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xc, fr, all mountain or downhill? opinions please :)

rickbst170rickbst170 Posts: 228
edited April 2014 in MTB beginners
Hi everyone!

I'm rick and I live in hampshire, south central England. And I want a bike.

When I was 12ish my stepdad owned a top-end-bike shop. Only a small shop, but sold top end bikes. He used to take me riding; road, time trial and xc, but he's old and didn't like falling off so never anything too steep downhill, mainly uphill and technical stuff. Because he had a shop, I always rode top end bikes and sold them trade price 6 months later. I had a giant atc hardtail, xtc team full sus (the black one with sponsor logos on top bar), Scott comp hardtail, had a magnesium saracen road frame with spinergy wheels, always xtr it ultegra gear.

Now I'm in my late 20s and my fiance has a 14 year old son. I had a Giant Acid bike in the garage which he's adopted, and I want to take him riding. Not sure what I want to ride though. I've always liked downhill as a concept but have never really gunned flat out down really scary stuff, nor ridden anything with more than 4" travel. I was also really bad at jumping as a kid, and buckled every wheel on the top of every double I tried to clear.

I think I want a cheap dh bike. Maybe a kona stinky, specialized big hit, old orange patriot or something, but will that be completely useless for anything other than specifically bombing downhill? Should I go more all-mountain in case the boy doesn't like dh? If so, do I need to stay away from tripple clamp suspension and look for lockout front springs and clever rear sus to get traction up hill? Can a dh bike go up hill at all? Will I be disappointed with a cheap dh bike? Should I go old but higher spec than newer with lower quality for same price?

So stuck on what to buy, and the missus won't let me spend proper money as she says 'it's a fad, you'll get bored in 3 weeks' as I've not been on a bike for about 5 years. Got pretty good by the time I was 16 (entered cheddar challenge etc and placed ok) so I'm sure I'll be ok. Guess you can't forget how to ride :)

Please help!

Thanks all.



  • benpinnickbenpinnick Posts: 4,148
    Buy yourself a 125 > 150mm travel trail or All mountain bike, something from a Spec FSR Stumpy, orange five, Trek Remedy maybe... anyway, avoid DH bikes. They suck at everything except DH. And by suck I mean really suck. Any bike thats half decent and less than 4/5 years old with 125mm+ travel will do pretty much anything you ask of it, and still ride back up a hill.

    You need to remember you live in Hampshire, not Highlands :)
    A Flock of Birds
    + some other bikes.
  • rickbst170rickbst170 Posts: 228
    Yeah, I guess deep down I know you're right. Particularly as I've not ridden in so long. Guess I need to become well rounded again before I focus on one area.

    How much is too much travel in an all mountain bike nowadays? Will a 6" shock be too spongy going up hill or have they come on since 2006 and now are clever and lockout etc?

    So much has changed! Just started reading about 27.5 and 29ers. Wouldn't have expected those in the shop back in the day!

    Cheers for the reply.

  • Bishbosh10Bishbosh10 Posts: 268
    I would say limit your travel to 140mm. That is more than enough for 90% of riding in the general sense. The performance of the suspension will depend on the design and setup so you need to do a bit of reading up. Having said that, nowadays most bikes in this category (Trail bikes I would suggest) have reasonable suspension systems so it is a case of finding something you are comfortable on.
    2011 Giant Trance Ltd, 2016 Revs, XT bits etc.
  • rickbst170rickbst170 Posts: 228
    Thanks mate. Last question... Would I be better with an old, decent bike than new less well branded bike? ... 1049280759

    Or ... 1050170760

    If I assume i get, say, XT or XTR mechs and Hayes or hope brakes on an older bike, but a newer one for same money has lower spec stuff (as it's newer) like lx kit and v brakes, which would you go for? How much has geo changed in the last few years, and is it better to have an old frame and old xtr gear than new geo and new lx gear?

    I think I know the answer to this but just checking ;)
  • Bishbosh10Bishbosh10 Posts: 268
    I would go for hydraulic discs, definitely not V's.

    Nowadays the consensus is that anything better than Deore is adding marginal shifting / braking performance but saves weight for more money. The best bang for your buck seems to be SLX.

    Buying second hand is all down to condition, so a newer bike might actually be a worse choice than a well kept older model.

    What is your budget?
    2011 Giant Trance Ltd, 2016 Revs, XT bits etc.
  • rickbst170rickbst170 Posts: 228
    Not sure on budget. Just realized what a bargain that giant is. Long story short, car is in the garage as I finally had to admit defeat and can't fix it. I think an injector has gone, but if it took out a rocker too I could be looking at £700+ for repairs. I've put a grand aside for the car so whatever change I get really. Hoping car will be 400 ish so that leaves up to 600 (but the missus thinks I should spend no more than 50 quid). Realistically, somewhere between 50 quid and 400 I think. But nothing for at least a week.

    It's bonus time in April so if I can't find anything in the mean time my budget might go up.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    At that sort of budget avoid downhill bikes, they will be old, rubbish and nearly dead.
    Something like a Giant Reign or Specialized Stumpjumper should do you.
    All bikes on Gumtree are stolen.
  • stubsstubs Posts: 5,001
    Get yourself a decent 2nd hand hardtail for about £200 to 400 and play on that. Your budget of up to £400 is not going to buy you anything but a lump of worn out scrap if you buy a Freeride or All Mountain bike for that money.

    Ask in your local bike shop mine has a nice trade in Cube HT for £350 at the mo, some bargains to be had as people upgrade in time for spring.

