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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    1

    Question Road to Mountain. How do I pick a bike?

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    I am a beginner road rider and I have recently found myself completely hooked on cycling. I live in Tasmania, Australia which is home to some amazing mtn bike trails and I've been thinking about buying a mountain bike. I am fairly sure I want a hardtail 29" with disc breaks but there is a huge number of bikes out there and I am struggling. Does anyone have any recommendations of bikes up to $2000AU that fit my requirements?
    Thanks .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
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    4,403
    You should test ride a few bikes, and maybe even rent/borrow for a few rides. The reason I say this is that the mountain bike position is different enough that if you aren't familiar/comfortable with it, there is a good chance you will purchase a bike that is too big for you. Road riders are used to riding with the arms much more extended than a mountain biker. This can make for choosing an incorrect length in the top tube, for starters. How do I know? My first mountain bike was fit for what felt right after 20 years of road riding, and it turned out to be a full size too big. When I got on the correct mountain bike, it actually felt small in the cockpit until I got used to it. I see this with mountain bikers still - someone has a bike that they love, and a fit that they refuse to give us, but in reality they are struggling as mountain bikers because it is a road bike fit, which has limitations for growth as a mountain biker, Hope this is not too confusing and helps!
    Last edited by Irulan; 01-26-2014 at 10:33 AM.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Columbia River Gorge
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    3,583
    I agree with everything that Irulan has said. Test ride bikes if you can. That's the best approach.

    It's also helpful to list what your strengths and weaknesses are mountain biking, as well as the kind of terrain you will be riding most or like to ride the most to help narrow down your search. For example, if you like to rip downhill, you will likely want a more upright position (on flat ground) on a bike with a more slack head tube angle (lower number on the geometry charts), or you might prefer cross country riding and have to deal with a lot of tight switchbacks in which case you might want a bike with a steeper head tube and a lower front end.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,403
    What "slack" means is angle backwards on the head tube. For a long time, I didn't understand what it means. More slack will put you in what I've heard called the "sit up and beg" position, which is what Wahine is talking about as upright.

    slight aside for Wahine - have you ever seen a graphic that illustrates the variations in body position related to bike geometry?
    Last edited by Irulan; 01-26-2014 at 01:19 PM.
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southeast Nebraska
    Posts
    470
    Mountain biking is TONS of fun and totally different from the road. You are right, there are a lot of choices out there and even WSD (women's specific design) ones. You sit upright on a mountain bike so sizing is a little different. One thing that is important is your suspension fork. Your fork provides the cushion for going over rocks, ruts, tree limbs and anything else you go over. Without going into details on all the forks out there, find one that is adjustable. Get the best fork you can afford in the price range you have.

    Test ride a lot of bikes. Since you will be using your brakes/gearing more often, find shifters that work for you and are comfortable/easy to use. If you are doing a lot of hills and technical stuff, ask your LBS about geometry for climbing as was mentioned.

    See if you have beginner classes where you live as well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Posts
    1
    Depending on your size you will want to check out a couple of brands. If you're smaller 5'2 and under look in to Julianna bikes. If you're 5'3 and taller try a small Specialized Stumpjumer 29er Comp, hard tail (I own this one). If you can afford it, the women's specific Fate is well worth it. Another brand is BMC, the Teamelite TE02 (carbon) or TE03 (aluminum) they come with a Fox fork which has a remote lock out. It's handy when you're changing terrain. Engage the switch and the fork will become rigid(flat surfaces) and disengage it will become squishy.

    When I ride, I like the bike to be nimble. Since you won't have the forgiveness of a full suspension bike, you will have to be picky about your lines.

    Good luck and enjoy the process!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Rowland Hts, CA
    Posts
    473
    I totally agree that you need to have a fork that has a lockout or a "brain"

    You also need to figure out if you are a 26er, 27.5, or 29er type of rider.

    Even though I am very short 5ft1", I love the 29ers and got the Specialized Fate 29er

    I don't know how tall you are, but if you go hardtail, I highly recommend a carbon hardtail 29er if you can afford it. Aluminum 29ers are heavy, and I just could not enjoy them.
    2014 Liv Lust
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,713
    Quote Originally Posted by usc_97 View Post
    I am a beginner road rider and I have recently found myself completely hooked on cycling. I live in Tasmania, Australia which is home to some amazing mtn bike trails and I've been thinking about buying a mountain bike. I am fairly sure I want a hardtail 29" with disc breaks but there is a huge number of bikes out there and I am struggling. Does anyone have any recommendations of bikes up to $2000AU that fit my requirements?
    Thanks .
    I'm really not a mountain biker, but I worked with someone who is (at a bike shop.) Think about the terrain you'll be riding on and what your interests are. When I lived in Ohio (next to no rocks, mostly tree roots, not necessarily technical unless you went looking for it), I could probably have gotten away with a hardtail 29er. Here in Arizona, with lots of rocks, I'd want full suspension. Now, a hardtail will teach you better riding skills (at least, as far as line-picking goes) because you don't have the suspension there to cushion your mistakes. On the flip side, you'd like to be somewhat comfortable or you won't ride! Also, your trails will sort-of dictate your wheel size. Lots of switchbacks or curves? Go for a 26" or 27.5". Not so many switchbacks but there are lots of things to roll over? 29er. Get something with a lock-out fork, although if you're looking at disc brakes, that should be fairly standard at that level, I think.

    Sizing feels different too. Like Irulan said, you'll want it to feel small until you get out on the trail. Now, having said that, go try out a few. Depending how tall you are and whether or not you need women-specific fit, you may or may not have a hard time with finding them. If at all possible, try out different wheel sizes. Get out of the saddle, ride it off curbs, something to give you an idea of how it handles.

    When I was looking at MTBs, I was looking at the Fuji Nevada 1.1 (I think that's what it was)(or the Tahoe 1.1), the Giant Talon series, or the Specialized Jett/Fate. These are all HT 29ers, and I believe they all have disc brakes.
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,192
    just to throw a small wrench into the thought process. Depending on terrain, I would argue that suspension is highly overrated. For mildly technical and non technical trails I think suspension is a waste of money and adds to frustration. IN addition to "mt bikes" consider a "fat bike" or some of the nice new steel "adventure bikes" If there is a Salsa or Surly dealer close to you go visit.

    I actually ride a Surly Disc Trucker with a 2" tire on a large variety of trails in Idaho and I ride with loaded panniers for adventure bike camping and do pretty well - okay I did have to walk a sandy stretch last week but I just need more tread on my tires. I have my eye on the new Surly ECR but we sold my size before I even got to ride it around the parking lot so now
    am waiting for another to arrive.
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