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Which MTB sub £2500 to go for?

peug26peug26 Posts: 35
edited May 2019 in MTB buying advice
Hi all. Virgin MTB-er here. Eureka moment, I have seen the light. :D I have decided to buy a mountain bike and start doing a bit of cycling/exercising. I thought it would be easy but it seems I was mistaken. I have done some research, mainly on this website/forum and so far I have jotted the following observations and questions down. I am hoping you guys can give me some further guidance/advice please.

First of all I am 5'11" (180cm)and weigh 19 stone (125kg).
Generally going to be riding on relatively smooth terrain (as opposed to the very ruged mountain side, rock/stone covered slopes and twists).
Getting a trail MTB. Budget up to £2500.
Hardtail or full suspension?
Travel size?
Aluminium frame. I believe the sweet spot for best value for money. Plus i feel there's no point spending the extra cash on a lightweight carbon fibre considering that this 125kg elephant would be sitting on top of it. :mrgreen: With tapered headtube with larger diameter lower bearing and matching fork crown. I believe frames come also in sizes (S, M, L etc) but I havent got a clue which one would be for me?
Hydraulic disc brakes (Shimano or SRAM)
1x front drivetrain
10x, 11x or 12x cassette
29" wheels
Air sprung suspension
Thru-axle fork and wheel
Rear derailleur with a clutch (Shimano ShadowPlus or SRAM Type 2).
Dropper post

Groupset: Shimano XT or SRAM X01. One of the following?
Shimano Deore M6000
Shimano SLX M7000
Shimano Deore XT M8000
Di2 electronic version or stick to cables?

SRAM X01 Eagle
SRAM XX1 Eagle

What do you guys reckon? On the right path? Anything else I need to consider? Can you shed any light in regards to the questionmarks above?

Now, in regards to brands which ones are considered good ones?

Hope you guys can give me some guidance in this whole forest of things to consider.

Posts

  • LagrangeLagrange Posts: 652
    You are not going to find a new bike that is not included in the specs you offer. I would go to Halfords and look at the 29 inch Boardman MTB Hardtail. Or look at the Bizango. These will be a lot less than your budget but they are good bikes with good stuff on them.
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 1,939
    You have done your homework and can quote all the good stuff that you want. But it is likely that they only way you will get all that is to build it yourself. (And it may cost quite a bit more than your budget).

    If this is your first mtb, why spend so much money? You may not like mtb quite as much as you think you might. It's happened before, it's what keeps eBay so busy!

    Lagrange's advice is good. Buy a ready made hardtail for a lot less money and go with that. I would recommend that you go on a few skills courses with the money saved, they really will make a big difference! And buy a helmet! You really do not want to be even just a little bit brain damaged! I have broken every helmet I have ever owned except the two I have now (work in progress).
    The Boardman has a great reputation, so check one out. You may also want to try one of the Whyte hardtails or maybe drop into Evans Cycles and take a look at what they have. Don't rush at it, check out a few.

    Learn how to do MTB, crash the bike a few times (oh yes you will!), pick up some skills, know what you want by experience rather than from what people say is good. Then flash the serious cash. :lol:
  • simono5simono5 Posts: 42
    Firstly I'd start by reducing the amount you want to spend. Money spent will not increase your motivation to ride (trust me). Dip your toe in the water now, save some cash which you can spend later if you really get the bug.

    When I purchased a bike recently I looked for;
    Hard Tail
    Hydraulic Brakes
    Air sprung shock
    1 x drive

    I ended up here with a Voodoo bike and trust me it was an absolute bargain and has been rock solid reliable all for under £400.

    OK so I confess, the bike was for my wife so is womens specific. It's RRP'd at 550, down to 440 in the sale which with British Cycling discount took it yo under 400.

    But the point is the same, get decent components, for the right price and get out and enjoy riding.

    Voodoo Hoodo seems to be the same bike in mens. Or like mentioned the Bizango.

