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Questions for Any MTB'ers...

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Motorhead Mark, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. Ok guys and gals, here's some questions for all you mountain bikers out there.

    Background: 34 yrs, haven't been out for 3/5 yrs, 6 ft, 185 lbs. Current bike is a 1995/1996 MARIN Pine Mountain,
    medium size, grip shift, steel frame, xt rear, front lx, Mavic (I think) rims, Manitou front susp...

    I (did) am looking to ride XC, trails, some street to get from trail to trail, not overly agressive, prefer a HT, looking around $1500 Cdn price range.

    Travelled to a couple of bike stores in the area, and they say that aluminum frames have improved signifcantly in the last 10 yrs. So, Is aluminum now comparable to steel for strength and durablilty
    I looked at an alum:Rocky Mountain Vertex, Devinci Cameleon, Trek ?, and a steel Jamis, all around the $1500 Cdn price range.

    Now some decision is based on personal preference, but are there any bike companies to stay away from for a quality, and a service p.o.v.?(point of view)

    Tried the SRAM (sp) 'rapid fire' type shifters, and I must say, I did not the action on them at all. Shifting down didn't seem natural and fluid, so I will stick with Shimano, but go from Grip Shift back to true rapid fire.

    So any input from riders out there would be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind I have been out of the field for a while so please be kind and use layman language when refering to parts/specs until I can back up to speed.
  2. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Most bikes are made in Taiwan and assembled here (or in Canada). Stick to the big brands and you can't go wrong. In Canada you have Norco and Rocky Mtn. While these firms are more on the "freeride" side of things, they do make good XC 'tails. Just stay away from the Wal Mart brands like Pacific and Huffy.

    A good XC bike will have at least Shimano Deore level componentry and a Rock Shox/Zocchi/Manitou/Fox fork with at least 3" of stroke. I like Manitou for the great damping.

    As for steel vs. aluminum, I like steel for "just riding" and aluminum for racing. Nothing climbs like an alloy hardtail (and climbs are where XC races are won). Very responsive and almost flex free. Steel flexes a bit and "rounds out" most of the rough stuff. You can also feel it giving when you drop the hammer.

    I recommend a Sycip if you really want a steel bike.

  3. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I'm currently in the market for a hardtail as well. Almost everything you look at in the mainstream new market is going to aluminum right now. Aluminum has definetly caught up to steel in the strength durability department. Individual frame designs have the greatest effect on ride characteristics but the general feeling is that an aluminum frame is going to have a stiffer feel than steel due mostly to the oversize tubing. If you are looking for comments on quality and service of specific companies I would check out the reviews section of MTBR.com They have the most comprehensive archive of consumer reviews out there. Whenever I start looking at a bike, the first thing I check is MTBR.

    Shimano is still sitting atop the heap as far as drivetrain. components go. Their top of the line component group is XTR, followed XT and LX.

    Brakes are one of the big things that has changed alot in the last ten years. Disc Brakes are growing rapidly in popularity and come in two varieties, hydraulic and mechanical. Hydraulic work just like the disc brakes in your car, they are considered more powerful but can also be a pain to maintain. Mechanicals have a little more of a soft feel but can be more forgiving on the maintenance/tuning front.

    Big names in suspension right now include Marzocchi, Fox, Rock Shox, and Manitou. Most stuff is still coil/oil controlled but there is more air stuff on the market now. The biggest change is the amount of adjustability. Most forks have rebound and prelaod adjustment, and some have lockout and compression adjusment.
  4. 95% of all bike frames are aluminum these days. They're plenty strong. I wouldn't bother with steel unless you wanted to go full rigid.

    I'd change Syciprider's comment from "nothing climbs like an alloy hardtail" to "nothing accelerates...." Personally, when it comes to climbing (at least around here) I think the loss of pedalling efficiency by going FS is more than offset by the gain in rear wheel traction. I pedal my 38 pound FS up things that stronger riders on hardtails can't get up because they keep spinning out... But this is an entirely different topic... ;)

    As for you search: Check out the Norco hardtails and the Giant Ranier. Really good bang for the buck. The mags have rated the Ranier quite high for the price. Rocky make beautiful frames but they're a boutique manufacturer so their prices are a bit steep. You'll get a much better part spec for the same price with Norco or Giant (or any large manufacturer). I've definitely found that the best bang for the buck is in Norco or Giant (In Canada).
  5. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Technique :). My geared friends wonder how my single speed can climb alongside them too.

