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Help me spend my money: I need a new mountain bike

OreoCookie

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I’ve been on message boards for over 20 years, and consistently one of the most fun activities is spending someone else’s money. So please help me spend money.

My mountain bike is turning 9 in May or June (don’t remember the month I bought it), and while I have kept it in good shape, a lot of wear items need replacing (3 chain rings, cassette, chain, both disc rotors, eventually the rear trigger and mech, my wheelset has rusty spokes). Plus, my fork and damper are in desperate need of a service, some of the seals on the fork are cracked already. I know I could fix most (all) of that, I don’t think this is financially sensible. And since I will pick up my new road bike next weekend, I have to start thinking about replacing my mountain bike. I’ve been a bit out of the game when it comes to mountain bikes, so while I know my SLX from my XT, I haven’t kept up with the various makes and models.

Here are the requirements:
- Don’t get me divorced. ;)
- It has to be dependable. It doubles as my commuter and I will frequently pull a trailer. This is also the sales pitch to my wife (who has set me a strict N = 2 limit).
- I would like quality components, but it doesn’t have to be top end. I know I like good brakes, but honestly, anything Deore SLX or equivalent should be good enough.
- I’m not against used bikes. Although since I will likely need M/L or L, I don’t think there is a huge used market.
- The bike has to be available in M/L or L.
- I’m open to upgrading the bike at a later point, e. g. by getting a better wheel set for them.
- I’d prefer buying from a LBS even though this will increase the price and/or mean I am getting a lower-specced bike.

Due to these requirements I think I want an XC hardtail, although I am open to suggestions. So my questions:
- What budget should I aim for? ¥200,000?
- Is an XC hardtail the only sensible choice?
- What should I look for in e. g. the fork or brakes (when they are not Shimano)? I’m not up to date on the model names anymore.
- Are there any “interesting” bikes? Clearly, I can go to Canyon’s, Trek’s or Cannondale’s websites and look up what they have to offer. But I wouldn’t mind something more, well, interesting than that.
- How should I go about sizing (178 cm with long limbs)? On my road bike I am 56 and my current fully feels like it is a size too small (19 inch frame, I think).
 

Cactaur

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I'm partial to a stumpjumper, seems they had clearance models for Y281600 but thats sold out.

If its pulling a trailer I think hardtail might be your only option but also seems more reasonable price wise. Also depends how the trailer is attached. If on the seatpost like danny daycare should be doable.
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
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Good Morning - I am a shimano guy for the most part, but have plenty of seat time on SRAM.
My main SRAM issue is the availability & price of parts in general, then add to it the price in Japan.

If looking at SRAM - "eagle" simply means 12 speed. So GX vs GX Eagle is the same component, but with another gear.
Personally - GX is the value component of all their offerings. It is similar to the SLX in that is works like its more expensive siblings, but at a small weight penalty. XX1 is lighter and sexier, but more than double the price to save 500 grams or so. NX & SX will cost a ton down the line just to updgrade to GX. I bought a bike with NX on it... maybe 10 shifts into it, I had replaced the drivetrail with SLX and sold the sram stuff. The only good thing about it, it uses the HG freehub, so switching to 11sp shimano was simple. GX and up use an XD freehub for both 11 & 12 speed.

As for the Shimano line - SLX is just as reliable as XT and in some cases, they even weigh the same. 11sp uses an HG Freehub and 12 uses Microspline. Kep the freehubs in mind when thinking about future proofing.

27.5, 27+, 29, 29+ - Yup. IMO - 27+/29 is the sweetspot. You can find bikes that are capable of running both wheelsets - so even more options to play with.
The Santa Cruz Chameleon is a trail hardtail. Not as racey as a XC bike, but you could race and you could hit any/all local trails on it. Several buddies have this bike and they run them differently and both are very happy with the bikes.

Steel, Aluminum, Carbon, Ti? - Your money will go the furthest with Aluminum. The good news, if you run 27+ or 29, the wheels/tires will take the sting out of the rigid frame. It isn't like the days of 26" wheels and 2" tires.

Is the goal fast, fun, different, etc? Each of my bikes was for something a bit different. My XC bike is to go fast. That is the goal. Enter races here and then and go at it. It is also the first bike I shipped back to the states. With a room full of fun, it was the "serious" bike that got neglected. Boo.

I usually try to steer clear of the big boy brands if all things are equal. Specialized, Trek, Giant, Cannondale, etc... They don't make bad bikes, but if given the choice, I prefer to support more boutique brands. I currently own 1 Trek, so obviously if things work out, I will buy one - but @TheAussieinJapan made me too good of a deal to turn down.

Lastly for now.... "Supply" is an issue. There is just q shortage of bikes. Maybe brands are backordered for months. So availability might also be an issue. The recent splurge in bike buying is going to end... and IMO the used market is about to be flooded with almost new bikes in another year or 2.
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
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For giggles of things to google and look at... The current brands I own...
Ritchey - Road
Trek - Road
Vassago (3) - Gravel, SS, XC
Ibis - Full Suspension
Nordest - Enduro Hardtail
Surly - Rigid 29+
Salsa - Adv Tourer
Stanton - 29+ Hardtail
 

OreoCookie

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@bloaker
Thanks. :)
Availability is a real issue, I almost forgot that I had to wait four months for my bike.

