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Advice sought on sub-$1k MTB for non-technical riding

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Advice sought on sub-$1k MTB for non-technical riding

Old 02-15-19, 10:06 PM
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Long Tom
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Advice sought on sub-$1k MTB for non-technical riding

Howdy folks! New to this sub. I did post a fair bit up on the Road sub when I was getting rolling with that.

I live in an area with almost literally infinite logging roads to ride, many of them gated (no cars). My road-riding buddy got a MTB and has been riding them and is demanding I join him. It sounds like a lot of fun. I used to ride MTB way back in the day (80's into early 90's) and did some fairly crazy single-track but this is NOT repeat NOT the plan this time. Now I'm old, break easily, and on top of that have had a severe enough head injury "in the books" that I am strictly verboten from bonking my head again. Obviously getting on any bike counters that advice, but it's all about risk management and if I stay on logging roads and not on trails I should be fine.

It's bewildering trying to shop for these things. Man have things changed. So if I could, here's a few specific questions.

-29'er? I'm a tall guy and most XL frames are 27.5 or 29" wheels it seems. For what I'm after here is 29" a plus or a negative?

-rear suspension. This adds a lot of expense, all else equal. Again considering my uses- worth it?

-shifters. I'd like to own roughly "105" level components to put it in road bike terms. Mid-level. Back in the day Deore was getting into the good stuff. Now?

-brakes. Looks like discs rule these days. Is there enough difference between mechanical and hydraulic to make that a thing worth worrying about?

-finally, specific bikes to look at?

-and finally finally..... what about a Bikes Direct Motobecane? Based on components it certainly looks like a guy gets a lot of bike for the $. For example, maybe critique this bike would be a good way to help me understand WTF matters and what doesn't with all the gadgetry these things have? For reference, this is an $800 bike. Shipped.

Save up to 60% off new Mountain Bikes - MTB - Motobecane Fantom 2729DS Disc brakes, Tubeless Compatible Rims

THANK YOU for any help or advice you have to give, and don't worry, I have thick skin, lay it on me, I just want to get to the truth here.

Last edited by Long Tom; 02-15-19 at 10:11 PM.
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Old 02-15-19, 10:30 PM
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What is the second hand market like?

You might find some bargains this time of year.

I prefer simplicity, fully rigid, rim brake 1990's MTBs are quite versatile, and usually quite affordable.

Can also run 700C wheels with a fork swap, and long reach v-brakes for the rear wheel.
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Old 02-16-19, 12:14 AM
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Check out the videos and photos for the November 2018 ruta de los conquistadores. Looks like all hardtail, no-suspension 29ers.

Lance Armstrong was among the participants, just there to ride and finish, nowhere near the top. Looked like a tough ride, but the 29ers seemed appropriate for the terrain.

There are some good comparison videos on GCNs mountain biking channel.

I'm not really into mountain biking but have my eye on a 1990s Kona Lava Dome for gravel and moderate tails rides. At 61 I'm too old to learn new tricks.
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Old 02-16-19, 07:32 AM
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Forget full suspension. For $1k or less new it isn't even worth considering.
Forget mechanical vs hydraulic brakes. You aren't going to find something with mechanical unless you go like $500 probably $400 or less.
Don't worry about the drive train. For anything over $600 it will be good enough. Personally I'd want a 1x11 setup at your price point but a 2x10 wouldn't be a big deal for that kind of riding, might even be better.

WORRY ABOUT THE FORK. The fork rules all!!!!!!! For $1k I'd shoot for a Rockshox Recon Air.
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Old 02-16-19, 07:57 AM
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BD always provides excellent value.... but even they can't provide good FS for that price. At that price get a good hardtail with upgrade options.
1x seems popular in MTB and a good airfork is important and should be available at that price.
Make sure you have tapered steerer to allow fork upgrades.
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Old 02-16-19, 08:26 AM
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And get 29Ē as the frame will fit. That size wheel rolls over roots and logs and such, better than a smaller tire. 27.5 was provided for when you didnít buy into the advantage of 29 but wanted to move on from 26. 27.5+ allows a larger/wider (3Ē) tire that can run less air pressure, has decent traction and is a poor mans suspension.

You are not going to see 105 level at $1000 unless itís Bikes Direct. You also wonít see tubeless ready. SLX seems to be the mt. equivalent of 105 and is typically in the $1300 to $1700 range on an aluminum hardtail. Bikes Direct provides for decent frames, tends to put in nice drivetrain components - XT or SLX level, then skimp on the brakes and wheels, especially hubs, and thatís how then meet price point. Big manufactures like Trek, Specialized, Giant and Cannondale use proprietary wheels and sometimes house brand cranks to make price point.

