Board logo

Which MTB?
justal - 23-7-2007 at 08:15

Right, its about time I had a new toy and I'm thinking about getting a mountain bike. Trouble is I don't know much about them anymore.

I used to do loads (200-300 miles a week) of cycling and was really into it, but I haven't been on a bike for about 15 years and things have changed a lot in those years, so what should I be looking for?

I'll basically be using it in the hills around here (West Wales) so will need something fairly good that will allow me to get back into it again, but I don't want to have to spend too much on it.

Anyone got any suggestions and does anyone know a good place to get one from (other than eBay!)?


danh - 23-7-2007 at 09:33

Hey Al,

I know a great place to get one from. ME

I bought a Kona cinder cone this time last year which cost me 699 with the full intention of getting back into cross country racing but the purchase of the house has put a stop to that, so its up for sale cause i hate to see a good bike doing nothing. BArely used it apart from a 2 minute bike ride to work and back for a few months

Im guessing youd want a bike along those kinda lines, as full suspension bikes can be a pain in the arse if yuor riding up alot of hills as all your power input is absorbed by the rear shock.

Most bikes come with disk brakes these days even the cheaper ones. And most bikes are also 24speed so you wanna be looking out for that even if your only spending a few hundred quid.

Im sure someone will be able to give better advice though.


justal - 23-7-2007 at 10:21

Yeah, thats probably the sort of thing I'm looking for as was actually one of the models I had my eye on anyway... How much do you want for yours?


danh - 23-7-2007 at 13:06 />
Thats the link to my bike al, id take 350 for it if you were interested.

kelvin - 23-7-2007 at 14:39

ooh a mtb !
depends on what you intend to ride !
if like me , which I belive you are you spend so much time hitting the surf that a mtb is for the turf when the wind aint blowing ?
so a x country flier aint gona be no good as you wont have the legs !!!
so go something a bit more hardcore , and ride some mad downhill stuff to give you a buzz .

nick-r - 23-7-2007 at 15:32

my intention was to get a hard tail, until i test rode a full sus bike.
my advice would be not to make up your mind about wot you think you need until you've tried full suspension...even for normal riding/cross country.

look for hydraulic discs and suspension lock-off.

[Edited on 23-7-2007 by nick-r]

Spooker - 23-7-2007 at 16:52

Top advice Nick - much easier on the piles

You don't get any pedal induced bob on the good full sussers nowadays, in fact they're better at putting the power down on all but the smoothest surfaces.

Without a doubt the best advice is to try out both, what you intend to do on it and your budget may suddenly change!

REECEY - 23-7-2007 at 19:02

Full suspension is fine for mad down hill riding & you do need to spend a shed load more dosh for a half decent one. Disc brakes are desirable & again cheap one's are no better than STD brakes. Spend your money on a good rigid frame with strong wheels & good forks. Check out Chain Reaction Cycles. They do some mega online prices.

mNeil - 23-7-2007 at 19:23

come on Al at your age and condition you should be looking for one with an engine! i certainly would!!!!!!!

REECEY - 23-7-2007 at 19:34

I'v got a Mille,but it don't get you fit.More fun tho'

justal - 23-7-2007 at 20:18

I hadn't been looking as full suspension models, but will do now... When I used to cycle they were nowhere near as efficient as a hard tail, but things have improved considerably since then I would imagine... Mind you, back then I didn't bother with front suspension either.

An engine would probably be a better idea, but half of the point is to try to get fit again... Although I guess it is a little more than optimistic to think I'd ever regain much of the cycling ability I used to have... I guess it will be time to admit that I'm not 21 anymore. One reason I want a MTB rather than simply getting out on one of my road bikes is that if I got on my road bike I'd be comparing my times to those I used to be able to do which would be a little demoralising.

I'm taking a look at the full suspension bikes now, but probably won't be able to afford one!


badexcuseforasailor - 24-7-2007 at 11:19

I think I better post as Ive kind of defected recently to Mountain biking

I not got really anything to add at as most of the other have said what I would of.

Have to point out Al it hurts more falling off a bike than it does a windsurf board

Its often worth looking into exdemo or hire bikes from some places* they have normaly been well maintained

*not sure if I would want an exhire or demo from say Glentress (proper rough big rocks) but somewhere like Rutland would be ok
Another think to look for is the previous years model

[Edited on 24-7-2007 by badexcuseforasailor]

adam - 24-7-2007 at 18:02

What are you going to use it for? If general riding with the odd trail and some road riding I'd look at getting a nice hardtail. If want to do more serious off road stuff at Coed Y Brenin or Nant yr Arian maybe think about a full susser.

