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Where do I start?

JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
edited March 2018 in MTB beginners
Coming from riding road for years I had never fancied an MTB, it just never interested me and I couldn’t see the appeal of a heavy cumbersome bike which had bouncy bits all over it and wide bars which were higher than the saddle. Then a couple of months ago I bought a cross bike to use for winter training duties but to also do some off road stuff every now and again along local trails and cliff paths, just to mix it up a bit and keep things interesting and low and behold my viewpoint has changed somewhat, going off road is a right laugh (who knew!!) and not only that but my cross bike is now limiting my ability to ride the types of stuff I want to ride, so it seems I have done full circle and now actually want a MTB!

Coming from road I am well versed in all aspects of road bikes, I know what fits me and what doesn’t and what level of equipment I need to get best bang for buck, but when it comes to MTB’s I am pretty clueless! What I do know is that I want to build something myself for 2 reasons, 1) because I actually enjoy sourcing and building bikes up (have done it with several road bikes) and 2) because it is easier to hide paying for lots of small bits than one big purchase (according to my wife I apparently spend too much on bike related stuff already)

So my questions are what do I get? A hardtail, full sus, 29er, 27.5, what geometry should I be looking for, what groupset and wheels??????

I think I want a 29er (although not sure why 100% apart from I have read they roll faster), I think I am looking at a hardtail as to get a decent one will be cheaper than looking for a similar priced full sus, but that’s as much as I know.

Groupset wise, what should a beginner be looking for, same with wheels and tyres, forks as well, what make/models are good and what travel should I be looking at? I want stuff that will last me a year or 2 and wont limit my fun but also I understand I dont need the best of everything from the gun.

Sorry for the random post and amount of questions, but trying to make sense of what I actually need is a tad confusing to a simple roadie.
Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
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  • I would suggest getting yourself to Glentress and test-riding a few bikes - I bought my Scott Genius MC-10 after I rented one from The Hub (quite) a few years ago. I don't know where you live, but, if you fancy roughing it a bit, I can definitely recommend staying here: http://www.glentressforestlodges.co.uk/ - I have stayed in these (elsewhere in Scotland) and they are very comfortable and very inexpensive. What sort of budget do you have?
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    A demo day sounds like it would be useful for you, you can ride a range of bikes and get a feel. 29/27.5 and FS or HT.

    Whyte support quite a lot and their list is here, see if one is near you, other lists are available!
    https://www.whyte.bike/events/
    Most these haven't been announced by the local organisers yet though, such as the annual Leisure Lakes one at Cannock (usually fully subscribed).

    I'm also a builder not a buyer, just bought a new to me frame (ebay) and will be building it up by stripping the old bike plus new wheels and forks and some sundries to suite.

    If you build your own it can be worth looking at buying decisions carefully, used parts are much better value and you can make a few compromises to get cheap parts to get it going before upgrading later (bars, stem, seatpost for example). It can be worth buying a cheap used bike (make sure its got the rights bit on it) as a donor and selling the rest, I did that when I built the wife's bike and the bits I sold went for £60 more than I bought the bike for, and I used a pile of bits as well.

    As an example you could have 1x10 gearing, Shimano XT mech and shifter and a wide range cassette for less than the cost of a decent 11 speed cassette new, I'm still going to use 1x10 with my nine speed XTR mech and road shifter as its much lighter than 10/11 speed.
  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    Would love to do a test riding day but unfortunately I do not live on the mainland UK but on one of the Channel Islands so getting to one could prove expensive. Agree though that it would be the best way of finding out what i want/need.

    Some guys I ride with say that I should start with a HT as it will usually be cheaper than a full suss, plus it will help with my learning curve off road, and from what I have read 29ers are faster but not as responsive as a 26" wheel, but a good middle ground is 650b (is thatthe same as 27.5"?).

    What are your guys thoughts on forks, how much travel is enough for trails with some technical bits (no real big drop offs), I see a lot of entry level bikes that have 100mm of travel but some go up to 160mm, so is more travel always better?

    With regards to components, thanks for our suggestions Rookie, I am scouring the net, ebay and the local second hand market for deals but wondered if I need to go for XT or will Deore do? Do I need 11 speed or will 1 x 10 do?
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • Uber_PodUber_Pod Posts: 110
    JesseD wrote:
    650b (is thatthe same as 27.5"?)

    Yes.
    With regards to components, thanks for our suggestions Rookie, I am scouring the net, ebay and the local second hand market for deals but wondered if I need to go for XT or will Deore do? Do I need 11 speed or will 1 x 10 do?