    Good luck choosing.
  • peug26peug26 Posts: 35
    simono5 wrote:
    Firstly I'd start by reducing the amount you want to spend. Money spent will not increase your motivation to ride (trust me). Dip your toe in the water now, save some cash which you can spend later if you really get the bug.

    When I purchased a bike recently I looked for;
    Hard Tail
    Hydraulic Brakes
    Air sprung shock
    1 x drive

    Let me clarify that I certainly do not intend to do any hardcore mountain biking straight away. In the first year or so it will be mainly cycling routes (along the canal, or similar style). Definitely no steep ascends or descends because I do not have the skills or the stamina to do so. I will also, definitely not do any biking on the main roads.

    The reason why i am getting into biking at this time is because I am finally in a position to do so (Time, money, etc). I definitely enjoy riding a bike and will continue to do so for many years to come. Not a question of increassing motivation. :D

    I tend to be a methodical and carry out my research first, before buying anything hence why I'm trying to clarify as much as I can. I also am not overly keen on tinkering (upgrading the odd component now and again is fine) and therefore try to get the best middle of the road equipment I can afford.

    I enjoy every step of the process (from choosing and buying the bike to riding it) so am trying to buy a bike to call my own. Hence why asking all the questions rather than just walking into a shop and getting one.

    The £2500 is the ceiling but something int he region of £1500 is preferred. I have definitely not forgotten the accessories such as helmet, etc but am trying to tackle one thing at a time. :D

    Part of the specs that I am looking for are the same as you.

    Frame: aluminium (lighter than steel, I believe). What size? Does 18" sound good (that's the guidance that Halfords gives for my height)?
    Frame geometry: ? this is the bit that I am not very clear about after the initial reading I have done.
    Brakes: Hydraulic. Any particular makes and models regarded as better than others? Or will anything from Shimano ro SRAM do?
    Forks: air sprung. Any particular make and model considered better than the others? What travel size do I need? Somewhere in between 120mm - 150mm if I am not mistaken?
    Hard Tail. Is full suspension not worth the extra money if I'm not going to do hardcore MTB stuff?
    1x drive.
    Cassette: Which one to go for? 10x, 11x or 12x?

    I have noticed that there are some brands such as Curtis bikes that offer custom made models. However the frames are only steel. Are they worth considering?
  • LagrangeLagrange Posts: 652
    I would not go for a custom frame - because it will be difficult to sell when you upgrade. However there is nothing wrong with a steel frame and some like the flex it offers.

    I applaud the distinctions that you are seeking but they will not be relevant until you are a more experienced rider and a more experienced mechanic riding on tougher terrain.

    On the other hand 10 speed, 11 speed and 12 speed - this is not the choice - it is the combination of the front chainring and the spread of cogs at the back which established the capacity of the gears. But I'd go for a 1*11 with 32 teeth up front and be prepared to increase to 34,36,38 as you get stronger.

    With your current size I would look to strong wheels (boost wheels) and good forks - which could be air sprung or coil and I'd keep away from 26 inch options.

    I'm sticking with the bizango and the Boardman as my recommendations.
  • LagrangeLagrange Posts: 652
    ....and btw you should find a good mechanic too. Halfords can do quite a lot but not everything and they will not even offer a fork service. I've just rebuilt my forks and bb on a 2 year old boarman MTB - the predecessor to the one I'#m recommending ( just to elaborate that the current Boardman has better bb and more resilient forks than the version that I trashed in 3,000 miles). Both were completely trashed because I'd done no maintenance - and it is something you will need to do and I'm ok at mechanics but had no intention of doing the forks until encouragement by the people on here - but not that easy. I think with your scale more maintenance will be needed until the advantages of your cycling venture will be apparrent in reduced stress on the bike. So if you cant diy then you'll need a rated and competent mechanic before you take over with your own acquired skills.

