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    I want to buy a mountain bike

    New thread so as to not hijack the existing I want to buy a road bike one..

    I've been a roadie for the last 18 years or so, but have been struggling of late with motivation, finding that grinding out mile after mile on the tarmac is now a chore rather than a pleasure. Last year I did a 'gravel' sportive that had a large number of off-road sections (completed it on a borrowed cyclo-crosser) and rather enjoyed it, so I fancy moving off-road full time from the new year as it looks like it might be fun.

    I live in the middle of the rolling South Downs, with a couple of bike parks relatively close by, so I need some advice on what sort of things I should look out for before I spend any cash.

    All mountain bikes look to my untrained eye as being either a) hardtail or b) full suspension. Enduro, Downhill, Trail - is there any real difference or are these terms just marketing BS?

    #2
    I wish I could help you. I keep thinking I need to mix up some gravel/trail riding with me road biking. I don't have any desire to do difficult single-track where I go over handlebars after hitting submerged muddy tree roots, but had a lot of fun on a short ride on a borrowed bike in the desert around Sedona. So I'll be following to see if you get any good pointers. And also would be interested if I need a proper mountain bike or should take a gravel bike for most flattish dirt road stuff with occasional bits of trail.

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      #3
      A couple of years on and I'm about to bite the bullet.

      Before I do, I thought I'd try and revive the thread and see if anyone has any thoughts.

      I don't think I want to do anything to adrenaline-y with it. Don't want mad technical downhills, or the bouncing around on super-narrow ridges like Danny MacAskill. I'd probably want it for easy trails, dirt roads, and possibly some bike-packing, and so on. I'm off to Moab in a few weeks and would really like to ride some of the dirt roads in Canyonlands, and some of the easier slickrock stuff.

      From my research I seem to want a hardtail 29er. Unless someone can put me straight. What people describe as "cross country" rather than Enduro or Trail. I can't tell what material I want, though, let alone what manufacturer. Is steel notably more comfortable for long days in the saddle? Is carbon OK for loading up and bikepacking?

      One of the big problems seems to be lack of stock in the shops: as mentioned on the Road Bike thread, everyone has spent lockdown accumulating cash that they didn't spend in the pubs and on holidays and has gone and either done home improvement or bought exercise gear. It seems to be hard to find suitable bikes that aren't back ordered by months.

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        #4
        I've got the bike - a Niner Air 9 RDO if that means anything to anyone - and have started playing around on it. It turns out that it's a completely different skill-set to road biking. It's going to take a whole lot of getting used to the idea that my rear wheel is skidding and slipping around and I shouldn't freak out. Getting used to what I can do and stay upright. Getting used to finding ways to go over tree roots and fallen (small) logs. I'm absolutely petrified a lot of the time right now, and regularly get off and walk the bike around things it can easily manage. I'm hoping that enough riding will get me acclimated.

        One thing I really wasn't expecting was just the amount of gear and technical knowledge needed. I always thought of road cyclists as being the gear obsessed nerds, and mountain bikers as the chilled out ones who just got up and rode. What with buying shock pumps and sealant injectors and valve tools and all sorts, I'm beginning to wonder if I didn't have it the wrong way round.

        Anyway, today's little ride on empty trails into the forest remind me why it's worthwhile.

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          #5

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            #6
            After wasting a ton of money, I gave up on mountain biking a few years ago. I enjoyed it in adolescence, but that $350 bike eventually just couldn't manage it. Nor could I, after a while. I'm not built for endurance.

            Around here, it's terrifying for me because I worry so much about injury and it isn't much fun, in my opinion.
            Our trails are extremely rocky "trails."
            One time I tried to take Tonka with me on a long relatively smooth downhill, but he ran so fast to keep up that he messed up his paws.
            That was the end of that.
            I prefer walking in the woods with him.
            I have a single-speed for around town.
            Maybe someday I'll get a "gravel bike," which is all the rage here among middle-aged cyclists.


            I always thought of road cyclists as being the gear obsessed nerds, and mountain bikers as the chilled out ones who just got up and rode.
            Yeah, you got that backward, I think.
            As far as I can tell, road cyclists seem to mostly talk about their rides, their groups, their times, their cadences, their gear ratios, their nutrition, which events they've signed up for, etc. But once they've spent way too much on the bike, they don't seem to have much more to say about it.

