), then trying to go to several local bike shops and asking for their recommendations (and comparisons to other shops recs) is probably the best path.
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TSR
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by TSR »

sunnywindy wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:13 am
TSR wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:48 am Since the market is going downhill fast, my partner is looking for a mountain bike upgrade from the REI starter model she purchased a number of years ago. She doesn't need absolute top of the line, but she does want, in her words: "front suspension, hardtail, disc breaks, 27.5 wheels for technical riding." Any recommendations for a serious upgrade but perhaps not something she needs to take out a mortgage on? Strong preference for something she could buy in one piece rather than spend a lot of time and effort on doing custom work, but we're open to discussion on that point.

Thanks all!
I used to work in the bike business. My recommendation would be to go to all the shops in your area and buy a bike from the shop you like the best. All the bike manufactures make good bikes these days so there is little risk of buying a 'dog', but there is risk of buying a bike and having it serviced in a place you don't like (not that they won't do a good job in repairs, but bicycle riding is all about fun and you should go to a place you feel most comfortable). If it is a tie between shops, go to the one you can ride to.
Thanks for the insight.
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I'll also say to go to a good bike shop. I worked at one when I was in high school. For my sons, we have a good local bike shop and have bought bikes there and had services done that were beyond my 1970's bike fixing skills. They've always been great and when a used part will do, they would always search their parts bin for something that would work for nearly free to us. We were mostly servicing downhill and pump track bikes.
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by forgeblast »

I was looking for a road bike last year. I went back and forth over bikes direct bikes etc. A buddy of mine who bikes all the time took me to a little out of the way bike shop. They had models that were a few years older but the components were better then what was in my price range at bikes direct.
I would highly recommend a bike shop, take a few out look around at different ones and you might find a great deal. I did.
Shallowpockets
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by Shallowpockets »

OP - I looked at the Trek Roscoe 7 and I believe you not need look much further, especially if she can get it for $980.
Now you could spend a lot of time looking at all different models and nitpik your way through all different features, but all in all that Trek will fit the bill for her as an upgrade.
All that looking gets tedious and the whole process then becomes work and too many choices means anxiety at buying the best of the best for your money.
In the end, buying a bike is to get what fits the bill for you. No need to go overboard. Even on the most expensive bikes the techies will nitpik and change out this for that and there can be no end to it.
chevca
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by chevca »

What does the market going down fast have to do with wanting to upgrade her mountain bike??
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by fyre4ce »

chevca wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:54 am What does the market going down fast have to do with wanting to upgrade her mountain bike??
:D I was wondering the same thing. I assumed it was a bit of snark aimed at the spouse for the poor timing of making a big purchase when stocks are on fire sale. But maybe looking at all those steeply-descending lines for the last couple weeks inspired her to want to do more riding.

Maybe this topic is better for the Consumer Issues forum?
SimplicityNow
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by SimplicityNow »

I was an avid mountain biker(4-5 times a week) for over 10 years later in life until an injury forced me to give it up several years ago.

A good local bike shop is worth its weight in gold. Yes you may pay more $$ then buying online but the relationship you build with a good store is worth that many times over.

The geometry is different for every brand: Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, Giant, Kona etc. All have a different feel that your friend should try out before they buy. Because a Trek works for me doesn't mean it will work for them. A good local bike shop will help you with that. Some even provide test bikes you can take out for a spin. I've ridden mostly in the Northeast and have ridden everything from a rigid single speed 29er to a full suspension 26" bike. Unless they are riding very rocky rooty terrain or they have bad neck or back problem a front suspension hard tail is probably going to be the best choice.

Many local bike shops will also have inventory of last year's models they are discounting to get them out of the shop. The rule of thumb among the biking community here was always buy as much bike as you can afford. Individual components can always be upgraded down the line but You want to start with a good basic build. Although it is tempting to skimp I would look in the $1,000 - $1,500 price range minimum if you are looking for something that will last and has decent components.
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by sixtyforty »

TSR wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:06 am
sixtyforty wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:56 am What is her budget ? Without that, it's hard to make any recommendations.
See my other response. Thank you.
What is the terrain she is riding in ?

I'm on my 6th mountain bike in about 10 years. The one thing I've learned is that demoing before you buy (if possible) will ensure she gets the right bike. I can't tell you how many times I thought a bike was perfect for me.. then I demoed it and didn't like it. Most Local Bike Shops (LBS) offer this. She may have to pay $50 but usually it's applied toward the purchase. In any event, my guidelines would be;

- Visit the local bike shops and demo as many bikes as possible. Even parking lot rides if that is all you have. Preferably get it on a trail if possible. It's a hassle but it will ensure she gets the right bike.

- I'm 5'8" and ride a 29er (Yeti 5.5c) but unless she is taller and fit 27.5 wheels might be a better option. Startup and turning is easier.

