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Old 16 September 2017, 13:59
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Used mountain bike advice?

The weather is just a couple weeks from cooling off here, and I want to start doing some trail riding again. Being in a semi-retired financial situation, I'm leaning toward a "best-bang-for-the-buck" lightweight used bike, even if I have to tune it up or throw some parts at it.

The problem is I've been doing the "urban commute" for so many years (paved bike trails) that I gave away my (heavy) old vintage Trek a couple years ago and got a cheap skinny-tire commuter (hyper-spinfit700c). Now that I've lost weight, I want to get out on some dirt again! A good compliment to the Dirtbikes (Hondas ), and we have some amazing mountain trails an hour or two away up around Sedona, White Mountains, etc. Good to go up and workout at 7000'asl! Also a good compliment to the daily roadwork, and very conducive to the Wildlife Photography. Plus, just GTF out of the city.

But I'm clueless about the current stuff to watch for, and to avoid. Never had any "active suspension" so not sure if that's necessary. Do have a strong desire for as lightweight as possible (of course), after humping that old 1990s Trek around for so many years.

Any words of wisdom or advice on $10K bikes to try to find for $50 at garage sales... I am in the garage sale capital of the US.

Any brand-names that I would KNOW I'm getting something good, even if just a foundation to build on? Can't go wrong with a __xxx__?

Last edited by Tycon; 16 September 2017 at 14:24.
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Old 16 September 2017, 22:20
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Good question since I'm looking as well. Six weeks ago I had knee replacement and I want the wife and I to take advantage of the cooler Vegas temps. We have plenty of trails here and we've decided to start riding.
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Old 17 September 2017, 08:45
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Hey fellas,

Two things first: what's your price range and desired type of riding?

I'm guessing fire roads and some single track, but not crazy technical or downhill for the riding?

Full suspension bikes are great but are far from necessary if you're not going to be riding aggressively. Bikes are like any other tool in that it's more about the user than the tool itself (a good rider can crush difficult trails on a $100 Walmart bike... for a while).

You can get a pretty solid mountain bike new for about $500. If you want light, carbon fiber is nice but expensive. Not a huge difference in aluminum bikes.

To be honest, these days just about every brand name is solid even at their entry-level offering.

Buying a used mid or top line bike is great if you know how to check the maintenance, gears, chain, etc. But for entry-level riding you're probably best off to go to a solid reputable local shop and buy new. No reason to spend $300 or $400 on used when you can spend $500 and get new, IMO.

Basically, since entry level bikes are so cheap it just makes sense to buy a new one as the discount on used is not that much... so, go to a local shop that really knows their stuff and ask for the advice of their mtn bike experts. Then, visit s few more shops that have different models and choose what you like best.

If your price range is $2000+ then let me know and I'll provide different advice.

Does this help?
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Old 17 September 2017, 09:07
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Small caveat:

- police auctions
- universities (kids graduate, leave, sell their shit)
- community bike programs

Can all be excellent places to look. You may get lucky but bikes tend to be very much "you get what you pay for" unless as I said you really know what to check/look for.

Best case, if you find one on Craigslist or wherever, try to get permission to bring to to a local shop for a quick inspection.
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Old 17 September 2017, 12:15
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Great post ^. I'm very much considering an entry level as well and saw what appeared to be a decent FUJI in the <$300 range. Hell, that's less than I spent on my vintage Trek 20 years ago (and likely half the weight!)! But, I don't really know what to trust these days.

Also, I'm in a unique position to find hidden treasures, but not sure even what brands to look for. Maybe I can just go by the idea that if I can lift it with two fingers, and if it has Shimono (or whatever is good now) components. Like if I found a Yeti for <$100 would that be a steal? Or do they make a cheap POS to avoid also? What about Diamondback or Giant or GT? Or, do they all make some good and some POS? I see a lot of bikes, but not sure about quality. Saw a Pacific that looked real good until I looked it up and didn't seem quite as quality as my first impression.

I do want to possibly do some technical, but mostly not. Likely no crazy downhills on the razor's edge. Mostly a tool for off-track trail photography, with a small digital camera, lightweight tripod, and H20/trail mix, all in like a day-pack

Yes, if the price range was in the $2K range, (and I could grab it for <$200!) what should I be looking for these days?

