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Minimum MTB you would advise someone on purchasing?

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Moderator: Red Rick

Minimum MTB you would advise someone on purchasing?

25 Aug 2015 15:27

I recently did some very short easy trails (on a Hybrid bike!!) and enjoyed it.

If someone brand new to trail riding wanted to take the plunge and purchase a bike, what is the minimum in specs/parts/$$ you'd advise?

I'm not heavy. I'm in good shape. The type of trails I'd be looking at riding are Mid-west type trails, not big mountain/downhill type trails (though I'd do that if I could!!). I probably wouldn't be able to ride as often as I'd like, because I'm pretty busy!!

Thanks in advance!
Son of Amsterhammer
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25 Aug 2015 17:36

some more details will help with a more refined answer

how tall are you
weight
how often will you mtb ride realistically
whats your top end budget

have you got a lbs close by with a good bike selection available
have you looked at anything yet or ridden anything you like
if so
some details would help out

i don't know what mid west type trails are
User avatar JackRabbitSlims
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Re:

25 Aug 2015 19:19

JackRabbitSlims wrote:some more details will help with a more refined answer

how tall are you - 5'9
weight - 145lbs
how often will you mtb ride realistically - once, maybe twice a week.
whats your top end budget - let's say under $1000

have you got a lbs close by with a good bike selection available - yes
have you looked at anything yet or ridden anything you like - no
if so
some details would help out

i don't know what mid west type trails are - not mountain trails, mostly woods

Son of Amsterhammer
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25 Aug 2015 19:39

budget will obviously be your limiter
at your height I would probably avoid 29er and go 27.5 - depending on your leg length

alu frame over carbon
hydraulic over cable brake

going hard tail will save you weight and $$ plus some old school kudos
i prefer full sus but test some bikes and see what you like

i'm a huge shimano fan and would not go lower than xt
as above your budget will restrict your groupset but ask for upgrades if possible
buying used or ex demo could be a good option at your price point

do some reading here and ask more questions
choosing bikes for others is difficult from afar
maybe narrow it down to 3-5 bikes and ask for feed back once you have that down

http://mountainbikeez.com
http://www.activeweekender.com/hardtail-mountain-bikes-reviews/
http://bodygearguide.com/best-cheap-mountain-bikes/
http://www.bikemag.com/web-monkey-speaks/web-monkey-speaks-ten-2015s-best-deals/http://mountainbikereviewed.com
http://www.bestmountainbikesunder1000.org
User avatar JackRabbitSlims
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Re: Minimum MTB you would advise someone on purchasing?

25 Aug 2015 19:44

Son of Amsterhammer wrote:I recently did some very short easy trails (on a Hybrid bike!!) and enjoyed it.

If someone brand new to trail riding wanted to take the plunge and purchase a bike, what is the minimum in specs/parts/$$ you'd advise?

I'm not heavy. I'm in good shape. The type of trails I'd be looking at riding are Mid-west type trails, not big mountain/downhill type trails (though I'd do that if I could!!). I probably wouldn't be able to ride as often as I'd like, because I'm pretty busy!!

Thanks in advance!


We used to hire out MTBs as part of a business, and nearly every single machine retailed at about the $500 price point (at today's prices). We would sell them on after a small number of rentals and recoup what we paid for them, and make a profit on the rental. This model worked because we didn't have to put much wrench time into them. However, we knew that if we held on to them for too long they would fall to pieces.

The moral of this story? Don't buy cheap bikes if you want them to last out any sort of appreciable use. Equally, we hated working on cheap bikes for customers as they would invariably take longer to work on and get tuned, but because they were cheap the owners were reluctant to pay the workshop time. Ironically, the really expensive bikes we had in to service could be done in minutes with no issues like rounded bolts and stripped threads.

I'm not really up on MTBs now, so I couldn't recommend a particular model, but $1000 will get you something reasonable.
User avatar wendybnt
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26 Aug 2015 09:19

Hard for me to recommend things on price as I'm in the UK but I'd agree with pretty much everything Jackrabbitslims says except the XT bit. I run Deore still and while it's heavier and uglier it works very well, the new M615 brakes are fantastic!

