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Advice required please, I'm confused

Emily\'s dadEmily\'s dad Posts: 13
edited April 2008 in MTB beginners
I'm looking for a new bike. The last time I bought a mountain bike, there were no disc brakes, no suspension, things have moved on a great deal in the last 10 years.

Trouble is my local bike shop wasn't much help to me when I went and visited and I got the impression that they were trying to sell me what they wanted to flog rather than something that would be suitable for my needs.
I went out and bought some mags and had a look on this forum but still need to ask a few daft questions, so please excuse me if I'm asking the obvious but I don't want to waste any money.

I'm 39, reasonably fit (healthy- not good looking) 6 feet tall and 14 stone and looking to ride for fun and exercise.
I am not interested in leaping 20 feet in the air or break neck speeds down the side of a cliff face .My riding is along unmade paths, through woods, bridle path type terrain and I'm more of a 20 miles gentle ride than 2 or 3 miles as fast as possible.
I have ridden at Bewl Water (Kent) and Leith Hill (Surrey) if that gives you any idea of my style.
So what sort of bike do I need, I know I don't need a downhill style bike but I read about "all mountain bikes" ,"cross country bikes" and "trail bikes" and I'm not sure what the difference really is.
I have a decent budget up to £1400 for the right bike. I know from reading that I should try a few and what suits one person won't be any good for another, but where should I start my search, I have seen this and like the look of it, price spec etc, but is this the right style of bike for me. ... 826&z=3495
Any help gladly received


  • dave_hilldave_hill Posts: 3,877
    It's an absolute minefield!

    I'd start by asking myself if I want full suspension or hardtail. Obviously full suspension gives a more comfortable ride and makes and all-day trek more bearable, but on the other hand there is a school of thought that suspension both ends can flatter your skills and hide bad habits. Then of course no matter which full-sus bike you go for there's obviously more moving parts and a shock absorber to think about when it comes to maintenance.

    A hardtail is simpler to maintain but in general will be less able to cope when it comes to the gnarly stuff. Not that a hardtail won't cope, it's just that a full-bouncer makes life a bit easier.

    As for the categories, well...

    From the type of riding that you intend to be doing I'd be looking at the trail / all mountain bracket. But these can be misleading names because "trail" can mean one thing to one manufacturer or vendor and another thing to another.

    Very loosely...

    Trail bikes - your probably looking for 4" to 5" of suspension , full complement of 27 gears (3 x 9), 6" disc brakes and a reasonably lightweight build-up (think 28lbs to 30lbs all-up weight)

    All-mountain - an all-mountain bike will differ from a trail bike in that it is designed to cope with tougher riding, usually with a bias towards the gravity assisted kind. Suspension will usually be in the range of 5" to 6", fewer gears (typically 18 (2 x 9)) and bigger brakes. All-up weight will usually be around the 30lb to 35lb mark.

    But as stated this is a VERY loose description and will be interpreted a hundred different ways by a hundred different people.

    There's a good first time buyer's guide in this month's MBR magazine which may help.
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  • James_FJames_F Posts: 137
    If in the main you are cycling on bridleways and don't intend to tackle anything too extreme, then a hardtail would maybe be a better option. This is a good deal for £1300: It's very light, has a 100mm travel fork which is perfect for what you want to do, and looks good as well.
  • I've pretty much decided that I want a full suspension bike, if only for a little more comfort over longer rides.
    I have seen Evans website and various bikes have taken my fancy, my main query is still what is the difference between various options as previously mentioned
    Freeride, all mountain, cross country trail etc etc.

