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Thread: New Guy With Lots Of Questions

  1. #1
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    New Guy With Lots Of Questions

    Please let me know if this is the wrong place to post this but, here goes:

    My background - grew up racing BMX, have been racing triathlon/road for the past 8 years. I would consider myself a fairly good bike handler. I'd like to eventually do some racing. I do not have a bike yet, but am currently looking for used in the $1,500 range. What are you guys' opinions on these?

    Fitting - similar to road and tri bikes? I figure I'm in the Large category (5'11"/180lbs)

    Wheels - 26 or 29?

    Buying - what are some of the key things I need to pay attention to when looking at a used bike? What are some preferred brands/components?

    Pedals/Shoes - I've been using Speedplay exclusively. What do you use? What are the most common ones used?

    I'm sure there's more, but that's a start. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing what you guys think.

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    hey Racedad, welcome! I'm not an expert MB'er by any means, but I just went through almost the exact purchase process you're describing.. Part time roadie for the last 8 yrs.. Wanted to save $$ on something used. Same wheel size and fit questions..

    Here's what I learned.. Surge in popularity of 29'ers may have created a softer market for used 26. I picked up a used Trek Fuel EX8 for $1100 that was in near new condition. Which was a lot of bike for me. it basically boiled down to a used FS 26, or a used Hardtail 29'er. No regrets whatsoever on going to FS route. I'm getting older, and plush is more value to me than weight / efficiency / tighter handling. And $1500 puts you in a range to look at a lot of good MTB's

    I can't comment on componetry (not that familiar with MTB), but I will say that I am still using my shimano spd pedals that I bought in 1997. Not a ton of miles over the last 13 yr, but they seem pretty bulletproof (and popular on the trails).

    As far as fit, I'm 5 10 1/2, ride a 54CM road and tri bike but seem to fit best on a M mtb frame. (of course that varies depending on body style and bike mfg).

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    Thanks a lot CCzarnik, lots of parallels there for sure. I too am "older" and FS will be the route I will be taking also. Thanks for your input.
    - Allen

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    Biker's Choice, in Hendersonville, has a couple of demo bikes. At least one is a full-suspension 29-er. As you can see (above), I fit the older category. I'm a FS proponent, for comfort and traction. I believe FS made me a better and faster rider. Weight has not been a concern, even when I raced. The cost to "lighten up" wasn't worth it. With riding in all seasons on all local terrains, big, fat, heavy tires have served well.

    Check out the "Gear" thread. Many equipment issues have been discussed at length. You can always ride your cross-bike, if you don't mind landing on your head from time to time.

    PS. Go tubeless, with a tubeless rated tire. Disk brakes. That EX8 is a nice bike. I ride a Giant Trance (Maestro rear suspension design). Minimal bob, some bearing issues (had to change almost annually, 1,200+- mi. per year). Otherwise, bullet-proof with stock componets. Fit your saddle. I lucked into the right fit.
    Last edited by homer; 07-01-2011 at 01:43 PM.

    Gary

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    Thanks a lot Homer. I'll check out that shop. I took a look at the EX8. It is quite nice for the price. I appreciate the insight on tires too. I would have never known. Time to peruse the "gear" section now.

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    You will find many opinions on this subject. Some love the 29rs, I am not a fan but there are definite advantages to bigger wheels. Harpeth has some demo 29rs adn 26in bikes as well. If the bike companies would just settle on 650b, we could stop these debates! Welcome aboard.

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    Thanks Uzzi, I've got some shopping to do.

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    I have both a hardtail 26er and a FS 29er. The 29er is my ride of choice. I am 5'9 and 240`lbs and I like the way the 29er rolls. Obstacles are just bumps now.

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    Thanks for the input.
    I'd like to re-live some of my old BMX days and take some sweet jumps. Does a FS affect one's ability to do that?

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    My advice, ride as many bikes as you can before you commit and buy. Every bike will ride differently, and you'll quickly learn a lot about what you like and don't like and what size you need. Buying from a local shop will give you more long term support and better chances of getting a bike that fits you, which is everything. Fit is key, not a "deal". Spend a little more if you have to, to get a bike that fits you better. A poorly fit bike will suck to ride no matter how awesome it is.

    Get the best frame that you can afford. The parts can easily be changed and upgraded later on.

    I've ridden a 26" hardtail, 26" full suspension, 26" singlespeed, 29" singlespeed, 29" hardtail rigid and with a front fork. Right now I ride 2 bikes, a custom 29er Ti singlespeed and a Surly Crosscheck cross bike for on the road and gravel. I enjoyed 26" and 29" and I mainly stepped up to 29" because I was going custom and could order the exact geometry I wanted and I wanted to try something new after three 26" bikes in a row. All the bike were fun in their own way. My current mtb bike fits me perfect and i think that is more important than the wheel size.

    If you do go the used route, make sure to check the drivetrain wear. It's expensive to replace and you'd want to have at least some life left in them. Look at the cassette, chain, chainrings. For a full suspension check out the pivots and make sure they are not loose. Make sure the wheels spin well and the hubs aren't gritty. Ride the bike as much as you can before you buy, preferably near a trail of some sort. Testing a mtn bike in a parking lot doesn't always give you that much info.

    Good luck
    Greg Lawrence
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    Quote Originally Posted by racedad View Post
    Thanks for the input.
    I'd like to re-live some of my old BMX days and take some sweet jumps. Does a FS affect one's ability to do that?
    If you're wanting to jump, and do more aggressive riding, (which I completely understand because it is all kinds of fun), try not to get too caught up in the weight of your bike. Get a quality full suspension frame that is built to take that kind of abuse. Same thing goes for wheels fork, etc. Otherwise you'll end up riding like Uzzi.

