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runawayjim
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  Quote runawayjim Replybullet Topic: mountain biking newbie
    Posted: 02 Mar 2015 at 7:33pm
While mother nature still has some time to get her act together, I'm not banking on it, so it's time to pick up another activity in the woods. There is a lot of info out there and bike prices in all sorts of price ranges (not like paddling where all boats are $1000-1200). I'm in Seattle, so what type of riding is near here and what type of bike would suit me best? While I haven't been mountain biking in years, I ride a bike a ton on roads (tour, commute). I'm thinking I'll be more into trail riding with some solid climbs and fun downhill and exploring new places as opposed to big jumps or hardcore DH.

So... places to ride, FS vs HT, things to look out for if buying a used bike, and whatever else you can think of?
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ODarrow
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  Quote ODarrow Replybullet Posted: 02 Mar 2015 at 7:55pm
Talk of mountain biking on pp!!!! I'll have to admit I was think about grabbing a Honda trail bike to mess around on but this is still sad talk!!!
"See what happens"
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  Quote commander fun Replybullet Posted: 02 Mar 2015 at 8:32pm
i just discovered that mounatin biking is the perfect compliment to kayaking.  when the water is high, you boat becasue its rad and the trails are too muddy..  when the water is low you ride because the trails are dry and the boating is a scrape fest.  its a win-win situation where you just win all the time and the stoke never ends.  the rest of the world wishes they had that combo.  my worst fear is the "in between zone", that is when it rains just enough to make the trails too muddy, but not enough to bump up the flows.  
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  Quote Slackkinhard Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 5:53am
Desert 100 is coming.....1000+ riders line up, a cannon is blasted and their off.  100 miles of modern day cavalry stampede. If you finish, you did well.
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Larry
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  Quote Larry Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 9:29am
Since no one is answering your questions, I'll give it a shot.

There are lots of places to go depending on what you are looking for. If you just have a couple hours there are several local parks with decent trails. St Edwards is a good one for that. Lots of places in the cascades for a day trip, or hit the east side for multi day trips. I prefer to "pay" first (steady uphill in so it's mostly down coming out).

As far as bike goes, it doesn't have to be expensive, just don't go cheap. I have a Specialized, a Diamond Back, a Raleigh, and a Gary Fisher. All good brands with good components. Front shocks are a must for anything off road. If you're not doing hard core downhill, or big jumps, skip the extra weight and price of rear shocks. Especially if you're doing much uphill. If wet or muddy, I am a big fan of disk brakes. Also, if doing much uphill, go for as light as you can. If going used, look for any signs of abuse (bent....whatever, cracks, bad bearings, etc). It also helps to know what parts are easily and affordable replaced. If you road bike, you probably already know that last part.

I am sure others will have more to say, but, based on your post, that's my 2 cents.
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Drew
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  Quote Drew Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 12:33pm
Funny, I'm going the other way at the moment, getting back into paddling after years as a hardcore MTBer. I think you timed your transition better.

To answer your question, get a newer-school "enduro" type trail bike. 140-160mm travel, switches on shock and fork that will let you climb efficiently. Bike and suspension design has progressed amazingly in the last 5-10 years, so you can get a bike that will perform great both up and down. Examples would include Specialized Stumpjumper FSR, Santa Cruz Bronson, or Kona Process. Expect to spend $3k or so to get something you won't hate. Demo if possible. Tons of awesome riding near Seattle, including Duthie and Tiger Mtn. within 20 min or so.
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  Quote Scott_H Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 1:23pm
I rented a couple hard tail MTBs from Recycled Cycles in Seattle and took my 16 year old nephew up to Tiger Mountain and did some single track run that was labeled intermediate. We had a blast - great intro into the MTB scene. Pretty cheap rental price - worth doing if you have a day like today with low flows and just want to sample.
“The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues.”
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Larry
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  Quote Larry Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 2:29pm
Go with Drew if you have 2-3K to spend. My budget was usually closer to 2-3 hundred. Not to hard to find a decent bike on Craigslist that you "won't hate", unless you go and "demo" one of the ones Drew is talking about. Don't try it if you can't afford it, because you will have to have it.

Actually, I have seen a couple of those bikes mentioned by Drew for a decent price on Craigslist (stolen maybe?). But since skiing, kayaking, rock climbing, and even hiking/backpacking often come before mountain biking, they were still too much for me.

