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-   -   Best Hardtail for Under 500 bucks? (https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=1182797)

7tevoffun 09-18-19 11:21 AM


Originally Posted by Kapusta (Post 21127925)
OK, I am looking at the Cannondale site.

Looking at the ones on the REI site.... you still can't put the fork you are thinking of on the 8..... or the 5.
And my point regarding doing ANY upgrade to the drive train remains. Not specified if the 8 is using a cassette or freewheel.

You are going where many have gone before.... thinking there is some way to beat the system with upgrades. Ultimately, unless you know you have very specific needs out of the mainstream, or have a very good lead on the upgrades (or already own them), it almost never works out financially. Yes, you can cherry pick two models to compare where it works, but in those cases it is either an unusually good deal on the cheaper one, or bad deal on the more expensive one. Find the best deals at $500 and $750 and $1000 level, and it will seldom work out.

And, as the bikes you mention illustrate, upgrading low end bikes can sometime not be an option due to the different standards.

I'd like to appeal to everyone's expertise here:

the 2017 rockhopper expert has some decent specs, however, I don't know how upgradeable it is given it's 3 years old, roughly. Can anyone comment on the upgradeability?

chiefsilverback 09-18-19 11:22 AM


Originally Posted by Kapusta (Post 21127925)
OK, I am looking at the Cannondale site.

Looking at the ones on the REI site.... you still can't put the fork you are thinking of on the 8..... or the 5.

The Markhor is available for 26, 27.5 and 29, 1 1/8 straight or tapered and QR or 110mm boost. Why couldn't you put one on the Trail 5 or 8? https://manitoumtb.com/product/markhor/?cat_id=23

Metieval 09-18-19 12:13 PM


Originally Posted by 7tevoffun (Post 21127893)
Is it a Talon 1, 2, 3?

it is a 21013 Talon 1

the original owner put a TK 30 silver on it, and i19 WTB wheels and had changed the crankset

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/talon-29er-1-2013
I then totally changed it up.

the Talons are good bikes, I'd put the Talon, Marlin, Raleigh Tokul, Rockhopper on a short list even a cannondale Trail. use Facebook marketplace

https://cimg3.ibsrv.net/gimg/bikefor...48e444b60b.jpg

Kapusta 09-18-19 12:17 PM


Originally Posted by chiefsilverback (Post 21127961)
The Markhor is available for 26, 27.5 and 29, 1 1/8 straight or tapered and QR or 110mm boost. Why couldn't you put one on the Trail 5 or 8? https://manitoumtb.com/product/markhor/?cat_id=23

The Manitou site has it listed as 1-1/8 1.5 tapered, which I interpreted as meaning basically tapered. I see that it is in fact available in 1-1/8 straight. My bad. But I should also point out that this is an upgrade, but still not a stellar fork.

But you are still stuck with the lower end drivetrain. So you have spent about the same money, and have a bike with a better fork fork and a worse drive-train that may not be upgradable. And even if it is, up-gradable, by the time you upgrade it, you would be in spitting distance of the Trail 4 (which is what I was referring to earlier as the Trail 5) with better everything.

It also worth noting that there are a number of components that they are not even listing the specifics of such as the BB, hubs, headset. And the tire descriptions are not giving model specifics, and it is unclear if there are different OEM versions of the Ranger. It is often these little things that go unnoticed when putting together a sub-$500 bike.

Personally, if you are going to compare the $485 REI bike to a more expensive one in the $750 range, I would look at the Giant Talon 2. Seems like a much better deal than the C-Dale Trail 5.

However, if all you care about is the fork... then sure, buy the cheapest bike you can and put a nice fork on it.

7tevoffun 09-18-19 12:29 PM

That's a good looking bike.

I just searched facebook marketplace around where I live and there's jack squat. :( le sigh.

I'm also leery of purchasing things on facebook marketplace...

prj71 09-18-19 12:30 PM

Bottom line here.

