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another budget MTB thread

Old 10-22-20, 06:32 AM
  #1  
hubcyclist
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another budget MTB thread

I'm sure budget stuff comes up a lot, but here's another one! I've been road cycling for years and by now also pretty accomplished in competitive CX (well, not this year in my region lol) and was hiking the other day and the sight of MTB folks having fun literally a couple of mins up the street from me got me thinking of trying it out. I've got a decent idea of what's what, personally I would love to try a budget Walmart bike and upgrade it like the youtube channel kevcentral, but I've been looking at the local craigslist.

Given these times and the fact that at least my local craigslist (Boston) already has lots of bikes with inflated prices, what would folks pay for used bikes? I'm seeing them $200 and up (several older Spec Rockhoppers, for example), and honestly I feel that's much for the age/condition/specs of bikes, especially with the Walmart specials like the hyper explorer or the newer schwinns have some pretty decent specs and are upgradable for under $300. Anyhow, just curious on thoughts of the used MTB market are and whether it's even worth diving into at the low end
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Old 10-22-20, 10:15 AM
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Most of us have stopped even looking at the BSOs offered at Wal Mart. Go buy a Hyper explorer and let us know what order things start failing.
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Old 10-22-20, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
I'm sure budget stuff comes up a lot,
Yes. Do a search. Numerous threads. Almost weekly it gets asked. Repetative to the point of getting old. I guess people forgot how to use google.

Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
Anyhow, just curious on thoughts of the used MTB market are and whether it's even worth diving into at the low end
No.
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Old 10-22-20, 01:24 PM
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Diving into the low end is fun, until you see people playing in the deep end.

Used market right now is on the back side of the curve, prices should start dropping very soon. Lots of people are still farming CL for top dollar trying to get prices that were high due to quarantine demand and low stock. Check on offerup. For whatever reason I've found better deals there than on CL recently. Facebook as well but to a lesser extent. Keep on hunting & you'll find the perfect bike at the right price soon enough.

But do test ride & don't buy a bike too large or small.
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Old 10-22-20, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
Most of us have stopped even looking at the BSOs offered at Wal Mart. Go buy a Hyper explorer and let us know what order things start failing.
I'm well aware of this stuff, it's just that a newer crop of the Walmart bikes are offering stuff you'd find on more standard MTB's like improved geometry, tapered headtubes, and 1x setups and can be gradually modded, which I wouldn't mind doing (I built up my first CX bike before I bought one off the shelf). Would a new Walmart bike at under $300 be much worse than some of the $200-250 older specialized hotrocks I'm seeing on craigslist, some of which have obviously heavily rusted chains and cassettes, not to mention any other issues that aren't immediately apparent in images? From my perspective, I don't think so.

I was just curious if it was just me having a skewed perception or if more knowledgable folks also felt that $200 is way too much to ask of a lot of older MTB's. I could have done without the typical BF snark in the first couple of responses, though
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Old 10-22-20, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by eshew View Post
Diving into the low end is fun, until you see people playing in the deep end.

Used market right now is on the back side of the curve, prices should start dropping very soon. Lots of people are still farming CL for top dollar trying to get prices that were high due to quarantine demand and low stock. Check on offerup. For whatever reason I've found better deals there than on CL recently. Facebook as well but to a lesser extent. Keep on hunting & you'll find the perfect bike at the right price soon enough.

But do test ride & don't buy a bike too large or small.
Thanks! I know quite a few MTBers who ride in my road racing club and another local group I ride with as well, so if there is anything to be had at a relatively guilt free price for my dabbling in this, I'd imagine those folks would hook me up with a deal. As I said initially, my area has always had inflated bike prices for what I perceive the actual value to be, the covid situation isn't helping, but it's always been like this. Maybe once people get tired of their covid bike purchases the prices will start coming down!
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Old 10-22-20, 09:42 PM
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I think it was Bugs Bunny that called it an "unreasonable facsimile." If you understand what those features are for and then look at how they've been used on the Walmart bike, you can see they've just been trying to put out the fire while still building with firewood. The tapered head tube, for instance, is to make the fork stiffer, but if you hook it up to a fork that manages to be heavy and yet somehow not stiff, still with no damping, via a headset that can't take it and rusts if you clean it, it does you no particular good.

Compared to what's on sale now, old Rockhoppers show their true colors as touring bikes with beach cruiser wheels. Things changed a lot for mountain bikes and they are still changing. A bike from 2020 does not look much like a bike from 1985.

In the same time frame the big change in road cycling was all about training with power meters and so on, and pro diets and training plans available to anyone. They are still riding bikes that look pretty much the same.
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Old 10-23-20, 02:52 AM
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I'm in Europe, so I have no idea how's the second hand market in the USA. Here there's a flood of more than decent second hand 26" bikes for around 300€.