Edited by Larry - 03 Mar 2015 at 2:38pm
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  Quote megspk Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 3:57pm
I'd have to say at least disc brakes and some shocks are needed for some basic mountain biking.  There's a sweet shop in Bellevue called Gregg's Cycle that you could check out.   Duthie Hill is lots of fun to ride. A hardtail will get you up and down the mountain, but a full suspension bike would be best for more hard core MTBing.  So it depends on what you want out of it.  I got a nice new hardtail with disc brakes and decent shocks for 800$ out the door.  I took it to Duthie and it's a great ride!  Just be sure to test drive all the bikes you look at!
“A strong person and a waterfall always channel their own path.” -Unknown

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runawayjim
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  Quote runawayjim Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 5:16pm
Thanks y'all, I appreciate the comments. Not sure I'm ready to drop 3 grand on my first bike (I could get a brand new boat, drysuit, and the rest of the necessary gear for less than that!!!!), but I will keep your suggestions in mind. I've been scouring Craigslist and I seem to have found some decent deals. I'd be able to tell whether a bike is in good shape with everything except suspension. Sounds like there is some maintenance that is needed every so often (replace seals, oil). Anything I should look out for because a great deal on a bike could turn into not such a great deal if I need a couple hundred dollars of work done on the suspension?

Also, I doubt in my price range this is even an option, but hydraulic vs cable brakes?

Thanks again for all the input.
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  Quote Jetters Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 5:41pm
I'd take a look on pinkbike.com , tons of used bikes for sale on there in all price ranges. U can set the search filters to Washington to find local if u don't want to deal with shipping. I picked up a $1000 fork on there for $300 never ridden. Lots of deals to be found and the selection changes daily. Craigslist works too but I've had better luck on pink bike.
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  Quote Jetters Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 5:49pm
Main thing I'd look at on used forks it that the stanchions aren't scratched, New seals don't do much good if it's scratched.
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James
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 10:13pm
I'll chime in ...

I like to ride a little BMX for skate parks. It's nice since I can get a good session in during a lunch hour. I have a 21.5 S&M BTM

I stick with a hard tail for dirt jumping its a NS Majesty. I ride that at duthie for the most part now too. Its single speed so I don't really "trail" ride on it.

I have a SantaCruz Carbon Nomad that I ride for my "enduro" stuff. I had a few other downhill bikes in the past but I sold them because I found the Nomad was actually capable of doing everything I needed and the times when I missed my big bikes were all the places I used to get hurt anyways.

As far as jumping goes, shredding clean DJs seems much safer than big gaps and downhill style jumping. When I mess up on big DJs I just toss it and roll out, get some bumps and bruises but more damage occurs when moving at higher speeds.

As far as brands go... shop and ride. Pinkbike.com is the place to go for the beta, reviews, pics and any other bike related stuff.

I can say this, I would not buy a full suspension bike under $500. You are not going to get anything with good linkage and modern geometry / parts which makes a huge difference, while on the other had you can find Hard tails in those lower price ranges rather equipped with modern geometry and parts. Riding a hard tail will also make you a more "core" rider. Save up the cash and get a nice bike when you can afford one.

My favorite places to ride, tapeworm & ghy jumps  since i'm 5 minutes away, Greenwood, 27, black diamond/henrys, tiger and galby. Galby would be much higher if it were closer. I am also making a new trail out by lake desire for dirt jumping. We will see how long it lasts before the horse riders and kids tear em out.
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James
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 03 Mar 2015 at 10:22pm
Oh one other thing, hydraulic brakes rock but they would be the first thing to go if I were on a budget. I rock BB5 and BB7s on my hard tails and I love them, they work just fine! Do they modulate like my XTRs, no but who cares if you are looking to save money. Another thing, brake levers are the first thing to break when you bail when learning, at least I have found. BB7s no biggie. Can't break mechanical, bend em back in shape and ride, or just replace the lever for 5 bucks.
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Jed Hawkes
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 04 Mar 2015 at 9:38am
In my opinion you don't really start to get a quality ride until you cough up at least $1500.00 for a new bike. Anything under that your gonna wear out a bike pretty quick. Think werner fiberglass paddle versus werner plastic blade (both werners, both well made, but only one is really going to last and give you the ability to get life out of the paddle).
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itchy
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  Quote itchy Replybullet Posted: 04 Mar 2015 at 11:09am
In contrast to Jed's opinion, if you're on more of a budget:

You can spend about half that on a new or good-quality used bike and just replace/fix parts as they wear out. Bikes are not like boats, where they perform exactly the same until they fail catastrophically. They work well and then slowly degrade, but different components go at different times. You can also upgrade individual components as your budget and interest require.