    Good luck. You are not the only elephant in the room!
  • KajjalKajjal Posts: 3,404
    The basic choice is do you want a cheaper bike first to understand what you want from mountain biking so you can buy a suitable bike later on. I started mountain biking in the early 1990’s on a £300 bike with no suspension. Really got into it and based on my experience bought a much better xc hardtail a couple of years later knowing what I was looking for. I still have the bike now and ride up in mountains abroad on it near a relatives house where it is kept.

    My current bike is a camber which I got in a sale. I was looking for an fs bike for smoother riding and it had the spec I was looking for. Also when I test rode it I knew what I wanted. To be fair most modern bikes are fine but it just depends what you are looking for.
  • figbatfigbat Posts: 680
    I bought my current bike second hand. The guy was all up for MTB, blew a load of money on a carbon fibre HT 29er on his mates’ recommendation, rode it a few times then sold it to me for half what he paid for it 12 months later. My point is not my finding a bargain bike, but the typical boy-meets-bike tale.

    I started on a £700 aluminium HT which I initially rode a lot, then went away from it for ages, then got it back out and really got the bug, then I got the 29er.

    I’d agree with the general sentiment being expressed above. Go at it progressively. Get a half decent bike now, if you ride it a load you may find yourself losing weight which will then mean the next bike can be chosen on different criteria.
    Cube Reaction GTC Pro 29 for the lumpy stuff
    Cannondale Synapse alloy with 'guards for the winter roads
    Fuji Altamira 2.7 for the summer roads
    Trek 830 Mountain Track frame turned into a gravel bike - for anywhere & everywhere
  • mattyfezmattyfez Posts: 638
    Agree with the above, a bizango or a boardman hard tail are good shouts.

    I'd be wary of spending more than a grand on 'first' bike as you might not know what you really want.

    If you must spend more then I'd be looking at whyte or bird or maybe orange.
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 1,939
    I can understand the pleasure you take in researching a bike and identifying the one for you. But without any mtb experience of your own to go on, I fear you will be making a big mistake. Or maybe you will convince yourself later that whatever you buy will be brilliant (it's called post-rationalisation). Your research on this Forum is telling you unanimously not to go big to start with, will you listen? I'm pretty sure that we all started with a bike that was more towards the budget end and I don't believe anyone regrets that. £1500-£2500 will buy you a very good mtb indeed. But it may be the wrong one for you! In fact it probably will be. You say that you intend to ride cycling routes and canal towpaths for the first year or two. You do not need a mountain bike for that. By researching mountain bikes and mtb forums, you are at risk of buying the wrong bike for the next two years of your biking life. I love mtb, but mountain bikes are too heavy and slow rolling for your intended purpose. You would be better off with a gravel bike.

    You are of course completely free to ignore everything said on here, however sound it is. But if you do go ahead and buy a mountain bike, do yourself a massive favour and go on a few skills courses. Start with an Introductory course and go from there. They really are very good value for money in terms of the results. MTB riding is NOT the same as riding a road bike. I try to attend a skills course on a yearly basis. There is a huge amount to learn, and I am still learning (I suspect that I plateaued a few years ago though).
  • peug26peug26 Posts: 35
    Your research on this Forum is telling you unanimously not to go big to start with, will you listen? You say that you intend to ride cycling routes and canal towpaths for the first year or two. You do not need a mountain bike for that. By researching mountain bikes and mtb forums, you are at risk of buying the wrong bike for the next two years of your biking life. I love mtb, but mountain bikes are too heavy and slow rolling for your intended purpose. You would be better off with a gravel bike.

    Absolutely, the whole point of me starting this thread is so that I can learn and certainly listen. At the same time I am also trying to understand the reasons why. :) Hence my questions (which may be giving people the impression that I'm not listening, although that is not the case).

