Advice on a mountain bike

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by tobefirst, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. tobefirst macrumors 68040


    Jan 24, 2005
    St. Louis, MO
    Hello, MacRumors mountain bikers. I have wanted a bike for a long, long time, and I think that I'm actually ready to fulfill that need/want and reward myself with a new mountain bike.

    I've been to a few of the cyclery shops in the area, and I've narrowed my choices down to a few that are in my price range. I'm hoping for some feedback/opinions/thoughts about these bikes, other comparable bikes you think I should look into, and the manufacturers in general. I don't know a whole lot about mountain bikes, but have learned a bit in the past week or so, and am anxious to get started.

    The bikes I'm looking at are the Kona Blast, the Giant Yukon, and (I believe) the Specialized Hardrock Pro Disc.

    My budget is about $800 US or so, which would include any accessories I would need to buy (helmet, water bottle cage, etc.). Thoughts?
  2. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2008
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    I own a Cannondale, but from the choices given I'd get the Hard Rock. If you have a $800 budget, why not look at the Specialized Rock Hopper as well?

    Make sure you test ride all the bikes, and see which one feels the most comfortable/best for you. Never buy a mountain bike without riding it, and certainly do not be shy, after all it is a big investment and you'll be stuck with your decision. Also make sure the bike shop provides good service and treats their customers well.

    To start out with definitely get a helmet, see if they'll give you a free water cage, they cost almost nothing. That is pretty much all you need to start with, perhaps a bottle of chain lube as well. Bike lock will be good if you store your bike in a public place.

    Good luck, and try out the bikes you have in mind!
  3. tobefirst thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 24, 2005
    St. Louis, MO
    Thanks for the advice, chiefroastbeef. I'll be sure to check out the Rockhopper as well. I looked at the Rockhopper 29er, but that was a bit above my budget, if I recall correctly. What is the reason for suggesting the Rockhopper over the Hardrock?

    I'll definitely be trying the bikes out before I buy. I wish they were all three at the same location- that would make comparing them easier, but I'll definitely do my due diligence in that department.

    Also, I'm leaning toward staying with platform pedals, at least to start, as I'll be using the bike around the city in addition to the trails, and I'd like to be able to be able to walk in and out of stores and such easily, but I'm open to the conversation of clipless pedals and shoes. But, then again, that would be a pretty significant portion of my budget. Is it worth it?
  4. adk macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2005
    Stuck in the middle with you
    I'd strongly advise against getting clipless pedals if you are new to trail riding. If you're riding real mountain bike trails as a beginner you will end up eating quite a bit of dirt if you are clipped in.
  5. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

    Mar 15, 2007
    Denton, TX
    I have a Hardrock Pro Disk that I take on the road with me. I've had it for 3-4 years now and love it, I've had no mechanical issues with it and I tend to abuse it when I'm in the mountains. It even survived being strapped to the back of my truck over the winter with no problems.

    This is my first bike with disk brakes. If you do any kind of riding in wet weather, or you tend to tweek your wheels then I'd highly recommend getting something with disks. Your braking ability doesn't change much in wet weather and a bent wheel wont end your day, unless you taco it.

    If you are buying it from a local bike shop you can usually get them to throw in a basic helmet and water bottle/cage for free.
  6. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006

    I own an 07 rockhopper base.

    The rockhopper has a better shock and better frame than the hardrock. Those 2 items make a fairly large difference in the long run.

    I like the rockhopper. Like others have said test ride the bike.

    Also do not forget to other require items for mountain biking
    1. Helmet (a must have)
    2. Way to carry water (I use a Cambak Mule)
    3. A basic multi tool.
    4. Tire levers.
    5. Pump.
    6. Spare tubes because YES you will put holes in your tubes. I have gone though a fair number in a year
    7. Bike gloves full finger. Trust me it will help. Stops blisters and protects your hands from thorns and crashes which you will have.

    As you get more into mountain biking biking clothing becames really nice. Good Jersy and biking shorts are a thing to get. Also you will want to start looking into clipless pedals.