So hardtail, 27.5" or 26" (harder to find these days), Deore groupset if in budget and an air fork around 100-140mm travel. I think you'll struggle to get anything above Deore. 100mm would be fine for woods paths and general trail riding but less so on the steeper stuff, 140mm would be great for the steeper stuff but less good on flat path runs.

The frame geometry makes a difference as well. A slacker head angle will make going downhill easier but be more of a drag going uphill, the bike will be more likely to wheelie. What you will find is that most production bikes are geared towards the travel of the fork. So a bike with 100-120mm travel will have a fairly steep head angle whereas a bike with 140-160+mm travel will have a slacker head angle, so they are usually fairly easy to assess even if you don't have the measurements in front of you.

They'll be split into XC, Trail, All-mountain and Downhill or an amalgamation of the two. I ride a steel hardtail with a 130-160mm travel adjust fork. I run it at 130 nearly all the time on trail centre/off-piste enduro and then 160 when it's more like downhill (and by downhill I mean trails where many people ride downhill bikes with 200+mm travel at both ends).

I'd say in your budget a reasonable spec hardtail with 120mm air fork should be achievable, I think!

This is about right on budget (conversion from £ to $) and a very nice bike:

http://www.saracen.co.uk/bikes/trail/mantra-trail

I'd actually be more than happy to ride that bike for the rest of my MTB riding days if it was all I could have.
Vincenzo Nibali:
"I know how to ride a bike"

Reduce your carbon footprint, ride steel.
User avatar King Boonen
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26 Aug 2015 14:00

Thanks for the info!!! I think all of the riding I do would be in the woods on flowing xc trails.
Son of Amsterhammer
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26 Aug 2015 16:05

No worries, I love my mountain biking :D If that's all you plan something like that Saracen would be fine and let you do a bit more gnarly downhill stuff. If you want to race you need something more XC like.
Vincenzo Nibali:
"I know how to ride a bike"

Reduce your carbon footprint, ride steel.
User avatar King Boonen
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26 Aug 2015 19:02

yes deore is vg kit

i retract my statement re xt now that i have read minimum in your op title

i have switched to the mtb full time this year after many years on the road
i chose full sus as i have a lower back disc issue and i like a softer ride

it will be a difficult switch back if at all :)

addictive stuff
esp if / when you find some nice flowing challenging trails and your confidence and skills improve

i have a ride close to my home which challenged me on both the ascent and descent i.e. - coming off multiple times.
now i am getting bottom to top and back down without putting a foot down and it is hugely satisfying

i love that feeling on the downhill when you're only just in control going full gas
with that massive grin on yah face

it's a nice change from being in a roadie pain train for hours on end
please enjoy
User avatar JackRabbitSlims
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28 Aug 2015 13:10

If I could afford it I'd have Hope cranks, XT mech and Deore brakes. As it is the Deore stuff does the business for me so happy to stick on the lower end of the scale. Starting to look at dropper posts, did a long ride in the Dark Peak area yesterday and could really have done with one.


I tend to chop and change between MTB and road riding, they seem to help each other a lot. Usually I get stuck doing one then jump to the other.

I love my hardtail, I've tried full-suss bikes and always just want to get back on a slack, steel HT. I like the way you have to fight it and get used to the back flying around. Also with Scottish winters (and summers...) having 1 part on a frame instead of 15+ is a benefit for maintenance!
Vincenzo Nibali:
"I know how to ride a bike"

Reduce your carbon footprint, ride steel.
User avatar King Boonen
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10 Sep 2015 16:07

I would wait until you can afford something slightly better because you will be happier in the long run. I would also encourage 29. I'm 5'9, have ridden 29 for three years, and my new bike (here next week) is 29. 29 is especially good for the Mid-West rolling stuff you are talking about. For reference, I rode 26 for 21 years before getting this 29 as my last race bike. I don't turn the pedals in anger anymore! :D
jmdirt
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01 Nov 2015 15:07