    I would imagine the vast majority of people wouldn't be able to blind test the difference between XT and Deore.
    A 9 speed 'will do'. Generally, the highest gear is the same. More gears gets you a lower low gear and/or less gap between gears.
    2x and 3x can easily be converted to 1x if you don't need the range and saves a decent amount of weight, levers and cable.

    Without knowing what you want, buying a bike now for, say, £500 and selling it later for half that to upgrade will cost £250.
    Buying a bike for 1500/2000 now and finding it isn't what you want will cost you a lot more overall. On the other hand, you might get your perfect bike first time.
  • I wouldn't bother starting-out on a hardtail - if you can stretch your budget to something like a Specialized Brain or Scott Genius bike, you get the best of both Worlds: you get a hardtail when you're on (reasonably) flat ground, and full-suspension when you need/want it.I bought a Genius MC10 a (good) few years ago, and it has been absolutely brilliant. TBH, I usually only lock-out the suspension if I'm riding on the road or on dead flat paths, because I value comfort over efficiency, and even then, I don't always bother.
  • JBAJBA Posts: 2,790
    edited December 2017
    I wouldn't bother starting-out on a hardtail - if you can stretch your budget to something like a Specialized Brain ...

    A what?
    You mean a Specialized bike fitted with the Brain shock, I assume.
    “Life has been unfaithful
    And it all promised so so much”

    Giant Trance 2 27.5 2016 ¦ Sonder Broken Road 2021¦ Giant Revolt Advanced 2 2019 ¦ Giant Anthem 3 2015 ¦ Specialized Myka Comp FSR 2009
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    I wouldn't bother starting-out on a hardtail - if you can stretch your budget to something like a Specialized Brain or Scott Genius bike, you get the best of both Worlds: you get a hardtail when you're on (reasonably) flat ground, and full-suspension when you need/want it.I bought a Genius MC10 a (good) few years ago, and it has been absolutely brilliant. TBH, I usually only lock-out the suspension if I'm riding on the road or on dead flat paths, because I value comfort over efficiency, and even then, I don't always bother.

    Like a decade ago?

    Any decent fork/shock has a setting or range of settings to stiffen them up these days. And on a decent bike it's hardly worth the bother as suspensions and frames have improved, so pedal bob isn't a problem any more.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • cooldad wrote:
    I wouldn't bother starting-out on a hardtail - if you can stretch your budget to something like a Specialized Brain or Scott Genius bike, you get the best of both Worlds: you get a hardtail when you're on (reasonably) flat ground, and full-suspension when you need/want it.I bought a Genius MC10 a (good) few years ago, and it has been absolutely brilliant. TBH, I usually only lock-out the suspension if I'm riding on the road or on dead flat paths, because I value comfort over efficiency, and even then, I don't always bother.

    Like a decade ago?

    Any decent fork/shock has a setting or range of settings to stiffen them up these days. And on a decent bike it's hardly worth the bother as suspensions and frames have improved, so pedal bob isn't a problem any more.

    So you don't think a lockable rear-end makes a difference? I don't really know what you're talking about. If you don't want to waste energy (and who does?), you ideally want some way of locking-out the rear suspension, be it manually or automatically. As far as I'm aware, both of the two bikes I mentioned are STILL ON SALE. ANY energy that is causing your suspension to move while you're pedaling is wasted energy, so I would, therefor, recommend either of the two systems I have mentioned. And who mentioned pedal-bob? If I.r.c., I was talking about efficiency, NOT pedal-bob - it stands to reason that any energy being applied to a system which ISN'T being used for its' primary purpose (in this case, propelling you forward), is wasted energy. Having the ability to lock-out your rear suspension, be it manually (on the Scott) or automatically (the Specialized) is obviously going to improve your efficiency - if you can't, for whatever reason, grasp this, I can only suggest reading-up on physics or maybe studying some engineering.

    The ideal system would automatically convert the energy used to compress the shock (and fork) into forward motion, but, unless you want to fit a motor powered by a battery which is charged by converting the kinetic energy created* by the shock into electrical energy and running a motor off it, either of the two systems I mentioned work just fine.

    * Obviously, you can't actually create energy, only convert it, but I'm sure you get my point.

