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Recommend a starter hardtail for my son

Wacky RacerWacky Racer Posts: 638
edited November 2008 in MTB beginners
Hi all,

My 15 year old son has decided he would like to join me, as I strive to regain my fitness every other day. I purchased a Kona Blast a couple of months ago and all is going really well, I am happy with the bike and really enjoying getting my lungs full of country air, and building up my fitness. My plan is to use the Blast to get me up to speed, then chop it in for something juicy when I improve both my fitness and my technique.

I have offered to buy my son a starter bike, with a maximum budget of £300, I will happily spend a bit more when I know it isn't just going to be a passing phase. I would like to get him a hardtail, and would prefer disc brakes. He is 6' 1" tall so will need a 18/20 inch frame.

I am looking for a bit of advice as to what to buy him, obviously it is important that the bike is well made, but also the kind of bike he will be happy to be seen on by his mates. We ride the local country lanes and bridle paths, but hoping to do some forest tracks once the winter is out of the way.
Ridley Orion


  • When you say you'd prefer disc brakes do you mean hydraulics? I'd be surprised if you'd find a good bike equipped with hydros for £300, and to me i'd prefer V's than cable discs. If you could up the budget to around £450 the Giant Terrago is absolutly spot on.
  • Q 1 - I personally prefer cable discs to v's, but I guess it's personal choice. Cable discs definitely stop you quicker, and in my opinion perform better in the wet, but v's have the edge in the dry and give you better feel. It's a bit of a hobsons choice really, but my lad says he would rather have cable discs, so I'll go with that.

    Q 2 - Overall budget is not the biggest issue, but my lad has a knack of expensive 'seven minute wonders', so the plan was to blow £300 to make sure he sticks at it, then next summer, assuming he is still keen, upgrade him to something better.

    There are loads of bikes out there for £300 at the more reputable online shops, but it is hard to see the wheat from the chaff. I just don't have enough experience to know what is a good deal for that money, or what will fall to bits. It is easy to haggle at shops at the moment, especially if looking at a 2007 model, which would be fine. Someone out there must be able to recommend something at that end of the market?
    Ridley Orion
  • Is your workplace on cyclescheme? Just a thought, you could save cash that way.

    I find spesh's hard to beat spec-wise in that sort of price range.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Have a read of the What Bike and What Hardtail threads in the buying section for ideas.
  • tom_majski - Cheers for that idea, my wife is a teacher and tells me that her county participate in the ride to work scheme. I'm not too sure how it works, I've just read the hand-out they get, and clearly there is quite a saving to be made. I'll assume that no-one makes sure my wife is actually riding the thing to work? I doubt she'd be too happy lol.
    Ridley Orion
  • a17vtsa17vts Posts: 90
    Not sure this will help as I am not very experienced but I recently purchased my 2008 GT Avalance 3.0 Disc for less than £300 and it seems like a great bike for the money. I got mine for £250, but I purchased an other bike for the partner so got a decent deal.

    Only been out on it a few times, 4 times in about 3 months. but it rides very well IMO.
  • DV1DV1 Posts: 22
    Haro flightline sport !! a no nonsence reliable bike and at £275 you cant go wrong :wink:
  • batch78batch78 Posts: 1,320
    GT Avalanche Disc for less than £300, nice buy, Spesh Hardrock if you can find one, Mongoose Tyax Elite is still good vfm, last years (2007) is a better buy if you can find one.

    edit: That Haro doesn't look too bad at the price, no personal experience of Haro though.
  • OwenBOwenB Posts: 606
    Could always get one of these if disks aren't too important
  • passoutpassout Posts: 4,609
    If he likes the sport you could always get the GT above fitted with Magura Rim Brakes (very strong) at a later date. T

    Anyway, try Merlin Cycles they've got some great value Malt 1s with Deore at the moment.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • easygeasyg Posts: 266
    I understand what you mean mate when you say it will be important to him to be 'cool' in front of his mates which I would think puts GT, Mongoose, and Specialised at the top of your list as they are well known and generally look the part.

    For me, it would be a GT - last years models are on great deals, and the 2007 prob even better. I personally started on a Mongoose Tyax Super which was brilliant for the money as I hammered it month in month out, caught the bug and then upgraded like most do.

    Check them too out - I know both of these manufacturers are excellent, and do great entry level bikes. Specialised get good reviews and recommended often but I have no experience whatsoever of them.

    All the best with it, let us know what you find etc.
    "If you think straight enough, you can see round corners"
  • tj7794tj7794 Posts: 24
    saracens are very good low budget bikes. ive had a raw 2 for over a year and still love it. although its a full suss it comes with good tektro disk brakes forks gearing etc. rrp 350 but get it for 300 from chain reaction cycles. saracens mantras are also worth a look at as theyre good hardtails n so are their dirt jump range. :mrgreen:
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    They weigh a lot though - but good value.
  • glenwattglenwatt Posts: 155
    What about a Claude Butler Cape Wrath.

    I picked one up in an Evans sale a few years back, good frame with semi decent bits that can be replaced as and when.

    Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
  • Thanks guys, you are all really helpful. I am going to take him shopping next week, probably for a GT, there are some good deals at the moment, and GT's seem to review well. 2nd choice, Specialized, but will see what deal is best. I will update once he has the bike, and looking forward to raising my game against my son, I have a feeling it is going to be pretty competitive. He is a big fit lad and I will have my work cut out keeping up, but it'll be a whole load of fun trying.

    Again, cheers for all the advice.
    Ridley Orion
  • Hi all,
    For £360 you could get a Focus Black Hills 08, much the same spec as the Fat Boy which always gets great reviews. Hydro discs, Deore etc looks good too.
  • bigdrew1bigdrew1 Posts: 353 ... yId_165499

    £350 and with hydro discs and remote lock out for the forks.

    Another one worth considering if you are happy to use Halfords.
  • guillianoguilliano Posts: 5,495
    Giant Yukon at £340 is a good deal.... recently won a budget hardtail head to head in one of the mags. Giant are always well specced for the cash too. Ridgeback MX3 is a good budget buy with a good frame too
  • The Specialised Rockhopper has a fantastic reputation and Edinburgh Bicycle co-operative have the 19" 2008 model reduced and instock - down from £499 to £349 (an absolute steal !

    It comes with v-brakes but is setup ready for Discs with the mounts on the frame and forks for the calipers and the wheel hubs are ready for the disc rotors just to screwed on. If your son keeps it up and it proves not to be a 7-minute wonder then you could add hydraulic disc brakes for £100.

    The frame has a fantastic rep and it has a rockshox tora fork so its very upgradeable
  • bellysbellys Posts: 456
    have a look at Decathlon im on my second bike from there my 1st lasted me 4 yrs i rode it hard and very fast.

    this one is mine
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