BIG BOX against Established Brand

Forums Mountain Bike Forum BIG BOX against Established Brand

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    • #264635

      Hi there

      getting back into the cycling game, i have always had hybrid bicycles,But now a change of location kind of dictates i would probably be better off with a Mountain Bike (lots of trails and not very bicycle friendly roads.

      Anyway my question is what are people buying as “beginner’ MTBS,s

      Just looking for some ideas really… i went to LBS today and to be honest was not that impressed with what $600 ish buys these days…. where is the argument to not just go to the Big box retailers? i really do not want too as i love small local business and to support the cause, but BIG manufacturers dont really offer that much in the way of value over BIG box retailers do they? Until it comes to initial build and after purchase service perhaps

      I know i should not be looking for $$$ if i want to take up this MTB hobby, i am just not seeing the logic in comparison between the two different sources of supply….. $200 against $600… can i be convinced otherwise?

      what are ya,ll buying?

      Thanks in advance


    • #264859


      $200 for a mountain bike is probably a waste of money. It just won’t hold up. Big box stores (unless you are referring to REI) are not selling bikes meant for trails. Read the caution labels on the bikes. They say so themselves. $600 will get you a descent entry level mountain bike as long as you buy a real mountain bike. Local bike shops are great for their expertise and service but get a good deal on a mountain bike is not really something they can afford to do. I have two great mountain bikes (Salsa Timberjack 29er 2017 model and Santa Cruz Chameleon 2019 model). Bought both used and saved a lot of money. One I got off Craigslist for about half of what it was new and it is as only 6 mos old and like new condition. Do some research, learn some about bikes and look used. Both the bikes I bought I actually knew by name and were on my list and then popped up used. Some day when my kids are older and I have more money I will get to treat myself to a new bike. Right now I have two great used mountain bikes. I highly recommend used if you take your time and look and know what you are getting. Then find your fav local bike shop and build relationships with those guys as they service your bike.

    • #264869

      Totally agreed with m.krupp, search through the used sites craigslist,local ebay? pinkbike

      It’s tough to list specific bikes but in my experience Giant,Cannondale and Trek all offer some excellent intro bikes.

      One thing I would add is probably start with a hardtail (no rear suspension) just a suspension fork.

      My first bike was an old Cannondale with a red rear tire. I still have the frame and just built it back up so my girlfriend can use it to get into the sport.

      It will be much easier to service and maintain a quality bike.

      Hope that helps! Welcome to the addiction of mountain biking ūüôā

    • #264911

      In addition to the great advice you have already received, I would seek out an LBS or a big box store like REI and test drive the high end and low end bikes they have so you can experience the differences yourself. Decide what you want/need in a bike and that will pretty much establish the price range and where to buy.

    • #264946

      You do raise an interesting question: is a $600, entry-level Trek mountain bike from a local bike shop really that much better than a $200 Wal-Mart bike?

      Let’s choose these two for comparison sake:

      Schwinn Boundary ($228) –

      Trek Marlin 6 ($639.99) –

      • Frame: Both are aluminum. No clear winner.
      • Drivetrain: Both are Shimano; 3×7 Tourney on the Schwinn, 3×8 Altus on the Trek.¬† Tourney is the lowest-level Shimano MTB group, and Altus is one level up. Winner: Trek.
      • Brakes: Mechanicals on the Schwinn, Hydraulics on the Trek. Winner – Trek.
      • Wheels & tires: Both are 29ers; the Schwinn comes with 2.5-inch-wide tires, while the Trek mixes 2.2″ and 2.0″. Winner: Schwinn based on smart sizing (not sure about the quality/durability though).
      • Fork: Schwinn-branded vs. SR Suntour XCT with a coil spring. Winner: probably the Trek, but not by much. Neither fork is great.
      • Weight: Schwinn (unknown) vs. Trek (32.4lbs.). Since Schwinn doesn’t publish their weight, it must be a lot. Winner by default judgement: Trek

      From this quick and dirty analysis, and based on scant details about the components, it seems the Trek does have an edge. But is it nearly 3-times better? My guess is probably not. Most people won’t be able to tell much difference.

      One intangible is service. Buy from a local bike shop and they’ll help you learn how to take care of your bike and can answer questions you have along the way.

    • #264950

      My two cents that I think the answer depends on how you’re really going to use the bike. I personally wouldn’t go cheap big-box, but if you’re an occasional rider staying on bike paths or gravel that is mostly smooth, then cheap big-box may suffice (if that’s the case, I would question why even going with a “mountain” bike, but to each their own). But if you are planning to get into true off-road trails anything more than beginner, I would strongly recommend a more established brand. I personally wouldn’t risk taking a cheap big-box on a fast, gnarly downhill – the quality of alloy used in the frames and the wheel construction alone give me reason to pucker.

    • #264961

      There’s an old saying—You get what you pay for.¬† If you spend less than $500 you get a Mountainbike that’s heavy, performs poorly, breaks easily, and is really only good for short easy rides on pavement and gravel.¬† In the $500-$1200 range you get a better quality bike that’s adequate for easy singletrack but still comes with with a poor quality fork and components.¬† When you get to around $1200 or more, you get into the realm of real Hardtail Mountainbikes design for true technical singletrack¬† and for full-suspension bikes, you would need to spend about $2000.¬† If you get serious about Mountain biking, you’ll regret not spending a little bit more to buy a better bike.

      For most beginners, I recommend a Plus Hardtail.¬† I like the $1100 (price reduced from $1250) Salsa Timberjack Deore with 29×2.6 tires or the $1200 Trek Roscoe 7 with 27.5×2.8 tires.¬† ¬†Both are excellent beginner bikes.

      • #264966

        Thank You so much for the excellent input everyone. Just in case you are curious i have a 2020 blue Trek Marlin 6 on order.


        i like the idea of a decent base which i can upgrade with the help of my LBS, who incidentally proved to be an invaluable information source. The advice i can get from them is a valuable thing for me. I dont know any other local cyclists and like the idea of supporting smaller businesses.

        peace of mind that my handlebars wont fall off on my first ride out helps a lot


        again thank you all for taking the time to advise

        truly appreciated


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