I'd buy that before a Walmart bike for sure.
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Old 10-23-20, 07:51 AM
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The tone of your first thread kind of left you open to snark - it's the internet and it's Friday

Also - one size fits all bikes from department stores with less than entry level components are not something I would encourage anyone to purchase.

Living in Boston isn't every price inflated?

A good used bike with some components that need to be replaced can easily for under $500 is very achievable. Good luck!
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Old 10-23-20, 09:09 AM
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Do yourself a favor and stay away from a Walmart bike.
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Old 11-15-20, 12:48 PM
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I think if you went Walmart high end you still would be left wishing you put that money into something real. To the point that it could effect the enjoyment you get out of riding. If you are just cruising around town then I think it would be fine. Start hitting trails and you will have spent not only the initial cost of the Walmart bike, but the time to learn about fixing it soon after, the replacement parts for said broken items, and then when you give up the cost of the better original idea of getting a decent bike to work on. IMO
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Old 11-15-20, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
I'm sure budget stuff comes up a lot, but here's another one! I've been road cycling for years and by now also pretty accomplished in competitive CX (well, not this year in my region lol) and was hiking the other day and the sight of MTB folks having fun literally a couple of mins up the street from me got me thinking of trying it out. I've got a decent idea of what's what, personally I would love to try a budget Walmart bike and upgrade it like the youtube channel kevcentral, but I've been looking at the local craigslist.

Given these times and the fact that at least my local craigslist (Boston) already has lots of bikes with inflated prices, what would folks pay for used bikes? I'm seeing them $200 and up (several older Spec Rockhoppers, for example), and honestly I feel that's much for the age/condition/specs of bikes, especially with the Walmart specials like the hyper explorer or the newer schwinns have some pretty decent specs and are upgradable for under $300. Anyhow, just curious on thoughts of the used MTB market are and whether it's even worth diving into at the low end
You might want to give bikesdirect.com a look.
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Old 11-17-20, 09:24 AM
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BSOs over the pst 25 years have regularly incorporated design elements (the S in BSO) to imitate advancements in MTB tech: front suspension, rear suspension, disc brakes, fat tires, etc.

They are still BSOs, just newer.

A tapered head tube means little when it is holding a noodley fork.

A crappy 1x drive train is still a crappy drivetrain.

If your plan is to upgrade stuff, buy a used bike.
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Old 11-17-20, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
BSOs over the pst 25 years have regularly incorporated design elements (the S in BSO) to imitate advancements in MTB tech: front suspension, rear suspension, disc brakes, fat tires, etc.

They are still BSOs, just newer.

A tapered head tube means little when it is holding a noodley fork.

A crappy 1x drive train is still a crappy drivetrain.

If your plan is to upgrade stuff, buy a used bike.
I agree with you about buying a used bike and upgrading it. I have some old frames I want to repaint, and build up. however there are some people who are not mechanically inclined, on a budget and want to hit the road as soon as possible, so they can dip their toe into the water. That's why go to a box store and get a budget bike. Maybe they're on a tight budget, and though I know its been ran into the ground a 1,000 times, so areas don't have a robust used bike market. I've bought budget bicycles before, however I read the reviews and know what to expect. I enjoyed riding them, and they served my purposes.

I'd advise anyone shopping for a budget bicycle to do their research, read reviews, see if there are any on YT, know what the bike can and cannot do out of the box, then decide on whether or they want to buy it. High speed internet access is a near ubiquitous item in many American homes, with a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be accessed. Not to go into a "back in my day," screed, but we didn't have this back in the 80's and most of the 90's. I would urge people to do their research and find out what their best options are.
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Old 11-17-20, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by grizzly907la View Post
I agree with you about buying a used bike and upgrading it. I have some old frames I want to repaint, and build up. however there are some people who are not mechanically inclined, on a budget and want to hit the road as soon as possible, so they can dip their toe into the water. That's why go to a box store and get a budget bike. Maybe they're on a tight budget, and though I know its been ran into the ground a 1,000 times, so areas don't have a robust used bike market. I've bought budget bicycles before, however I read the reviews and know what to expect. I enjoyed riding them, and they served my purposes.

I'd advise anyone shopping for a budget bicycle to do their research, read reviews, see if there are any on YT, know what the bike can and cannot do out of the box, then decide on whether or they want to buy it. High speed internet access is a near ubiquitous item in many American homes, with a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be accessed. Not to go into a "back in my day," screed, but we didn't have this back in the 80's and most of the 90's. I would urge people to do their research and find out what their best options are.
You make good points, and I agree that there are instances where a Walmart BSO can make perfectly good sense.