There isn't a "Best hardtail under $500"

Anything brand new under ~$1000 puts you in junk bike territory

7tevoffun 09-18-19 12:32 PM

I appreciate your candor, but I'm also receiving a lot of good advice from others on this site regarding what I should be looking for and what I should expect to get so regardless of whether or not there is a "best" hardtail under 500 bucks it's giving me perspective which is valuable.

prj71 09-18-19 12:35 PM


Originally Posted by 7tevoffun (Post 21128058)
I appreciate your candor, but I'm also receiving a lot of good advice from others on this site regarding what I should be looking for and what I should expect to get so regardless of whether or not there is a "best" hardtail under 500 bucks it's giving me perspective which is valuable.

You need to up your budget to around $1000 plus if you want a decent hardtail.

Darth Lefty 09-18-19 01:08 PM

If someone posted here with a budget of $1000 where would you send them? Because those bikes cost $1500 now, unless they come with compromised builds. But a $500 bike is the same it always was, good enough for people who just want a bike, not a hobby.

7tevoffun 09-18-19 01:21 PM


Originally Posted by Darth Lefty (Post 21128120)
If someone posted here with a budget of $1000 where would you send them? Because those bikes cost $1500 now, unless they come with compromised builds. But a $500 bike is the same it always was, good enough for people who just want a bike, not a hobby.

I definitely won't be hitting the trails super hard; i'm looking for something that I can use to cut my teeth on trail riding - if I fall in love with the sport, then I will happily save up and spend money on a really nice hardtail.

smullen 09-18-19 01:43 PM


Originally Posted by 7tevoffun (Post 21128137)
I definitely won't be hitting the trails super hard; i'm looking for something that I can use to cut my teeth on trail riding - if I fall in love with the sport, then I will happily save up and spend money on a really nice hardtail.

You just have to do a lot of looking to see what you can find that fits in your budget.

I would not be afraid to look at Face Book Market place.... I've found deals on several good bikes local to me (within an hour or under drive) and I actually bought one from a lady a few weeks ago. The Bike was priced fair, looked exactly like the pics and as she described. She was on time to meet me at one of the bigger, busier gas stations. Transaction went well.

Also, if you have any local shops, couldn't hurt to go to one of those, tell them what you're looking for.
I live outside a small rural town and we don't have anything local or less then an hour. So I have checked out the shops, North and South East of me and found a shop I like a lot.

Then if you can't find anything on FB or local shops, try a Walmart Super Center, Academy Sports, Sports Authority, Dicks Sporting goods or other sporting good shops and see what they have.... Maybe you'll find something that fits your needs in your range.

Also, maybe save up just a bit more to move into the next better level of Bike.

One thing bad about any forum on any topics, Guns, Cars, Bikes, Boats, SxSs, Cameras, GPSrs, etc.. etc.. You can get great advice on most any issue or topic, but if you aren't spending top dollar, you're wasting you money...

If all you are doing is casual riding, you can get by with about anything on two wheels that fits your size.

Its just human nature to one something better or cooler, even if you realistically don't need it.
For the riding I do, I'm sure a $500.00 Bike would do me just fine... I just wanted something a bit nicer...

jrhoneOC 09-18-19 09:11 PM

https://www.nashbar.com/marin-rock-s...99522?v=958870

600 marin with 1x10 drivetrain hydraulic brakes and a coil shock. Not too bad for an entry level bike. You should be looking at a $500 as a bike to ride now and sell in a year or 2 when u are ready fpr a better bike. It wont be worthwhile to dump $1000 into upgrading. Thats where you will be when you upgrade the wheels, brakes, fork, drivetrain. And you will still have a average and heavy frame. Buy the $500 bike. Ride it. Get in shape and proficient on it tuen put that upgrade money into a new bike and sell the old one for $300. You are Renting a bike for a year or so for $200.

Metieval 09-18-19 09:21 PM


Originally Posted by 7tevoffun (Post 21128050)
That's a good looking bike.