    The reason why I decided on a trail bike is because I was under the impression that it is the most versatile bike which can be used on a variety of terrains and just on the hardcore mountain biking stuff only. This impression has been created after reading several articles on the BikeRadar website. At the same time I see a lot of people riding bikes along the canal and 99% of them have a MTB. Or at least I think it is a MTB judging by the handlebar style and the tyres used. Is a trail MTb just for the hardcore riding up and down slopes and rocky terrain?

    Have I got my wires crossed and misunderstood something? Because if that is the case then even the bizango and Boardman would be the wrong ones to go for :?:
    But if you do go ahead and buy a mountain bike, do yourself a massive favour and go on a few skills courses. Start with an Introductory course and go from there. They really are very good value for money in terms of the results.

    Whilst I dont see myself becoming a hardcore MTBer (I'm 42 already) learning some skills wouldn't do any harm. Would you be able to give me an idea where can i find out regarding such courses? I live in Cheshire.
  • peug26peug26 Posts: 35
    edited April 2019
    This is the Bikeradar guide:
    https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/buyers ... y-in-2019/

    and here is the excerpt from it:

    "Even if you don’t plan to tackle mountain ranges, mountain bikes can be a good choice for general leisure riding thanks to their more relaxed riding position, though you’ll want to change the knobbly tyres for some slicks otherwise it’ll be very hard work on tarmac."

    Further down in a video that discusses "Do we need gravel bikes", Joe Norledge, argues that someone with a decent MTB should be able to handle the type of rides i intend to do quite easily. I hope you can understand my confusion.
  • mattyfezmattyfez Posts: 638
    It is confusing, start at the handle bars, road style curly bars or mountain bike style flat bars.

    If you don't know what to go for then a hard tail mountain bike with flat bars is your best bet.
  • peug26peug26 Posts: 35
    mattyfez wrote:
    It is confusing, start at the handle bars, road style curly bars or mountain bike style flat bars.

    If you don't know what to go for then a hard tail mountain bike with flat bars is your best bet.

    You are right. I think I need to tackle this part by part.

    Handle bars:
    In regards to handle bars I definitely prefer the flat ones over the curly ones. In fact I can't get on with curly bars for long. Considering the length of time I intend to ride the bike (max 2-3 hours with breaks) i won't need to change my hand position. I don't intend to race either so I don't need to aim for aerodynamic positioning. So flat handle bars.

    Geometry:
    I suppose the same can be said for the geometry. I.e. a more relaxed one

    Frame:
    Hardtail seems to be the best for my needs. In terms of material: Is there a massive difference in weight between steel and aluminium? Would that matter considering what the bulk of my bikeriding will be?

    Which part should I look at next?
  • billycoolbillycool Posts: 833
    Welcome to MTB.

    Firsty, there is nothing wrong with wanting a nice bike, but you are wanting a Porsche as your first car and you haven't passed your driving test yet.

    High spec bikes do not make you a good rider. Experience and ability do.

    I won't repeat what has been said as it is all good advice.

    My personal recommendation is:

    HT
    2x (based on your riding you'll appreciate the higher gear options)
    Alu frame

    As long as you go for something £500+ you should get air shocks, hydraulic brakes etc. I wouldn't worry too much about top spec stuff right now (Eagle, XT etc) - you don't need it and really won't notice the difference.

    As for brands:

    Voodoo/Boardman (Halfords)
    Vitus (CRC)
    Calibre (Go Ooutdoors)

    All offer good entry level bikes that don't break the bank at £500+. For £1000 you can have a really nice one with a better spec, maybe a dropper etc. I see no reason to spend much more than that on your first bike.

    Ride it - have fun - learn a lot and see what you like and buy something nicer in 18 months time.

    Don't overthink it - you've done loads of great research but you really don't need that for your first bike.

    Happy shopping.
    "Ride, crash, replace"
  • peug26peug26 Posts: 35
    billycool wrote:
    Welcome to MTB.

