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£500 max budget, looking for a xc hardtail, reccomendations

edited July 2008 in MTB buying advice
After a few years playing exclusively with cars (and getting fat) I'm going to get back into biking, I used to be into slalom, jump that sort of thing and general buggering around. I don't much fancy that anymore so I'm going to buy a bike for trail riding.
things i want:

hydraulic discs
lock out forks

i've discovered both are easily attainable within my budget, I've looked at

'07 Kona Hoss
'08 Merlin Malt 1 (w fork upgrade (currently 10% off merlin bikes)
'08 Claud Butler Olympus D2

that sort of thing, I'm 6'2" and am looknig at a 18-19" frame (i prefer slightly smaller than i need) and i'm err stocky :lol:
I've got some disc wheels here ready for some skinny semi slick commuter tyres for the odd bit of road riding (hence the lockout req.) i may work my way up to commuting on it, but primerily the bike is for XC.

anything else to add to the mix ? :D


  • hairy_boyhairy_boy Posts: 345

    I've got a Giant Terrago (£425) and love it - hydraulic discs and lockout fork (just a Suntour XCR but works fine for me).

    I was also looking at the Giant xTC4.5 (£500) which comes with a better frame and some upgrades to componentry - most notably a RockShox Fork (Dart).

    If you have a LBS and ask you should be able to negotiate a discount off the prices quoted above and some online mailorder places are selling last years XTC4.5 for around £400.

    I decided to buy locally and was pleased I did - my rear cassette needed changing which was done no bother by my LBS Free of Charge.

    The Specialized Rockhopper (£499) is well respected and sometimes quoted as the best mtb for £500. It comes with V brakes but is ready for a disc upgrade easily - the hubs are ready for rotors and the frame has the mounting holes for the disc calipers. A lot of people rate the rockhopper frame so highly that they recommend it now for a disc upgrade when money allows. The Rockhopper Disc version is available for £600

    So in summary, you may want to take a look at:

    Giant Terrago
    Giant XTC4.5
    Specialized Rockhopper

    Good Luck and it really is worth trying the bikes for size or trying to get a ride on them before deciding which feels best for you !
  • BobbyTriggerBobbyTrigger Posts: 377
    MBR did a £500 notes review on bikes last month -

    1) Kona Blast
    = 2) Spesh Rockhopper (V Brakes)
    = 2) Commencal Normal Disc
    = 4) Lapierre Techni 500 (V Brakes)
    = 4) Iron Horse Warrior
    =4) GT Avalanche 1

    i've just got the GT, its mint - full hydraulic with Tora RS forks. its a really nice ride.

    plus i havent fallen off it yet.

    (well, not properly anyway :))
  • beskibeski Posts: 542
    Giant Defy 4 2014
    GT Avalanche Expert 2006
    Specialized Hardrock 1989
  • for that money I would go for the Merlin, you can't go wrong with them.
  • thirty1thirty1 Posts: 75
    How about a Brodie?

    I know they have a Brodie Kinetic ex demo bike for £550 was £899
    check it out here

    I know somoeone who bought a Climbmax and he loves it!
  • ScORTEDScORTED Posts: 20
    I tried a GT avalanche 3.0 disc today, rode well and had decent kit for the money, the tektro agura brakes felt better than shimano ones on a TREK 6000, i was a bit put off in both cases by the sun tour fork, although the lock out was fine and the travel felt plush with no dodgy sounding top out. I'd still prefer to see marzocchi or rock shox forks for my £500!

    i had considered the carrera, but having tried one i feel the chainstays are a bit spindley for a man of my size

    I'm finding it hard to hunt down an 07 / 06 kona hoss to try,

    i guess i'm torn between the GT and the merlin, but unless i go all the way up north i can't try the merlin

    oh and Evans cycles were offering me a set of DMR V12s in with the GT, which is tempting! as they are my prefered pedals

    Ithanks everyone for your help, I've checked out the links etc... I'm still not 100% sure what to do.
  • ScORTEDScORTED Posts: 20
    I'm trying to work out what wheels etc come with the merlin malt 1 but am struggling to find the details
  • Andy BAndy B Posts: 8,115
    I suspect that they are Shimano Deore hubs with DT X455 black disc rims, as that's what comes with the deore groupset from Merlin.
  • ScORTEDScORTED Posts: 20
    forgive my n00b ways but are they any good?

    and any idea if the hayes stroker disc brakes are as good as the tektro ones
  • Andy BAndy B Posts: 8,115
    Deore hubs are pretty good, they do need a little maintenance from time to time though.