Fork-wise, what is a good value? When I bought my last bike, I got a Reba RL (?) which was Rockshox’s mid-range + fork at the time, I believe. But it seems bike prices have soared mightily since then. 9 years ago, I got a entry- to mid-level fully with a fully XT groupset (minus cranks), a mid-range fork and a decent damper (RP23). Of course, the wheels weigh more than a boat anchor, but have been rock solid.

I agree with you on smaller brands. It is less that the big brands produce bad bikes, but that they often tend to produce boring, safe bikes and are late adopters to trends. In this case, I’m interested in something they call down country/XC+/etc. bikes, beefed up XC bikes with a more progressive geometry. But I don’t know whether this is on offer in my price range and available for hard tails. When I got my current mountain bike, I also tried the (more expensive) 130 mm brother that was aimed more at trail riding. I found that it was too soft and wallow-y for my taste and opted for the cheaper 😱 110 mm fully. So I thought a down country bike might be the right mix for me. (For the record, I rode a top-of-the-line Pivot trail bike from a few years ago, not that I could afford such a thing, but I loved that bike. It was better than mine in every single way and felt great — it was just missing a gear, it was geared for a pro with an 11-speed XX1 drivetrain who is used to altitude. ;) )

As far as MTB groupsets go, now that Shimano offers 12-speed groupsets, I’m fine with either. And I would like 12 speeds. I also like my XT brakes, although I’m ok with brakes from other manufacturers. I don’t think I’m fussy about the feel and all. I’m just fussy about good brakes (I had the shop upgrade M3xx-series brakes to XT when I bought my bike and had them put XTR Ice Tech rotors on since the XT rotors were out of stock). Since the naming hasn’t changed and even when I bought my last bike, e. g. SLX brakes were XT brakes where Shimano “forgot” to machine an adjustment screw and put on a different finish (which, to be honest, I preferred at the time).

I agree with choice of material. Carbon is cool and all, but I have had aluminum frames since, well, I had a cro-moly steel frame. I never had a problem. I’d rather have better components at this point. I know carbon frames are plenty tough, but this bike will have to stay outdoors (unfortunately) and deal with my neighbors and their parking practices.
 

mrkamot

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Dec 28, 2010
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Wish I had your problem :)

Canyon does online selling and it is relatively cheaper to buy compared from your LBS; the only downside i guess is some shops would "not"/"shy away" from servicing your bike because you did not buy it from them (I heard of this before).

 

baribari

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If you want to race, a Specialized Chisel Comp, if you can find one. Last time I checked L-sized frames were sold out.... I think I might have got the last L-sized Chisel in Japan at the time, lol.

If you care more about trail enjoyment, maybe a Fuse instead. It's a hardtail trail bike with a dropper post.
 

OreoCookie

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Dec 2, 2017
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Wish I had your problem :)

Canyon does online selling and it is relatively cheaper to buy compared from your LBS; the only downside i guess is some shops would "not"/"shy away" from servicing your bike because you did not buy it from them (I heard of this before).

I'm not so keen on getting an online brand, I'd prefer to support my LBS. I think I can service anything on a mountain bike but fork and damper. I also don't have a bearing press, so that'd be something the bike shop has to do, too.
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
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@bloaker
...
Fork-wise, what is a good value?
...

... down country/XC+/etc.
...
Forks - 34 & 35mm stanchions on forks have changed the game. You have no idea how much a 32 flexes until you ride one that doesn't. It isn't even close.
So when considering forks - if you weigh more than 60kg, this is a real thing to consider. To me, the "Pike" is the standard all forks are more or less compared with. It isn't the best or worst, but it is solid and proven. You can find people trashing them all day online, but name one thing people don't trash online?

I have had great success with RockShox (Pike & Lyrik), Fox (36), and DVO (Diamond). One of my riding buddies has a Fox 34 on one bike and an MRP Ribbon on another. They are also very solid. I have a fox 32 on my SS - and even tho it is only 100mm of travel, you can see it flexing under braking and feel it flexing in hard corners. I would just search sites with forks, filter by stanchion size and then start researching from there. I like having HSC/LSC and HSR/LSR, some people just want a set it and forget it... so it all comes down to what you want.

Down Country - I laughed when I first heard the term. It is just the more XC side of Trail bikes. A buddy just recently ordered a top end Revel Ranger with Carbon hoops and all the goodies. For this category, it doesn't get much nicer. I like the idea of the Ibis Ripley. It shines in all the XC stuff from every review I have read. The Ripley AF is a $3k bike - spec'd with Deore 12 speed. The good news, Deore 12sp by all reviews is solid! And you something you can slowly upgrade over time due to it being 100% compatible with the higher end 12sp.

