Another newcomer looking for advice


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    • #78976

      Hi all! I’ve been trolling the forums for the past two weeks now and thought I’d finally say hello.

      I’ve been looking for a new ride and after checking out my LBS, I thought I would see what the opinions of more experienced riders would be.

      First off, I’m 5’8 185lbs and I’d like to start doing some trail riding here in Northwest Arkansas. I use to ride an old Mongoose (A206?) I bought back in ’99 and stopped a few years later after getting caught up in life/work/women. I’ve been wanting to get back into it for a long time now and I’ve decided not to wait any longer. So, I’m looking for decent entry level bike to get me back on the trails.

      I checked out a few of the "New here/need advice" threads and used the information in them while shopping locally. Here are some of the local bikes which I saw mentioned in a few threads.

      Shop #1
      Gary Fisher Marlin $799
      Gary Fisher Wahoo $659

      Shop #2
      Specialized RockHopper $770
      Specialized Hardrock $500

      Shop #3
      GT Avalanche 2.0 $669
      Cannondal F5 $669
      Giant Yukon $650

      So far I’ve only tested the RockHopper. The rest of the bikes on the floor at each shop were bigger than 17" frame so I decided to wait till they built some that would fit me.

      What are your opinions on these? Do the prices seem fair? All the bikes have disc brakes. The RockHopper had Tektro brakes which apparently are not very good. I like the idea of disc brakes, but I’m wondering if they’re worth it.

      Pretty much I’m just looking for the best quality bike for the $$. I’d prefer to keep it new and local.

      Thanks for the help and have a great time riding!

    • #78977

      well i own a hardrock sport didnt pay 500 tho and idk bout the other bikes and if they are all hard tails but first and foremost go with what fits you the best and you like the best think about weight and quailty of parts… my hardrock is a beast i used to weigh 300lbs and rode it alot and never broke anything. from what i hear any gary fisher is great bikes but never owned one… and oh yeah man welcome to single tracks this site is awesome… hey heres a tip go to the top of the page and read the reviews on the bikes your thinking about that should help you out a bit

    • #78978

      Welcome aboard dude!!! Hope u find what ur lookin for!! I’m sure you will!! There are some very good people here!! Good Luck!!

    • #78979

      I own an ’09 Marlin and LOVE it. I bought it without disc brakes & upgraded to avid BB7s after my wife bought them for me for Chrismas 😃 The only other bike on your list that I test rode before I bought mine was a Cannondale F5. If the one you’re looking at is an ’09 then I think $669 is a great price. If I recall, when I was looking it was around $750 or so. Either of those bikes will give you a great frame (and probably some pretty decent components, too). As far as Specialized goes, I’ve heard nothing but good about their bikes. IMO, I would go with the Rockhopper over the Hardrock. It’s probably going to come down to the way it feels when you test ride it. Good luck!

    • #78980

      My Cannondale F7 rides extremely great!!! I have not had the chance to have it serviced yet as i have broken it in now…it’s a hardtail and I absolutely love it!!! I don’t wanna sound prejudice or tunnelvisioned towards Cannondale, but they really are great bikes!! So aren’t the ones you are looking at!!

    • #78981

      Alot of times buying and picking bikes is like shopping for a car. People have different opinions and loyalties to brands. I personally love Gary Fisher bikes. I have ridden other brands but always end up on a Fisher. But I have to say test ride them and go with what feels best. I would also at least consider the LBS and the service you get as it can make the experience and good ties with the local shop are valuable. Research your choices, read reviews, and pick the one that feels best to you. And again, I reccomend the Fisher.

    • #78982

      I ride an 08 Rockhopper disc and love it! It is a great entry level bike and I feel like it is a rock solid bike for the price. If you do end up buying the Rockhopper the first thing you need to do is switch out the tires, fast tracks is not just a name; those tires do not belong off of the race track. Get some Captains and you’ll be good to go! Good luck with your search for a new bike!

    • #78983

      Thanks for the replies! This is definitely one of the friendliest and helpful forums I’ve been on!

      I have looked at the reviews on the reviews page and I’ve been looking around elsewhere besides Honestly I’ve only been skimming though most of it…

      Today, I found another bike shop close to where I work. They seemed a bit more helpful and determined that a 15" frame fits me better (I guess I have short legs?:roll: ). The bike was a Gary Fisher Wahoo priced $659 (same as shop #1).

      I liked the Wahoo. It may have been the fact the frame size fit me better, but it seemed like a more solid ride than the RockHopper. After going off some curbs and through a bit of grass, I noticed less rattling from the rear sprocket area (apologies for any incorrect terminology! 😎 ). They have a 15" Marlin in stock they want to build and have me try out tomorrow.

      One question I have is; What differences should I look for in the Marlin vs. Wahoo? I know they have different brakes and upgraded shifters, but I’m trying to determine if the upgraded parts are worth the $150 extra.

      I’m hoping any knowledge gained from testing these two bikes will help me when I try out some of the other bikes I mentioned. I’ll be sure to give the Cannondales a try and I’d like to go try a 15" RockHopper to see if that makes a difference.