What my comment was addressing was the idea the OP expresses here:
Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
I'm well aware of this stuff, it's just that a newer crop of the Walmart bikes are offering stuff you'd find on more standard MTB's like improved geometry, tapered headtubes, and 1x setups and can be gradually modded,
My point is that there is nothing about the new crop of Walmart bikes that makes them any less (or more) BSO-ish then they used to be. The issue with BSOs has never been lack of modern "features" (disc, suspension, etc) it is the crap-tastic quality of the bikes, features and all.

Thus, the reasons get one or avoid one are basically the same as they have been for years.

I second your rec of looking at Bikes Direct. Better option than BSOs, IMO.
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Old 11-17-20, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
You make good points, and I agree that there are instances where a Walmart BSO can make perfectly good sense.

What my comment was addressing was the idea the OP expresses here:


My point is that there is nothing about the new crop of Walmart bikes that makes them any less (or more) BSO-ish then they used to be. The issue with BSOs has never been lack of modern "features" (disc, suspension, etc) it is the crap-tastic quality of the bikes, features and all.

Thus, the reasons get one or avoid one are basically the same as they have been for years.

I second your rec of looking at Bikes Direct. Better option than BSOs, IMO.
Absolutely BSO bikes are not great. I wouldn't go hardcore mountain biking on a Walmart MTN bike or even a Bikesdirect MTB. I've noticed that the BSO's a few years behind when it comes to the latest and greatest things. Manufacturers like Kent and Huffy (both of them probably have their bikes made at the same factory,) will push whatever they see as being hot, and only after its been a thing for a couple of years. BSO's do this with just about everything they sell thh. I'm a PC nerd and been building PC's for 28 years. Something new and exciting will come to the market like AMD's Ryzen CPU. It took a couple but you now see "gaming," PC's or laptop at Wally World. I look at the specs and laugh. My friends mom bought a laptop about ten years ago. She took me along with her to Best Buy to make that the salesperson wasn't blowing smoke up, when recommending a laptop. I get the sentiment. I wouldn't want someone purchasing something that turned out to be a hunk of Junk or something that didn't fit their needs. Sorry for rambling on.
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Old 11-18-20, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by grizzly907la View Post
. I would urge people to do their research and find out what their best options are.
That would be nice. People coming on this forum and asking "What is the best budget bike or what is the best bike under $1000"

It gets old. Not sure why anyone would even ask that silly question with google available to all.
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Old 11-18-20, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
I'm sure budget stuff comes up a lot, but here's another one! I've been road cycling for years and by now also pretty accomplished in competitive CX (well, not this year in my region lol) and was hiking the other day and the sight of MTB folks having fun literally a couple of mins up the street from me got me thinking of trying it out.
I have no idea what the MTB trails are like around the Boston area, but if you want to start having fun mount the fattest knobby tires your current CX bike can handle, slam the seat post down, and let 'er rip?
I suspect you'll quickly realize exactly how much bike you'll need to continue riding your local trails and still have fun doing so.
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Old 11-18-20, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
That would be nice. People coming on this forum and asking "What is the best budget bike or what is the best bike under $1000"

It gets old. Not sure why anyone would even ask that silly question with google available to all.
It bothers me at times as well. My guess is that some people want a quit answer and don't want to take the time to find it themselves.
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Old 11-18-20, 01:21 PM
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Except my question wasn't regarding bike recommendations per se, if folks would re-read it, it was more geared toward an assessment of the value of older MTBs on the used market like older Rockhoppers or other stuff that is 15+ years as an entry into the discipline. If folks don't like repetitive postings, just don't look/reply to them. The reason people post on forums with questions is to get the current thinking of more knowledgeable people, but for some reason a few folks here aren't really interested in that aspect of forum participation. Fine, anyhow, I've kind of moved on from MTB stuff for now, I'm in deep with my indoor training program for potential racing next year, you all have fun on the trails, I'll go back to the 33.
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Old 11-18-20, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
Except my question wasn't regarding bike recommendations per se, if folks would re-read it, it was more geared toward an assessment of the value of older MTBs on the used market like older Rockhoppers or other stuff that is 15+ years as an entry into the discipline. If folks don't like repetitive postings, just don't look/reply to them. The reason people post on forums with questions is to get the current thinking of more knowledgeable people, but for some reason a few folks here aren't really interested in that aspect of forum participation. Fine, anyhow, I've kind of moved on from MTB stuff for now, I'm in deep with my indoor training program for potential racing next year, you all have fun on the trails, I'll go back to the 33.
Well to answer your question... yes, it is worth going into the used market (like older Rockhoppers), vs buying a Walmart BSO. The former is worth putting money into, the latter is usually not.