If you stay on the hardtail side - there is the Chameleon I mentioned earlier. You could look at brands like Surly and either the Karate Monkey or the Krampus might fit the bill. When you get around to it, my Krampus might be up for sale. :D (xt/slx/carbon rims/Hope hubs/etc - but rigid)

The newer geo with the longer reach is fantastic. My Nordest fits me like a glove and I am running a stupid amount of squish upfront. but it works somehow.
 

OreoCookie

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Thanks so much, @bloaker. I've had a look at some of the models you've mentioned and I'll sift through the rest tonight.

I'm mostly focussing on hard tails, because it seems bike prices have increased significantly, and it doesn't seem like I can get a nice build without spending significantly more than I am able to. I'm still a bit surprised at how far prices have surged, though. When I bought my current bike, there's no way you'd spend $3k or equivalent and get Deore — not even SLX!

Regarding the term down country, well, perhaps it is just a marketing name, but I think the idea is quite old. Even the Pivot I rode in Chile could be considered more of a down country bike — it “only” had 130 mm or travel and felt very quick. Perhaps the window of what is considered a trail bike has been shifting, I have noticed a trend towards 150 mm and perhaps even more are the new normal for trail bikes and 130 mm is getting rarer and rarer.

I also need to keep availability in mind. BMC also makes an interesting hard tail, but it is only imported into Japan up to size M. Ugh, bummer.
 

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
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In the recent past bit based on rear travel....

Up to 120ish was XC as long as it had steep angles
120ish-140ish falls into the Trail category.
150+ and slack was the Enduro category.

Now XC is becoming more the "race" category and things like the Niner RKT fall into that with 100mm up front and 80mm in the rear.
The "left over XC" bike has become a new category called Down Country.

I find the marketing annoying. Its a bike. Some are better at going fast, some are better at having fun. All the categories are just making people think the 10mm different between bike A & B are bigger than they are because one of "XC" and the other is "Down Country" - YOU NEED TO BUY ONE OF EACH!

I guess "Not a race bike but still pedals efficiently" is too long of a name for a category?
 

OreoCookie

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In the recent past bit based on rear travel. [...]

I find the marketing annoying. Its a bike. Some are better at going fast, some are better at having fun.
You pretty much nailed it. Like you I also noticed a new breed of race-oriented XC bikes like Trek's Supercaliber, where you engineer flex into the chain stays so that you don't need another pivot point. It sounds a bit like that compromises performance a bit, but for pros like Yolanda Neff who have top-notch bike handling skills that trade-off seems to be worthwhile. For me not so much ;)

But no matter what you call the class of bikes, I think we can argue that they are there.
All the categories are just making people think the 10mm different between bike A & B are bigger than they are because one of "XC" and the other is "Down Country" - YOU NEED TO BUY ONE OF EACH!
Don't say this, not even when joking. If N > 2, I am toast 😅🤣
I guess "Not a race bike but still pedals efficiently" is too long of a name for a category?
That's exactly what I want.
 

OreoCookie

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I have another question: what should I do with the old bike and/or bike parts?

To be honest, I am not looking into making any money. The components are good (full XT groupset save for the SLX crank) and many components are still in good working order (especially the brakes sans rotors). Perhaps someone would be interested in some of the parts and/or the frame. Do you think it is worth looking for a new home?
 

OreoCookie

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what is the MTB frame? You are my size. And I just got rid of a bike and I have a spare hook.
It is a Cube AMS Pro 110 from 2012 with upgraded brakes (XT instead of M3xx-series). I can pm you the specs, and I‘ll let you know which parts are still good (I think) and which aren‘t. Overall it has been a good, dependable partner.

Here it is in full dad mode:

9C7D1F11-047B-489F-8713-2D9CAFCE29CC.jpeg
 

SJ1

SJ1
Aug 23, 2009
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I recently bought a new HT (Merida big nine Ltd). I planned to sell my old Santa Cruz Chameleon which has a new group installed a few years back. In the end kept it for dad duties and commuting... space is now a bit of an issue. I didn’t anticipate how large a modern 29er HT is!!
 

kiwisimon

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that should not be too hard to sell as a complete bike I'd imagine.
Try Yahoo Auctions? Exotic German brand could appeal to the right people.
I'll pass this time.
 

OreoCookie

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I recently bought a new HT (Merida big nine Ltd). I planned to sell my old Santa Cruz Chameleon which has a new group installed a few years back. In the end kept it for dad duties and commuting... space is now a bit of an issue. I didn’t anticipate how large a modern 29er HT is!!
Are you selling your bike? If so, what are the specs?
 

OreoCookie

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that should not be too hard to sell as a complete bike I'd imagine.
Try Yahoo Auctions? Exotic German brand could appeal to the right people.
I'll pass this time.
I reckon I could, although I‘d probably feel bad because like I said so many wear items need replacing. I know for a fact you could build a nice bike and some of the parts are in good nick. The FD trigger works flawlessly, the crank is in good working order, etc.
 
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