You can somewhat carry over some fit dimensions from your road bike. ETT on a 29Ē HT is going to be longer, but they use really short stems, like 35-55cm. If the reach on your road bike - middle of saddle to middle of stem is 70cm, with a 60cm ETT and and 10cm stem, than you might see a HT with a 68cm ETT or thereabouts. Or so Iím discovering as I audition a new HT.

It it really pays to head to the LBS and trying on different bikes as a lot has changed in 10 years.
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Old 02-16-19, 11:13 AM
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Great stuff and I appreciate it!!

I've been watching Craigslist for a couple months; I thought used would be the plan here. Problem is, I'm almost 6'-4", so I need an XL frame, and AFAICT tall dudes didn't ride MTB's 10-15 years ago! I mean that pretty much literally. I see big road bikes galore, and I see very RECENT high-end XL MTB's out there in the $2k and up realm but nothing from the era where the deals on a high-end used bike would come from.

Anyway, I'll keep watching CL, but assuming I go new bike, forget full suspension. I like that. Way less to go wrong. Rockshox Recon Air, got it. SLX, got it. I'm going to do some more googling here.

Remember guys I'm not doing technical stuff on this bike. This is a promise I've made to myself, my wife, etc. I simply can't risk another bad head injury and I'm carrying a glass ball around on my shoulders these days. It'll be old logging roads.
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Old 02-16-19, 11:17 AM
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How wide a tire can you squeeze into your road bike frame?
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Old 02-16-19, 03:12 PM
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My road bike is a Roubaix Expert and I've got, of memory serves, 27mm tires on it now. I love that bike. It's a race horse. I'm not using it on the logging roads though. If nothing else it won't clear fenders with anything bigger than 25's.
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Old 02-16-19, 03:14 PM
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Taking your above advice into consideration I'm liking this one now, if I went with a BD bike at least. Thoughts?

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._elite_xvi.htm
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Old 02-16-19, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Long Tom View Post
Taking your above advice into consideration I'm liking this one now, if I went with a BD bike at least. Thoughts?

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._elite_xvi.htm
I'd personally look for an air fork vs the coil that one has.
ROCKSHOX Recon Silver TK (1.5 to 1 1/8" Tapered Steerer) CROWN: Forged 6061 T-6 hollow aluminum, STANCHION: 32mm tapered wall steel, Satin Nickel, BLADE: Magnesium, 15mm Maxle, TRAVEL:100mm, Coil, W/External rebound, BarMounted PopLoc REMOTE lockout
What type of MTB does your friend have? It may be a good idea to get something similar, not all MTBs are the same.
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Old 02-17-19, 12:20 AM
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Good catch! Crap. I was just looking at a Rockshox Recon and assuming that was an air shock. Guess there's multiple Recon's.

Hmmm

My buddy's bike is a Santa Cruz carbon 29'er that cost well over $3k. I've got other things to spend money on, like a bigger boat, haha, and again, the mission for this bike is mainly riding old logging roads. Nothing technical. I'm in it for the workout in the fresh air. I truly can't risk my bean riding single-track near trees, rocks, etc. It took 2 years to get mostly back from my head injury; I'm not going there again.
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Old 02-17-19, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Long Tom View Post
Good catch! Crap. I was just looking at a Rockshox Recon and assuming that was an air shock. Guess there's multiple Recon's.
Assuming the damping is the same, I would probably take the coil version of that fork over the air, but thatís just me.
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Old 02-18-19, 08:36 AM
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If all you are riding is logging roads...

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/bikes-toughroad-slr
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Old 02-20-19, 03:56 PM
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Specialized HardRock Sport has a fairly long frame. Especially in the XL sizes. It's a tough, but relatively light aluminum frame. Used it'll come with a junk RST fork. But it has the lugs on the rear triangle for disc's. Swap on a Manitou R7 air fork and loose literally 2~3 lbs off the front end. Add an appropriate tall set-back seat post and you should be good to go. After a few years with this, you can be looking for a FS chassis you can build out. Meanwhile, your hard-tail will take ridiculously large cross-section tires on the rear, so ride can be quite supple

Last edited by BrocLuno; 02-24-19 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 02-20-19, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
If all you are riding is logging roads...

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/bikes-toughroad-slr
Does it fit?

I'm not as tall as the OP, my frames measure close to the XL size, I wouldn't recommend them for a taller rider.

Unless they prefer a ton of saddle to bar drop.
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Old 02-21-19, 08:16 AM
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Originally Posted by SHBR View Post
Does it fit?

I'm not as tall as the OP, my frames measure close to the XL size, I wouldn't recommend them for a taller rider.

Unless they prefer a ton of saddle to bar drop.
You're not even making any sense.
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Old 02-21-19, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by SHBR View Post
Does it fit?

I'm not as tall as the OP, my frames measure close to the XL size, I wouldn't recommend them for a taller rider.

