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Trail Bike Recommendation Please
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Kevin Lane
Trail Bike Recommendation Please on 10/16/2013 14:00:44 MDT Print View

I am in my late 50's, one of the walking bellies, and would like to venture into trail bikes. I know not anything about this. I was hoping for anyone's opinion on a couple of things

1. The price of a used bike is very attractive, but is it safe to go that route if, like me, mechanical aptitude is not part of the package?

2. I hope to do fire roads, moderate trails and hills, and the like, with nothing extreme. I want to get a bike that I will not wind up replacing after a few months, either because it is not good enough quality or because it could not handle use. I am just under 6' and around 200 pounds. Anyone willing to direct me to a specific make and model?



Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Trail Bike Recommendation Please on 10/16/2013 14:21:06 MDT Print View

Sounds like you are just starting out and not ready for the custom carbon/aluminum job running almost as much as a small car, so every major brand has a wide variety of bikes and price ranges which get updated every year. Sounds like you want a hybrid or a cheaper hardtail mountain bike (MTB) to me.

Just some things to watch for using your criterion (#1,2):

(1.) Used? Aluminum and carbon frame bikes weaken over time, .. the former after 5-10 years of normal use. Catastrophic failure of a frame is not what you want at speed, so check to see when that model was made (I ride a Specialized, and all their older models are archived on their website). If you buy an aluminum or carbon frame bike, check the paint after every major ride for cracks indicating the frame is about ready to go.

(2.) The more offroad trails you do, the more likely it is you may need at least front suspension (i.e. a "hard-tail" mtb). Of course, you can take a hardtail and put some mellow tires on it to ride on roads. Alternatively, a steel road/city bike with some decent tires can take some fire roads and some mellower trails. There is a bit of overlap but hills? Tougher trails? No, so I'd say a cheaper hard-tail. Could go with a hybrid too I guess

Edited by hknewman on 10/16/2013 14:23:46 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Trail Bike Recommendation Please on 10/16/2013 14:30:53 MDT Print View

Where do you live? I have a Trek Superfly 29er, 17", aluminum, very little use, I'd let go for a very good price. But I live near DC.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Trail Bike Recommendation Please on 10/16/2013 16:29:13 MDT Print View

"1. The price of a used bike is very attractive, but is it safe to go that route if, like me, mechanical aptitude is not part of the package?"

I found my 29er used for less than 1/3 of what it would cost new. Bronze bike service package at REI which includes a tune up and will true the wheels is something like $40. Only problem I've had with it was breaking a cog which so less than $20 to have REI fix it as the cassette tool cost more than what they were going to charge. Only reason I'm babbling about all this is that you'd probably be able to tell if the bike has been thrashed or not by looking at it. Chances are if you do your homework and buy the right bike used, the chances of you spending more on it than had you bought new are not great imo.

Even with all this, I'm still $500+ ahead of where I would have been had I bought the same bike new.

I'm 6'3" and love my 29er. If you're near Doug, I'd check out what he has to offer.

David T
(DaveT) - F
craigslist on 10/16/2013 16:45:10 MDT Print View

Craigslist (or Ebay) is your friend. Bikes are one of those things that (usually) lose a lot of value after being ridden a bit. I'm partial to Surly bikes as tough bikes - perhaps a Karate Monkey might be an option. Get a geared one (they often come as single-speed). Probably a L size frame for 6'0.

There are many other good brands... just avoid getting a crappy bike. And make friends with your local bike shop guys, and learn about your bike and maintenance too!

Edited by DaveT on 10/16/2013 16:46:08 MDT.

Kevin Lane
thanks on 10/16/2013 16:59:22 MDT Print View

thank you all, I live in Buffalo NY and am heading down to VA at the end of the month

Steve G

Locale: Ohio
Re: Trail Bike Recommendation Please on 10/16/2013 18:20:41 MDT Print View

For the riding you mention you are likely looking for a hard tail mountain bike, a hard tail has a front suspension fork but rigid rear. Dual suspension bikes don't climb as well, are generally more expensive, heavier, and require more maintenance.