    • #78984

      Welcome aboard, glad to have you on the site. Here’s my two cents worth. If you like how it looks and feels, buy it. Stay in the price range you are comfortable with, do your best to go with disk brakes and get the one you will feel good riding and have a blast. Because, if you like the bike you’ll ride it more often.


    • #78985

      As far as the Marlin vs Wahoo you are getting the same basic frame with the componet upgrade. Fisher has a very high quality frame and unique frame geometry that makes the bikes handle and ride like no other. For the model upgrade you get full Deore componets (FD, RD, Shifters), a 9spd vs an 8spd cassette, bolt disc hubs, Avid BB5 disc brakes, and a Rockshox Dart 2 vs a Suntour shock. That is a substantial difference as you could not seperately purchase those parts for the $150 or so price increase. Hope that helps.

    • #78986

      Welcome aboard. And like everyone said. Get a bike that fits first and foremost. Test ride as many as you can and then decide.. More or less bikes at that price range pretty much have the same components and really don’t vary too much from one to the next. However different brands have different frame styles and angles…And that is what is most important…Now the big question is how often your going to get out there a week….If your gonna hit those trails every week perhaps you want to get a higher price range bike..Simply for durability..

      Anyhow cheers.

    • #78987

      I’d definitely have to agree with Devin…the components are much better on the Marlin, compared with the Wahoo. I definitely think it’s worth the extra cash, if you’ve got it. Good luck!

    • #78988

      I ride a Yukon and love it. Test rided many of the ones you mentioned. It felt the best for me.

      Are you currently riding your old Mongoose? If so I would recommend taking the time to get the best bike possible. If that means riding your mongoose to safe up a little more than go for it.

    • #78989

      I just recently purchased a GF Tassajaro…it might be at the next price point from what you are looking at, but so far I really like it.

      I was driving myself nuts researching bikes (that’s how I found this forum I believe), and finally just went to the LBS and rode everything they had.

      I was upgrading from an aging Specialized HardRock, and thought I might walk out of there with another Specialized. At the end of the day though, I left with the GF, which I don’t think I had even looked at previously. Just goes to show you, you’ve got to get on the bikes, try them out, and make sure it fits and feels good.

      Another thing…most bikes I rode were 19" frames and felt okay, but with the GF the 19" felt too big, so I went with the 17.5".

    • #78990

      Welcome to the forum TheScout. Try as many bikes as you can, which it sounds like you have done as much of that as is possible. My last purchase I could almost hear the LBS employees thinking – oh no, here comes that guy again to test ride the bike. I rode as many as I could and ending up getting the original one I liked the best.

      Of the bikes you listed, I only have experience with the Hardrock, which I have one of and ride pretty regular. Pretty solid bike for not too much money.

      I think the Giant Yukon is similar to the Giant AC, a full suspension bike for not too much money also. My AC was great – I rode it half to death before I realized you had to do maintenance on bicycles. Nephew rides it now all the time.

      I really like disc brakes – especially hydraulic ones because of their fast reponse time.
      Good Luck and have fun!

    • #78991

      Welcome aboard and welcome back to mt. biking. As far as mechanical disc brakes go, I wouldn’t go with anything other than an Avid BB7. If your bike doesn’t come with it, I would upgrade to the BB7 as soon as possible. The BB7 is hands down the best mechanical disc brakes by far and they’re not that expensive. It is cheaper to buy a bike with the components you want initially over upgrading later. If your just in a big hurry and can’t wait to save a little more dough I would recommend buying a bike that fits you best and feels good underneath you. Then upgrading as soon as you have extra cash. A good fork is one a the major components of a bike that makes a huge difference in the quality and feel of the ride. You can get good forks for a decent price online, because your bike won’t come with a good fork at the price range you are looking at. Good luck and don’t worry about being picky. If I were you I would go with a Rockhopper Pro, but I am partail to Specialized bikes.

    • #78992

      Thanks all for the comments and advice!

      I’ve now rode every bike I listed and narrowed it down to the GF Marlin Disc and the RockHopper Comp Disc.

      The only thing I can notice in feel between those two are the shift levers. I prefer the Shimano’s to the SRAM’s. I noticed the front forks on the hopper are technically an upgrade from the Marlin, but I can’t feel any difference between the two. Of course I’m mostly just hopping off curbs to get something of a idea how they would feel.

      So I’m thinking I may stick with the Marlin. The two bikes seem equal to me, so the tipping factor is the shop. I like the guy’s selling the Fisher bikes a little better. Besides they quoted me the bike with a Saris Bones-2 (model#805) trunk rack for a total of $830, which seems like a fair price for the combo. Since I drive a Civic, a rack would be handy 😀

      The only thing stopping me from pulling the trigger and buying right now is that, today, I found a used Specialized StumpJumper for $725. I didn’t get to look at the bike long, but I did notice is has Fox suspension, a Shimano XT rear shifter, and v-brakes (not sure of the brand/model). It looked like it was in good condition with a few scratches which is expected.