I started with a $350 Trek in 1995 or thereabouts, and still ride the bike 5 days a week, for commuting and for fun. I've replaced everything 2-5(?) times over the past two decades, including the frame, though the last frame I got (a Cove steel hardtail) has been on it since 1999. The bike has mostly a mix of ~LX-XTR level components, except for a cheaper piece here and there.

I put on average about $300/yr into it. Some years more, some years basically $20, just putting new cables on it. I would do much less maintenance if I wasn't a bike commuter... It'd be smarter for me to just get a sh*tty commuter but I don't like having a ton of bikes.

This approach is much nicer if you enjoy tinkering with things, and can do a lot of the maintenance yourself. Bikes are pretty straightforward to work on, if you're not taking apart suspension or other sealed components. You can really do a lot with some basic tools, although for less common operations you absolutely need specialized tools. You probably know this if you've been cycling for a while...

And you can really ride a lot on a decent hardtail. It takes some skill but building that skill is fun. While modern suspension is amazing, if you keep your weight well behind your saddle on steep descents, stay loose, and when in doubt keep your wheel straight, you can ride most of what your buddies on their FS bikes can, albeit much more slowly at first. If you get a hardtail and find yourself way behind your friends, or scared a lot, or with a lot of back pain, you can go FS but to me it's not worth the investment if I didn't know whether I would mountain bike much. But I'm a cheap bastard. I also don't know your age but in my experience people 40+ vastly prefer cross-country FS for achy reasons (and they're often less budget constrained).

For my riding style (preference on steep and technical climbs and descents), a good disk brake in front, an aggressive front tire, and a decent fork are really important. This will get you the most control. Quick-release seatpost collars are also great, so you can easily drop the seat for descents and raise it for the climbs. I also strongly prefer good flat pedals to clipless, but if I was more into long, smooth singletrack rides I would go clipless. Flat pedals will make you be a smoother and more balanced rider and if you spend a while learning to bunny hop on them, you'll have to do it right (front wheel first, pull back instead of up with your feet) and you'll be able to get a lot higher and be more confident in it. Bailing is also nicer for obvious reasons.

I use an Avid cable disc on the front w/ the 7 inch rotor and I love it. The cable does get grimy and the feel at the lever suffers, but I wouldn't say it's really less powerful (you've always got enough power to catapult yourself over the bars).

OK my code finished running, back to work...
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Jed Hawkes
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 04 Mar 2015 at 12:18pm
To give a better clarity to my post. Even if your not buying a new ride when it was new it should be in about the 1500 range.
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  Quote runawayjim Replybullet Posted: 04 Mar 2015 at 7:39pm
Right on guys and gals. I really appreciate all the awesome feedback. I'll probably demo a couple bikes first and see what I like, but then off to pinkbike to try and score a deal. Now I just gotta get out there and start riding. See you on the trail I guess...
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  Quote brig Replybullet Posted: 04 Mar 2015 at 10:11pm
I'll chime in here as well.
If you truly are a newbie, and are looking for cross country/trail riding look for a well spec'd hardtail (29er if your height will allow)
If you find you don't enjoy mountain biking, a 29er makes for a great cruise around town/ commuter bike.

Do some component research and ignore the brand on the bike.
Sram, look for x7 or x9
Shimano Deore, Slx, or XT



As for brakes, there's no reason not to have disc in 2015.
Hydraulics are awesome but some brands are more finicky than others. I've had Avid hydros and I won't again. Bleeding them sucks. Shimano hydro brakes are amazing.

Bikesdirect.com is a great resource for inexpensive, well spec'd bikes shipped to your door. Pinkbike is great too.

Jed, 'bout time for you to come back over and ride wouldn't you say?

Chris B.
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