New MT bike best bang for the buck


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    • #126302

      I’m in the market for a new bike after many years (riding 2000 Trek 8000). Right now I’m looking at numerous models but prefer not $1200 is my high end. I was favoring the X Caliber 8 or Airborne Seeker. Recently I have been seeing some Performance Bike Shop GTs that seem like good bang for the buck. How do the GT Backwoods Expert and Zaskar Comp compare to the Seeker on specs.
      The leftover Zaskar is usually around a grand and the Backwoods has been as low as $900. How is Performance’s customer service on bikes?

    • #126303

      Unfortunately their specs are all over the place….

      Best fork: Airborne Seeker (Recon Gold TK air) ,then Zaskar (30 Gold TK air), then Backwoods (XC 32 TK *coil)

      Best Rear Derailluer: Backwoods (Shimano XT), then Zaskar (Shimano SLX), then Airborne (SRAM X5)

      Shifters: All comparable. Deore on GTs and X5 on Airborne. Personal preference. *Mine is Shimano if you’re curious but thats just me.

      Brakes: Not sure… Backwoods (Shimano M396) are cheapest cost, Zakar (formula C1) most expensive, Backwoods (Avid Elixir 1) are in the middle. I had a set of high end elixir’s that i was not fond of as they constantly squealed (a very common complaint with Avids though that was 5 years ago now). I currently run SLX and love them…but those obviously aren’t the M396. I have no experience with the C1 but Im sure there a re plenty of reviews.

      The other stuff (wheels, seats, stems, bars, etc…) gets hard to compare directly to each other.

      Just based on that information I would suggest the Airborne Seeker mainly because of the fork. MSRP is about $450 for that one and you wouldn’t want to try and upgrade that on one of the other bikes. You can upgrade shifters ad derailleurs (and brakes) for less than the cost of that fork if you shop for good deals, but really X5 are decent enough for starters. They aren’t true "entry level" as the X3 (which I don’t believe is sold to anyone but manufacturers) and other low level Shimano gear is found on the "entry" bikes.

      Hope that helps but I’m sure there are different opinions on the boards than mine.

    • #126304

      have you considered building your own? IMO best bang for your buck comes from custom building – that way you get what you want for your dollar regardless of how much you spend – you get to choose where to sacrifice and where you spend extra. Just my thought – if you aren’t a heavy/abusive rider, why spend extra money on a fork when a cheaper one will suffice and a better brake set or gearing would benefit you more…if that makes sense.
      I’m currently going through building my own rig right now and I honestly would have to say dollar for dollar I am getting a WAY nicer bike than a factory build for the same kind of money…not to mention it will be one of a kind and as the kids say #swag. 😃 —- however I am also building a single speed park bike, I am not putting a front brake or gears on it and that saves some coin that I can spend on things like blinged out anodized parts and such.

    • #126305
      "singlecoil" wrote

      have you considered building your own? IMO best bang for your buck comes from custom building…

      That has not been my experience at all. Going custom does mean getting exactly what you want, but it almost always means spending more money, often a LOT more money. Now if you’re buying used or finding some crazy deals here it might change things a little. And if you buy a complete and then change out a lot of stuff it might be cheaper to just go custom from the start. But if you can find a complete that’s pretty close to what you want, that’s the best bang for the buck.

      For example, Giant used to have a bottom of the line Anthem X 29er that had a Fox fork and rear shock, and SLX drivetrain (I think). They also sold just the frame with a shock (Fox, little higher end shock than what came on the bottom end complete). If you bought the frame and a Fox fork it would cost a few bucks MORE than the complete bike that also had a Fox shock and fork, and EVERYTHING else needed to ride it. Even if all you wanted was the frame, the smart financial move was the buy the complete and sell off the parts you don’t want.

    • #126306

      I second dgaddis on that. It’s almost always better (cheaper) to buy a complete bike than to custom build. The biggest reason is the fact that the manufacturers have volume purchase power and are able to get the components at a lower cost than most retailers. Thats another reason the big online shops can usually sell at lower prices than an LBS. On a side note buying from your LBS helps small businesses and allows you to build rapport with the owners and staff which may come in handy.

      Also, when buying a complete bike it’s also better to scrape up a little more money and buy the best bike you can afford as opposed to buying a lower tier one and planning to upgrade the stuff later. Theres’ nothing wrong with doing that but it is more cost effective in the long run to buy those "upgrades" up front.

      Of course if you just want that custom spec, building up your own ride can be a fulfilling experience and may be worth the effort of bargain hunting and such if you enjoy that type of thing.

    • #126307

      I hear you guys and honestly, when you’re talking full suspension its kind of another game..I’m just throwing this out there thoug, I just bought two frames for less than 400 one of which would make a really nice all around MTB which only cost me 154$ brand new. All of last years components are on sale and if you’re building with a budget in mind, you can get some pretty cheap parts.
      I’m just comparatively thinking about how I spent 750$ after tax on a specialized hard rock 29er – mechanical brakes, sr suntour forks, suntour crank and typical bottom of the barrel drive train….now I’m spending 1200-1400 on my current build that will be mostly deity, ns bikes, spank and octane one parts… Just saying, the price difference might be double, but I’m getting better than double the quality of parts – especially considering right now I can find many forks on sale for half or less than half their retail value… I would assume that if I had have chosen to go less fancy on my build I could have built something similar to my hard rock for less money…especially if I went used on some parts and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just saying, its worth considering if you are thinking of a new ride.
      As far as my lbs goes, I buy my tools there typically and have already spent a couple thousand dollars there in the last year, so… You know, I’m not some consumerist whore who is wanting to screw the little man lol.

    • #126308

      Yeah it just depends on what you’re looking for. It’s worth looking into either way, at least you’ll know what your options are.

      My last new MTB I went the custom build route, not because it was cheaper (it certainly was not in my case) but because no one offered exactly what I wanted. I wanted a SS 29er with a steel frame using track end dropouts, not an EBB (creak creak creak) or sliders (ugly and heavy), with a rigid carbon fork. Heck, I don’t think anyone offers that now as a complete bike…

      I built up a Vassago Jabberwocky with a White Brothers Rock Solid rigid carbon fork and high quality stuff all around – RaceFace carbon bars, Thomson bar/stem, custom wheels I built myself, etc. It was expensive, but it was exactly what I wanted and I’ve been riding it for ~5yrs now. Some parts have changed or got swapped with other bikes. I even had the frame stripped and re-powder coated last year. LOVE that bike and wont bother replacing it until I have the cash to get a custom frame built.

      The day it was built up:

      Current setup.

    • #126309

      Nice set up man, its easy to see why it cost so much through… You don’t HAVE to put carbon parts on a bike… Lol, comparing that build to an average factory build isn’t even fair. Your bars were probably like 150 dollars on their own, when you can get aluminium ones for like 40 dollars…goes for all components. custom doesn’t need to be as fancy as you or myself make it, could have built up a 150 dollar frame with budget components for less than a thousand bucks for sure..but you know as well as I do that its more fun when you go all out lol.

    • #126310

      Hey man, have you checked out our recent budget buyer’s guides? If not, be sure to check out these articles: … ain-bikes/ … ain-bikes/

      Happy shopping!

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