I just searched facebook marketplace around where I live and there's jack squat. :( le sigh.

I'm also leery of purchasing things on facebook marketplace...

well it's had some money dumped into it.
$300 for the Manitou marvel Pro
the XT saint, XT cassette, and RD was $225
Powder coating was $130

so it's like a $1,200 bike now

prj71 09-19-19 08:18 AM


Originally Posted by Darth Lefty (Post 21128120)
If someone posted here with a budget of $1000 where would you send them?

Right here. Plenty of bikes in that Range which are much better than anything under $500

https://www.jensonusa.com/Mountain-B...=750&maxP=1500

Kapusta 09-19-19 10:44 AM


Originally Posted by prj71 (Post 21129057)
Right here. Plenty of bikes in that Range which are much better than anything under $500

https://www.jensonusa.com/Mountain-B...=750&maxP=1500

Wow, $750-$1500 bikes that are better than $500 bikes. Incredible. Who’d have thought?

Shall I now link to a bunch of $2500-$3000 bikes to point out that $1000 bikes are junk?

prj71 09-19-19 11:52 AM


Originally Posted by Kapusta (Post 21129259)
Wow, $750-$1500 bikes that are better than $500 bikes. Incredible. Who’d have thought?

Shall I now link to a bunch of $2500-$3000 bikes to point out that $1000 bikes are junk?

That $750+ range is a fine line that gets out of department store bike territory. You know as well as I do that a sub $500 mountain bike is a decent frame with inferior parts attached to it. "Cheap" and "good" don't go together in the world of bikes.

Kapusta 09-19-19 12:20 PM


Originally Posted by prj71 (Post 21129354)
That $750+ range is a fine line that gets out of department store bike territory. You know as well as I do that a sub $500 mountain bike is a decent frame with inferior parts attached to it. "Cheap" and "good" don't go together in the world of bikes.

The OP has been given several options (entry level Marlins, Talons Trails) that rise above department store BSOs and can be had for just under or around $500. These are bikes that are found in bike shops and will serve regular use just fine. You need to consider what the OP is actually looking at the bike for.

Are they as nice ad $750? Of course not. And $750 bikes are clearly inferior to $1200 bikes which are clearly inferior to $2k bikes.... and so on.

Nobody is arguing that the OP won’t get a lot more if he spends more. But to rule out anything under $1000 as “junk” territory (as you did earlier) or that under $750 is dept store territory (as you are now) is not accurate and definitely not helpful to the OP.

prj71 09-19-19 03:17 PM

Contradictions Kapusta...

You kinda ruled out anything under $1000 as junk also just without directly saying it like I did while at the same time implying he would be better off choosing a bike in the same price range I suggested.


Originally Posted by Kapusta (Post 21125958)
UNDER $500 new.... it gets tough. At $500 (MSRP) you can get a perfectly OK bike for riding around the neighborhood and on gentle paths, but off-road capability will be limited.

If you can go up to $600, bikes like the Trek Marlin or Giant Talon are decent options, and will handle off-road fine, but don’t expect a lot.

You could probably get something decent from BD for $500, but I would only do that if you want to wrench your own bike and have the ability to check the build.

When looking at mountain bikes in the $500 to $1000 range, every little bit extra you can afford will make a very noticeable difference. Even just going from a $500 to $750 budget will make a huge difference. And $750 to $1000 will as well.

For under $500 I would be looking at used.

While the idea of rigid sounds good, I don’t think you are going to have much luck finding a decent rigid mtb new for $500. Unfortunately, the mass market demands to see a suspension fork on the front of a mountain bike, no matter how crappy it is. New rigid mtbs are more of a niche thing, thus are rarely seen in entry level price points.

And to be honest, even if you could find a new decent rigid MTB for $500, buying it with the plan of upgrading it with a suspension fork is a waste of money. You will end up spending $750 to get a bike you could have bought for $600.