    DT rims are usually quite good, I have no experience of them though.

    Not sure on which is the better brake, as I've used neither, although I do have Hayes Nine's on my susser, they do the job pretty well.

    Generally Merlin spec their bikes very well for the price.
  • ScORTEDScORTED Posts: 20
    yeah I've sent them an email, if the response is favourable i'll probably buy from them, if not i'll drive back to evans cycles and buy the GT and get my girlfriend a 2.0 disc :)
  • Chris5.5Chris5.5 Posts: 154
    I recently bought the Carrera Fury and I weigh 17 and a bit stone. The bike has been to macclesfield forest a couple of times on the downhills around charity lane and the frame seems strong enough to me.

    It has the best forks you are likely to find on any £500 bike (I managed to get it for £425 and had the £50 accessories voucher included as well!).

    The Sram stuff is working really well and I could not fault the advice from the staff in Halfords.

    I also had a look at the Hoss but decided against spending that much money, it weighs a fair bit more than the Carrera as well.

  • ScORTEDScORTED Posts: 20
    as i work for halfords i could probably get a better deal on the fury, just doesn't float my boat the merlin i want comes in around £460 with MX Pro forks. I've discounted the Hoss as i've struggled to find an 07 or 06 big enough for me
  • GibboGTGibboGT Posts: 287
    If you work at halfords, could you not get a discount on the GT aggressor and bring that down to your price range?
  • god1406god1406 Posts: 554
    I got my Rocky Ridge unridden second hand for just over £500

    ebay is worth a look, £500 can get you a good bike if you know your stuff.

    Just an idea...
  • ScORTEDScORTED Posts: 20
    i'm going to find out, but i doubt i'd be able to get £200 off it,
  • ScORTEDScORTED Posts: 20
    yeah i did have a punt through the bay, but i'd rather buy brand new at this sort of money
  • jpembrokejpembroke Posts: 2,569
    I'd be seriously tempted to get one of these from Decathlon. Read some good reviews of this bike a while back.

    Ticks all the right boxes and has some good kit on it too (SRAM X7 27 speed drivetrain, RockShox Tora 100mm forks with lockout, Avid Juicy 3 Hydraulic brakes). Hard to beat I reckon.
    I'm only concerned with looking concerned
  • ScORTEDScORTED Posts: 20
    having spoken to merlin i think thats the way to go, no good deals on the GT's at work either
  • zeropointzeropoint Posts: 72
    ScORTED wrote:
    having spoken to merlin i think thats the way to go, no good deals on the GT's at work either

    I'm in the same boat as yourself, and have been warned of the Merlin Malt 1 frame - it is no-where near as good as the Rockhopper M4 frame. GT frame is better too.

    I'm going for Rockhopper by the way, after months of searching.

    Do not miss out Boardman bikes either (sold through Halfords). Winning awards, good frames, and you cannot beat the spec for the money (£650 - which you could get 40-50% off of course, and it has RockShox Recon fork worth £260!).

    That or the Rockhopper, 100% :¬)
  • ScORTEDScORTED Posts: 20
    staff get 15% off at halfords... or i'd not have considered buying a bike anywhere else.

    I've gone for the merlin due to the componentry and the fact i couldn't order a GT avalanche through halfords and save money, plus i've had a merlin before and liked it.
    my £500 has got me marzocchi MX Pro LOs 08deore group set mavic rims and hayes stroker discs and reasonable finishing kit
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