Beginner Mountain Bike??

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    • #211536

      I’m looking to get into mountain biking, and am struggling on what bike I should get. I’ve realized early that you get what you pay for, but I’m not looking to spend over $1,000. Really I want to spend as little as I can while getting a bike I can really get after it on.

      I don’t want to buy a $500 bike and either not enjoy it or enjoy it but decide I definitely need a better bike to do what I want to do. What brands/models would you guys recommend? I rode the trek xcaliber 8 and liked it a lot. I’ve also done research on the specialized rockhopper, the Giant Fathom, and some diamondback models. I’m thinking a hardtail is the way to go to begin with since they’re cheaper.

      Are used bikes a good option?

      By the way I’m 5’11” 180 lbs.

      Any advice would be appreciated


    • #211541

      You get what you pay for is absolutely right. With your price range, I’d definitely go for a hardtail, but I wouldn’t recommend spending less than $800. A cheaper bike will have poorer quality components that you’ll most likely want to upgrade in the first year or two. I bought a Scott Spark hardtail for $700 a few years ago and after upgrading the fork, crank set, wheels, drive train, brakes- I had spent around $1000 in total but still had a sub-par bike. I’d also strongly recommend going for an air sprung fork over coil. This will drive the price up but it will also make the riding way more enjoyable. Again, you’ll probably want to upgrade to air eventually anyway so you might as well take care of that initially. I’m pretty sure the X-Caliber comes with an air fork option.


      • #211603

        Have not read all the posts, but there are so many options.  Crazy that it is so complicated now to find right bike.  So many options, used, new at local shop, overseas makes from chain reaction or planet x….29 vs 27.5…etc…..

        I started back years ago on hardtail and sort of worked way to full suspension 29…I love 29, I like bigger feel bike though.  Probably more 27.5 options available, someone mentioned the Raleigh Tokul which I find intriguing.   To keep costs down yes hard tail way to go,  if it were me I would probably go with this Nukeproof 275 sport for 664 dollars at chain reaction and maybe put a dropper post on it for 100 more.  Trail geometry, great price, send it to your door.  Have to have a buddy who is experienced with asssembly make sure everything is correct in assembly.


    • #211544

      So I’m guessing you’re in favor of a new bike not a used one.

      Any opinions between the x-caliber 8, the Giant fathom 2, or the rockhopper (expert or comp)?

    • #211547

      I don’t have any experience with used bikes but I would think a new bike would be better in the long run, especially if you don’t know the history of the bike in question, ie. how hard was it used, how often was it serviced, etc. A used bike might not necessarily be cheaper if you factor in the hidden costs of service, repair, replacement parts etc.

      I don’t know anything about the Giant. I test rode the x-caliber 9, not 8 but pretty similar I imagine (my LBS is a Trek retailer so I have a lot of experience with Trek and their brands) and over all it was good, however I’ve noticed that Bontrager stock wheels are kinda cheap and not of the best quality.

      As for the Rockhopper, that’s really a price vs. cost debate. The expert will have better components and can be a better experience overall, but it will cost more. The reason I stressed this was because I’ve gone cheap before and have been left disappointed. After upgrades, my investment was increased to what it could have been with a better bike, but I wasted a lot of time on crappy components. As your skills grow you’ll want more. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what is best for you in terms of what you can get out of the bike for the best value.

    • #211548

      I just went thru the same type of debate myself. I was looking at a Trek, Kona, Specialized and Giant. I went with the Giant Fathom 2 27.5. It comes with an air fork, dropped post, internal cable routing. I have had it for over a month now and I am very happy with my decision.

      • #211555

        That Fathom seems like an excellent deal. If I was near the $1000 range, that’s what I would go with. I started about a year ago with a Rockhopper sport. It was a great bike but I got obsessed pretty quick and decided to upgrade to full suspension instead of upgrade the Rockhopper. I picked up a Stumpjumper Comp about a month ago and couldn’t be happier. If I had started with something like the Fathom 2, I may have stuck with it for a while longer because it has a lot of the features I was looking for in an upgrade.