OTOH, if you can find a rigid bike in your price range, I would go with that over a the crappy suspension forks that they are typically speced with, and just leave it rigid.

Of course only you know what you can really afford to spend on a bike right now, but one thing I will warn you about is that with a $500 mountain bike, if you start enjoying riding off road, you’re going to quickly outgrow it and end up buying a more expensive bike anyway. Or upgrading stuff.

The two most expensive ways to end up with a bike worth $1000 are....

1) Buy a $500 bike, and then buy a $1000 bike

2) Buy a $500 bike and then spend $1000 in upgrades
.


Kapusta 09-19-19 05:17 PM

W

Originally Posted by prj71 (Post 21129622)
Contradictions Kapusta...

You kinda ruled out anything under $1000 as junk also just without directly saying it like I did while at the same time implying he would be better off choosing a bike in the same price range I suggested.

That was definitely NOT ruling out anything under $1000 as junk. Did not say it, did not imply it.

Sorry, but no.

Pointing out that Bike A is a lot better than Bike B does not imply that B is junk. Think about it: Is a $1000 bike junk because a $3000 one is a lot better?

Pointing out that you might outgrow a bike is not the same as saying the bike is junk. Think about it: Is a $1000 mtb junk because you may outgrow it (which many people will)?

I also did not say he would simply be “better off” buying a more expensive bike than cheaper one. What I DID do is outline some POTENTIAL financial drawbacks to the cheaper bike (if he ends up wanting to upgrade) he might not be aware of. He can decide what to do with that information himself. I made the caveat that I don’t know his financial situation, so I can’t say what he is “better off” doing.

But even if I did imply he was “better off” with a more expensive bike (which I did not), that is not the same as saying bikes under $1000 are junk. You are just trying to change the subject.

carlosponti 09-19-19 08:26 PM

man mountain bikers spend way too much time thinking about equipment. been riding for a couple of years now never felt like my cheap bike was a hindrance. get what you can afford ride when you can. OP dont spend to much time ****zing out about the bike. i started riding on a fully rigid fuji from the late 90s. I get lapped by a guy who rides a 26 inch specialized hardrock from the early 2000s. bike is a tool to get a job done you gotta start somewhere.

jrhoneOC 09-19-19 09:22 PM

The one thing is getting lost here is the PURPOSE and USE of the bike. I was in the same boat as the OP. I wanted to get back into Mountain Biking and I set a $500 budget for a decent used bike to get back into it. Then after I got my feet wet and figured out if I wanted to get deeper, then I could mod the bike and do some upgrades. I looked for a while and realized that I didn't really want a used bike and that time was money and I can afford to up the price a bit. I decided I wanted 3 things in a bike. 1x drivetrain, hydro disco brakes and a decent fork. Well new there was only 1 but under $1k that I looked at that had 1x drivetrain. I rode it. A few times. Rode other bikes that were priced the same and some that were cheaper. I settled on getting a $700 (on sale) bike vs a $500 because it had 2 out of three of the things I wanted. So I ended up with a 2020 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x. Is it perfect? Nope...but its the perfect bike for me right now. Its light enough not to be a tank. Its agile enough to feel confident maneuvering. Stops great, and has a great range of gears. Its got a coil fork and while I wish I had an air fork, but this one has been great so far and right now I am not sure I would notice the difference. Its got QR hubs, and sure I wish it had Thru-Axle, but that's only because people say its better...right now I wouldn't know the difference. I wish it had a tapered head tube, but again...right now I wouldn't know the difference so it doesn't affect my riding. So its easy to say hey get a $1500 bike with a light frame, air shock, carbon bits, high performance brakes and drivetrain, tubeless tires and light wheels. The question is will the OP NEED all that bike for pulling around a trailer and some light trail duty? NO...

