Returning to this awesome ass hobby but overwhelmed with options

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Returning to this awesome ass hobby but overwhelmed with options

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    • #243178

      Hi there!
      <div>I’ve recently gotten back into mountain biking and I’m looking for a new rig but I could use some advice because there are so many options. Right now I’m on a 2000 Specialized Rockhopper and it’s really holding me back.</div>
      <div>I’m not a beginner but I’m still working on learning how to manual and bunnyhop. I’ve ridden bikes my whole life and as far as mtb goes, I can ride intermediate trails and rode an advanced trail once and got through it. Also, I’m moving from Florida to the PNW and want to get a bike suited to the riding up there. Here’s some basic info:</div>
      <div>Age: 27</div>
      <div>Height: 6’3”</div>
      <div>Weight: 225</div>
      <div>Riding style: aggressive trail riding</div>
      <div>Location: Portland OR</div>
      <div>Budget: $2000</div>
      <div>Basically I want to a bike that can take a beating, that I can learn on, and that will help me ride more difficult trails and features with confidence. I’d like to take it to local trails around Portland, to bike parks (Whistler, Bend), bucket list trails in Moab and Colorado, to take it off dirt jumps and drops, and ride some street too. I’m thinking an aggressive hardtail would suit me best like a Nukeproof Scout, Kona Honzo, Vitus Sentier, Diamondback Syncr, Norco Torrent, Commencal Meta HT AM Race, or a Santa Cruz Chameleon. I could also try and scrape together some extra cash to get a Chromag Rootdown</div>
      <div>I also looked at some full suspension bikes and found good looking ones around my budget that I think could do what I want. I’ve heard full sus bikes lead to sloppy line choice, are harder to jump and are obviously more maintenance and yet I see most intermediate and above riders on one. Some models I found were the new Specialized Stumpjumper ST version, Giant Trance 3, YT Jeffsy, Canyon Spectral, and Vitus Escarpe.</div>
      <div>So what kind of bike should I get? Am I actually a beginner and should just stop thinking and get an entry level hardtail? Is it worth getting a full sus or expensive hardtail like chromag? Sorry for the long post but please let me know what you think and I’ll take any suggestions. Thanks!</div>

    • #243179

      If you are going to go to a downhill park, and you own anything less than 140mm FS, rent a bike from them. For everyday riding, it depends on how you ride, but generally you don’t need FS, but it makes technical trails easier. If you can find a fairly new Trance or Stumpjumper in your budget, that is what I would go for.

    • #243196

      Welcome back to the hobby.  And it is, indeed, the awesome ass hobby! 🙂

      “Am I actually a beginner and should just stop thinking and get an entry level hardtail?”

      I would go with a FS.  Maybe you won’t need (or want) it every day, but for those times that you do, you’ll have it.  And just about any newer bike today, the option to lock out (or nearly lock out) the rear shock is there for that hard tail feel.  But, with today’s geometry, the need to lock out is just about unnecessary.

      I wouldn’t focus too much on long travel, unless 5′ drops are an everyday thing.  Today’s good 130 mm’s can handle what many 150’s can with the added benefit of being more of a “do it all”.  I just spent a week in Colorado hauling down steep grades with rock gardens, etc., and didn’t come across anything my 130 couldn’t do that others on 150’s and 160’s were.  The only noticeable difference was… I could ride uphill too! 🙂

      Of the bike’s you listed, I recently spent some time looking at the Jeffsy and Spectral.  My opinion and experience… both are great, with the Spectral feeling more like a do it all trail than the Jeffsy.  But both are good at that.  In the end, I wound up getting a Whyte T-130.  Another consumer direct (distributor in CA), so good price point.  Great all around trail bike.  Its geometry just fits me better than the YT and Canyon, and more playful feeling.  Lifetime warranty on their pivot bearings (which are sealed, btw).

    • #243230

      Welcome back to mountain biking, hope you stay a while.