Depends on budget; much under about 7-800 new wouldn't bother looking at a full susser as it will more than likely be quite heavy, above that with bikes like a Giant Trance or Specialized FSR/Stumpjumper then can get a good 4" or so travel bike that is still about 30 lbs so not too much hard work on the road/uphill

I think there is a test in this months MBUK of 500 FS bikes so maybe my views are a bit outdated...

EDIT here is one for 300 so maybe I am wrong! />
Konas are nice and I am a big fan but don't tend to get very good forks/components for your cash.

I think that Giant offer about the best bike for the cash with good quality frames and decent components.

The most important thing is fit though and between manufacturers there is quite a bit of difference so get a test ride if you can.

This XTC 4.5 is absolutely stunning value, hydraulic disc brakes, ok forks with lockout (so if using on the road can lock the forks out to prevent bobbing) and decent components on a very good frame all for 400 delivered to your door. />
I test rode one at Rutland and was impressed.

Also the Decathlon own brand bikes look good value and get a lot of component for your cash, think there 600 bike has 300 worth of forks on it!

Can find some previous year models on offer here: />
Or if you're going used and can give them a good look over try ebay or:

paul s - 24-7-2007 at 18:54

For riding in your area I'd think full sus is a must if you want to really use the terrrain. I'm a bit like you, done loads of road riding/tri's but moved to offroad some years back after too many near misses with twats in cars. I started with a hardtail, but after riding a full sus in Vass immediately bought full sus and have never looked back. Two reasons for me - one is comfort for long rides (you want to feel tired not beaten up after a day in the saddle), the other is that you can keep the power on almost whatever is going on under your wheels.
We'll be over in Aberdovey next week, so if you see sails coming out from the beach it could be us. We'll also be out on the MTB's - Cadair calls (omg !). The best riding I've had over your way has been from the map rather than the riding centres.

[Edited on 24-7-2007 by paul s]

nick-r - 24-7-2007 at 19:24

Originally posted by paul s
We'll also be out on the MTB's - Cadair calls (omg !). The best riding I've had over your way has been from the map rather than the riding centres.
[Edited on 24-7-2007 by paul s]

what day are you thinking of doing cadair....i want another go...

justal - 24-7-2007 at 19:55

All this talk is getting me itching to get out there now.... I know the area and all the trails (and non-marked trails) pretty well, so I should have some fun once I get a bike.

Sounds like full suspension is the way to go, but now I have to convince my credit card of that.... i do still have a few contacts in the cycling world and have got my feelers out for a bargain. lets hope I can find something good at a rock bottom price!

Thanks for all the links Adam, there are some interesting options there... I can feel my budget rising already... Who needs food and clothes when you can have new toys!!


kelvin - 24-7-2007 at 20:09

go on you know it makes sense !
bikes like boards/sails ,
all the bargains are on last yrs or yrs before models .

forget the light weight crap , it only breaks ,its like taking pryde freeride sails out in big waves !

bikes like wave boards all the funs in the jumps ,doubles,tabletops yea bring it on !

justal - 24-7-2007 at 20:29

LOL.... And if I spend so much money on a bike that I can't afford to eat it'll help me loose weight even if I only leave it in the living room and drool over it!


adam - 25-7-2007 at 16:51

Aye if you're going to throw some money at it then agree go full suss otherwise (possibly with the exception of that cheap Decathlon) it'll be heavy and bouncy - poor suspension is actually worse than not having any in my opinion since it rebounds you so nastily!

If you go full suss then have to decide if you want a 4" travel XC bike or 5" Freeride...guessing you don't want more that of a dedicated downhill machine??!!

Spent my young days in the hills around Machynlleth on both push bikes and motorbikes and it is a fantastic area.

The now marked trails at Mach and Nant yr Arian didn't exist then (in fact a mate put some of Mach ones together) and Coed Y Brenin was just getting established.

Agree though sometimes nothing beats finding your own way and spending the day in the hills not even seeing anyone else! Just take a well stocked pack of spares!

Ain't many hills in Cambs so make do with Thetford or a drive to the Peak District, probably influenced why I went for a hardtail again as its better suited to round here...

Forgot my local shop were trying to flog me a Merida at a massive discounted price, can't remember which model or how much though...

Shame you can't use cycle to work scheme being self employed as its a good way of getting a cheap bike to use 'for work' [although why anyone needs a 1000 full susser to get to the office is a mystery ] Maybe you could get the VAT back if you class it as a business vehicle?!

paul s - 25-7-2007 at 18:08

Originally posted by nick-r
what day are you thinking of doing cadair....i want another go...

