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Mtn Bike recommendations?

Old 07-19-19, 06:06 AM
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clubmanager
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Mtn Bike recommendations?

My 14 yr old son wants to ride and I do everything thing I can with him due to my crappy work schedule. I currently have a Salsa Marrakesh and will likely sell it for a Mountain Bike. Some questions.....
Full, front or no suspension? Iíll not do 4í jumps but wonít be a chicken either . Iím 5í10Ē and weigh 225-235 depending on season and my weight training. I am clearly a weightlifter to a stranger and bf% is in the 12-15% range typically. Iíve read through the Ďclydesdaleí section and donít want to sound offensive but think Iím more fit than average......but am still heavy.
Budget likely allows for a used bike although Iíve seen a couple new Marin bikes online that might fit the bill at $1100-1400. Iím considering a 3 yr old Niner Air9 for $900 but it has no suspension, only a carbon fork.....hence my initial question.
We are going to ride later today and Iím renting a bike at LBS. Pretty sure theyíre all full suspension and afraid Iíll get sucked in
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Old 07-19-19, 07:12 AM
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The Air 9 came with a front suspension. If it has a rigid fork then someone converted it. Just FYI.

I would not go rigid but would want at least a front suspension - AKA "Hardtail."

Full suspension bikes cover lots of ground, from cross country (XC) and "Trail" bikes with 100 mm or 120 mm travel to full "Enduro" or downhill bikes with 160 mm or more of travel. More travel will be more cushy but generally heavier and won't pedal as well uphill. An XC or trail bike will generally be lighter and pedal better uphill but not suited to big jumps and such. The point is that you need to know what you are buying. "Full suspension" isn't just one type of bike.


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Old 07-19-19, 07:43 AM
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Like Timothy said, I'd go with at least a hardtail. All depends too on what most of your riding will be. Surfaces, elevation, etc.etc. So many factors before choosing the right mountain bike.
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Old 07-19-19, 08:35 AM
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You didn't say where you are or what the terrain is like. Here, there is plenty of dry, rocky stuff with holes and ruts. Steep climbs and descents, too.

I've had fully rigid bikes and 2 hardtails, then a short travel dual suspension (63mm), then a 100mm dualie, and now I have 160 front and 150 rear enduro type bike with 27.5 "plus" tires.
Yes, my new bike is heavy-ish at 32 pounds which makes it a little harder to climb on than a 23 pound cross country racer but it saves me everywhere else.
Modern geometry, wide handlebars, and soft tires make it fun to ride. I don't jump, either, but I have a great time every time I ride that thing.

edit: I just saw the Niner you posted on the mtb forum. Beautiful bike but probably not a good choice if your skills aren't up to it and it will be a punishing ride on rough terrain.
If you're riding smooth trails it would be great for climbing.

Last edited by big john; 07-19-19 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 07-20-19, 08:13 AM
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It would help to know your terrain. Given your budget and presuming you buy new, then I'd lean toward the nicest hardtail that you can afford. What is your son riding? Perhaps match him, so that you both will be on an even footing and getting a similar experience from the terrain. Also, don't buy a nicer bike than your son rides.
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Old 07-20-19, 09:07 AM
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Hate to say it but I've no clue what terrain is around here on the trails. My understanding is there's a mix of just about everything; location is Northwest Arkansas fwiw. Unless something pops up, I'm going to rent a full suspension bike on Monday and go riding with my son on some easy/intermediate trails and get a feel for what works....or doesn't. I'm still really partial to the Niner I found (even without the shock fork) and perhaps add the fork later. I've also found a Scott Spark full suspension I'll look at today; still don't know year/model on that one.