Used prices are higher at the current moment do to Covid, but that will pass.
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Old 11-18-20, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by grizzly907la View Post
It bothers me at times as well. My guess is that some people want a quit answer and don't want to take the time to find it themselves.
Yeah I suppose. Google is so difficult to use.

https://lmgtfy.app/?q=best+budget+mountain+bike
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Old 11-18-20, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Well to answer your question... yes, it is worth going into the used market (like older Rockhoppers), vs buying a Walmart BSO. The former is worth putting money into, the latter is usually not.

Used prices are higher at the current moment do to Covid, but that will pass.
There will be a ton of covid bikes for sale next year...
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Old 11-18-20, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
BSOs over the pst 25 years have regularly incorporated design elements (the S in BSO) to imitate advancements in MTB tech: front suspension, rear suspension, disc brakes, fat tires, etc.

They are still BSOs, just newer.

A tapered head tube means little when it is holding a noodley fork.

A crappy 1x drive train is still a crappy drivetrain.

If your plan is to upgrade stuff, buy a used bike.
I'm in a similar situation to the OP; Roadie thinking of hitting some trails, have watched some Kevcentral.

Question re the above. Whether I get an old good hardtail for $250, or a newer crappy hardtail for $250, one of the first/most important upgrades either way will probably end up being a decent fork; the BSO Fork will be a POS; the old fork will be on its last legs, and not in great shape from sitting in a garage for most of the last 10 years. Will it make more sense to choose the option that allows me to get a modern, 27.5/29, tapered fork with clearance for days, or the one that means I'm stuck with whatever 26", canti-brake, straight steerer, maybe even (The horror!!) threaded headset fork I'm lucky enough to still find?

Any other upgrades (drivetrain, headset, contact points) are already factored into the buy at the start of the project,and would work with pretty much any bike, but the whole project falls apart if compatibility with modern parts means that crucial elements of the bike (fork, wheels, etc) can't actually be upgraded.
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Old 11-19-20, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
I'm in a similar situation to the OP; Roadie thinking of hitting some trails, have watched some Kevcentral.

Question re the above. Whether I get an old good hardtail for $250, or a newer crappy hardtail for $250, one of the first/most important upgrades either way will probably end up being a decent fork; the BSO Fork will be a POS; the old fork will be on its last legs, and not in great shape from sitting in a garage for most of the last 10 years. Will it make more sense to choose the option that allows me to get a modern, 27.5/29, tapered fork with clearance for days, or the one that means I'm stuck with whatever 26", canti-brake, straight steerer, maybe even (The horror!!) threaded headset fork I'm lucky enough to still find?

Any other upgrades (drivetrain, headset, contact points) are already factored into the buy at the start of the project,and would work with pretty much any bike, but the whole project falls apart if compatibility with modern parts means that crucial elements of the bike (fork, wheels, etc) can't actually be upgraded.
IMO, you are still better off with the $250 used bike.

Let's clear a few things up here..., nearly all decent hardtails from the past 10 years will already be 29". Nearly any frame and fork since 2000 will have disc tabs, and nearly any decent frame from the late 90s on will accept a thread-less headset.

The only thing you are likely to be dealing with fork-wise in terms of old standards are 26" wheels and straight steerer.

If the used bike had a decent fork to start with, it is likely rebuildable. As long as the bushings are still good, any half decent Rockshox fork can be rebuild to a like new state for about $60 in rebuild parts, plus fluids. I can still get everything I need to completely overhaul my 2005 Pike, 2007 Reba, and 2013 Lyrik. I am less familiar with rebuilding Fox and Manitou stuff.

If you rather go new, there are still acceptable new straight steerer, 26" forks for sale (e.g.,Manitou Markor, Rockshox Recon) and even one high end option I know of (Rockshox Reba).

Of course, many of these options (save the Reba) are at the lower end, but are real forks meant for real use and are leagues better than what come on a BSO. And regardless of the headset standards, these are really as good as you should be putting on a $250 bike.

There is also the issue of axle and dropout standards, but I seriously doubt that a $250 BSO is sporting the very latest axle standard, anyway. With axle standards changing every years, chasing the latest on a cheap bike is a bit of a fool's errand, IMO.

Regarding drive-train upgrades, you can easily upgrade any frame and wheelset from the past 20+ years to 1x11.

Big picture: If the first thing you end up doing to a brand new $250 bike is slapping on a $250 fork, you should have just bought a $500 bike to start with. Factor in drivetrain upgrades you speak of, and you have wasted a LOT of money. The idea of using a Walmart bike as a platform for upgrades is a phenomenally expensive way to get to a decent bike. If you want a bike with a modern fork and modern drivetrain, just spend the money up front and get it.

Last edited by Kapusta; 11-19-20 at 10:14 AM.
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