- Hard-tails are fine but if she is riding anywhere where it's technical she might enjoy a full suspension much more and worth the $$ upgrade. You can also ride longer without getting worn out.


If it was me with that budget, I would look at the Giant Stance. My friend has the Trance and loves it.

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/bikes-stance-2020
Last edited by sixtyforty on Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ObliviousInvestor
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by ObliviousInvestor »

SimplicityNow wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:02 am The geometry is different for every brand
This is a good point. For instance for me, Giant, Salsa, and Marin all work well, whereas Trek, Specialized, and a few others just don't seem to work -- can never find a frame size that feels like it fits right. (I think maybe it has to do with legs that are short relative to my overall height?)

As far as hardtails, I love my Salsa Timberjack.
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halfnine
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by halfnine »

If she is interested in riding more and more technical trails she is probably better off buying a full suspension bicycle. If that is not the case a hardtail would be fine. We have four hardtails in my family but as the kids get older I will likely need to upgrade them to full suspension. Then, at some point, I will probably need to upgrade myself to a full suspension ebike to keep up.

Her existing bike might be upgradeable. If the bike has a tapered headtube, rear disc tabs, and the existing fork is at least 100 mm it would certainly be plausible. Especially if the existing frame is a good fit. I essentially did that with my spouse's bike. I bought her a Liv Tempt4 for the frame and then spent around 1000 dollars upgrading the parts to make it lighter and more responsive for her. I used the old parts to build up my own cheap hardtail. For your partner a new fork, front disc brake, and upgraded tires alone might make a world of difference.

If you do go the new bike route I'd focus on just a couple of things. The first is that the frame is a good fit. Second that the front fork can be tuned or is already at a good setting for your partner's riding style and weight. Finally, I would consider the overall weight of the bicycle if your partner is on the smaller side.
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TSR
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by TSR »

chevca wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:54 am What does the market going down fast have to do with wanting to upgrade her mountain bike??
Just a dumb joke about "going downhill fast." Get it? Like mountain biking? Tough crowd here. :beer
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by alfaspider »

If she's handy, you can get a lot more bike for the $$$ with one of the internet retailers like bikes direct. Purists will scoff, but many of the models are quite decent. I've ridden one of their road bikes (similar price range) for over a decade and still haven't found a compelling reason to upgrade.

Example: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mot ... s-my20.htm
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by jincopunk »

To get most bang for your buck, keep the current bike, get it overhauled and slap an expensive air fork with rebound/remote lockout settings.
And good tires. Good tires and fork will get you down or up just about anything.
chevca
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by chevca »

TSR wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:49 pm
chevca wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:54 am What does the market going down fast have to do with wanting to upgrade her mountain bike??
Just a dumb joke about "going downhill fast." Get it? Like mountain biking? Tough crowd here. :beer
Oops, went right over my head. :happy
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by halfnine »

jincopunk wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:06 pm To get most bang for your buck, keep the current bike, get it overhauled and slap an expensive air fork with rebound/remote lockout settings.
And good tires. Good tires and fork will get you down or up just about anything.
If the frame is upgradeable you are correct. However, this may or may not be possible. A good quality fork will likely be either 1.5 or tapered. The existing frame will not be able to accommodate a high quality modern fork if it designed around a 1 1/8th headtube diameter. Additionally, quality forks typically have 100 mm or greater travel. If the existing frame is designed with a lesser travel fork then a larger travel fork will alter the existing geometry (slacken head tube angle, increase bottom bracket height, lengthen the wheelbase, increase standover)
ronno2018
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by ronno2018 »

I have been happy with my Bikes Direct purchases. A bit of a gamble in regard to sizing. They have some nice choices -- http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mot ... ension.htm
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by stoptothink »

alfaspider wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:06 pm If she's handy, you can get a lot more bike for the $$$ with one of the internet retailers like bikes direct. Purists will scoff, but many of the models are quite decent. I've ridden one of their road bikes (similar price range) for over a decade and still haven't found a compelling reason to upgrade.

Example: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mot ... s-my20.htm
I'm not a mountain biker, but this is absolutely the case with road bikes. I've had two $6k+ road bikes in the past and I love my $1k bikesdirect special (titanium cyclecross bike). I just picked it up from being tuned at my trusted local shop on Saturday; I would love to visit these shops that can match bikesdirect prices because anything similarly equipped at my trusted shop is at least twice the price. With a max budget of $1500, the pickings are going to be very slim at a shop for a full suspension.
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by BSBHead »

Millennial wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:15 am The way to really get good bang for your buck with bikes is an online, direct to consumer company like YT, Canyon (on the higher end) or Bikes Direct (lower end). These come with some significant drawbacks though, as it's tough to determine sizing, it won't be tuned perfectly out of the box (or re-tuned at 30 days like most shops) and some assembly will be required.