    Firsty, there is nothing wrong with wanting a nice bike, but you are wanting a Porsche as your first car

    My personal recommendation is:

    HT
    2x (based on your riding you'll appreciate the higher gear options)
    Alu frame

    As long as you go for something £500+ you should get air shocks, hydraulic brakes etc. I wouldn't worry too much about top spec stuff right now (Eagle, XT etc) - you don't need it and really won't notice the difference.

    As for brands:

    Voodoo/Boardman (Halfords)
    Vitus (CRC)
    Calibre (Go Ooutdoors)

    Ride it - have fun - learn a lot and see what you like and buy something nicer in 18 months time.

    Don't overthink it - you've done loads of great research but you really don't need that for your first bike.

    Happy shopping.

    Thank you :D

    Tbh, I'm not after a Porsche (price wise). I'm only looking for a Mercedes :mrgreen:

    The way I am approaching this is based on a recent experience. I had a head on collision recently. I was driving my MB saloon and a lovely large Bentley driving half way on my side of the road came out of the blind bend and hit me head on. I escaped with little injuries but the car was a write off. Had I been in a little Corsa, Fiesta or anything like that I would have come out much, much worse. Hence why I dont want to buy a Corsa. I hope the analogy makes sense.

    As well as that, there are quite a few people that buy their cars on PCP and then swap them every 3 years. I dont do that. I buy a decent car (about a year old with low mileage) and keep it for years (well, as long as someone else doesn't decide to smash into it :mrgreen: ). I don't want to get a £500-£1000 bike and then in a year or two sell it for a lot less.

    I don't intend to do hardcore stuff so the chances of my bike being destroyed will be very small. I don't intend to specialise in a particular type of bike riding either. I don't know what the chances of me taking to a particular style are however I do know that I will always enjoy regular leisurely rides for years to come.

    Therefore my philosophy is this: Get a decent bike now (a jack of all trades if you will) which will last me for years. If I decide to go a particular route then I can upgrade the particular parts that need to. Otherwise keep it as is and be happy.

    I agree with you that I do not need high spec components to start with. But can I at least have a nice body? :mrgreen:

    Hence why I am looking a something like a Curtis bike.

    However, before I decide what brand to go for it seems that I need to decide what style to go for first.

    Based on my preferences above is a trail bike the one that I should go for?
  • JBAJBA Posts: 2,603
    Based on your riding requirements I would suggest a hard tail or a short travel trail bike or something at the less-racey end of XC.
    A 29er will be good in either hard tail or FS. There are plenty to choose from in your budget. As well as those previously suggested have a look at the Giant Anthem, the Whyte 90x range, Sonder bikes and Bird Zero.
    “Life has been unfaithful
    And it all promised so so much”

    Giant Trance 2 27.5 2016 ¦ Bird Zero Mk1 ¦ Giant Revolt Advanced 2 2019 ¦ Giant Anthem 3 2015 ¦ Specialized Myka Comp FSR 2009
  • animal72animal72 Posts: 251
    So, as a Curtis owner, I can join in this thread now...

    The Curtis frame is a stunning work of art, BUT definitely isn’t run of the mill... I also reckon you won’t build a bike for £2.5k which is worthy of such a frame.

    My only suggestion based on reading the above is to try a few bikes with different geometry and different wheel sizes. Personally I absolutely hate 29ers and would never buy one...
    So... go on a demo day, try a few bikes, get to learn what you like and (more importantly) what you don’t. Then decide.
    Condor Super Acciaio, Record, Deda, Pacentis.
    Curtis 853 Handbuilt MTB, XTR, DT Swiss and lots of Hope.
    Genesis Datum Gravel Bike, Pacentis (again).
    Genesis Equilibrium Disc, 105 & H-Plus-Son.

    Mostly Steel.
  • peug26peug26 Posts: 35
    Right guys, first of all thank you very much all for your guidance. After the initial beginner's dreams and deliberations I have decided to see sense and listen to your advice. So gone back to the drawing board and:

    1. Go on a demo day
    2. Get a cheaper bike (sub £1k)
    3. Attend skills courses

    Now, when it comes to the first and thrid point I haven't got a clue where to start looking. Anyone can kindly give me a bit of direction there please?