So my advice to OP, because I went through this for a few months until I bought a bike 3 weeks ago, is RIDE the bikes you are looking at. Go to various bike shops and ride models between $300-$800. This lets you know what you like. See what fits YOU best. How it feels to YOU. Then buy the one that works best for you. You may decide the difference between a $400 bike and the $600 bike isn't that big of a deal. Its a personal decision and you shouldn't buy a bike from the internet..fit, comfort, and how it feels are ALL huge factors that you will only get first hand test riding bikes. I knew really fast test riding certain bikes that I DIDNT like the way they felt. Good thing because some of this bikes were suggested to me.

Since I have had the bike I have been riding a bunch and learning TONS about riding again. The forums have made me wish I had spent another $300 and gotten the Rockhopper Expert 1x with an air shock, different wheels, tapered head tube, lighter frame, etc...then I realized...none of that would make the grin I get any bigger when I am riding nor will I be able to take advantage of those options because I am on beginner trails and at 50 do NOT have the desire to get too hardcore. If I do reach the limitations of this bike (which I seriously doubt I will) I can sell this for $400-500 and then use that to upgrade to a new bike that has more. Add another $500 which is the price of a good shock and I have an upgraded bike. Maybe even less if I get a new last years model.

My .02. Now go test ride some bikes, then get one so you can start to get some saddle time!

7tevoffun 09-20-19 05:34 AM


Originally Posted by jrhoneOC (Post 21130125)
The one thing is getting lost here is the PURPOSE and USE of the bike. I was in the same boat as the OP. I wanted to get back into Mountain Biking and I set a $500 budget for a decent used bike to get back into it. Then after I got my feet wet and figured out if I wanted to get deeper, then I could mod the bike and do some upgrades. I looked for a while and realized that I didn't really want a used bike and that time was money and I can afford to up the price a bit. I decided I wanted 3 things in a bike. 1x drivetrain, hydro disco brakes and a decent fork. Well new there was only 1 but under $1k that I looked at that had 1x drivetrain. I rode it. A few times. Rode other bikes that were priced the same and some that were cheaper. I settled on getting a $700 (on sale) bike vs a $500 because it had 2 out of three of the things I wanted. So I ended up with a 2020 Specialized Rockhopper Comp 1x. Is it perfect? Nope...but its the perfect bike for me right now. Its light enough not to be a tank. Its agile enough to feel confident maneuvering. Stops great, and has a great range of gears. Its got a coil fork and while I wish I had an air fork, but this one has been great so far and right now I am not sure I would notice the difference. Its got QR hubs, and sure I wish it had Thru-Axle, but that's only because people say its better...right now I wouldn't know the difference. I wish it had a tapered head tube, but again...right now I wouldn't know the difference so it doesn't affect my riding. So its easy to say hey get a $1500 bike with a light frame, air shock, carbon bits, high performance brakes and drivetrain, tubeless tires and light wheels. The question is will the OP NEED all that bike for pulling around a trailer and some light trail duty? NO...

So my advice to OP, because I went through this for a few months until I bought a bike 3 weeks ago, is RIDE the bikes you are looking at. Go to various bike shops and ride models between $300-$800. This lets you know what you like. See what fits YOU best. How it feels to YOU. Then buy the one that works best for you. You may decide the difference between a $400 bike and the $600 bike isn't that big of a deal. Its a personal decision and you shouldn't buy a bike from the internet..fit, comfort, and how it feels are ALL huge factors that you will only get first hand test riding bikes. I knew really fast test riding certain bikes that I DIDNT like the way they felt. Good thing because some of this bikes were suggested to me.

Since I have had the bike I have been riding a bunch and learning TONS about riding again. The forums have made me wish I had spent another $300 and gotten the Rockhopper Expert 1x with an air shock, different wheels, tapered head tube, lighter frame, etc...then I realized...none of that would make the grin I get any bigger when I am riding nor will I be able to take advantage of those options because I am on beginner trails and at 50 do NOT have the desire to get too hardcore. If I do reach the limitations of this bike (which I seriously doubt I will) I can sell this for $400-500 and then use that to upgrade to a new bike that has more. Add another $500 which is the price of a good shock and I have an upgraded bike. Maybe even less if I get a new last years model.