    • #211569

      Unfortunately I agree with the comments above.  A year ago I hastily bought a Rockhopper Comp and loved it.    But as i rode more I realized that the components on it were not good.  So within a year span I’ve upgraded my cockpit, brakes, pedals, and that’s where I drew the line. I am now saving for a decent full suspension bike (Giant Trance 2) and will not upgrade the Rockhopper anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun bike, but as you ride more, your skills improve, and you find your bike is limiting you.  I ride with guys who all have FS bikes and although I try hard, I am held back by the geometry and lack of rear suspension.   But I still rip on XC trails.    So I say get the Rockhopper Expert and go shred.

    • #211571

      I clicked on this thread as much for advice as to share my  own thoughts, but I bought a fat tire bike as my first bike.

      The lack of suspension means better components for the same price-point.  That may not be an option if your local trails (or riding style) really require a suspension fork, but mine don’t… I’m dealing with tree roots and small rocks.  No major jumps or rocky downhill sections.

      I know it’s (relatively) heavy, and that the additional rotating mass of the fat tires makes it feel even heavier than it is.  But screw it – it’s fun to ride, and I’m going to do XC and CX races with it.  This early in my riding “career,” I need a lot more performance upgrade than the bike does.  Speaking of that, I’m NOT planning to upgrade my bike.  Not unless something breaks, and the upgrade parts are reasonable to purchase.

      I looked at a 2009 Salsa Mamasita hardtail.  It was in used, but good condition.  $750.  I bought a 2016 Framed Minnesota 3.0 instead.  Also $750 without a scratch on it, and I cabn account for 100% of its history …plus i bought it in December, and I wanted to be able to ride in the snow.

      Good luck with whatever you decide.

    • #211572

      Thanks for the comments. I’ll narrow it down to the x-caliber and the Fathom 2. The fathom 2 has 27.5 inch wheels versus the 29 on the x-caliber… Anybody think that’s a big deal?

      • #211591

        Wheel size depends on what you want to do/type of riding. The 29 inch wheels will roll faster and roll over objects better. The 27.5 inch wheels will be more nimble and turn tighter. If you are going to be racing you’re probably going to want 29. If you’re just looking to go out and have fun you may want the 27.5 wheels. For example, when I bought my Rockhopper I knew I wanted a 29er because I would also be riding paved/gravel trails with my wife and I wanted something that rolled faster. After riding a few 27.5 bikes I found them more fun on the trails so when I bought a new bike I went with 27.5. I kept the Rockhopper so I can still use it to ride with my wife and it serves as a backup bike as well.

        Another thing to consider is what frame size you need for the x-caliber. How tall are you? The x-caliber has 27.5 wheels if you get the small frame and 29 if you get medium or larger. This is something that Trek does that annoys me. Let me choose the wheel size I want.



    • #211577

      I think my best recommendation is to save up until you can get what you really want/need! I think right around 1000 dollars is just the perfect amount to get a really good trail-worthy hardtail or rigid bike that will stand the test of time. The other thing too is, don’t be afraid to look at something that is a year older but still new. Local shop are usually really trying to get rid of them this time of year.

      Whoever said fatbike gets a thumbs up from me. I just got one, and they are an absolute swiss army knife.

      Also, if you don’t want to stretch your budget too far and don’t mind buying online, check out some of the offerings from I know a lot of people have good things to say about their pricing:value ratio. You can usually get a bike with a groupset that’s a step or two above what the big guys are selling at the same price.

    • #211590

      I second what Christopher said.^ A new older model year bike by one or two years will have almost identical components to the 2017 counterpart, but can be up to 40-50% off. You can find some pretty killer deals on closeout bikes, especially when the shop just wants to get rid of it.

    • #211592

      The Raleigh Tokul is a great hardtail for the price, with plus wheels and more slack geometry it would definitely be more fun to ride than an XC bike from trek or giant.


