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First Bike: Trek, Specialized or KHS?

Mr_BungleMr_Bungle Posts: 8
edited March 2014 in MTB buying advice
Hello all,

I posted this earlier in MTB Buying advice but it looks a better fit here, so I moved it.

After almost 22 years of not riding a bike, I rode for about half a day a couple of weeks ago (dirt and paved roads) and remembered just how much I liked it.

With that said, I'd really appreciate some purchasing advice. I want to get into XC riding, have a tight budget, and not much choice in the local market but the following alternatives:

2014 Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29er ... rt-disc-29

2014 Trek X-Caliber 6 ... caliber_6/

2013 or 2014 KHS Aguila

I've rode them all and frankly feel comfortable with all of them. The Hardrock seems a bit more relaxed/upright than the Trek or KHS, but it's not something that would make me choose between one or the other. I'm more interested in the best bang for buck with components, frame durability, design and it's ability to take upgrades (rather than replacing the whole bike).

Thank you all in advance for the time and help with the topic.

PD: I've also seen this available, a 2013 Kona Mahuna:


  • mcnultycopmcnultycop Posts: 2,143
    Are you In America?
  • Mr_BungleMr_Bungle Posts: 8
    edited March 2014
  • mcnultycopmcnultycop Posts: 2,143
    You may not get the most appropriate advice on a UK forum, maybe a more local forum would help as they know what's available.
  • Hi. Thanks for the quick reply. The fact is that what seems to be available in the 29er category and the same price range are those 4 bikes. Maybe an equivalent Orbea or Scott if I continue to dig around, so any help regarding the choices posted would be appreciated.

    I gather an X Caliber 7 might be around Rockhopper 29 parity, but the Trek isn't available and the Spec shoots up the price about 200-300 dollars.

    What do you think of KHS? It's not a big name brand but seems to offer slightly better components on the entry-level range.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    The 2014 KHS looks good courtesy of the rebound adjustable fork.
  • Hi supersonic. Thanks for the reply. What about frames and reliability? Are the big brands that relevant?
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,756
    Not usually no, for example the Hardrock frame is made in Taiwan by a company called Merida who also make (better) frames for many 'own brand' bikes that sell for less money. The trouble is we don't really know the own brand bikes in the US! Do you have any sports outlets for example with their own brand bikes?
  • Yeah, there's a couple of local brands but even the top level bikes they offer have entry-level (or less) components. They're basically department-store quality, sometimes even at prices that compete with much better bikes at specialised shops.

    So the risk of a lemon by a lesser known brand (like KHS) won't be higher than with Spec or Trek? I found the Aguila interesting for the same price, but the Trek's name has some weight to it (XCal 6).

    I've also found this, an Orbea that seems a bit better specced:
    Orbea MX 29 20:

    What do you think, should I add it to the list?
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    That looks pretty good. In my experience there is no such thing as a bad frame (unless it doesn't fit) - but certainly get bad forks and parts.
  • Hi supersonic,

    Thanks for the reply. After checking all of them out again, and factoring in their prices, I've narrowed the choice to the following 2 bikes:

    - Trek X Caliber 6
    X Caliber "Alpha Gold Aluminum" (I assume it's 6061) w/ "semi-integrated" headtube frame, mechanically formed; SRAM X4 rear derailleur / Altus on front, 24 speed, Shimano Altus Crank & Cassette, SR Suntour XCM 30mm stanchions with preload adj. & lock, 100mm travel, Shimano M395 Hydro brakes w/ 160mm rotors (rotors have round "drill hole" like pattern).

    Runs Bontrager XR1 tires on Bontrager AT-650 double-walled rims.

    Lifetime warranty on frame, 1 year components.

    - KHS Aguila
    6061 Aluminum, allegedly hydro-formed; Shimano Acera rear derailleur / Acera on front, 29 speed, Alivio Crank & Cassette, SR Suntour XCR 32mm stanchions with preload adj., rebound adj. & lock, 100mm travel, Shimano M395 Hydro brakes w/ 160mm rotors (rotors have a straight, angled rounded rectangle pattern).

    Runs CST Critter tires on Weinmann XM25 double-walled rims.

    5 year warranty on frame, 1 year components.

    Everything else is quite similar. And, for some reason, the Aguila seemed to weight a bit less than the Trek; but the Trek felt like it was put together/tuned better.

    Which would you choose/recommend given that they share the price tag?

    Thanks again for the time and help.
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    The basic XCM fork is dire and will ruin your ride experience. On that factor alone I would not get the Trek unless you plan to upgrade the fork quickly.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,756
    Is the XCM lockout or Hydraulic lockout, the latter means the fork has damping (would you drive an automobile with the dampers removed?) and is a 'just about OK' fork, the former means no damping at all.
  • KHS was my first and then moved to Trek. As a started both are good
  • Rookie, the xcm on the trek has a hydraulic lockout. Rode them again, went with the Trek. Thanks for the help.
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