Beginner Mountain Bike

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Thrustman 1 day, 18 hours ago.

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  • #268067

    Hi all! I am a newbie mountain biker in Texas, so terrains aren’t crazy. I KNOW what I am looking at in terms of bikes will not be top notch and probably laughable by everyone on here, but I am looking at something around 300 bucks for starters. I know this isn’t anything great but I am looking at a Mongoose Impasse on Amazon for 300. It seems to have some decent things on it (Shimano equipment). Is there anything else you guys would recommend around that price point? Thanks in advance!

  • #268123

    Look to your local LBS or Craigslist for a better name brand used bike. Shoot for something a few years old with hydraulic brakes and better wheels/tires than the mongoose. Also, go to a local shop and do a few test rides, REI is a good option, before you buy a bike to make sure you know your correct size and fit.

  • #268129

    You get what you pay for and you won’t get much for $300.   Try to spend more and get something like the 2019 27.5+ Trek Roscoe 6 which is currently on sale for $850.  Also consider the 29+ Salsa Timberjack Deore for $1100.  The 2020 bikes are coming out and lots of 2019 bikes are on sale.  Ask for at least a 10% discount on any 2019 bike.  I think a hardtail Plusbike in 29 or 27.5 is probably the best starter bike in the lower price ranges.  Otherwise, if $300 is all you can come up with, try to find to lightly used Plus hardtail like the Roscoe or Timberjack.

    I know a teen who bought a cheapy Mountainbike and on his first ride he fell on some deep sand and bent/taco-ed his front rim.  $300 Mountainbikes are made for short rides on pavement or gravel.  If you actually want to ride real singletrack, you need to spend a little more or buy a good used real Mountainbike.  For a new Mountainbike to get “real”, you need to spend closer to $1000.

  • #268140

    Head over to a local bike shop and see what used bikes they have. Also ask them what are the best bikes used on local trails.

  • #268144

    It’s a great time to be looking at bikes, especially used, since we’re close to the end of the summer. People trade in bikes to upgrade to new bikes, bike shops are clearing out inventory to make room for fat bikes, and ski/bike shops are doing the same to make room for skis and snowboards, so it’s a great time to get a really good deal.

    If you can figure out a way to stretch your budget, I would suggest you do so for two reasons…first, trail riding is tough on bikes, especially the components, and cheap components break often. That means if you don’t know how to fix stuff, your bike will be spending time that you could be riding in a shop. That’s time lost and unexpected money spent. I know this from experience and my first bike was several hundred more than $300 brand new. Second, if you end up liking this sport enough to want to ride every week or more, you’re going to outgrow a $300 bike in less than a season.

    In this sport, if you get the bug, you’re going to spend some money either way and my experience has been that often money spent upfront is less in the long run than the money I’ll spend down the line. Then there’s the frustration of repeated mechanical failures…that’s a whole other kind of cost I won’t get into.

    • #268155

      Thanks for the advice! Pushing at 500 now…saw some new Marlin 4 and Specialized Rockhoppers, both are a decent way to go for now?

    • #268158

      Both Trek and Specialized make great bikes, so which of those is better would probably depend on the components package you’re getting. Other things to consider….internal cable routing versus external routing, dropper posts, fork travel. Those details might be the difference in similarly priced bikes and help you decide between 2 different bikes. I agree with oldandrolling on the disc brakes. These days, for safety reasons, I don’t think I’d ride a bike without them, at least not on trails. Robjs1017 also makes a good point which I’ll add to….if you can find a shop that rents, you could get a sweet deal on a used rental bike that you know was professionally inspected and serviced regularly after almost every ride.

    • #268162

      The Marlin and the Rockhopper look OK.  However both bikes have narrow lightly-treaded tires.  See if your bike shop will trade the stock tires for some aggressively tread 29×2.4 tires.  Both bikes would be be much more fun with wider, more aggressive rubber. And don’t be afraid to ask for a discount on 2019 bikes.

  • #268146

    The Trek you listed above looks like the best of the three. You should look for disk brakes like the Trek has too. The front forks could be better. You will easily notice the improved ride with a good front suspension fork. Look for name brands like Fox and Rockshox on the fork.

  • #268153

    Bicycles Inc in the DFW area is a good LBS. They also just posted a bike sale and have a rental fleet they sell used when retired.

  • #268157

    Can’t go wrong with a Rockhopper as long as it is in reasonable shape

  • #268165

    My two bikes were $300 each.

    One of them started life as a cheap LBS MTB (3×7 hard tail). I broke about everything on it (frame, 3 x rear axle, both rims, chain, 2 x rear derailleur, cassette) and replaced about everything else (shifter, brake levers, cranks, grips, tires). Ready to replace fork, stem and handle bars. I do not regret it at all. Been a learning experience and really loving how it is riding now (with possible exception of fork – think it is toast). My next bike will certainly be very different but will be informed by the riding I did on this bike.