Thanks for any guidance to filter today's marketing hype and know what is truly quality brands to look for -vs- something (wal-mart-special-like) that looks good new but may have POS aluminum welds, pot-metal components not really built for long-term vibration, etc.

I trust you guys that have actually been beating the shit out of them much MORE than the marketing departments buyer's guide "top ten" lists!

Last edited by Tycon; 17 September 2017 at 12:36.
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Old 17 September 2017, 16:10
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You're unlikely to get such an amazing deal on a bike outside of those 3 venues I listed above (and maybe some others that don't come to mind) so if you do, be wary.

Good option is to try and get last year's outgoing model right when the new bikes come in and the shops need to make shelf space.

All of the brands will be pretty similar quality at the same price points. Trek, Giant, Canondale, and Specialized are a few places to start.

You and everyone else in the world would like to find a Yeti or Santa Cruz for cheap. Unlikely to happen.

**You'll want disc brakes, the best front fork possible and hopelly a frame/rims that aren't too heavy. 29" is probably best bag for the buck. 29ers are a good size and make a significant difference if you decide you like biking and wanna step it up a notch from fire roads.

Best question to ask yourself is "do I really want to get into this as a hobby? If so, how high can I go?" - bike quality jumps pretty rapidly up to abou the $1k range. At $800+ you can definitely find all the starter bike you need.

Maybe this helps?
https://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-gear/buyers-guide-budget-hardtail-mountain-bikes/

http://www.mbr.co.uk/buyers_guide/the-best-cheap-mountain-bikes-331305


My opinion: less than $500 and you may as well wipe your ass with the money instead. $500-1000 and you make a proper "investment" in your life... you get out, ride, enjoy yourself.

$4k plus and you're really having fun
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Old 17 September 2017, 18:36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balls View Post
..

$4k plus and you're really having fun
That's when the LBS owner starts to have fun!
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Old 17 September 2017, 19:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Balls View Post
All of the brands will be pretty similar quality at the same price points. Trek, Giant, Canondale, and Specialized are a few places to start.

You and everyone else in the world would like to find a Yeti or Santa Cruz for cheap. Unlikely to happen.
True about the Yeti, but I see a lot of bikes and I'm spending today immersed in youtubes to learn the latest "indicators" and variables that tell of bike quality.

Lots of garage sales and such in my area, with old dudes that got fired up, enthusiastically overpurchased, and then after two rides the rig collects dust and takes up room on the back porch or garage and gets a $100obo pricetag. Especially for a few more weeks while it's still hot outside.

Thrift shops also. I am in the world's capital. I have an 8 thrift shop neighborhood loop (plus numerous garage sales) I do (Saturdays, in the golf cart, LOL!) and I call it "running my trapline". I can usually find whatever I'm looking for IF I'm patient for three weeks or so. Likely not a Yeti, but a couple year old very-low-milage Cannondale, Specialized, Diamondback, or similar is very possible.

This video helped me a lot on what to "key into" when looking. I've just been away from the hobby long enough for the world to change. Think heavy-ass steel-frame 1990s Trek in the $600 range in early 1990s dollars. No disks, no suspension. But it got plenty of (overloaded) use in AK and AZ until just a few years ago when I got fat/lazy from a "desk sentence"... Now it's carbon fiber and hydraulic systems. Even titanium. Holy shit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSk8qkE5MSw


Quote:
My opinion: less than $500 and you may as well wipe your ass with the money instead. $500-1000 and you make a proper "investment" in your life... you get out, ride, enjoy yourself.

$4k plus and you're really having fun!
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Last edited by Tycon; 17 September 2017 at 20:27.
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Old 18 September 2017, 08:56
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Surley or Jamis.

Check local shops alot of them sell used bikes or will have a bulletin board.
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Old 18 September 2017, 10:45
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Just buy a Huffy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkMnk_eCDQU
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Old 18 September 2017, 11:27
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Originally Posted by Hoepoe View Post
That's when the LBS owner starts to have fun!
^ That too
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Old 18 September 2017, 11:45
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Originally Posted by Balls View Post
Just buy a Huffy
LOL! I like the wal-mart "mountain bikes" with the actual "caution" warning sticker that says "not to be used on mountain bike trails".