    Actually, it might be quite interesting to investigate some sort of e-bike system in which the battery is topped-up by converting some of the kinetic energy "created" by the movement of the suspension into electrical energy - in fact, it would be interesting to see how much electrical energy could be generated from this conversion. It could, alternatively, be used to charge the battery for your lights as you move along.

    Because a LOT of energy seems to be wasted on ANY suspension bike - perhaps inventing some sort of shock-absorber which can automatically convert at least some of that, currently wasted, kinetic energy into electrical energy would help to make cycling more efficient - at the very least, it could be used to recharge your lights' batteries as you move along.

    This has actually got me thinking quite deeply about how you can convert the energy currently "wasted" by your shock-absorbers (front and back) - I'm fairly sure it would only take a few, strategically-placed, magnets to convert at least some of this, currently wasted, kinetic energy into electrical energy which could be used to charge the batteries used to run your lights, or even charge your mobile phone, without requiring ANY additional energy to be applied to the system by the rider.

    I'll toddle-off now and look into this a bit more deeply now.

    Thanks for the inspiration!
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    edited December 2017
    In between your million word treatise you obviously missed that I said shock, which is at the back.
    And pedal bob is what it's called when the suspension moves whilst pedalling.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    There is so much rubbish in that.

    Let's start with the obvious, there is no such bike as a Specialized brain, it's a damping system they have used across a range of bikes, that says most what you need to know about the rest of your ill informed claptrap.

    I have no lockout on mine, I have an adjustable pedal platform (most shocks since about 2008 have some form of pedal platform) making a lockout redundant.
  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    Richardsmart – that’s the problem, budget probably won’t stretch to a decent full suss frame, and an equivalent HT will probably be cheaper, that’s said if a cheap decent full suss come up then I will go for it.

    The Rookie – Excuse the possibly stupid question, but what is an adjustable pedal platform?

    2 other questions I have are why do crank lengths on MTB cranks seem to only come in 170mm or 175mm, I run 172.5 on the road so don’t know which I would go for and what the benefits of either are?

    Also forks, what travel should I be looking for 100m, 120mm, more?

    Thanks
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Adjustable pedal platform is what most people call lockout - it stiffens the suspension so you get less suspension movement (pedal bob) when you don't need it. There may be one or more settings. It doesn't lock the suspension.

    Crank length makes little difference when you are not sitting in one position for hundreds of miles. Most bikes just come with 175mm. I doubt most people can actually tell the difference. Short arses might want to go for shorter cranks.

    Travel (and frame design) depends on what you want to ride. An XC frame will tend to be shorter, with steeper head angles, and shorter travel. A trail bike will be longer, slacker angles, and less twitchy/more suited to descents.

    Wheel size is personal - 27.5 is most common, probably and tyres etc are readily available. 29er is possibly a bit less chuckable, but rides over stuff better, and plenty of tyres and things. Second hand, 26er is cheap and still plenty of stuff available.

    I have quite a few random bikes, but having bought a 120mm 29er a while back, I haven't really used anything else since, except for my old Explosif on retro bike runs and local pootles. Works for me on my prefered stuff, which is twisty singletrack (not as well as some, but acceptable) and gave me new confidence on the bigger rougher stuff at places like Innerleithen.

    There is no best, so something for most places would be your best bet. a 120-140 or so travel trail oriented bike, unless you really want to do scary stuff.

    I prefer FS as i am old and delicate, but depends on budget.
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  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    Cooldad – awesome thank you!

    The types of riding I will be doing will be trails (some technical, some not) cliff paths etc, no real extreme stuff or fast downhills as I too am old and delicate and can’t afford the time off work with broken bones. I can’t see me doing any racing any time soon so it is more for just having fun on the weekends when I am not riding/racing on the road.

    Lots of good advice so far which will help me with my decisions on what to buy and build. Unfortunately I do not have a big budget at all and as I am upgrading some of the bits on my road bike, plus building a TT bike (she doesn’t know about that either) and also my cross bike needs some attention, so it all will need to come out in small instalments due to the accountant (wife) having overseeing access of all our accounts! (yep I messed up there).

    Sorry another question, MTB sizing confuses me a little, I ride a Large/56cm road bike with a 565mm TT and a 16cm HT, stack = 557mm, reach = 390mm, how does that relate to a MTB?
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    No idea on size, plus manufacturers measure differently.

    Mountain bikes tend to come in s,m,l and maybe xl, around 16" or less seat tube, 18", 20"ish and 22/23".

    As you spend more time out of the saddle or moving around, reach is probably more important the height. You can always lengthen or shorten the seatpost.