All in all, I'm sure I'll end up with at least a front suspension bike; really trying to hold out for full as I don't see any downside in having too much flex. I'm sure there is some downside but with my level of experience, I doubt I'd know the difference

You can tell me I'm wrong, but I've always tried to buy better than my skill level knowing (hoping) that I'll work my way into a better skill level. Again, maybe that rule shouldn't apply here but it's served me well over the years. 'Buy once, Cry once' as they say!!! But still, I can't just throw $2K at this either.
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Old 07-20-19, 10:45 AM
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It all depends on you and what type of riding you do. I really like my old school no-suspension mountain bike, but then I do not do overly technical stuff. In my case, my own physical coordination, or lack thereof, is a bigger limitation than the machine itself.
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Old 07-20-19, 02:10 PM
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It’s hard to offer proper advice without knowing the terrain. But based on what you’ve said I’d recommend a half decent front suspension bike (aka ‘hardtail’) It will serve you much better than a cheap full suspension bike (FS). This is not an area where appearance counts. You can get a bike that ‘looks like’ a decent FS bike, but if the components are crappy then so is the bike. Look at some new bikes, esp. hardtails. Read up online and talk to the sales guys to educate yourself about components. A good suspension fork can easily set you back close to a grand so, if you buy a rigid bike it can be hard to put the $$ into a big upgrade. I’d suggest getting a hardtail with something like a mid-grade or better Rockshock (although Fox and other cos. make good one - it’s the model not the make).

As for size, you may want a 29 but the best deals in used may be 26. Just see what you find on the market. I think it’s better to have a well specced 26 than a more cheaply specced 29 or 27.5. Until a few years ago we all rode 26ers and had no idea that they (allegedly) were not the best. At your height any of the three sizes will fit you with the right size frame.
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Old 07-20-19, 03:23 PM
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That Niner is gone after all but I found a 2018 Scott Spark 970 dual suspension with Rockshox Judy Silver RL and X-Fusion RL shocks. Price seems great at $1200. Are those shocks in compliance with what you recommended? I think they are at least mid-tier?
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Old 07-20-19, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by clubmanager View Post
That Niner is gone after all but I found a 2018 Scott Spark 970 dual suspension with Rockshox Judy Silver RL and X-Fusion RL shocks. Price seems great at $1200. Are those shocks in compliance with what you recommended? I think they are at least mid-tier?
Scott bikes are pretty decent in my opinion. That one is their entry version, but it is generally a good bike for up to an intermediate rider. I believe they are only 29. That gives you an extra ‘shock’ in the sense they roll over obstacles more easily. They may not be quite as manoeuvrable in some people’s view.

The Judy is an ok spec. I am assuming it’s the adjustable air spring version. The Judy silver line is what I would describe as low-mid tier. Not a bad fork. They come in 100 and 120mm range. Since you don’t know what kind of trails you’ll encounter it’s hard to say if there’s any advantage to the higher range for you. Of course, whether it’s been properly serviced and it’s condition is something you’ll need to decide for yourself. But if it’s ok it will likely do what you need.

The X-Fusion is a bit more of a gamble. I’ve had 2 X-Fusion dropper posts and I thought they were fine. But a lot of people I heard of had nothing but trouble from them. They make an entry level product that may work out ok. It seems people are pretty evenly divided on the shock you mention. If the price of the bike works for you and you like it otherwise I’d be inclined to take the chance. You can always replace the can (shock) for a lot less than a fork.

Price depends on where you are but that seems in the range. Compare it to what you see on Pink Bike.

Let us know if that’s what you go for. Pretty exciting to be able to get out mountain biking with your boy!

Last edited by Mountain Mitch; 07-20-19 at 08:40 PM.
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Old 07-20-19, 08:11 PM
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I agree that the Scott will be a good bike to start with.

Northwest Arkansas is a mountain bike destination! Even the Wal-mart heirs have donated to trail building.