    Lastly I would like to introduce you to the site Great place for everything mountain biking. The forums there are really helpful and full of bikers.
  7. ms.gio macrumors regular

    Aug 28, 2007
    Chicago, Illinois
    tobefirst, I don't do much riding on mountain bikes (I'm a road/urban rider) but from what you have listed I would go with the Kona Blast. Here is one of reviews that I read on the Kona. Also, here are the reviews on the others: Giant Yukon and Specialized Handrock Pro Disk. I have some friends on a different forum who have Konas and swear by them. They say that they are a blast (hehe) to ride. Also from the reviews that I have read about the bikes the Kona seems to come on top in regard to budget.

    I'm with adk about clipless pedals. Knowing that you're going to be on the trails a lot you could get hurt if you don't know how to correctly get out of your clips in time. If you do plan on learning how to ride clipless I would recommend you sitting on your bike in a hall way practicing how to come in and out of the clips. Once you have that down, then move to going up and down the block practicing the same technique. Also, I wouldn't advise having the clips too tight for it would cause you some difficulty in clipping in and out.
  8. tobefirst thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jan 24, 2005
    St. Louis, MO
    I do have another question: I know that two of the bikes have a lockout on the front shock, and the Giant does not. I understand that for climbs and while in the city, locking out the shock would result in more efficiency. Do you guys use the lockout at all? Does it make a big difference?

    Thank you, all of you, for the advice. I'll be trying out these bikes sometime soon and will report back if I have any other questions. I'm still soliciting any advice, so if anyone has any more, I would appreciate it.
  9. ToddW macrumors 6502a

    Feb 26, 2004
    yep i love my rockhopper and would highly recommend it. it is a great hardtail and the front fork aint that bad either.
  10. liketom macrumors 601


    Apr 8, 2004
    on my bikes ( i have 3 now) all have lock out's on my forks ( remote lockout is a waste BTW )

    for urban riding like to work and back ,i run on slicks on my tires and lockout on my forks - better speed and less resistance

    for trail riding - XC riding then i slip the switch for more bounce on the bumps and a chucky tire to soak up all the bumps in the road
  11. dwcasey macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2006
    front shock

    Front lockout is nice. Mine is air adjustable and for street or hard surface, I pump it up to make it stiff so that your "pumping" energy is not being wasted through the front fork. Some of this you can prevent by not leaning forward so much, but you get a feel for it after a while.

    Smart idea too, about setting budge to *include* all the gear. Some folks ( like me :) ) set bike budget, then ended up blowing a $100 more on gear.

    If you can swing it, I would recommend clipless pedal with the option to clip in some strapped pedals with regular shoes.
  12. WonderWoman macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2008
    I own a Cannondale and my husband owns a Klein Adept Pro--we love them. I'd go clipless, but you can have the best of both worlds and get the combo from Shimano--one side platform, one side clip. It takes some getting used to if you're already used to clipless pedals, but since you're not, you'll love em. My husband has them and loves them. For races or long trips, he just changes them out.

    Also, just an idea. We do really well buying custom bikes and parts on ebay. Yes, they're used, but if you can stand a few scratches (which you'll make in no time anyway) and can wait a few weeks for the transaction to go through, you'll can find some incredible deals. We find a bike on ebay, go to a local bike shop to test ride it and check out what the stock bike comes with and the prices for upgrades, then compare it with the bike online. We've saved hundreds of dollars and out of the 5 bikes we've bought, all have been just as we expected or better. Also check out for reviews on whole bikes and components.
  13. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I might like to correct those duel sides pedals. They are more the worse of both words. They are harder to clip into and get out of. THe platform sucks and so on. Either go wtih flats all the way or go clipless all the way. Personally I am a fan of the clipless. The Shimano M520s are a great starter clipless pedal and pretty much bomb proof.
  14. hmmfe macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2003
    If you are looking for advice, I would suggest the Kona. However, both the Specialized and Kona are really nice bikes and you can't go wrong with either as your first ride. You really need to ride both and pick which one is best for you. Each bike will have slight differences in geometry that will impact your riding comfort and performance.

    In your price range it is most important to get the frame that fits best for you. You can upgrade the components over time to suit your needs. I have an old Trek that I've upgraded over time and is a joy to ride even though it is about 12 years old now. If you are jumping into this in a serious way, I would try to get Deore class components if you can afford it.

