Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wanting to buy a mountain bike

Sandra here....

I am looking to buy a mountain bike. I may do some racing on it but really want something that I can play with beside my cyclocross bike. I do not want to spend more than $2000. So I am reaching out to see what kind of suggestions I can get on what I should buy.

leave a comment ....


Thomas said...

IMHO a few things to keep in mind while shopping:

Component Group:
Shimano - at least SLX preferably XT
SRAM - at least X7 preferably X9

Hydraulic Disc Brakes are a must.

I generally prefer a hardtail in almost all situations but most people ride full suspensions. The trade off will be a better component set on a hardtail vs full suspension in the same price range.

Weight will be something to keep in mind too. A hardtail will be 1-2 or more lbs lighter than a comparable priced full suspension.

In the $2000 range full suspension are far and few between. There is probably a race ready hardtail by almost any manufacturer in the $2000 range.

If you go full suspension get 4" or less of travel. 5" is not uncommon for trail riding or even racing too but at a weight and climbing efficiency penalty.

Another thing to consider is running tubeless tires, especially on a hardtail as it provides a bit of cushion and better traction plus no pinch flats. That will be an extra cost of course to convert a wheelset to tubeless using Stans system plus a set of Tubeless Ready tires. (I prefer "tubeless ready" tires as opposed to using normal tires for tubeless for their stronger casings to prevent punctures.)

Last but not least you could try considering a very small sized 29" wheeled hardtail. The 29" wheels roll over stuff and provided a bit of suspension especially if run tubeless. Niner and Fisher make 29ers in small sizes, I think for 5'4" and up. 29ers are not for everyone. You either love the way they ride or don't. I suggest taking a bunch of bikes out for test rides to see what feels best.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Brent said...

I agree with Thomas for sure on the component groups and disk brakes.

$2000 is a tricky amount to spend. You can get a really nice hardtail with an air adjust front shock, or you can get into 1 step above entry level in full suspension. There is the Specialized XC, Norco Faze, and Cannondale One20's that all come in around the 2k price. I do not have a tonne of experience with the 29er's but for someone your size I am not yet convinced that it would be the best way to go. It is definitely a personal preference, get out and roll around on one to see what you think.

The people I have talked with who have used the Stans Tubeless conversion kit have had pretty good success, so that is something you can upgrade to at a later date for around $100 ish plus specific tires...

I personally can't imagine why anyone would want a hardtail still, unless you are a super light and all you do is race. Your back will thank you for full suspension on those long ride days...

Thomas said...

Brent you obviously haven't ridden a 29er hardtail out of he parking lot or you would know why the hardtail still rules!! ;)

Not to mention all the comfy carpet fibre 29er hardtail offerings these days.

As far as height on a 29er goes both Willow Koerber(5'2") and Heather Irmiger(5'4") race on the Fisher 29ers. So as long as you have enough stand over I don't buy the height issue.

I believe it is more an issue of whether you like the handling or not. Both 26er and 29ers rule as long as you like how it rides.

I've only heard good stuff about the Norco Faze and it's an excellent value.

Fausto said...

I'd look at the Scott Contessa Spark 35.

The component spec may be a little weak (especially the wheelset) but you get an excellent frame with a proven and popular suspension design.

You'll have a hard time staying under the two grand mark because you will definitly want to upgrade the wheelset. This upgrade is worth every penny.

Mavic UST wheels and compatible UST tires are the best and most reliable. Forget about conversion kits or making do with anything other than the real thing when it comes to tubless systems. Yes, they are a must, as are disc brakes.

If it's a play bike you are after then full suspension is the way to go.
The mountain terrain around Calgary is best suited for these bikes. Some experienced riders will tell you that a 29er hardtail is all you need for any trail. Dont listen to them. This is only true if you have many years of mountain biking experience. A 29 hartail is a great second bike but for a novice mountain biker, it is hardly any more capable than your 'cross bike.

Forget about a 26 inch hardtail unless you are racing world cups. These bikes are pretty obsolete no matter what the component group.


Darcy G said...


Are you saying my Rocky Mountain Stratos hardtail with V-brakes is old school?

Fausto said...


No. Old School stuff still works well for it's intended purpose no matter it's age. I'm saying your bike is obsolete.

Dennis said...

Wait till I join Darcy next year on my Specialized hardtail with gripshift shifters... oh wait SRAM still makes them.

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