My .02. Now go test ride some bikes, then get one so you can start to get some saddle time!

I like this reply, a lot. Thanks. :)

chiefsilverback 09-20-19 12:17 PM


Originally Posted by 7tevoffun (Post 21130345)
I like this reply, a lot. Thanks. :)

I know I was going down the rabbit hole of buying to upgrade, but stepping back, the important thing to remember is that the best bike is the bike you have, just get out and ride it.

I don't know if you're in an area that might have stores that rent bikes, but it's getting towards the end of the season now so they might be looking to sell off their rental fleet and you can get a pretty nice deal. I'm in New Hampshire, and there's a bike shop a couple of hours away from me that's selling off their fleet of Santa Cruz FS bikes for $2700 each, and their Trek Procaliber 6 hardtails for $900. If there's somewhere near you that runs a fleet of $1000 hardtails through the summer you could get one for close to your target price....

7tevoffun 09-25-19 07:28 AM

thanks to everyone for all the input.

In the end I am going with a 2020 Trek Marlin 6 - the local store gave me 75 off the list price so I'm getting it for 575. The front fork has a remote LO which I was looking for when riding on pavement and hauling my daughter in her trailer. I like the frame's geometry and I'm comfortable upgrading the bike over the next several years and eating some of the cost I would have had to spend up front to get a better bike.

7tevoffun 09-25-19 07:29 AM


Originally Posted by chiefsilverback (Post 21130847)
I know I was going down the rabbit hole of buying to upgrade, but stepping back, the important thing to remember is that the best bike is the bike you have, just get out and ride it.

I don't know if you're in an area that might have stores that rent bikes, but it's getting towards the end of the season now so they might be looking to sell off their rental fleet and you can get a pretty nice deal. I'm in New Hampshire, and there's a bike shop a couple of hours away from me that's selling off their fleet of Santa Cruz FS bikes for $2700 each, and their Trek Procaliber 6 hardtails for $900. If there's somewhere near you that runs a fleet of $1000 hardtails through the summer you could get one for close to your target price....

I searched exhaustively to find exactly what you were mentioning, however I had no luck. :(

Darth Lefty 09-25-19 07:53 AM

Back on the topic of "$1000 bikes," I really do believe MY2018 was the end of that. Even then they were $1100. In MY2019 the turf was yielded to compromised builds and the bikes with "good" forks received NX Eagle and dropper posts and went up over $1500.

Today, Trek relaunched its Roscoe. This is a very friendly and fun, and affordable bike. The bottom model has one of the Suntour forks with no damping, no dropper and why-isn't-it-11-speed M6000 shifting, pretty cheap brakes, and much-reviled QR141 hub. The MSRP is $1020. The 2019 version is much the same without the frame refresh, on sale $850. The top model for $1790 gets a decent enough fork (Rock Shox 35 Gold which I think is a new model), a dropper, NX Eagle and Deore-level brakes, and still has that hub.

jrhoneOC 09-25-19 08:21 AM

Congrats. Enjoy and put some miles on it!

rodgeman 09-28-19 10:38 AM

Congratulations. I have the same model and I am really enjoying it.

7tevoffun 09-29-19 07:58 PM

So I picked up the bike yesterday, rode it around and it felt good.

The guy took off the front tire so I could fit in my car (didn't have time to put on the bike rack) and when I reassembled it this afternoon I notice the front wheel is noticeably bent...

Eff.

jrhoneOC 09-29-19 11:24 PM


Originally Posted by 7tevoffun (Post 21143683)
So I picked up the bike yesterday, rode it around and it felt good.

The guy took off the front tire so I could fit in my car (didn't have time to put on the bike rack) and when I reassembled it this afternoon I notice the front wheel is noticeably bent...

Eff.


You sure that the wheel is completely seated in the fork? I would think a bend would be obvious on the test ride....


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