Great video here.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1A6bKUCcDW0

That being said, I've been happy with my cheap/lightweight <$200 "Hyper Spinfit" commuter. BUT, I'm a cellphone call away from a ride if that thing f#@ks-up. And I don't beat the shit out of it while on the nice paved bike-trails. I just got tired of youngsters zipping by me while humping that heavy-ass steel-frame vintage Trek around.

Watch, I'll find a decent bike "for a song" in about 3 weeks or less here in the retirement community. Now that I know what to look for. Love this neighborhood.

Also, love this guys videos and hacks...
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu8...u9XfaQC74Hr_Gw
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Old 18 September 2017, 12:28
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Frame geometry. While it may be the right size, if the geometry is wrong you will not be comfortable and you will not want to ride it. Go to any well stocked bike shop and try 10-20 different bikes.

I F-ing hate Presta valves. Shimano components are generally good. Marzocchi forks are good products IMO.

There is a bike for your budget.

Gary Fisher, Kona, Marin, Trek, Cannondale, Giant, Santa Cruz, Specialized etc.
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Last edited by Expatmedic; 18 September 2017 at 12:35.
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Old 18 September 2017, 14:16
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Frame geometry. While it may be the right size, if the geometry is wrong you will not be comfortable and you will not want to ride it. Go to any well stocked bike shop and try 10-20 different bikes.

I F-ing hate Presta valves. Shimano components are generally good. Marzocchi forks are good products IMO.

There is a bike for your budget.

Gary Fisher, Kona, Marin, Trek, Cannondale, Giant, Santa Cruz, Specialized etc.
This is good. Just like shoes/boots, a size 10 for one brand ain't necessarily a size 10 in another brand. Try before you buy.

The good thing about mtn bike technology, today's $2,500 bikes are tomorrow's $700 bikes. I rode a Gary Fisher Super Caliber (back before he sold out to Trek); had XTR and a Manitou fork. When I got it, it was $2K. Sold it for $350.

Also check out Craigslist....I have a few colleges around and the morons will sell their mtn bikes when they graduate, and the ones around here are usually pretty high-quality, and they just use them as campus cruisers.

If you look at some shops look for last year's model since they will be cheaper.
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Old 18 September 2017, 14:42
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Originally Posted by Devildoc View Post
Also check out Craigslist....I have a few colleges around and the morons will sell their mtn bikes when they graduate, and the ones around here are usually pretty high-quality, and they just use them as campus cruisers.
This is a great idea...ASU has 71,946 students on multiple campuses in Tempe, downtown, and it's westside campus. Plus all the community colleges that feed it valleywide. Huge student population. Oh yeah, Plus UofA. ;-)
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Old 19 September 2017, 00:54
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Check out a Bike shop that rents Bikes, Try several different ones to see what you like. Also check a Bike Repair shop, When I use to ride I got a couple of good one to ride. An you can all ways talk the person down on price.
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Old 19 September 2017, 01:26
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Check out a Bike shop that rents Bikes, Try several different ones to see what you like. Also check a Bike Repair shop, When I use to ride I got a couple of good one to ride. An you can all ways talk the person down on price.
This rental idea is a good one, since I've never rode anything with a modern suspension.

In watching some of the trail vids I can see it changes the whole dynamic, especially on a bumpy downhill. That may even apply to fireroads and jeep trails.

I should actually go do a Sedona rental.

I wonder if I could also hire a motivational guide that knows the area too?

I know...I have a "single track" mind these days.

Last edited by Tycon; 19 September 2017 at 01:38.
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Old 19 September 2017, 08:13
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Old 19 September 2017, 08:25
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How well are you acquainted with your local homeless guys? Around here they seem to have cornered the market on previously owned nice bikes.
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Old 19 September 2017, 09:05
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I only buy used bikes. Check the welds and make sure the frame is straight. Look for the best components. My Litespeed is 15 years old and has $5k worth of parts, and I got it for $1k.

Don't buy any cheap brand from Wal-Mart. The parts break and can't be easily replaced. You'd be better off getting a 10 year old bike that a weight weenie biker is selling for something 'faster.' Trust me, they are like a weird cult needing the newest stuff.

I'd also focus on a hardtail. No need to get full suspension.
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