    Second bike is a single speed MTB from a company that was liquidated. Listed at $799. So that was more about taking advantage of a good deal when you find it.

    I’d say the most important thing is to find a bike that fits you. Look for a trail hardtail. Not an easy feat as most affordable hardtails are more like a hybrid or XC bike. You want a more relaxed head angle (68-69 degrees) and a long reach with short stem. A steep head angle with short reach and long stem feels sketchy and cramped. This is the difference between being in your bike (good) or being on your bike (bad). Don’t buy a bike you will hate. For example, Walmart sells bikes that look like mountain bikes but you will hate riding them. I think the Rockhopper is a good starting point.

    Likely you will out grow the bike (i.e. want a better bike) in a year or two no matter what you buy now. You will know what kind of riding you like and when you spend more, you should actually get what you want. Don’t spend $1,000 unless you are confident that it is the right bike for you.

    Finally, even after you get your first bike, go to bike demos. You will get to ride the latest and greatest and figure out what you like in a bike. Ride as many different bikes as you can. And bonus you don’t have to clean them when you are done. My 14 year old daughter got to ride a $3,000 bike and I got to ride a $6,000 a couple weeks ago. And it didn’t ruin me for my $300 bike. A new cassette was at home waiting for me. I installed it and had a great test ride. That was the last thing I needed to get the bike running great.

  • #268167

    Is there an active mountain bike club in your area?  If so, go to the next meeting and introduce yourself.  You will most likely meet experienced riders who would be happy to help you get started.  They will know what types of bikes work best on your local trails and there is a good chance one of them will even have a bike you can borrow for your first few rides.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • #268179

      Yeah just got in contact with someone there! I was offered an older Rockstopper circa 2007, in amazing condition. 21” frame but 26” tires. Is the consensus this is too old at this point?

  • #268187

    A 2007 Rockhopper, in excellent condition, should cost you around 100 dollars. Anything more is way too much. Buy it and ride the hell out of it. When the season’s over, donate it to a good local organization. By that time, you’ll know exactly what you want in your next bike.

  • #268240

    Potroman, I feel your pain. You come here for  bike advice and we all tell $300 is not enough. Unfortunately MTBing is expensive but you don’t have to drop $1,000. I will $300 is a hard price point and will take some diligent research that you don’t buy a bike that will break or you will outgrow in skills quickly. I have bought multiple mountain bikes off Craigslist and have got great deals. So learn about what seems to matter to you. On the top of my list it a descent head tube angle (nothing greater than 69), disc brakes, descent shock (nothing cheap, better to be fully rigid than bad fork), 1x drivetrain (although this is something that can be worked around or dealt with later), at least okay components. I would suggest if there is any way to get up to $500 you will have some descent options. Marin and Diamondback seem to give you the most bang for your buck. Diamondback Hook great beginner bike but a bit high for your budget. Also just discovered Framed. I think my next purchase will be a Framed bike. Look them up online. Might be able to get a new bike for $500. I am very leery of Mongoose. I don’t think I would get on one. There is a Blue Book for bikes you can find online to help you figured used bike prices. I echo all the advice of trying your local LBS’s and demoing bike and finding other guys riding in your area. Some of those guys (like myself) probably have an extra bike and may even take you for a ride and teach you some stuff. Most riders want to help newbies like yourself out.

    Lastly no bike is laughable if you are out there riding. I think the biggest concern most of us have here is first for your safety on a bike not built well and second that you enjoy the sport. Having an expensive bike does not guarantee a good ride but a bad bike can take the fun out when you are battling the bike and not the trail.

    Hope this helps. Keep up your research. Be patient. You will find a bike and the addiction to riding will probably grow. Great sport to get into.

  • #268427

    There are more and more bike manufacturers accepting credit / financing (e.g. PayPal or Affirm)… That way you can pay not so expensive monthly fees and get a better bike. Check out all the payment forms on their websites.

  • #292040

    My husband’s got a Boardman MTB and is very happy with it despite a few places where the white paint has been chipped (he blames me for that though).

    If it were me, I’d definitely consider a Boardman – they always seem to be excellent value even at full price.

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  • #292558

    So what did you end up with?  More importantly, are you riding it?

     

  • #292572

    Choosing the right bike can be daunting. Perhaps this article by Gene Hamilton of BetterRide on Choosing a Fun and Confidence inspiring MTB can be useful.
    https://betterride.net/blog/2019/choosing-a-fun-and-confidence-inspiring-mtb/

     

  • #292892

    I bought a GT aggressor pro from DICKS for 299. Put an air fork on it and some premium tires and now I have  a better riding bike than anything I test rode below 800 bucks. Its only a 27.5 3×7 drivetrain but Im having a ball on it. I dont think guys on 1000 dollar bikes are having any more fun than I am and I only spent about 530 dollars total. My bike mechanic has a trek that he paid more for that he says doesnt ride as well as my GT.

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