    Unfortunately my local shop is a franchise of a largish chain and did appear to more interested in selling me something expensive rather than an appropriate bike.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    i think you are right to buy a full sus bike if you have that kind of budget as 1400 quid will get you a hell of alot of bike.

    it sounds like the kind of riding you are going to do can be considered xc or trail riding (which as far as i can tell, is the same thing)

    i would reccommend buying a full sus bike with 5 inches (120-130mm) of rear wheel travel with an air fork at the front (air is more adjustable than spring and much lighter) this means the bike would be comfy to ride without carrying too much travelk round wth you (its tempting to get an all singing all dancing 6 inch bike but it would be overkill)

    for your money, i would recommend looking at the specialized stumpjumper, always gets good reviews and is ace value for money, also the giant trance x.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    cancel my last, that^^^^ is awesome value.
  • litwardlelitwardle Posts: 259
    I reckon you'd be better with a long travel hardtail. Maybe add a suspension seatpost if you're worried about comfort. I personally would much rather have a really top spec, light hardtail with a crackin set of forks.

    Good luck with the seaech and keep us posted with your choise of rig.

  • badhandbadhand Posts: 115
    I was just about to ask the same question!! After riding a Klein hardtail for the last 7 years I have £1500 to spend on something completely different. In the Specialized camp I've been lusting after the Stumpy HT Expert for ages, but now am wondering what I could get with full bounce for the same money. Have you looked at the Stumpjumper FSR or the Epic?

    Or perhaps the Cannondale Prophet?

    Do we even need to spend that much when there are bikes for less than a grand out there... yes. I. Think we do.
  • They are all nice looking bikes, but I still keep coming back to the Marin East Peak ... 826&z=3495

    I'm waiting to see if the ride to work scheme will be offered at work this year and if so it may be one of those specialised bikes, as Evans is the chosen provider for us.

    You are right about the money, I've just sold two of my toys, a V8 Rover P6 3500s from 1974 and a BMW R1150GS so have nothing to play with, and money burning a hole in my pocket.

    I'm continuing to use my old bike at the minute whiist reading up in bike mags and visiting a few bike shops. I'm not going to rush my decision so as to make sure I do buy the right bike at the right price.

    Good luck in your search.

  • MatteeboyMatteeboy Posts: 996
    I had a similar "issue" - I'd had my 1997 Stumpy (V brakes, steel frame, rigid forks but groupset, wheels and everything else upgraded) for 10 years and wasn't sure where to go.

    With a similarish budget I went for another Stumpjumper Hardtail for £1200 - and I've fallen back in love with MTBing again (it was simply for fitness for a number of years, not really for fun).

    East Peak looks great but it's going to be heavy - wouldn't want to pedal that up a big hill!
    Two Stumpjumpers, a Rockhopper Disk and an old British Eagle.
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    Rift zone, really well thought out package really nice to ride. Same frame as the east peak, but much better parts.
  • It's also more money, more than I've put aside.

    Although the east peak may be heavy, I'll bet it's lighter and much better spec than the old thing I'm riding now. It's all relative.

  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    Sorry, i thought you said £1400, and the link above put's it under that budget, at that price it's a steal!
  • dirtbiker100dirtbiker100 Posts: 1,997
    if you're looking at marins take a look at rutland cycles:
    ah just read - small only :(
    mount vision for same price as the rift zone above - ... 75103d7888
    rift zone even cheaper - ... 75103d7888
    those are my choices, and i've ridden round bewl before and it'll be *easily* enough for what you want. ridden bedgebury forest just down the road?

    i bought a marin quake from them last week so can recommend them. quick free delivery on top of ridiculous prices
  • badhandbadhand Posts: 115
    I've just bottled it and ordered myself a new stumpy HT. I decided that bobbing pedals, lock outs, compression somethings and sucking chains all sound far too complicated for my poor brain, and so I'll stick to what I know and perhaps treat myself to the cable car and a hire bike at the Glen Nevis range once in a very long while...
  • litwardlelitwardle Posts: 259
    Well done! I'm glad you went for that. Good choice!
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    should've got a full sus.

    only joking, hope you have fun and as always, we want pics!!!!!!!
  • litwardlelitwardle Posts: 259
    What about Emilys_dad. Have you made a decision yet?
  • Not yet.
    The ride to work scheme may be offered at work again soon, which could save me a packet.
    The supplier preferred by work last time was Evans cycyles. Having looked at their site they have plently of choice, Specialized and Scotts feature highly.
    I could get a £1400 bike for around £800, so I'm waiting to see if the scheme is coming back.
    In the mean time I'm cracking on with my old bike, reading up on this and other forums and buying a few mags
    I will be after a decent full suspension bike, which some will agree with and others not.
  • litwardlelitwardle Posts: 259
    Quick reply! Do you have a bike shop near you that would let you test ride? Or possibly a cycle hire place? May give you a better idea of what we be more suitable?