    We respect Canadians for their ability to launch off of things and not their knack for climbing;)
    Except Miss Sydor.
  6. The choices out there now are amazing...Took a Gary Fisher HKEK for a test ride the other day, very nice bike indeed...I keep on looking back to Rocky Mountain (which Miss Sydor rides) Vertex...this is getting to be more work than I was hoping for...

  7. Which version of the Vertex? Rockies are awesome bikes and the customer service is great as well. I've been riding a Rocky Switch for the past 3 years and it's been nothing but awesome. The company backed me up on a fork issue which resulted in Manitou giving me a brand new higher-end fork for free. They're really good about warranty stuff too.

    I'm actually feeling a bit guilty for not going Rocky this year, but I'm sure it will pass.
  8. Well, for the most part we do have to ride up anything we ride down...:D Technique certainly has a lot to do with it, but you certainly get enhanced traction with a properly set up rear suspension. And you SS guys are nuts altogether! :p :D
  9. Hey Mark

    A local store has a Vertex 10 going for around $1500...is that a good price? But I am also now looking at just switching some gear on my old ride. I have a pair of Manitou SX forks that have about as much life in them as a brick, so switching out some parts is also a route to go. I would love to get a new ride, and to upgrade my current, would cost about $5-700 so what to do what to do...An that Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo, with some mods would be anice bike as well....argh!
  10. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    My wife and I have bikes in about the range you are talking about. One is a Marin Nail Trail (2005) and the other is a Trek 6700 (2006) that we just picked up. I use the Marin for adventure racing and it's been a dependable machine.

    I haven't had a chance to ride the Trek much since we just got it a week ago, but riding it briefly at the shop it rode very nice and the reviews were good. My wife liked it best of about the 8 or so bikes we tried in the range we were looking to spend. It has good components and the frame looks well built and thoughtout so I can't see there being any problem.

    The guy I adventure race with has a Norco Nitro, which is about the same as the two other bikes, more or less... same level of components and what not. He's very happy with the bike. He also has a ~10 year old Marin Palisades trail (it has fluorescent green forks) that has been very dependable. He's demoted it to his commuter bike since it doesn't have front suspension.

    Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that my experience with most of the reputable bike companies has been very good and I haven't heard anything bad about any of the more well known higher end bike makes. I'd say that it's a matter of getting out and trying a bunch of bikes in your price range and going with whatever fits you best.
  11. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    I see you're in Hamilton, which is not far from me at all here in Niagara and I'm familliar with some bike shops in St. Catherines the Burlington area, and in Kitchener/Waterloo, none of which are far from you. Let me know if you're coming up short in terms of finding what's right for you at the shops you've visited.

    On to my suggestions. What everyone else said is true, including the statement that most known brands are good these days. You're right on track getting away from grip shifters. I can't stand those things, and they really aren't practical for serious riding.

    I myself prefer aluminum frames, and am fairly particular when it comes to the alloy for weight if nothing else. I'm riding an 04 Trek 8000 these days, and I really like the ZR9000 alloy they're using.

    I say buy what you want, but get an opinion from someone you trust. In most cases that's not the salesman, but I have some people at shops that I know I can trust.

    If I can make a reccomendation in that range, it's probably something like the Trek 6700 or the Giant Rainer, both mentioned in this thread already. I spent a bit more and sprung for the 8000 and then upgraded a bit, but I feel it is worth it.

    Let us know what bike you get :D
  12. DGbass70


    Jun 1, 2005
    Rochester N.Y.
    i would also check out KONA bikes .....good prices,good product same for cust. service
  13. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    I'll second that. Kona makes some good stuff. Be careful though, their line is very largely downhill and freeride stuff, and I think you're looking more at the XC side of things. They do have a few sweet XC bikes though.
  14. I picked up my Intense Uzzi VPX last night!!!!:hyper:

    8" travel bike, 37 pounds. :D

    Now if this damned snow would melt.....


    It's really pretty hard to go wrong with the current crop of bikes/manufacturers. Find something that fits at a decent price and go with it...