    You really have to consider the riding you are likely to do. Mountain bikes are like SUVs. People get them for their capabilities but rarely use them. You might want to get into mountain biking - in which case, get a hardtail or even a full suspension bike. If your riding will be mostly around town and on dirt bike paths with the occasional trail riding then you might want to consider a "cross" bike (cyclocross). These are very versatile and are much more efficient for around town use and are surprisingly capable off-road with the right tires. Just a thought...
  15. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    Yeah, what he said. I'd look at the Kona. FWIW, I rode a rigid Klein MTB for years -- no rear shock, no front shock and it was great! The bike weighed only 22lbs and you could fly up hills. Keep it simple and upgrade if you get into it... and DO get a set of SPDs -- simple in and out and make riding much more fun!
  16. dantherevelator macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2007
    If you're near an REI, I suggest taking a peek at their Novara line. I've had a few nice Novaras over the years. In my experience you can get a bike with a much better component set than you're likely to find at a given price-point elsewhere.

    I've seen some nice last-model Novaras on special for like 40% off. Check out REI Outlet, too.
  17. KeegoSupremo macrumors member

    Nov 28, 2006
    I ride a Giant Trance 3, but I do not know anything about the Yukon. As for pedals Crank Brothers make a few models that are platform and clipless I have a set of acids from them. I also would recommend as a few others have. Its a great place for reviews of anything bike related
  18. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Lots of good advice here and I'll just toss in my 2 cents. A couple of years ago I got an '06 Gary Fisher Wahoo so I could get into mountain biking here in the LA area and I absolutely fell in love w/riding in general (both street and trail). For the past year or so I've gone out on my bike at least 2-3 times a week and I did a 150 mile charity ride back in March (100 miles day one, 50 miles day 2) on my mtn bike. Here are some things I've kinda picked up over the past two years.

    - For trail riding you need to get a camelbak or some other brand of hydration pack like that. Trying to fumble w/a water bottle while you are riding over uneven surfaces is just asking for disaster.

    - If you plan on doing a lot of street riding it's more than worth it to own 2 complete sets of wheels (one knobby for the trails and one slick for the streets). Knobby wheels on the streets are slow, loud, provide less grip compared to slicks and you'll wear down the knobs making the tire useless for trail riding. Also, if you do get slicks I'd consider getting a set of "armored" tires. After getting 4 flats in my last 6 rides I grabbed a pair of Specialized Nimbus Armadillo tires. They are slower and rider harder than my last pair of street tires, but they are way better than having to fix a flat on the road (especially if you are heading into work). You can also get armored knobby tires as well if you are in an area w/lots of thorns. I've haven't got a flat on a trail before, but a buddy of mine got a flat (and didn't have a spare tube) so he had to hoof his bike over about 5 miles of trail to get back to his car. Not fun.

    - IMO stay w/platform peddles until you get used to your bike and decide if you ride enough to warrant the extra expense of going clipless. I have a set of the Shimano "combo" pedals (clipless on one side, platform on the other) and I love them. I have no problems clipping in/out of them and I like the fact that I can wear normal shoes if I'm just out peddling around town or meeting people for a movie or something. If I had enough money for two bikes I'd probably go clipless on my "performance" bike and platform on the other bike, but I can only afford one bike so it's got to be versatile.

    - Along w/spare tubes get a patch kit and learn how to change/patch a tube *before* you get a flat out in the middle of no where.

  19. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    Another online source for bikes and gear is Sierra Trading Post. Great company and awesome deals.
  20. anirban macrumors 6502a


    Jan 9, 2007
    Houston, TX
    The Yukon has a better drivetrain components, and a good fork (comparatively speaking). The Hardrock Pro has a better brakeset.

    If you ask me, it seems that the Yukon would be a better bike to start out with. Most of the drivetrain components on the HR are for recreational riding only.

    Personally, I would go for the Yukon.

    But make sure you test ride both of them, that is the most important factor in purchasing a bike. Whichever bike fits you the most should be the one for you.

    I have never been comfortable with Giant geometry- I am mostly a Trek rider.

    So make sure you go to a bike shop, ride both the bikes, find out which one fits you best, and which one weighs the least. If you are very new to offroad riding, start out with the stock platform pedals.

    EDIT: I just saw the date when this thread was started, and I am an idiot for commenting on it now. Sorry!
  21. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I have the Specialized Hardrock Pro Disc. It was more comfortable than the Trek for me and less expensive than say the Felt I had my eye on.
    I don't regret the decision, but I haven't been on a trail in ages so I'm swapping the tires for something more road-friendly. The nub tires stick too much and slow me down.

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