      I respectfully disagree with both Alvin Mullen and fredcook; you should get a hardtail. If you stick with it and put in the effort you’ll learn a lot more about bike control on a hardtail than on a full-sus. A solid hardtail can put up with occasional bike park riding, and you’ll likely be more comfortable on your own bike than a rental anyways. I’d recommend the Orange Crush for you. In the “S” build it costs $2,100 and has solid, reliable components that can handle abuse. I am 6’1″ and have one in XL, so you should be fine at your height. I’ve got a 2017 Crush and it has had no serious problems since I got it last October. I’ve ridden everything from cross-country to downhill on it and it’s been great. The riding position is pretty relaxed for flat and uphill sections, but so is every bike with similar geometry and travel.

      Also, hardtails aren’t just for beginners! There are plenty of advanced riders who ride hardtails, and have a damn good time on them!

    • #243232

      Bike just mentioned this in a recent article…


    • #243244

      You can get more bike going with used, but it’s not necessary. Even low end builds and cheaper bikes are pretty good now.

      Rent or demo a squish and hardtail bike and see what you connect with. The more different bikes you try, the better chance you’ll keep the bike longer.

      Don’t be overwhelmed by media. Ride a few bikes and think about what kind of riding you hope to do. The question answers itself to some degree. Cheers, have fun!


    • #243246

      Might be easier to list a few features very worth having on a modern bike:

      Air fork (a lot of cheaper, “entry level” bikes have coil forks), this also implies a tapered headset/steerer tube, which is a virtual necessity if you want to upgrade

      Hydraulic brakes

      1x drivetrain (has the gears you probably want/need and doesn’t have the chain slack and suck associated with a front derailleur)

      Through-axle hubs (while not necessary, per se, it can be easier to find wheelsets that are also thru-axle)

      Tubeless-ready tires/rims (in most cases it’s the tire bead that is a concern, so you can convert to tubeless with a new set of tires)

      Possibly Boost spacing in the rear (front spacing will vary with the fork, rear is permanent, and may give you better geometry and room to run fatter tires, also a lot of newer drivetrains are based on boost spacing)


      • #243248

        Also, at the 2000 price point, there are a number of pretty decent options in hardtails and it seems more than ever in full suspension.  Marin seems to have hit home runs at the sub $2000 price point with the Hawk Hills (1&2, 27.5) and Rift Zone (1&2, 29) and B-17 (1 27.5+).  At about $500 more, the YT Jeffsy and Canyon Spectral Al 6 are getting great reviews.

      • #243249

        Thanks for the responses and sorry about all the <\div> shit, might be because I’m on mobile.

        Is it true a 140 mm FS or less is unsuitable for a bike park? I thought some people now prefer a modern trail bike over a dh beast in a bike park.

        So it looks like I’m still getting some conflicting answers, so I’m going to test ride and demo as many bikes as I can, especially full suspension vs. hardtail and see what I connect with. Seems like that is what it usually comes down to: what you connect with and the kind of deals you can get at the time, not really what a magazine or website reviewer says.

        Thus far I’ve tested a Kona Honzo and Unit and Salsa Karate Monkey. The Honzo was great, I had so much fun just riding around the back of the shop. Coming from 2.0 26 inch tires, the 27.5+ seemed huge and I could really feel the drag. This was on flat pavement and cement though where the drag is most prominent – I bet it would be a different story on dirt. Might be a problem when I ride street though. 29 inch wheels seemed to work best for me. I wish I could demo those direct-to-consumer bikes man because they have some killer deals. Can anyone recommend a good 29er hardcore hardtail or full suspension trail bike that I should demo?

      • #243250

        ” I wish I could demo those direct-to-consumer bikes man because they have some killer deals”

        I know Whyte has a 30 day no questions asked return or exchange if you don’t like it deal.  And they expect it to have been ridden (reasonably).  I believe YT and Canyon have similar terms.  Sadly, when I asked most LBS’s I visited about a “don’t like it return”, the answer was no.

      • #243519

        For 29er HT, Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead is a slayer. Steel, super low standover, threaded BB, 275+ optional, fits 29 x2.6 easily. US made in Denver. 120-140 fork; I’ve run 3 forks on mine and settled on 130 with 29×2.6. Not singlespeed-friendly. Fun bike, but might be hard to demo. Ping GG and see if there’s one near you to try.