    Trend seems to be getting longer and longer, and slacker. Best is to sit on a few and see. A trip to Evans or similar.

    I'm just under 5'10" and most of mine are medium/18" or thereabouts. But i could probably manage on a bigger bike.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    cooldad wrote:
    No idea on size, plus manufacturers measure differently.

    Mountain bikes tend to come in s,m,l and maybe xl, around 16" or less seat tube, 18", 20"ish and 22/23".

    As you spend more time out of the saddle or moving around, reach is probably more important the height. You can always lengthen or shorten the seatpost.

    Trend seems to be getting longer and longer, and slacker. Best is to sit on a few and see. A trip to Evans or similar.

    I'm just under 5'10" and most of mine are medium/18" or thereabouts. But i could probably manage on a bigger bike.

    Great, thanks for your help, and everyone else as well :D
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • RichardSmartRichardSmart Posts: 387
    edited December 2017
    cooldad wrote:
    In between your million word treatise you obviously missed that I said shock, which is at the back.
    And pedal bob is what it's called when the suspension moves whilst pedalling.

    I THINK I said that being able to lockout your shock on the move (or having a system that does it for you) makes mountain-biking more efficient and, thus, easier. I have never experienced pedal bob - which ISN'T what happens when your suspension moves when you are pedaling, in fact, it's caused by badly-designed suspension systems, but I've never ridden a bike that costs less than £2000 (apart from hardtails, obvs.) - in fact the only full-suspension bikes I have ridden have been Scotts (Genius MC10 and Ransom 10) and Santa Cruzs (Blur LT and Nomad) - if you invest in a decent bike, with decently-designed suspension, you won't experience pedal-bob. The suspension is ALWAYS going to be moving while you are pedaling - unless you can suggest some design which will transfer ALL of the energy you are adding to the "system" to forward movement? Actually, someone already has - they're called "Road Bikes"/"fully-rigid mtbs", and they don't work very well off-road. Of course, with e-bikes (sadly?) becoming more popular, the addition of a couple of magnets within the shock, fork (and, possibly, the brakes) could convert some of the "wasted" mechanical energy into electrical energy, which could be used to charge a battery to power your electric motor, or your lights. In fact, converting as much kinetic energy as possible into electrical energy would be a very intelligent way of progressing the design of bikes and components. Thanks for the inspiration - I'm going to (try to) work-out a way to convert as much wasted mechanical energy as possible into electrical energy. I'm sure it will only involve a couple of strategically-placed magnets. Alternatively, such a system could be used to recharge the batteries on your lights, couldn't it?
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Magic magnets?

    Magnets don't make electricity without a coil. It's called a generator.

    As for the rest of your nonsense, do you have comprehension issues?
    cooldad wrote:

    Like a decade ago?

    Any decent fork/shock has a setting or range of settings to stiffen them up these days. And on a decent bike it's hardly worth the bother as suspensions and frames have improved, so pedal bob isn't a problem any more.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

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    Parktools
  • Sorry, fud-face, but moving two magnets over each other creates electricity - all you are looking at is energy conversion, y'know, from kinetic to electrical? Obviously there will be difficulties involved, but, considering the amount of energy wasted on a full-suspension bike, surely it cant be all that difficult? Instead of a dynamo, which actively removes (some) energy from a wheel, fitting magnets to parts which pass each other continuously, but which WON'T slow you down, must be a decent idea for recharging light batteries, mustn't it?
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Nope.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

    London Calling on Facebook

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  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Now that's it's not midnight, a slightly longer answer. Nope. You can't create electricity using magnets without using wire, generally a coil as that gets the most wire into a small space. It's simple physics. So generator, dynamo, call it what you will.

    Maybe time to stop derailing JesseD's thread. Start a new thread and your 'idea' can be refuted in more detail.

    ps. resorting to name calling is unnecessary.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • cooldad wrote:
    Nope.
    Oh, go-forth and multiply with yourself, you utter procreating bawbag.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    You do seem to like words. Pity they are mainly garbage.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

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  • Sorry, cretin, don't you understand what I said? I would translate the words into nice, simple, colloquial English, but I don't want banned.
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Go for it, I won't report you. Every forum needs a resident idiot. You seem to qualify.

    But instead of acting like a 12 year old, you could point out where I'm wrong. Or at least try and support your arguments with actual, real life facts.