    • #211604

      As azdb said, the number of options is almost limitless. To help narrow it down, consider if you want to buy from a shop or not. I had a specific shop that I wanted to buy from because they have a lifetime maintenance deal for bikes bought from them. Anytime I bring my bikes in for service I pay nothing for labor and they are generally very quick. Also, if you have any warranty claims the shop will take care of them for you. Having a good relationship with this shop is more valuable to me than a few hundred dollar savings on a bike.

      • #211644

        Yes, the lifetime tunes and such have definite value, should be considered as well.

    • #211647

      The Tokul is a good recommendation. I’d also recommend checking out Diamondbacks higher end trail bikes. I have the Option and I like it a lot. The 2016 bikes are all 50% off right now. You can get a Recoil or Atroz Comp new for under $1000.

    • #211701

      Depending on where you live, and if you’ve got a good local bike shop you trust you may be able to get a good quality used bike with better components/features than a new one.  I am in the same price range as you and have been looking at several full suspension used bikes with great components (Fox rracing shod and floats, Shimano SLX cranks and derailleurs, hydraulic disk brakes, etc) for under $1000.  I ride them, take them in for a professional inspection and go from there.  Right now I have a Santa Cruz Juliana and a Giant Anthem X 29er on the burner.  Both $2000 – $3000 bikes.  The former is only $500 but needs $500 worth of upgrades and the latter is closer to $1000 but in immaculate condition…..owned by a guy who used to work for a bike shop so has taken incredible care of it.

      BUT….if you aren’t willing to spend the $$$$ or put in the time to find a good used one, please do not get on a full suspension bike.  I was going to upgrade my Rockhopper until I Made the mistake of getting on a full suspension.  Wouldn’t dream of ever getting back on a hardtail

    • #211702

      There are sooo many of these forums on the web.  I guess choosing a “beginner” mountain bike used to be an easier process as I know there are ridiculous amounts of options available nowadays.  For my $.02, a good hardtail is the way to go.  You will learn to choose lines better and pedalling efficiency is way better than a cheap, springy full suspension.  No full suspension rigs under 1500.00 and no hardtails below 6-700.00.  There are exceptions, but as a general rule, these levels are pretty reliable.  29 or 27.5?? I don’t know.  There are pros and cons to each.  I bought my first “real” mountain bike online without any bike shop backing or support, but I am a fidget-er.  I love tinkering and adjusting, so it wasn’t a big deal to me to do my own maintenance, this may be a deal breaker for some.  I LOVED that bike and it grew my passion for riding and UPGRADING. If you are like the rest of us, you will get upgade-itis, and it can get bad.  Anyway, I digress.  Test drive any bike you are looking to buy for fit and comfort.  I have told my many of my friends that wanted to get into riding to buy from a shop so that you can get properly fitted and have mechanical/technical support from them (also to support the economy of your local communities).   It would be an easier start to a wonderful pastime with your riding skills and mechanical skills improving over time.  It sounds like you have a model in mind.  You have won half the battle already.  Good luck with whatever you purchase, but more importantly enjoy riding, nature, and camaraderie of fellow riders.  While bikes are great, the more you ride, those things become even more enjoyable.  LOL, I eventually did sell my hardtail and bought a full suspension, but my time on the hardtail taught me how to be a better rider.

    • #211717

      Thanks to everyone for the input. I rode the specialized comp and expert, and decided if I get a specialized I would have to go with the expert. So now I’m between the expert and the giant fathom 2.

      It looks like everyone loves the norco charger but from what I’m seeing it’s $200 more expensive.


      Any opinions on these three bikes side by side?

      • #211818

        Norco’s website shows the Charger 7.2 for about the same price as the Rockhopper Expert and the Fathom 2. Again, if I was racing and/or using it for paved riding as well, I would go with the Rockhopper.  If you’re wanting the most fun, especially when descending, the Fathom 2 is probably your best bet. Geometry wise, the Charger falls sort of in between the other two. Whichever one you choose, you’re gonna have a great bike that you’re going to have a lot of fun on. I’m like you in that when I’m spending that much money I want the exact/perfect one. If it was me, I would go with the Fathom.

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