    • #243262

      I know Whyte has a 30 day no questions asked return or exchange if you don’t like it deal.  And they expect it to have been ridden (reasonably).  I believe YT and Canyon have similar terms.  Sadly, when I asked most LBS’s I visited about a “don’t like it return”, the answer was no.

      Fezzari, another direct-to-consumer in Utah, also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee trial period.

    • #243278

      You can have fun on a lot of different bikes and what you enjoy most could change as your skills develop.  I enjoy the challenge of riding technical trails on a 29” hardtail as much as ripping down a rocky trail on a 140 mm full suspension.  For me, a ten year old Pivot Mach 429 turned out to be Goldilocks for 90% of the trails I ride.

      Unless you’re already familiar with the trails you will be riding, it might be better to buy a bike after you move.  I’ve been in Colorado for 4 years and it would have been a mistake for me to spend $2,000 on the bike I thought I wanted before I got here.

      I agree that buying used can be a good option.  You should be able to get a pretty nice bike on Craigslist for under $1,000.  If you don’t like it, sell it and try something else.

      It is helpful to read magazines and online reviews, but the most important thing is finding a bike that YOU feel comfortable and confident on.

      On the other hand … that Honzo looks like a pretty sweet bike!

    • #243366

      Sure, you could “put up with” a hardtail for an occasional downhill ride, but it is not the right tool for the job. But what can you say, some people still like, vinyl better than digital recordings, pen and paper better than computers, and maps better than a GPS. To each his own.

    • #243484

      Full suspension bro!
      As these guys are saying, YT and Canyon.I picked up a “used ” Specialized Enduro 29er for alittle over 2000$.It was ridden 2x and has carbon rims.
      The trick to Craigslist is to have your cash in hand.Know the bike you want and the size.Go check out the bike and ride it!!If it’s beat up walk away. If it’s like new or better than new w upgrades ,make a lower offer than ask.My experience is that the sellers will take a good cash offer. If it’s a 5000$ bike ,like new,for 2500,down here in S.Cal that bike will be gone tomorrow. Last,stay w the 2016 2017 models.These bikes changed alot from 2014 2015 models imo.

    • #243948

      I brought a Production Privee steel hardtail frame and built it up.  It’s the OKA which is  a little more pedal friendly than the SHAN.   27.5 with 2.3 maxis minions.  Fox 36 factory fork set at 140 mm.  The bike is the best I’ve ever ridden.  Hardtails are better for me and I’m nearly 30 % faster everywhere than on my 2016   150 mm carbon everything F’S .  It’s so predictable when jumping I’m having the best riding of my life.

    • #244110

      I’d agree with you that an aggressive HT is the best choice. You mentioned some really nice rigs. And for 2 grand you can get it with  solid components. Since you’re a big guy, why not go for big wheels? Things that you’ll want: dropper post, solid fork (you’ll need stanchions at least 34mm), aggressive tires (such as maxxis high rollers). Things that I wouldn’t care about: carbon, weight savings, 1x (although it will probably have it, whatever),.

      True you can get a passable full-sus from a direct order company or a very basic entry level for around that, or even get a used bike with reasonable components from a few years ago. May be that it works out great, but just as well there may be issues.

    • #244201

      I too, am returning back to this awesome ass hobby! lol. I’m building an older frame that I have had in my garage for 6 years or so. It’s been about 8 years since I’ve seriously taken a trail in anger. My frame is an older Scott FX-25 FS. I still own a Specialized Hard Rock Pro that I love but that has been more kitted out for in-town coffee runs.  If I didn’t have it already, I’d go with a HT as well. Just more responsive and you can’t tell me it’s any less fun in the woods.

    • #257293

      I think you can’t decide until you see what your local trail is like wherever you move.  That’s what you’ll be on after work and most weekends so better to have something that works great there.  Life happens and you won’t get to that awesome trail 2 hrs away as much as you think.

      After riding the local: If  you want to go down the hardest thing you can and live to tell the tale, FS.  If you want to blast laps or jumps, HT.  And whatever you get go do the other stuff too.

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