I am 100% brand new to this sport and am looking for some insight. I currently have an older model SuperCycle from Canadian Tire (2010 maybe?) that has really only seen paved paths aside from one minor trail earlier this week. Would this be sufficient enough to get a feel for beginner trails, and if it sticks, look into buying something that can handle way better? Definitely not looking for any technical stuff ATM.
Honestly, I started mountain biking on a Huffy (even did my first race on it). You can get a feel for riding, just be aware that the bike really isn’t made for the abuse you’ll put it through and that you’ll probably have somewhere around a 1:1 maintenance time-to-ride time ratio (mainly truing the rims). The upside is that you’ll get really good at basic maintenance (there are a ton of really informative YouTube videos) which will save you a mint over the long haul. If you think the sport is for you, check-out your local classifieds for good deals on used bikes (assuming you’re on a bit of a budget, otherwise go hog-wild!). Enjoy and welcome to the club!
You can get a reasonably good starter hard tail for around $500 if you shop around. From what I can tell, a department store bike will cost about $200. The extra dollars will certainly add to your pleasure of riding.
Welcome to mountain biking! I started riding on a Mongoose from wally and totally destroyed it on my second singletrack ride. Then I rode a Huffy Loma from Meijer and totally destroyed it the first time I went out–again. I was a bit perplexed why I was breaking so many bikes, so I got a $50 used Magnum from a garage sale and it survived 3 rides (about 15 miles), then went caput.
So… I thought I’d shell out $400 for a Motobecane 529HT, and it lasted 300 miles and then broke. Quick release cap stripped out, rim got bent, and rear hub pawls fell out.
So… I invested $3500 in a bike which I am still riding today and have never had an issue with. Thousands of miles on it.
Moral of the story is you get what you pay for, riding is super fun, but you’ve got to figure out how much initial investment you can put down. I recommend buying used if you’re putting down less than $1000, buying new if you’re a dentist, or building up if you’re a handyman.
Not to argue with anyone, but I just stumbled across this video from Seth’s Bike Hacks. He seems to agree with me on “run what you brung” and set some money aside to upgrade bikes when you’re ready or an opportunity arises.
P.S. As others have said, you can do pretty well in the used market with less than $1000. I got my 29” hardtail for $525 a couple years ago and it sees heavy rotation in my lineup (I just like the ride of a steel hardtail; always have, probably always will).