https://www.bikemag.com/2017-bible-of-bike-tests-nwa/
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Old 07-21-19, 08:49 AM
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Yes! Between all the trail development and the Greenway, I'm a fool to not take advantage. We did the 'Square to Square' ride last year (even though it was cancelled due to rain, my wife and I did it on our own) and I rode the Marrakesh 32 miles; what a blast! The Greenway is truly a gift and now I want to get on the trails with my boy! After all the questions and great advice, I may just break down and go the LBS; my schedule is all but unbearable at the moment and I need to push the 'easy' button. It will cost more but as an old country lawyer used to say to me 'cheap can oftentimes become expensive'.
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Old 07-22-19, 11:41 AM
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We worked out an afternoon viewing today on the Spark. In his ad, he said there was a lifetime warranty and the price was $1200. I checked and the warranty is for first buyer only and offered at most $1K if it fit and I liked it since the warranty is non-existent. He’s ok with that so I’ll let y’all know what happens! Thanks.
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Old 07-22-19, 03:40 PM
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Bought it for $1K and immediately hit a couple trails with the boy; we had a blast! It was shifting funny in the middle of the rings, will have that checked but all else works perfectly.
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Old 07-22-19, 05:56 PM
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A little shifter adjustment is nothing and really just to be expected. I’d suggest getting the bike tuned up so you’ve got a good baseline. Sounds like you got a great deal! Glad to hear it worked out and you’re having fun.
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Old 07-22-19, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by clubmanager View Post
Bought it for $1K and immediately hit a couple trails with the boy; we had a blast! It was shifting funny in the middle of the rings, will have that checked but all else works perfectly.
Great! I don't know if you're a tinkerer but I enjoy playing with suspension settings and tire pressures. Don't know if your bike has a lot of adjustments.
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Old 07-22-19, 07:42 PM
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I’ve a huge week at work and after, aim going to get it squared away. One thing strange, it doesn’t have the Twinlock system and from what I’ve read, all the Sparks have it. Granted, I’m so new I may not need it. The original owner says he never removed anything and doesn’t even know what it is. Weird.
still very happy though. It was so fun today; nothing too tricky but it wasn’t just Singletracks either.
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Old 07-23-19, 07:28 AM
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I don't think that one came with Twinlock, but a lot of people don't like it, anyway. I only lock the fork when climbing the road when I want to stand and pedal. My bike has a 3 position lever on the shock and I usually put it in the center position when climbing if there are rocks and holes to help prevent pedal strikes. I lock the shock on road climbs but leave both ends open for about everything else.
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Old 07-23-19, 02:27 PM
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Thanks for that. Twinlock missing made me suspect of the seller but glad to hear it's normal. And being new, I'd likely not use it much (or correctly) for awhile anyway.
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Old 07-23-19, 03:31 PM
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People have widely differing ideas of what it means to mountain bike. Where and how one plans to bike will have a huge bearing on what kind of mountain bike will best serve one's needs.
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Old 07-28-19, 12:16 PM
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full suspension XC bike, 29'er. buy the best one you can afford and spend time with your son
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Old 07-31-19, 09:57 PM
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Yes, go full squish and you'll be glad you did. Not only is the ride more plush, but the bike will be more forgiving if you have a bad line into some roots or a rock garden. I'm 65 years old and just started riding MTB with my 25 year old son (we are going to Moab in October). Great times and the only place I can't keep up is the climbs He has a 429 Pivot Trail, and I'm on a Santa Cruz Hightower LT.
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Old 08-04-19, 07:21 PM
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So, I gave the Scott to my Son because he was clearly lusting for it and I bought a new Santa Cruz Tallboy. Wiped out my first ride, second was incident free....with a couple close calls. Besides the blood and bruises, it was fun. I clearly need to start on some less advanced trails and work in fundamentals. If you saw where I fell, youíd probably laugh your ass off!
In my short experience, I now see what yíall mean re: differing types of trails, environment and riding style. Learning.....
Thank God the bike didnít get scratched before I put the frame tape on
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Old 08-06-19, 08:43 AM
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A Tallboy! Congratulations. Talk about jumping in with both feet. Around here that bike would definitely blow the doors off the budget you initially set out. It should be a fun bike for you.
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Old 08-06-19, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by clubmanager View Post
So, I gave the Scott to my Son because he was clearly lusting for it and I bought a new Santa Cruz Tallboy. Wiped out my first ride, second was incident free....with a couple close calls.
Great bike! Besides tutorial videos on you tube, many mtb clubs do offer skills classes. Also, you could try to meet experienced riders and ask for help.

Otherwise, stay within yourself and take your time working up to the challenges on the trail. It's better to walk a section than to get injured. I have a lot to learn myself but I try to avoid crashing whenever I go riding. I've crashed off-road motorcycles, mountain bikes, and road bikes. Crashing sucks.
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