  • My local bike shop doesn't unfortunately.

    There are a few bike shops in and around Dorking (Surrey) which do.
    They are an hours drive away and when time allows I will try and visit them during the week. I have found that visiting bike shops at the weekend isn't too helpful as they are busier and the staff tend to be rushing around and can't/won't spend too much time with you.
    Even if I don't buy from them as you say a test ride always helps
  • guillianoguilliano Posts: 5,495
    Can't go wrong with a Trek Fuel EX7 at £1400, or Giant Trance 2. If you went with a hardtail I'd say Genesis Altitude 40 is THE one
  • Interesting reading this one as I am in a similar boat however my budget is a lot less - £500ish. Checked out 2 of the local bike shops Wightmountain and The Bikeshed, both were happy to explain a few things and one inparticular mention that until you get to the £1500 its not really worth going the full sus route.

    Both of these shops took the time out to explain a few bits and answered my questions in terms that I understood. Got a another 2 more local shops to try and then the decision will be made.

    My requirements were for a bike to use about 50/50 on-road/cycle paths and off-road (Tennyson trail type biking is what I fancy doing). I just can not believe how muh MBR has changed in the last few years.
    Weight on June 18th 129kg
    Target By June 15th 2013 - 100kg
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Weight July 1st - 127.3kg
  • I know its probably not what you want to hear again but I really think Hardtail is the right decision. Full suspension takes all the joy out of cycling unless you want to use it solely for hurtling down rocky hillsides. A decent hardtail carbonfibre frame will make you feel like a cycling god. I have been riding the Giant MCM team bike since about 2003 and would never look back. replacing parts just improves it year after year, they may be pricey ( could have bought a lesser bike a couple of times over for the cost of replacement parts) but it is a matter of priorities. A mountain bike that can chase down most road riders is worth giving up food for.

    I would also recommend getting as many gears as you can. Once you get used to them you don't know how you ever got by without them before.

    Disc brakes are also an essential. Before I had discs there were many occasions on which I quietly said uh oh to myself whilst rolling dwn a hill before hitting a bus or totally missing my turning. After 5 years with my bike I couldn't live without it, it feels a part of me, but that is probably because I have a very cheap saddle on it now. If comfort is an issue then saddle is more important than suspension in my opinion. I would rather have a hard tail with a dorky padded saddle than a full sus bike with a skinny saddle.
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    A decent hardtail carbonfibre frame will make you feel like a cycling god.

    But a decent Ti frame makes you feel like a rich god!
    I would rather have a hard tail with a dorky padded saddle than a full sus bike with a skinny saddle.

    Barely padded saddles are more comfy, as they don't squish up your bum and cut off the blood supply. You need a firm, but flexible saddle that supports your seatbones for cycling heaven.
  • If you can recommend a good comfortable saddle then let me know. It is one of the things which is on my shopping list at the moment. I broke the one that came with my bike and was using one I found on a junked bike for a year or two till the guy in the cycle shop embarassed my so much that I bought a new BBB saddle that was more in line with the look of the bike.

    My butt has no problems with it but I find there is a massive amount of pressure on my perineum. This isn't too bad riding trails as I am so often out of the saddle, but on roads and the trainer it totally cuts off the blood flow to my parts which I'm sure can't be healthy in the long run.
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279

    I really rate the fizik gobi, others recommend the charge spoon (and there is a Ti version for £40 which is more comfy) and the sdg bell air.
  • Duly noted and thankyou. I have started a saddle post on the appropriate forum discussing bike parts so if anyone else wants to add anything please go there as I feel guilty abut hijacking Emily's Dads post.
  • When I say saddle post I mean saddle forum post and not the thing that holds the saddle up
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