    $1500 for the Vertex 10 is an ok price, but you'd get a better part spec on a Norco, Giant, Trek etc. for the same price. The Vertex frame is sweet though. Upgradeable too...
  15. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    When I was checking out new XC bikes with my wife we checked out one of the Kona models. It had a frame on it like the Kona free ride bikes, that really fat tube they have. It was a very nice bike. I think that it was called a Caldera. Eventually we went with the Trek as we were willing to spend a little more money to get better components.
  16. Ok, here's how the search is going so far...

    I tried a KONA Kula ($1300 Cdn), and the Kula Deluxe ($2000 Cdn). Both are good bikes, but, although it is a few dollars more, I really liked the Deluxe. Pro's - Good, smooth ride, quiet, good climber, light, rapid fire shifters, Race Face crank, good graphics. Cons - No quick release for the seat, and I would swap out the tires for a better set. Also, the forks did not have a lock out, but after trying a set (forks) that did, and doing a climb, I wondered if it is really necessary? Price is a little steep, but, what the hell, it's only $$$ right?

    Also looked at Rocky Mountain's Vertex 30, the 50, and a steel Hammer today as well. The 30 is a great bike, light, good graphics, but no lock out (OEM on the 50) and the shifters, don't know what you call them except for crap. Same shifters on the 50, but the store guy said he could switch them out for RF's. The steel Hammer was a nice bike, but didn't grab me, except for the RF shifters.

    So, the short list now is Rocky Mountain's Vertex 50, or Kona's Kula Deluxe. both about $500 then I was looking to spend but...what are you gonna do? You only live once right?

    Now my questions are:
    1: my current ride is a medium/17.5..the Kona was an 18. I know .5'' is small, so would I really have to worry about it? Or going to a 17'' for that matter, any issues? Or should I stick to the size I know?
    2: Fork lockouts...pros and cons? Worth it?

    fwiw: g/f said that I don't put this much work into getting a bass
  17. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    IMO, nice choice on the bikes. I looked at the Kula Deluxe on the Kona site and it looks great, but the Rocky Mtn wins out in this case. It's the little stuff that makes the difference:
    -first off, the egg-beater pedals are awesome. I just switched to crank bros. and they are really something else.
    -fork is comparable
    -FSA headset :) (that "Aheadset" on the Kona is like the one on my Trek, and while it hasn't failed me, I've heard of them going bad)
    -shimano hubs/mavic 317s are basically the same as what I just bought, and I will say that's a heck of a lot better than most bikes come with stock.

    Those components are worth a lot of money in upgrades if you later decide to get them, and are all really worthwhile. The Kona only really has a couple of components that are better, which would be the XT rear deralleur and the Hayes brakes. It doesn't weigh up when compared to all those other things though. That RM is some bike (and I'm surprised, because I haven't kept up with their line).

    Again, IMO, the lockout on the fork is not that important at all for climbing or anything for that matter. The big difference is having a lockout on the rear suspension - not an issue with the bikes you're shopping for. The Fox fork on those bikes has fantastic response too, so it should react to a climb differently than bumps on level ground.

    For size, you have to see what is comfortable to ride. Don't go by the numbers when comparing different brands or even models, just try out a few in the right range to get the best fit.

    Good luck with the rest of your search, and again, do let us know what you get.
  18. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    I don't see a need for a fork lockout either unless I'm World Cup material. I use the boing boing action of the fork as a backbeat when I'm standing on the pedals and swaying the bike left to right.

    As for the size, with mtn bikes I am more concerned with the length of the top tube when comparing bikes in my size. A shortish bike will be very agile and a great descender but may feel cramped during those 10 mile long climbs. A long bike will be stable at speed but a tad difficult on technical trails (like what you sickos "ride" in Canada). It wil be great for long climbs.

  19. The Rocky is the superior bike here.

    Jeff summed it up, though I'd maybe disagree a little on the brakes. I have Shimano Deore/LX hydraulic disc brakes on my Rocky and have had 0 problems with them over 4 years. They have really good modulation and lots of stopping power and are dead simple to set up and bleed. The HFX-9s don't have great stopping power and modulation and they're a nuisance to work on.

    I wouldn't be concerned with fork lockout, it's not a big deal. The Fox forks are very nice, BTW.

    Anyway here's a pic of my new ride, just for laughs.... :D


    I don't know why these pics won't appear inline....

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