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Mountain bike help

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Went biking today with a couple of friends. First time i rode a bike in almost 10 years, and i rode some cheap bike that only looks like a mountain bike that a borrowed from my brother in law. I bent the rear wheel, and the bike was very uncomfortable, but i had a great time, and i want to start biking on a regular basis.
So i need some advice what bike to get. I did some reading, but the choices seem endless.I will be riding once or twice a week tops, for 2-4 hours, on dirt roads that can be quite bad (you need a 4X4 to pass),some downhills (not too long but quite steep at times) but no big drops or jumps.
My budget is very limited(300-400$), i am lookin for something cheap,reliable and that will get me safely home while allowing for minimal genital damage and as much fun possible.
How important is the rear shock absorber? Are there brands that offer better options at thia price level? One of my friends bought the Diamondback Coil with front and rear shocks, and is quite pleased, but he is also new to the sport and has had the bike for only a month.
Please advise.
post #2 of 12
psy -

It will be fun to see how much you end up spending on a mountain bike. Everyone I know sets a low minimal price. Then they start investigating and find that for another $100 they can get a better bike and for another $100 an even better bike and so on. Considering the conditions of the roads you will be on it will be worth a spending a couple hundred more to get a bike that will last a long time.

I bought my first mountain bike 15 years ago and ended up spending $200 more than planned. I still have the bike and its still in good working order. My friends that bought entry level bikes back then quickly decimated them and had to get replacements.
post #3 of 12
e-bay, my man.
post #4 of 12
psy - check out forums.mtbr.com, if you haven't already, for more research.

At your price point, I'd avoid full suspension. Go with a hard tail (which has only front suspension), because you'll get a better bike for your money. Also, at that price point, all bikes are pretty much the same, made in the same factory. Most important is fit, so skip eBay this time and let a local bike shop help you out.

All that said, good luck finding anything that cheap. That's even less than a pair of skis!

post #5 of 12
Hey Rio, my first MTB was stolen...
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, thanks for your responses.
Rio, i won't be using the bike on a daily basis (it will be stored at wife's parents house for weekend use only), so i was thinking that this will offset the road abuse.If i can trade in my old windsurf board, maybe i'll be able to afford more (i don't have the time to hang around the beach waiting for the wind to pick up, anymore) In your opinion, which price range offers the most bang for the buck? I am still in grad school, so every penny counts.
irul&ublo e-bay is not an option due to my location and my lack of knowledge (no practical knowledge of mb, only what i read)
Sue, what critical components are of better quality in a hard tail in my price range? Any critical fit issues i should be looking for?
I have read, for example, about the bike i mentioned before that it has "heavy pedals" ?!
It is rather confusing as i have no experience of my own to help me understand what they are talking about, so i'd apreciate a list of critical quality and fit issues.
post #7 of 12
Take a look at this website http://www.wamsleycycles.com/
I know it is a loooooooong way from where you live, but if you have any questions about biking I would suggest e-mailing or calling the owner of this shop. His name is Chip and he is very knowledgeable about biking. I bought two Trek bikes at his shop. They were originally 800 dollar bikes, but I got them for 400. Trek bikes are good in my experience. They last a long time.
post #8 of 12
I'm a biking fanatic, psy. I'm sure many here are too.

Here are the steps I recommend you follow:

Get familiar with the bike world just like you would with ski gear ...read magazines, go to some local bike shops (LBS), and register with a forum. I like www.bikeforums.net ...lots of great knowledge base and not just a mtb forum. I find that the more knowledgable cyclists are roadeees and mtb'ers too.

Subscribe to some online stores like Supergo, Colorado Cyclist, Excel Sports ...there are many. That's where you'll get the best deal on apparel and other stuff that you'll need.

Once you've got an idea of the bike you'll want to buy, go get a fit. Learn the fit. Be the fit. Fit on a bike is very important just like ski boots and skis.

Go to ebay or the resale forum with any number of bike forums. You'll be amazed at how far your $400.00 will go. Or, support your LBS and buy one from them. You won't likely get gouged on a new bike from a LBS because the markup on gear (just like skis) is very small. Clothing and accessories are where shops make their money. But used is where the really good deals are just like ski gear.

If you're really amp'ed and like total immersion, go and take a bike maintenance and repair class. You'll learn a lot about trail side repairs and won't feel so helpless when the inevitable happens ...flat tire, loose headset, taco'ed wheel (you already had that one happen), broken spoke, broken chain, the list goes on. You'll be the hero on the ride when someone else needs a little tweak with their gear too.

Good luck!
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies.
I was away for a few week, so i didn't check the forum and i could barely find time to hit the bike shops. The windsurf trade in option is no longer viable, the shop that sell boards and bikes told me that they are very reluctant to do cross over trade ins, and were generally less knowledgeable and not very nice.
So i went to a few other shops and got a few quotes. I liked 2 shops:
The first one offered me the following:
Trek 4300 http://www.trekbikes.com/bikes/2004/mountain/4300.jsp for 370$
Jamis Cross Country http://www.jamisbikes.com/bikes/04_cc2.html for 330$ (on sale)
Iron Horse Maverick http://www.ironhorsebikes.com/produc...ick_disc.shtml for 370$
The second shop offered me a Giant Yukon for 370$. It's called Yukon over here, but this is actually very close to this:

I did not ride on any of the bikes, yet. I liked the guy at the second shop better and he made a very convincing case of how the giant frame is better (it is a "fluidform" frame), but the first shop has more options to try and see how they fit.
Also, the Jamis and the Iron Horse are made in china while the other two are made in Taiwan ( same factory, it appears). How much of an issue is this?
The Giant wheels haven't got double walls (they are reinforced but not double).
I know that if i'll go and take three bikes for test rides i'll feel that i have to buy one, so i'm trying to decide where to go. Right now it's more options vs better frame and better chemistry with the sales/service man.
post #10 of 12
For another twist, and for fun: www.bentrideronline.com Very interesting and different bike& trike experiences.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Great link, Steve. Especially liked the quote that they have on their front page:
"Mankind has invested more than four million years of evolution in the attempt to avoid physical exertion. Now a group of backward-thinking atavists mounted on foot-powered pairs of Hula-Hoops would have us pumping our legs, gritting our teeth, and searing our lungs as though we were being chased across the Pleistocene savanna by saber-toothed tigers. Think of the hopes, the dreams, the effort, the brilliance, the pure force of will that, over the eons, has gone into the creation of the Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Bicycle riders would have us throw all this on the ash heap of history."
It got me thinking, maybe ishould use the money to upgrade my car sound system, and maybe add those neat violet lamps under the body
post #12 of 12
uh, maybe you might wantn to go just a little bit deeper than the car quote in bentrider. Several recumbent sites have a few used for sale including mtn. bikes. The message boards will cover a range of topics. Don't overlook comfort bikes for upright comfort. Several European companies make good quality bikes somewhat nearer you. Also, checkout Lightfoot cycles in Montana and Organic engines in Florida. In the end, nothing replaces a good local bike shop.
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