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Posted: 5/12/2002 7:16:37 PM EDT
I'm going to be buying a bike sometime soon and would like some suggestions.  I'm looking more towards a trail/mountain bike since many of the places I plan on going are dirt or gravel trails, but I'm not planning on reenacting any stunts frm XTreme sports or anything like that.

What is a good quality trail bike in the sub $1k range?
Link Posted: 5/12/2002 8:18:58 PM EDT
1K will get you alot.  I paid 400 for my Trek 4500 about 2 years ago.  Mountian bike aren't as expensive as road/racing bikes.
Link Posted: 5/12/2002 9:18:04 PM EDT
Specialized Rockhopper or Schwinn Mesa hardtail models should do, and leave you enough money for a nice helmet, tools, apparel, etc.

I believe Schwinn is using Shimano parts a lot. Beware the cheaper bikes. I personally will not buy one from China.

Stay away from twist-grip shifters.  I believe them to be a cheap gimmick.

This site has a lot of good articles by Sheldon Brown on maintenance, etc.:
Link Posted: 5/13/2002 11:47:09 AM EDT
Buy last years bike. There are large discounts, 30-50%, that can be found for the previous model. Even greater if you are shorter or taller than average.

Buy a name brand, Specialized, Schwinn, Trek, etc. Go buy a couple of mountain bike mags, certainly if one is a bike buyers issue. Lots of good information and there will be several mail order ads. Even if you don't like mail order you can compare prices.

DON"T BUY A HYBRID! Buy a road or a mountain bike, not something that sucks at both.
Link Posted: 5/13/2002 11:54:41 AM EDT
You cant go wrong with Specialized Rockhopper and it wont cost you anywhere near 1K
Link Posted: 5/13/2002 11:55:49 AM EDT
For good deals on closeout (last years models) bikes check out [url]www.supergo.com[/url].
Link Posted: 5/13/2002 2:52:21 PM EDT
Thanks to all for the advice and links.
Link Posted: 5/13/2002 6:12:39 PM EDT
I believe Schwinn is using Shimano parts a lot.
View Quote

Is that good or bad?  I seem to recall that Shimano was good stuff, but that was a long time ago and I really didn't know much back then anyway.
Link Posted: 5/16/2002 1:51:20 PM EDT
Finally I can add some assistance in an area I have / had extensive knowledge.  Taking into account I have not been into mountain biking as much as I was before my children were born three years ago.  This 3 year old info is what I have to offer.

Bikes are built like computers.  You take some deraileurs from one company, brakes from another, seat from another, tires from another, and so on.  The only part of the bike built by the company you are buying it from is the frame that holds all the pieces together.  On most bikes you will be looking at, you will see Shimano Deraileurs.  Shimano makes all different levels of deraileurs from ones you might see on a K-Mart bike to a $3000 titanium custom.

When I was involved in the sport the Deore XT was the top of the line. Deore was the next level down and there are others falling in place below that.  The main advantage with getting higher price level deraileur is shifting accuracy (the difference between the feel of a Chevy Citation gear box verses a Ferrari gear box).  The rest of the components from other manufacturers should be judged on how they feel to you (test ride many bikes)and their perceived quality (fit, finish, etc.).

The other factor is overall weight (over thirty pounds is heavy these days, low twenties is light), and especially rotating weight (Tires with steel or Kevlar beads.  Tall knobs, heavy or short knobs, light).

The main question is:  How much and how hard do you intend to ride.  

I used to ride 80 - 100 miles a week.  I could justify spending $1K on a Trek 8000 that is race ready for any local race.  My wife rides 80-100 miles a year we spent about $400 on a Trek 420 and it makes perfect sense for her.

One last note on suspension.  Front suspension is a gift from the gods.  Don't be afraid of stepping up a level or two from the bottom of the line if you are going off road in an aggressive manner.  I'm split on rear suspension.  It feels great, but you sacrifice a lot in weight and component level to get it.  You have to spend significantly more to get the same level of components and weight as you would have without the rear suspension.

Unfortunately, there are a lot more fine details, but you will pick more current info going to many bike shops and taking a bunch of test rides and talking to the sales people.

Best wishes,

P.S.  I my experience expensive deraileurs bend just as easily when you hit a stump as cheap ones. [:)]
Link Posted: 5/16/2002 8:41:25 PM EDT
Shimano gears:


The models are arranged with the highest quality on top.

The regular Deore is the minimum as far as I'm concerned.

Check the Schwinn and Specialized sites.  The basic Mesa and Rockhopper have regular Deore, I think, and I believe with the better models you get better Shimano equipment.

The low-end Rockhopper is OK, there were some complaints about the wheels, but I think they were from guys who were pounding them pretty well, even if unintentionally.  For me, the Scwinn Mesa was almost as good.  Both these bikes give you a good ride with excellent gearing, though the top speed is not meant for the highway.

I passed up the Marin bikes just because of the cheesy twist-grip shifters, and equally because I called the factory to see if they had any models with the regular lever shifters and they had the attitude of "who are you? - you're just somebody shopping for a bike"   Yeah right - not YOUR bike!!

You may notice the front suspension bobbing on you when you are cranking real hard, but it's not a big amount.  Front suspension it really worth having for the trails.

Don't forget a Kryptonite lock and a cable.  Don't buy the mini-lock, get a full size one.
Link Posted: 5/17/2002 10:26:44 AM EDT
Just a quick remark on the "cheesy twist grip shifters":  I like them...  Mechanically they are much more simple.  Therefore, less prone to failure, maybe.

But with that said, I don't use them on my personal bike. I rented a bike last year in Ireland that had them.  After a little time to familiarize myself with them I can't knock 'em.

As far as brand recommendations go:  Three years ago when I bought my last bike I found Trek and Gary Fisher (owned by Trek), due to their economies of scale, offered the most for the money.  In the past I have owned bikes by Specialized and GT and was very pleased with all of them.

I've been mountain biking seriously since '86, minus these last few years, and I will second PRK's opinion on not going below Deore level components if you are getting into serious riding.  The Deore I bought in '88 is, of course, very different from the Deore you by today, but once I got to that level I have not been disappointed in my deraileurs.

But again it comes down to how much and how hard are you going to ride it.

I find buying bikes almost as fun as buying guns.  Donate a few afternoons or evenings to the cause.  Don't buy the first bike you ride.  Try something way out of your price range to feel the refinements that money can buy, just to give you an idea of things to look for in bikes that are in your price range.  Most of all have fun.

Let us know what you get.

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