Help buying first mountain bike

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    • #199098

      I am new to the whole world of mountain biking. I live in Central Michigan and want to get into the sport. I will be wanting to ride the most fun, technical extreme trails I can find around me. I have no clue on what bikes to look at. From my research it seems the motobecane fantom elite 29er for $1000 is a pretty good bet. Is this a good bike? What other brands and types should I look for? I might try Craigslist but I dont know what brands and types would be good for me.

    • #199103

      Phantom Elite is a great bike and it’s hard to beat BikesDirect prices. You get better components then similar models from big brands. Just keep in mind that there will be no post-sale service like your local bike shop provide. Normally it’s adjusting derailers and headset that you can learn doing yourself.

      Personally for me it was worth buying Motobecane Fly Team from BD and saving a lot of cash for trips, gear etc

    • #199104

      If you’re willing to spend $1500-2000, you can get a good, brand-new, full suspension bike, which is a better option if you plan on riding “technical extreme” trails.

      Brand, wheel size and color not as important as correct frame size and proper fit.

    • #199127

      Try uping your budget a bit to around 2.5k dollars.  Most full suspension bikes at the 1k to 1.5k process range are OK started bikes but will leaving you wanting more after a year or less of riding especially if you want to hit the most technical trails in your area.  There are lots of articles on here for top ten bikes in all price ranges. I suggest doing a good amount of research and going to your lbs and demo bikes to see what fits you and the trails around that you’ll be riding.  You can also look at hard tails as a first bike.  Less maintenance and it teaches you to be a better rider as well. My 2 cents.

    • #199215

      Yes, I do want a hardtail as my first bike. And I don’t want to up my budget any higher than $1000 that is my max. As I am just getting in the sport. I am going to search Craigslist in my area. But don’t really know what to look for.

    • #199252

      specialized rockhopper… trek x-caliber… giant talon.. norco charger… the list could go on and on..

      here are afew links

      there are cheaper models of all these bikes but the component spec will go down.. the x-caliber 7 is pretty good as well i don’t know if this helps really but…


    • #199274

      If you wanna hardtail, that’s fine, just know the limits of your equipment.

      I suggest you to buy a new bike for first time. While craigslist has good deals sometimes, it’s easy to buy something either too old or worn out for too much. Especially if you know little about bikes.

      When you shop for used, First of all, find out what frame size you need, it will narrow your search. Once you find a bike that you like, check reviews on it online, see how much it was when new.

      If it’s still worth a look, go there and test-ride it. Pay attention to drivetrain condition – if it’s too worn out, could be expensive to replace. Check if bottom bracket spins freely and wheel bearings smooth and tight.

      GMBN has a good tutorial on checking used bike on their YouTube channel.

      There’s an article about buying used bikes somewhere on Singletracks as well.

      Wish I knew about this site when bought Mongoose (Walmart edition) as my first bike.

    • #199375

      Great hardtails would be some of the following..

      Norco Charger, Great bang for your buck!

      Trek X-Caliber, Nice bike but not quite as good bang for your buck as the Charger

      Specialized Rockhopper, Great bike

    • #199463

      Three words:


      Buying online to save money is fine. We have all done it, and I still have a creaky Motobecane fifteen years later, but it’s a sucker’s gambit because a new rider has no idea what he/she is actually getting.

      Buying from your LBS puts you in touch with the people who will keep you riding after your bike breaks (remember those “technical” and “extreme” trails?).  Your LBS will also ensure that your bike actually fits you; this is enormously important, as you will soon learn.

      Suck it up and visit the locals.

    • #200018

      You can always spend more and get more, but you are doing the right thing by sticking to a budget.  If that’s what you have to spend, don’t spend more.  The guys telling you a more expensive bike is better are probably right, but only you know what’s in your wallet. No shame in that game. Your budget will get you a good ride, whether internet or LBS.

      I have purchased Motobecane and Dawes products off of the internet. Here are my thoughts.

      Plus side:

      They are very good for the money. I would have paid much more for something similar (though not as much more as the website would have you believe). My family is equipped with good rides because of internet purchasing, my budget limitations would not have been possible at the LBS.

      You might find a decent used equivalent bike used for these prices, but mileage, care and condition will all be question marks.  Buy your first ride new.


      You will not get to ride them beforehand, that can be a big deal if you have particular geometry preferences. In my family’s case, some of us later decided a different configuration was preferred. We were able to achieve it with minor component changes (handlebar & stem change).

      You need to be mechanically inclined. If you are not, stick to the LBS.  Mountain biking breaks things, those things will need fixed and you will need to do it if you buy off the internet.  Spend some money on a good bike tool kit.

      You won’t be supporting local businesses.  That could be a whole thread in itself, but that’s a fact. Some shops do a great job of supporting local trail building clubs and events.  That stuff is important too, I do it when I can.

    • #200105

      I live in between brighton and lansing. If brighton isnt too far of a drive the guys at D and D bikes are super helpful. Check them out they mostly carry giant (at brighton at least. They have multiple stores.) and I believe they have a sale going currently. I know the giant talon series is pretty good for an entry bike. 27.5 hardtail with tektro mineral oil disk brakes along with an sr suntour fork w/ lockout was 25% off when I was in last.

    • #200144

      the bikesdirect Motobecanes are good bikes, but obviously you cannot test ride one (unless you live Jacksonville FL, we have a bikesdirect store here) so you won’t know how it feels to you.. Modern suspension mountain bikes, even HTs can feel radically different from each other.

    • #200265
    • #208221

      I had a cannondale trail sl 2 29er, a great bike, had a rock shock fork, plenty of gears for XC, avid hydraulic discs, and overall handled so much hashing. I am a big guy, and I took this thing to santa cruz, and many other places that would test the travel of even a full sus bike. check it out, in the 1000 range.

    • #208237

      I’d recommend the Raleigh Tokul 3.  It’s a great bike right around your price point (It’s $1.2k).  Phil Kmetz made a video on it that you can check out here:

      Good luck getting into the sport, hope you find a good bike that suits you well!

    • #208242

      I just got into the sport last year and was just like you.  $1000 was my max so I did my research and went with the best offer at one of the three LBS around me.

      I went with the Specialized Rockhopper Comp and I love it.   She’s my baby.      Sure I’ve done some upgrades to make her the way I want and improve ride comfort.  But out of all the choices the other guys have given you, I will promote the Rockhopper.

      Yes, I will be getting a full suspension bike eventually(in addition to my current one, not instead) as both bikes will ride differently.

      I will be hitting more technical trails which will require a bike with better suspension.   But for the flowy singletrack, and XC I’m doing right now, the Rockhopper rocks my world.

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