    Preferably in a new thread.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

    London Calling on Facebook

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  • tonysjtonysj Posts: 361
    JesseD,

    From a older guy, 54yrs and more of a road biker these days but I do go off road on trails, nothing fancy though.
    I would look at buying a simple HT and IF you have a Halfords on your island then all the better.
    The Voodoo Bizango is good value and very well rated for a cheaper bike, £600 new.
    I have the older black framed 3 x front chain set but they now do it with less, just 1 I believe, but I never use the small Granny gear on the front as I enjoy using it on and off road as I tend to ride to the off road trails I use.
    Gumtree for new ones is a good choice as they seem to be bought via the Cycvle2work scheme simply as a way of getting a cheap bike and avoiding Tax etc. The problem you will have is How do you collect it, if its on the mainland which I would imagine most will be.
    That will get you out riding it while you plan your new building project.
    Regards.
    Tony.
  • FishFishFishFish Posts: 2,152
    Tony is right the Bizango is a good bike. Using an MTB is different than using a road bike and no real value in comparing the two. They are just different.
    I had a Bizango and upgraded to a Boardmann 29er - £1000 - but used the UK cycling card discount with Halfords to get 10% off. TBH - preferred the Bizango. Both of these are good for my locality - Thetford Forest and the occasional trip to Wales, Scotland and Tenerife - I leave it out in the rain and don't bother cleaning it.
    I built my own MTB based on a Cotic Soul frame. I enjoyed that but it made for an expensive bike! Maybe consider just getting a new or second hand bike.
    ...take your pickelf on your holibobs.... :D

    jeez :roll:
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    Sorry, fud-face, but moving two magnets over each other creates electricity?
    Assume it does, how do you get the electricity out without something like, say, a wire?

    CD is correct though, you move a wire through a magnetic field to create a current, lots of wires (a coil) and it becomes meaningful.

    Maybe try Google.
  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    FishFish wrote:
    Tony is right the Bizango is a good bike. Using an MTB is different than using a road bike and no real value in comparing the two. They are just different.
    I had a Bizango and upgraded to a Boardmann 29er - £1000 - but used the UK cycling card discount with Halfords to get 10% off. TBH - preferred the Bizango. Both of these are good for my locality - Thetford Forest and the occasional trip to Wales, Scotland and Tenerife - I leave it out in the rain and don't bother cleaning it.
    I built my own MTB based on a Cotic Soul frame. I enjoyed that but it made for an expensive bike! Maybe consider just getting a new or second hand bike.

    Started looking at complete bikes but not a lot second hand and cheap local to me in the Channel Islands, however with the sales starting I may get lucky, infact I have found a 2016 'Dale Fsi Lefty for sale for £1000 (ex demo) as well as a 2016 'Dale Beast Of The East 3 for £700, a grand is more than i wanted to spend though but the lefty does look cool.

    I am borrowing a friends MTB from tonight for a couple of days to go riding the cliff paths and trails near me, I did it last Saturday with the mountain bikers when i was in my cross bike and it was tough going without any suspension and thin tyres, ended up walking a lot of the technical sections when the MTBrs just flew down them :( literally cannot wait, will be a right laugh!
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • JesseDJesseD Posts: 1,961
    So have had a 2016 Whyte T-129s on loan for the past 2 weeks and think I am sold on needing a full-suss! it has 29" wheels and just rolled over everything more or less. Getting used to the position of an MTB was a little weird at first but by last Saturday felt completely comfortable riding it everywhere and in fact shocked myself on what I could actually tackle with confidence. Riding with more seasons MTBers helped as I could copy their lines and also it gave me confidence when climbing up steps and rocky sections of the trails, basically had a ball!

    Been looking at geometries of different bikes and it is confusing as its all new, however that said I am sold!
    Obsessed is a word used by the lazy to describe the dedicated!
  • Good to hear you got the mtb bug :) I am suprised to hear no one has recommended a good bike shop in your area. If I were to purchase another bike I would first get measured up for a bike fit and then let the bike fit expert source the correct bike. This is because I race and don't want to compromise. I have know a few guys at my club who have changed bikes for this very reason (they also enjoy riding a lot more now too). Ask on the forums if anyone knows of a good fitter in your area. I'd even travel to get this step right. The shop will answer all your question like 160mm travel for downhill or 120mm for trail riding. Are your trails twisty and winding or flowing and fast? I'd personally choose 27.5 for technical and 29 for open trail. After saying all that you can ride any bike really, I still use my 26" alot when not racing just because it is fun!
    Stay positive people :)
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