Unless they prefer a ton of saddle to bar drop.
What are you basing this on?
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Old 02-21-19, 10:06 AM
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Frame measurements, and rider height. (assuming the OP has really long legs and most XL bikes don't fit)

This is the OP's decision.

Not mine.
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Old 02-21-19, 10:15 AM
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I don't think your budget is high enough for the bike you want. It might have been 2-3 years ago but all the formerly decent bikes at $1000 from 2-3 years ago have added a dropper post and a tariff. Look for old stock, or shop used. You can get an excellent full suspension MTB or really excellent hard tail for $1000.

The next couple levels of Fantom are better than the one you linked. But they're all a bit olde fashioned. Most bikes now are more raked out with a shorter stem and wider handlebars.

I bought a Timberjack NX last year when it was 1x11 and had no dropper. It was MSRP $1100, sub $1000 considering the 10% back from REI, $100 credit card application bonus and 5% back on the card. But this year all the models have grown droppers. The SLX version is the closest to what I bought and its price is a bit higher.

For those who really are unusually tall, there are custom frame makers. Ventana and Sycip come to mind.
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Old 02-21-19, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by katsup View Post
I'd personally look for an air fork vs the coil that one has.

What type of MTB does your friend have? It may be a good idea to get something similar, not all MTBs are the same.
+1 on the air fork. Have you looked at the Giant Fathom 29 2, it has an air fork, dropper post, is 1x10 with 11-42 cassette. $1150. 2018s were $1070, if there are any left you could probably get a deal.
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Old 02-22-19, 07:58 PM
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Thanks everybody.

They really have slackened up the front-end geometry recently, haven't they. Huh. Do I care? Not sure that I do. Or that I DON'T. Just don't know I guess. A little more forgiving, less twitchy up front...? My old-school Trek from the 80's is steep up front and is indeed scary twitchy.

I'm planning on hitting the LBS's this weekend to see/feel/ride any XL inventory they've got around. I did ride a used XL Rockhopper, a recent base model, that the guy wants $400 for. Given I could buy one new for ~$600 I passed. Plus, I know I've set a low max price point here, but truth is I'm a total gearhead and I'm swimming against my own internal currents to buy even a $1k MTB much less a $600 base model. I can get all spun out over the quality of the components... I'm a machinist, i deal with high-quality, precise stuff all day long, and don't like cheap crap. Then again I'm in my mid-50's and am basically carrying a glass ball on my shoulders; I can't hit my head, which means I can't be doing any downhill single-track, which means it's pretty stupid to stress much on components. Yet I do.

In short I'm one confused mofo right now. Hopefully hitting the local shops will clear things up some. Still leaning towards a Bikes Direct bike simply to get a 1/4 better component set at a given price point, or rather pay 1/4 less for a given group.

Ill be buying in the next couple weeks and will post up what I buy for ridicule.
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Old 02-23-19, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Long Tom View Post
Thanks everybody.

They really have slackened up the front-end geometry recently, haven't they. Huh. Do I care? Not sure that I do. Or that I DON'T. Just don't know I guess. A little more forgiving, less twitchy up front...? My old-school Trek from the 80's is steep up front and is indeed scary twitchy.

I'm planning on hitting the LBS's this weekend to see/feel/ride any XL inventory they've got around. I did ride a used XL Rockhopper, a recent base model, that the guy wants $400 for. Given I could buy one new for ~$600 I passed. Plus, I know I've set a low max price point here, but truth is I'm a total gearhead and I'm swimming against my own internal currents to buy even a $1k MTB much less a $600 base model. I can get all spun out over the quality of the components... I'm a machinist, i deal with high-quality, precise stuff all day long, and don't like cheap crap. Then again I'm in my mid-50's and am basically carrying a glass ball on my shoulders; I can't hit my head, which means I can't be doing any downhill single-track, which means it's pretty stupid to stress much on components. Yet I do.

In short I'm one confused mofo right now. Hopefully hitting the local shops will clear things up some. Still leaning towards a Bikes Direct bike simply to get a 1/4 better component set at a given price point, or rather pay 1/4 less for a given group.

Ill be buying in the next couple weeks and will post up what I buy for ridicule.

before you go to LBS, you should check bulls bike at eBay.
it’s old bike but has nice components which is XT groupset (similar to ultegra group set) and fox fork.
they don’t offer warranty so you might need to get warranty from square trade (I am not sure how to claim the warranty though). If eBay offers coupon, price might go lower but still $800 is a good deal and last XL bike from them.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/BULLS-Coppe...IAAOSwtG9bCJ9J
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Old 02-23-19, 02:18 AM
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Test ride a newer bike. I really like the changes.
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Old 02-23-19, 11:33 AM
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Will do, and thanks for the heads-up.

There's a recent, used Spec Chisel within geographical reach. Hoping to ride a new one today to get a feel.
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