    • #78993

      Stumpjumpers are nice bikes and they’re not cheap brand new. If it’s in good shape, I would go with the Stumpy for sure. Give it a test ride and see what you think. The Fox fork will be a lot nicer than what will come on either of the two prior bikes you are looking at and you will really notice the difference on the trail. You can always upgrade the brakes later if you want.

    • #78994

      It’s hard to go wrong with any of the models you listed, as long as you find one that fits you.

      My first real mountain bike was a Specialized Rockhopper. It was an excellent mountain bike and I am still riding it regularly as my work commuter now that I have upgraded to full suspension.

    • #78995

      I think I’m going with the Marlin. It definitely fits me best. Plus the LBS brought the price of it down to $679 😀. The 15.5" RockHopper is slightly too small while the 17" is slightly too big. The StumpJumper was a 19" frame, so I didn’t even try it…

      Also, I decided against a trunk rack (I’d prefer to keep the paint on my car nice and shiny) so the LBS quoted me the Marlin plus a Yakima roof rack using the Copperhead mounts for ~$975.

    • #78996

      Yeah, i’m 5’8" and I’ve always felt my 17" Rockhopper to be a bit too big. My new bike is a 16" Giant Trance and it fits perfect.

      As for racks, check Craigslist/Ebay, yakima and thule roof racks are really easy to find and you can save a TON of money.

    • #78997

      Hey man, glad you found the bike for you. Have fun breaking it in and if you have any questions don’t hesitate. Like said earlier I think you will like the G2 geometry on the Fishers.

    • #78998

      I have considered a hitch setup. I’d need to have a hitch mounted first. I am planning on checking around tomorrow to see what the price of that would set me back.

      I do like the idea of not having to reach up so high and being able to pull into my garage before taking my bike off.

      Have there been issues with roof racks affecting the paint on the car? I do baby my car a bit, so I’d like to do whats best for it.

    • #78999

      The hitch rack is the best idea if you are worried about your car’s paint job. Trunk racks and roof racks require you to attach something directly to the body of the car. That eventually leads to a couple of scratches.

      Roof racks are the safest way to transport the bike for avoiding wrecks though. Trunk racks and hitch racks always leave you open to getting your bike crushed if someone rear ends you. Roof racks only leave you open to the occasional "I’m an idiot" moment when you drive the car under something too low and forget the bike is still on top. Better check your auto and home owners insurance if you want to know if you are covered in case of any car wreck damage. You might be surprised at what you find.

    • #79000

      I have a Thule roof rack with two Big Mouth tray type carriers and one rocky mounts fork mount.

      My bike frame is too small for a traditional trunk or hitch mount, and I like having them up and out of the way.

      However, my car is a station wagon with factory roof rails so I have no chance of paint damage.

    • #79001

      [quote="thescout"]I think I’m going with the Marlin. It definitely fits me best. Plus the LBS brought the price of it down to $679 😀.

      Hi Scout. Is that a Marlin disc for $679? I have been looking at a lot of the same bikes you have on the internet. I live about 60 miles from the closest LBS so I am trying to do as much research and price comparing as possible before I visit.


    • #79002

      As far as hitch racks go: I have a rack where the bikes hang from the top tubes. I am now looking into getting a rack with the wheel cradles. After owning one and playing with the other I think the cradle style is the way to go.

    • #79003

      I went with a hitch rack myself mainly because of wind drag and love bugs splattering all over my precious ride. I installed it myself without too much trouble. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but it wasn’t too bad. I went with a Hollywood bike rack and I got a Hidden Hitch brand and it doesn’t stick out and bust your shin. I read an article a while back about some jerk suing a person because they busted their shin on the person’s receiver hitch. If I remember right the guy that sued won. The judge must’ve been a tool. 😕

    • #79004

      trussman, yes it is a Marlin Disc for $679.

      I went ahead and went with the Yakima roof rack after looking at some threads on forums. Seems like they work out well for civics. The car sits pretty low to the ground and we have a lot of steep driveways (including my own) and parking lot entrances around where I live, so I was worried a hitch would end up hitting the ground.

      So I took the LBS’s combo deal and my total for a bike and a rack is now $950.

      My bike comes in tomorrow. Just in time for some saturday trailing 😀

      Edit: The Marlin they had in the shop was the green Marlin. I asked them if it would be a big deal if they ordered a black one. They told me no, so thats why I’m waiting on it to come in.

    • #79005

      Thanks man. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time now.

      Saturday is going to be sunny with a high around 80-85F and I can pick from 11 trails listed in the MTB trails page. All within a 25min drive from me. I can’t wait 😎

    • #79006

      I’m definitely jealous too! It’s been so rainy where I am I have to wait on the trails to dry out. And I only have about 3 or 4 trails to choose from in a 1.5 hour radius 😢
      Hope you love your Marlin as much as I love mine…I think you’ll be pleased. I don’t know what kind of trails are in your area, but my bike’s taken quite a bit of abuse (even Illinois can have some good trails 😃 ) and holds up under everything. Have fun!

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