As important as style of bike is fit. Most frames come in at least four sizes. If you plan to buy off Craig's list you don't want to waste your time looking at bikes that don't fit you. Start at a nice bike store and take a few test rides finding out what size frame fits you best. You'll also get some good knowledge on what new bikes cost, so you'll be able to spot a good deal on Craig's list if you decide to go used.

Don't waste your money trying to adapt the wrong bike to your intended purpose/size. Don't buy a hybrid or a road bike. They are intended for smooth surfaces.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Trail Bike Recommendation Please on 10/16/2013 19:28:51 MDT Print View

You will have to maintain your bike, whether it be new or used. Like a car, maintenance is the name of the game with bikes. If you find a used bike that needs some baselining (brake adjustments, bottom bracket overhaul, derailleur adjustments, clean and lube, etc.) your local bike mechanic should be able to tackle all those if you're not up to the task. If I were in your shoes, I would do your homework and search for a used bike. There is always someone ready to jump to the next thing, leaving perfectly suitable bikes for someone like you.

Campus Wheelworks in Buffalo, NY carries Surly in stock. Looks like a good place to start.

I'm biased here, but Surly is a brand to start with if you're looking for an "all around bike" that will cover you on a variety of surfaces. Most of their bikes are designed to be turned into whatever you want them to be.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Trail Bike Recommendation Please on 10/16/2013 21:14:25 MDT Print View

Craigslist is your friend. Brand name hard tail with good components. If you were closer, I'd make you a great deal on a Jamis 650B, since the wife let me bring home a Scott Genius 740 from Santa Fe last weekend.

Daniel Collins
(Diablo-V) - M

Locale: Orlando FL
hardtail on 10/23/2013 07:10:27 MDT Print View

Quote: "For the riding you mention you are likely looking for a hard tail mountain bike"
I bought a 2006 Specialized Stumpjumper (hardtail)Disc that I have converted to a camping bike.
I would rather it be a 29er but I will live with it being a 26er due to the investment so far. I replaced the tires with the specialized armadillo fast tracs which gives it great pavement performance with acceptable off road traction and puncture resistance as well. I got the front and rear pannier racks from Old Man Mountain and the panniers from Arkle along with rain covers.
I recommend starting with a good aluminum framed hard tail with disc brakes. Tons to choose from on the new or used market. Good luck.

Edited by Diablo-V on 10/23/2013 07:12:56 MDT.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Rigid MTB on 10/23/2013 08:44:35 MDT Print View

For that use a rigid MTB would be fine IMO. It could well be an older one. I am still using my 1990 Cannondale rigid MTB for fire roads, single track, and bike packing. I actually think it is more suitable than most of the bikes that I see folks riding on the trails.

You can find them dirt cheap, especially compared to the high priced bikes that seem so common these days. The price difference is the difference between a few hundred and a few thousand. So even if it doesn't work out you are out very little or even nothing if you get a decent deal and resell it.

The one drawback is that it is getting harder to find parts for these older bikes. I still have been able to find everything I have needed, but have had to search a bit more.

Christopher *

Locale: US East Coast
Re: Rigid MTB on 10/23/2013 09:46:06 MDT Print View

+1 to Eugene's post. Surly frames are not the lightest, but they are well made, strong and comfortable. (My avatar right now is a Surly Ogre frame set up for touring.)

Beyond any particular brand I would suggest you look for a steel frame, particularly if you go fully rigid. Steel is really good at sucking up buzz and can be welded if it ever breaks.

I would also say ... like anything else ... put a focus on fit. At the end of the day, if you get a bike that does not fit properly you will be uncomfortable and will be less likely to enjoy yourself and stick with it.

Good Luck.

Kevin Lane
Doug on 10/23/2013 15:22:24 MDT Print View

Doug" I have to pass at this time, largely because my trip is off. I had tried to pm you but it bounces, sorry for the post here