    As for the second task I did go to Halfords today to have a look at the Boardman's and Bizango. I think the demo day will help me in regards to choosing the right size frame. Halfords had a Bizango with 20" frame which felt a bit big even with the seat lowered right down. Only my toes were touching the floor. The saddle was horizontal or if anything the front was pointing slightly upwards. If I do get a saddle with the point pointing slightly down then that might change things. The handlebar also felt a bit wide. However both these obesrvations were made just by mounting the bike but not riding it so I could be mistaken when it comes to the handlebar.

    Now the only thing that I would find very hard to swallow when it comes to the Bizango is that vomit inducing neon orange that they have painted it. The only good thing about it is that one wont need any reflectors at night as that can be seen from a mile away.

    So with that in mind, is there any of the Boardman's in a similar price range (sub £1k) that offers features that are as good as those on the Bizango?

    Also, is there anywhere I might be able to learn a bit more about the types of wheels and tyres, their best use and purpose and what pressures to apply, etc etc?
  • peug26peug26 Posts: 35
    animal72 wrote:
    So, as a Curtis owner, I can join in this thread now...

    The Curtis frame is a stunning work of art, BUT definitely isn’t run of the mill... I also reckon you won’t build a bike for £2.5k which is worthy of such a frame.

    You are so very right. One of those rare objects that catches your eye straight away and you fall in love with its pure and simplistic beauty. Once I got a bit more experience and have made up my mind what I would want I will definitely get one of those beautiful frames in polished and clear lacquered steel. Then I can add parts to it gradually until it's fully completed. My ultimate project if you will.

    What do you mean when you say it isn't run of the mill?
  • robertpbrobertpb Posts: 1,866
    The saddle position on my bike leaves my feet a long way off the floor, so if you had your feet on the floor the saddle was too low. To set the saddle in the riding position I use 109% of inside leg measurement from the top of the saddle to the top of the pedal at its lowest point.

    So I have an inside leg of 31" so I have the saddle at 33.75", if you have the saddle in the wrong place you will never find out how the bike fits, I can't understand how Halfords let you try the bike like that, plus the saddle should be slightly nose down.
    Now where's that "Get Out of Crash Free Card"
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 1,939
    @Peug26:

    Try this link on how to get the perfect mtb fit.
    https://www.bikeradar.com/advice/fitnes ... -bike-fit/
  • animal72animal72 Posts: 251
    peug26 wrote:
    animal72 wrote:
    So, as a Curtis owner, I can join in this thread now...

    The Curtis frame is a stunning work of art, BUT definitely isn’t run of the mill... I also reckon you won’t build a bike for £2.5k which is worthy of such a frame.

    You are so very right. One of those rare objects that catches your eye straight away and you fall in love with its pure and simplistic beauty. Once I got a bit more experience and have made up my mind what I would want I will definitely get one of those beautiful frames in polished and clear lacquered steel. Then I can add parts to it gradually until it's fully completed. My ultimate project if you will.

    What do you mean when you say it isn't run of the mill?

    I just mean you won’t see many about, and if you do see one, chances are it will be custom built for the owner.
    Forget the easy stuff like number of gears, you get to choose types of steel, tube sizes, frame angles, types of drop-out etc.
    Buying an “off the peg” bike (nothing wrong with that btw) means all of that is done for you.

    Search in “your mountain bikes” and you’ll find a pic of mine...
    Condor Super Acciaio, Record, Deda, Pacentis.
    Curtis 853 Handbuilt MTB, XTR, DT Swiss and lots of Hope.
    Genesis Datum Gravel Bike, Pacentis (again).
    Genesis Equilibrium Disc, 105 & H-Plus-Son.

    Mostly Steel.
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