If that doesn't sound like the right path for her (and it's not for many), then trying to go to several local bike shops and asking for their recommendations (and comparisons to other shops recs) is probably the best path.
I love Canyon bikes. I like the direct approach as I think you get value. I use a repair only shop (eg no retail on bikes) for repairs/tune-ups.
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by sk2101 »

BSBHead wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 3:15 pm
Millennial wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 10:15 am The way to really get good bang for your buck with bikes is an online, direct to consumer company like YT, Canyon (on the higher end) or Bikes Direct (lower end). These come with some significant drawbacks though, as it's tough to determine sizing, it won't be tuned perfectly out of the box (or re-tuned at 30 days like most shops) and some assembly will be required.

If that doesn't sound like the right path for her (and it's not for many), then trying to go to several local bike shops and asking for their recommendations (and comparisons to other shops recs) is probably the best path.
I love Canyon bikes. I like the direct approach as I think you get value. I use a repair only shop (eg no retail on bikes) for repairs/tune-ups.
+1 Canyon bikes. However they do have issues in keeping a good supply for the US market. But if you find what you need in stock then you're golden. I do all maintenance myself but there are many shops that specialize in bike repair, even mobile options that come to your house (I think Canyon partners with one of them to help people who can't put the bike together).
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TheAccountant
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by TheAccountant »

Since the market is going downhill fast...

PUN!


Why not 29" wheels? You get used to them after a while.

I ride a Giant Talon 29er which has everything she's looking for. I can't remember the price but I bought it new and it was under a grand.

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/bikes-talon-29

It is a great all-around bike. It feels just as at home on a bike path as it does ripping down a mountain singletrack.

My only gripes are the hydraulic brakes randomly locking up after the bike has sat for a while. I just crack the bleeder and that fixes it. The stock seat sucks. And I honestly wish I had rear suspension. I couldn't find anything below 1k new with rear shocks so this was the next best option.

Thanks for bringing this up. You now have me looking to upgrade.
chuppi
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by chuppi »

TSR wrote: Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:48 am Since the market is going downhill fast, my partner is looking for a mountain bike upgrade from the REI starter model she purchased a number of years ago. She doesn't need absolute top of the line, but she does want, in her words: "front suspension, hardtail, disc breaks, 27.5 wheels for technical riding." Any recommendations for a serious upgrade but perhaps not something she needs to take out a mortgage on? Strong preference for something she could buy in one piece rather than spend a lot of time and effort on doing custom work, but we're open to discussion on that point.

Thanks all!
Mountain biker here.
Like others suggested, you must ride a few hours before you can really tell if you like the bike. My current bike 29er karate monkey bought used (but like new) with 1x11 gearing. Didn't test ride it but I bought it used at half the price of new. I wanted the possibility of disposing it without losing too much. Luckily for me, I love the bike.

Couple of suggestions (theme here is simple just like boglehead investing)
- Go with 1x gearing. It simplifies the bike quite a bit.I don't know why anybody needs 25-30 gears on a mountain bike. 1x10 is plenty in my opinion.
- See if you really need front suspension. It's low maintenance and simple without it. It's on even 100$ bikes from walmart these days. I am old and love climbing (at 50K+ ft elevation gain for the year 2020 so far). I ride carefully downhill and likely I have adjusted my posture for riding without suspension. I don't miss suspension.

Let me know what you get. Cheers. Happy riding
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by vitaflo »

I would agree with the others and highly recommend you demo a bike before you buy it. That means finding some local bike shops. Should be easy to find bike shops that carry major brands like Trek or Specialized.

In that vein the Trek Roscoe and the Specialized Fuse should fit the bill. Hardtails that come in 27.5. The difference in price for the trim levels comes down to aluminum vs carbon frame (carbon is more) and then just the general components. It can add up quickly, so demo a few trim levels of each bike type if you can.

There's also the more boutique brands like the Santa Cruz Chameleon or Salsa Timberjack. Whether you can find brands like these will depend on what your local bike stores carry.

If you look these bikes up they will all look the same, but when you ride them they will feel a little different. This is why it's important to go and demo a bike. Honestly it's a bit like buying a car. You'll find out pretty quickly what bikes feel best for you when you get on them.
Silver Bullet
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Re: mountain bike purchase

Post by Silver Bullet »

As others have mentioned, I'd highly recommend trying out a few bikes. It's a personal decision.
My daughter mountain bikes competitively around the country and is on her 4th bike in as many years. She's been through several brands, but settled on Specialized.

Another option, related to trading/moving up on bikes, is to look at FB Marketplace in your area. Many enthusiasts sell their lightly used bikes or 1-2 year old models at deep discounts. Once she knows what she wants, keep an eye out there and save big.
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