I’m looking for a mountain bike around $500. I’ll be mainly “rails to trails” riding which is relatively flat and tame. However I would like the option to be able to ride some more aggressive mountain bike trails in my local area. I have my choices pretty much narrowed down to the Cannondale Trail 8 and the Giant ATX 2. The reason it’s down to those is because of the bike shop by my house carries those 2 brands. I know the Giant only comes with 27.5 wheels. The Cannondale, 29. I’m 6′-1″. The Giant’s forks might be “better” but I think the Cannondale may have a better drive train. If there’s another bike someone can recommend, I’m not totally apposed to that either. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
$500 is a difficult price range. Everything is compromised, which is sad to say because it is a lot of money to spend on one thing. Plus you need helmet, water bottle and maybe some clothes.
The bike that has piqued my interest lately is the On-One Bootzipper 29 Cross Monster. It is an old-school steel mountain bike with a rigid fork but with drop bars and it will cost about $1,000. For me, it would be a great option for commuting and dipping my toes in cyclocross. There are also some nice trails around that it would work great on (but would be terrifying on the rest).
For rails to trails type riding you really don’t need much in the way of suspension, both brands are good, test ride them both and which ever feels better to you should be fine. I will say for that type of riding, where there are not a lot of tight trails and switch backs, the 29in tires would be a benefit.
Thank you guys for the input. Yeah, I realize that $500 really doesn’t get me much but it’s pretty much all I can do at this point. I think I’m going with the Cannondale. The 29in tires will better suit me.
I am the same height as you. I own one each 27.5 and 29er hardtails. I love both bikes. I did a quick look over of both bikes and they are essentially the same bike. Common. I prefer my 29er but if all I had was the 27.5 I would love it too. Both have their pros and cons. Don’t sweat the wheel size unless you have a preference or something specific that one is better at. Make sure you get the right size bike which is probably large in both these brands but the shop should help with this. It appears the Cannondale might have a slightly better fork on it. Same brand fork and same travel but higher build. Based on what you told us either bike would fit what you want to do. Others are suggesting spending more money. Yes you will get a nicer bike but sometimes you don’t have the money. I get that. Been there. These are capable bikes. At some point they may limit you but like I said for what you want to do now they work. Pick one ride the heck out of it. If you get hooked you can start upgrading one of these bikes or save for something new and you will have experience to help you with your future purchase. Had a Cannondale a few years and ago and loved it.