            I find that I don't really like hanging out with serious mountain bikers, and that seems like the only kind there are around here. All they talk about is their expensive gear. And micro brews and expensive coffee. But mostly their expensive gear. As if that was the point. None of the ones I know are rich and yet they all own $15-$40k worth of bikes and accessories. And a truck to carry them.

            Some of them can can be real dicks on the trails. They make new trails and obstacles in the woods not far from the existing ones, further tearing up the forest. If the existing, properly made switch-back trail isn't steep enough for them, they'll create a path straight down the hillside so they can shred the gnarl. That just increases erosion, as does riding when it's muddy. (the local MTB association discourages that, thankfully). They barrel through without much warning, scare Tonka and then get mad that he doesn't understand what's going on. That's true of some trail runners too.

            But I find the guys who are least like that are the ones that actually work in the bike shops. They're not so impressed with the gear, I guess.

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              #7
              All mountain bikes look to my untrained eye as being either a) hardtail or b) full suspension. Enduro, Downhill, Trail - is there any real difference or are these terms just marketing BS?
              As I recall from when I bought the one that I sold not long after...

              There are differences in all of those, but it's all gradations of the trade off between overall "stiffness" - which improves efficiency - and flexibility, for lack of a better word, that makes it easier to traverse obstacles. That's true of the suspension system as well as the shape and materials of the frame. There's a lot of jargon about the "slackness" of the tube angle and stuff. You'd have to ask an engineer how all of that works, but it does make a difference in how it handles obstacles.

              I suspect that what you want is a trail bike.

              Disc brakes are worth spending on if you can. I have them on my single-speed street bike. Really improve the safety.

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                #8
                Gravel bikes are all the rage, but I think they're basically doing what MTBs do - just a bit faster and less comfortably.

                My learning so far is that I don't want to be fast, or gnarly. The trails round here are pretty rocky and filled with tree roots, I have a grazed up shin and a slightly sprained left hand from falling. I really want to ride easyish trails in the forest - do the same thing as going for a hike, but a bit faster and seeing more stuff in the same amount of time. The good thing is that the local state forest has a good smattering of narrow fire roads, so for someone like me who has no intention of totally smashing it, there's stuff to do. And, so far, I've been out and about at a time when nobody else is so I haven't had to deal with the eyeballs-out maniacs.

                There's a chance that when (if?) I become more confident and competent that I might get more hardcore about things, but that's not really my general outlook on life. I don't want to go down hills fast. I never did on skis, and I don't suppose I will on a bike either.

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                  #9
                  Good plan.
                  I do recommend watching GoPro YouTubes of pro downhill riders’ runs.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by San Bernardhinault View Post
                    I've got the bike - a Niner Air 9 RDO if that means anything to anyone .
                    It didn't to me so I googled and unless I'm mistaken the price seems to be high of 2000 dollars which would seem a lot to pay for a kind of bike new to one's experience?

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                      #11
                      Isn't that price just for the frame?

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                        #12
                        It’s not cheap, I agree. But my experience with other bikes was that buying a cheap one means you don’t enjoy it and it doesn’t do what it’s meant to, so either you give up completely or you buy a better bike and the first one is just wasted. Particularly for doing anything more technical than a short commute.

                        It IS probably more bike than I need right now, but I didn’t want to underequip myself.

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                          #13
                          The title has given me Queen earworm.

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                            #14
                            Indeed, it seems that the minimum for a full-suspension bike that will hold up is at least $2,000, but probably a bit more than that.
                            And even then, all kinds of expensive shit will break.
                            There are cheaper hardtails to be found.

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                              #15
                              Went a bit nuts today. Cycled just under 80 miles on the Windham, Rockingham and Derry rail trails in New Hampshire. Just about 9 hours in all. The first 20 miles was paved.The next 40 was dirt - including a stretch full of New Hampshire rednecks riding ATVs and trail bikes, and hearing shooting ranges. A lot of that was very sandy which is something that’s hard to get used to when you normally ride a road bike. Getting used to the rear wheel slipping away is hard. Also it feels like you want to reduce your power output as much as possible to prevent spinning and fishtailing.

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                                  #17

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                                    #18

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                                      #19
                                      Me, earlier today.

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