Some good replies on here. The only thing I'd add is: stick with a hardtail. You'll get a lot more for your money and will need less maintenance. Also, for the types of trails you'll be riding, it will be faster and more fun than some heavy trail bike. Like another post mentioned, totally doable on your budget. Especially if you get a 2014 or 2015 model. Also...you'll have a bike that can be turned into a commuter or something if riding in the dirt just isn't your thing after all!

fwiw, Sram also makes very good entry-level mtb components--X7 and X5 are durable and look great. Their new DB brakes are pretty awesome too. Plus...components tend to take a beating in mtb, so having expensive parts always seems like a bit of a waste.
chuckmicD
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Re: Minimum MTB you would advise someone on purchasing?

04 Nov 2015 17:31

The advice above is spot on.
Additionally if you're buying brand new try to find last years bikes (i.e. 2015, or even 2014 if you can), there's some heavy discounts out there, not sure if you've got a shopping tool in the US like this one, it even shows up 2015 ex-demo bikes which is another good way to get a quality entry level machine at a sensible price.
AJ101
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23 Nov 2015 19:10

Thoughts on this one? Seems like it has the best specs per $ I've come across so far, but I know that isn't everything. Doesn't look like they keep stock and I'm not sold on just buying a medium without even trying the fit first!

http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product2_10052_10551_1180601_-1
Son of Amsterhammer
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23 Nov 2015 20:44

Son of Amsterhammer
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Re:

28 Nov 2015 14:21


slightly better spec, unknown frame.

What is your absolute top $ you can/will spend?
jmdirt
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28 Nov 2015 15:59

Pulled the trigger on the Charge. It was such a great deal when you factor in the $180 store credit as well. A knowledgeable friend advised me that the frame isn't a big deal as they all come from China anyway and it'd be the last thing to break. That made sense to me. Hopefully that doesn't' come back to bite me.

I'm extremely excited to start hitting the trails. I'm not sure when that'll be though, to be honest. It's going to rain for days here and it'll start getting really cold soon too. Not the best time of year to buy a bike really, but hopefully I'll be able to get some runs in before the weather get's too cold.
Last edited by Son of Amsterhammer on 28 Nov 2015 17:34, edited 1 time in total.
Son of Amsterhammer
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Re:

28 Nov 2015 16:03

Son of Amsterhammer wrote:Pulled the trigger on the Cook. It was such a great deal when you factor in the $180 store credit as well. A knowledgeable friend advised me that the frame isn't a big deal as they all come from China anyway and it'd be the last thing to break. That made sense to me. Hopefully that doesn't' come back to bite me.

I'm extremely excited to start hitting the trails. I'm not sure when that'll be though, to be honest. It's going to rain for days here and it'll start getting really cold soon too. Not the best time of year to buy a bike really, but hopefully I'll be able to get some runs in before the weather get's too cold.

ENJOY!
jmdirt
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14 Dec 2015 14:56

I'm enjoying it, very much!! Challenged myself yesterday with some more technical trails, steep climbs and a jump/table top thingy.

Having a blast!!! Though I have a lot to learn (of course), I'm still taking it pretty safe as I get the feel for the bike and the traction you need and where.
Son of Amsterhammer
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18 Dec 2015 09:46

Sorry, missed all this! I would have recommended the Charge. They might not be very well known in the US but they are over here, mainly for their fixed/ss bikes (the Plug is extremely popular) and the Spoon saddle (which you have) that is about the comfiest thing you'll ever sit on (I've removed more expensive, lighter saddles to replace them with a Spoon). I have a few friends who ride the Cooker and they love them, great bikes.

As said, it's a great spec and will handle anything you're likely to throw at it. Tapered headtube means that if you want to upgrade the fork it'll be very easy. Not sure what length stem they ship with but if it's over 60mm you might want to consider shortening it. Other than that I'd happily ride that bike on anything I ride my BFe on.
Vincenzo Nibali:
"I know how to ride a bike"

Reduce your carbon footprint, ride steel.
User avatar King Boonen
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