    Oh and not all bikes on Gumtree are stolen just 99.9%
    Fig rolls: proof that god loves cyclists and that she wants us to do another lap
  • rickbst170rickbst170 Posts: 228
    I have 2 little kids (2 and 4), a fiance, wedding to plan and a stroppy teenager. A large initial outlay is hard for me to justify spending on myself. The odd 20 - 50 quid now and then can be squeezed out of the shopping money. Particularly if those little bits "only cost a fiver luv". married guys, you know ;)

    The question should really be "which frame should I buy which currently has worn out crappy bits fitted but over time will become a cracking allrounder?".

    I like the idea of a giant reign or spec stumpjumper and then replace bushes and upgrade worn items over time (like worn shocks, cables, bottom bracket etc). I'd probably end up doing wheels if they're not true or strong, obviously tyres, depending on what's fitted probably groupset and brakes and eventually have built a whole bike up. As long as the frame is sound, the ancillaries dont matter too much (unless I can find a 2grand bike for 100 quid, then that's a bonus).

    Thanks for the help. I'm not expecting miracles from £400, I worked in a bike shop for years. I know you get what you pay for. Except some of the carbon full sus jobbies...they're not worth 4k when the non carbons are 2.5 and only 1kg lighter. Have a Shi t before u ride. Save 1000 pounds!
  • Liam1611Liam1611 Posts: 191
    Get looking on eBay or Pinkbike for bikes in your area and go and view them, also post up a Wanted Ad and see what responses you get. As for the Mrs, just tell her it's an investment in your long term health and well being, if it turns out it's no longer for you, just inform her it's worth more as parts than a whole bike and you will make your money back quite easily.


  • rickbst170rickbst170 Posts: 228
    Cheers liam. Project is off the ground now. A 'well loved' 2005 giant reign 2 frame arrived in the post this morning, some old skool fox 36 talas r's are arriving on Wednesday. Got them both pretty cheaply through various bike sites so working my way up from there. Between bargians on eBay and peoples goodwill/wanting rid of their 'censored ' I think I can build up a pretty tasty machine (it might not look pretty but it will ride well).
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Reigns are great bikes. Even the old ones are pretty good, heavy but you won't break it.
    The Talas forks are a bit nasty and heavy but you can convert them to a vanilla and fit a compression damper for not a lot of cash.
  • rickbst170rickbst170 Posts: 228
    Little update...still got a fair amount to buy but have no money until end of month. Currently have 2005 giant reign frame with standard swinger 3 shock, fox 36 talas r forks (you're right. They weigh a ton), sunline v one oversize 711mm wide bars, M780 I spec b 10 speed shifters, m785 front mech, m780 shadow 10 speed rear mech and pending payment end of month, formula the one fr brakes, mounts and rotors.

    Need light but durable wheels and cranks, them the rest can be whatever I find cheap. Not too bad for a budget build I don't think. Will almost certainly outperform my ability for a while.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Mavic EX721 or EN521 rims are light for their strength. You can pick up used complete wheels with these rims pretty cheap.
  • rickbst170rickbst170 Posts: 228
    Cheers bud. Anyone got any opinions on the xt m775 wheelset? Bike radar gave a reasonable review and ive seen em go pretty cheap on fleabay
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Not ideal if you plan on riding hard. Good xc wheel.
  • shindigshindig Posts: 173
    rickbst170 wrote:
    I know you get what you pay for. Except some of the carbon full sus jobbies...they're not worth 4k when the non carbons are 2.5 and only 1kg lighter. Have a Shi t before u ride. Save 1000 pounds!
    That's actually a very valid point. Have a p*ss and a sh*t before you ride and save you money.
  • HITR14HITR14 Posts: 7
    Let us know what you go for - I'd be interested to see what you get for your money.
  • rickbst170rickbst170 Posts: 228
    No real money until payday on 25th, but I've lined up almost everything. It's taken a month or so and countless hours on the internet (and if my time is £100 an hour, it's an expensive build lol) but in cash terms it's this...

    Frame = giant reign 2 2005
    Shock = manitou swinger 3
    Fork = fox 36r talas 2005
    Headset = fsa integrated
    Stem = truvativ aka 70mm
    Bars = sunline v one os 711mm
    Shifters = xt m780 I spec 10 speed
    Inners = xt standard
    Adaptors = xtr bar mount
    Brakes = formula the one fr
    Hoses = Goodrich
    Rotors = formula the one 203mm front and rear
    Mounts = formula
    Grips = lizardskin peaty lock on
    Saddle = arte selle carbon
    Crank = xt m770 10 speed (convert to 24/38)
    Bb = xt
    Front mech = xt m785 double
    Rear mech = xt m780 med 10 speed

    Still need
    Wheels £50
    38t chainring £10
    Pedals 10
    Seatpost 10
    Clamp 5
    Cassette 15
    chain 10
    Spacers 5
    Outers free?

    Total cost = £445.78

    No cash till next weekend so hopefully what I've got lined up doesnt fall through! Still need to pay for brakes, hoses, rotors, mounts, stem, grips (all off same guy), cranks (different guy on Tuesday), but have the rest.
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    shindig wrote:
    rickbst170 wrote:
    I know you get what you pay for. Except some of the carbon full sus jobbies...they're not worth 4k when the non carbons are 2.5 and only 1kg lighter. Have a Shi t before u ride. Save 1000 pounds!
    That's actually a very valid point. Have a p*ss and a sh*t before you ride and save you money.

    Carbon frames aren't always lighter. Some are similar weight as aluminium but much stronger.
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