Not sure, depends on the weather. My son is up over the weekend too and he's keen to have a crack at it, so maybe sat pm or sun am. Or we may end up walking it with the girls in tow
I'll try to post on here if we get a plan together, but may be incommunicado once we get to Aber.

nick-r - 25-7-2007 at 18:22

Originally posted by paul s
Not sure, depends on the weather. worries....i'm heading off to the coast tomorrow, so won't see the message unless al can relay it to me...otherwise i might just see you on cadair.i'll be taking the back route.can't remember wot it's called..

justal - 30-7-2007 at 17:41

Right, I haven't made a decision yet, i'm still weighing up my options and seeing what sort of deals I can get, but my shortlist at the mo is:

Kona Kikapu Deluxe: 2006, Marzocchi MZ forks, Deore LX, Hayes Hydraulic Disc brakes.

Giant Trance 3: 2005/2006, Manitou Axel forks, Deore LX, Hayes HFX9 discs

Trek Fuel 80: 2006, Manitou Splice Comp forks, XT and Deore, Shimano Disc brakes....

OR, spend a little extra and get a Giant Trance 3: Rock Shox (Recon 327 or Duke XC) forks, Deore LX, Hayes discs, Mavic XM 117 rims

What would you go for out of those??


jon d hat - 30-7-2007 at 22:04

Best to try them for yourself as ultimately it is only you that will be spending time in the saddle. I was looking at the giant, trek and scott but fell in love with the specialized stumpjumper.

Try these reviews if you havent got the opportunity to try them as most of the reviews have been written by people that own that model.

kelvin - 30-7-2007 at 23:00

been out with a few trance mounted bikers and they seem very good all rounders ,
but it will come down to what you like , you,ll know the right bike when you see it ,
just let your heart rule your head

adam - 31-7-2007 at 17:08

Think the forks are the Kikapu are undamped so potentially a bit bouncy..?

The Trance is an awesome bike, have ridden one and it was very nice and not too heavy think about 30lb. Both that and the XTC felt nice, not as stretched out as the XC geometry of my Kula. Recons are plush forks too.

Think BEFS has a Trance so may be able to give you some feedback...

Jon which Stumpy have you got? I really liked the look of the Comp but it was way out of my price range and probably more bike than I need.

badexcuseforasailor - 31-7-2007 at 17:40

Bikes are very much down to personal preferance. Pick a few then see if you can get a go on then so you can get a feel for them.
Ive got a Trance but Im no good at writting reviews!
I get on really well with it, comfortable for all day in the saddle, really good through the rough stuff a few times Ive come up to bits on the trail thinking "OH S%$T" and the bike as got me through it.
If (heaven forbid) my bike goes missing on the plane to Spain in October I'd buy another with the insurance money.

justal - 31-7-2007 at 18:25

That sounds like a damn fine review BEFS... I thought you were no good at writing reviews!!

The Trance is looking more and more like the one I'll go for, but I will try to see if I can have a go on one at some point... Sometimes I think full suspension will be overkill, but I guess the extra weight will help me improve my fitness on the uphill bits!

So many options, all this indecision is driving Anna mad for some reason!


adam - 31-7-2007 at 18:52

Choosing and trying a load of them is half the fun, a lot easier than testing windsurf kit as well as its not so much reliant on conditions (other than the terrain you test it on) and get a good 'feel' for how the bike fits you. Can change a lot with stem length, bar rise, saddle position (and whether you have a layback post) etc

Its difficult to gauge best size as well as the geometry is quite different between bikes

I took about 4 weeks and quite a few test rides to decide...

Are there any demo days to try them out - there have been two around here recently with loads of bikes to try.

jon d hat - 31-7-2007 at 21:52

Hey Adam, Comp is a dream but went for the elite as it had the fox RL fork with 100-140mm travel & lock off and rear 80-120mm with lock off plus the juicy 7's and's the dogs...more of a light weight all mountain at 28lbs. Expensive but as Encee says"Boys dont grow up...they just have more expensive toys"

Al, if you go to Coed yBrenin, you can hire a stumpy for the day and hit some crackin trails. In fact there are a few shops not too far from you that may be able to give you a test ride.

kelvin - 1-8-2007 at 10:15

here you go then Al
try and buy

justal - 17-8-2007 at 15:16

Very very nearly got a full suspension bike (Specialized FSR XC), but at the last minute decided that hard tail would be better because realistically lots of my time on it would be spent going uphill and on not particularly technical tracks and trails (and even the road).

It also meant I saved some money and got better components for what I did spend... I got a Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc in the end. Nothing too flash but it should be an OK all-rounder and maybe get me a litlte fitter again.


jon d hat - 17-8-2007 at 16:17

Post pics Al or perhaps a new thread, Borth Massif unpowered Wheels.