    I currently have Santa Cruz Blur LT that I LOVE. It has 5.5" of travel, which I think is just about perfect for most riding in the southeast, (unless you get really into a specific kind of racing where you might prefer a light hardtail or a downhill bike or something like that.) Unfortunately, I don't think you'll find a SC Blur LT at the price point you're looking for, but there are lots of other bikes out there that are great and less expensive.

    I also have a Santa Cruz Chameleon, which is kind of a do-all hardtail. It is meant to take some serious abuse, but also is great for cross country riding. I also love that bike and run it as a single speed. So, there are lots of options out there; you'll just have to find what you like. Note that not a lot of people who like to jump ride 29ers.

    Hope that helps some, and, again, I think a 'trail' bike with somewhere around 5.5" of travel is a great starting point. Mountain biking is pretty different from the road, but I think you'll love it! Have fun. If you want to chat about this stuff, feel free to PM me and I'll talk your ear off about it.

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    I have been riding mtb for 28 yrs. Started out on rigid steel frame, finally graduated to a Santa Cruz Blur 26'er (FS). this bike handles fast, and rides like a race bike, not plush at all. I like it's efficiency in climbing, and how fast it handles on the trail. I equipped it with light custom built wheels that made a huge difference in the climbing and acceleration end. I am old and appreciate the FS, so thought I might like a little smoother ride with the 29'er. So tried out several hard tails but they were too rough for my old tired legs and butt. So I tried a Gary Fisher Superfly 100 FS 29er. This was the best riding bike I ever tried. But I wanted a frame to build up, and GF did not offer. So I bought a Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er (FS) frame from Mark Dement at MOAB in Murf. Great shop and shop owner. I highly recommend. Anyway, Mark build me some light wheels (I am 160 lbs), and I could not be happier with my bike. It rides like a 29er Blur: takes the edge off the bumps, but still pedals efficiently. It rolls smoother like all 29ers, but with its 71 degree head angle, still handles fast like my old Blur.

    What convinced me to go 29 vs. my old 26 was a Trek test ride. I had been riding (the Blur) for about an hour. Then came in and got on the Superfly 100. Over a section of trail that I ride several times per week, (rooty section); the Superfly just rolled easier over the roots. In my estimate, it rolled with about 10-15% less energy input than the 26er.

    I have ridden many other FS bikes and find my Blur the one I like best. It has a rigid frame rear triangle, with dual links. Santa Cruz calls the Variable Pivot Point. A variation of this same idea is the DW link, offered by several other mfrs. The benefit is an extremely stable rear triangle, and a natural "platform" that does not or very minimally bobs on pedaling. Many of your mfrs rely on the shock induced platform setting. I pedal my Santa Cruz's without any platform dialed in.

    BTW, I recommend Fox Forks if you can afford. I have a Fox RP23 rear shock on the Blur, and I have a Rockshox Monarch rear shock on the Tallboy. I got the Monarch as it was reported to have a firmer ride than the Fox on the Tallboy.

    I recommend and like SPD cleats. Will not break at Hammy like some others. Can be a little trouble in the snow and ice when add some dirt.

    One thing on used bikes. You cannot tell how much wear a fork has had without disassembling. which is not practical. So the less miles the better on that component. Most everything else is easier to assess the functionality of if buying used. I would buy used mainly if I was used to working on my own stuff, and had some idea of how to size up the condition. Otherwise, you might make arrangements with a shop to check the bike out for a fee.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TryFour View Post
    If you're wanting to jump, and do more aggressive riding, (which I completely understand because it is all kinds of fun), try not to get too caught up in the weight of your bike. Get a quality full suspension frame that is built to take that kind of abuse. Same thing goes for wheels fork, etc. Otherwise you'll end up riding like Uzzi.

    I currently have Santa Cruz Blur LT that I LOVE. It has 5.5" of travel, which I think is just about perfect for most riding in the southeast, (unless you get really into a specific kind of racing where you might prefer a light hardtail or a downhill bike or something like that.) Unfortunately, I don't think you'll find a SC Blur LT at the price point you're looking for, but there are lots of other bikes out there that are great and less expensive.

    I also have a Santa Cruz Chameleon, which is kind of a do-all hardtail. It is meant to take some serious abuse, but also is great for cross country riding. I also love that bike and run it as a single speed. So, there are lots of options out there; you'll just have to find what you like. Note that not a lot of people who like to jump ride 29ers.

    Hope that helps some, and, again, I think a 'trail' bike with somewhere around 5.5" of travel is a great starting point. Mountain biking is pretty different from the road, but I think you'll love it! Have fun. If you want to chat about this stuff, feel free to PM me and I'll talk your ear off about it.
    Thanks for the great info. I may just take you up on your offer. I'm sure that I'll be loving it once I can settle on a bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kindacreeky View Post
    I have been riding mtb for 28 yrs. Started out on rigid steel frame, finally graduated to a Santa Cruz Blur 26'er (FS). this bike handles fast, and rides like a race bike, not plush at all. I like it's efficiency in climbing, and how fast it handles on the trail. I equipped it with light custom built wheels that made a huge difference in the climbing and acceleration end. I am old and appreciate the FS, so thought I might like a little smoother ride with the 29'er. So tried out several hard tails but they were too rough for my old tired legs and butt. So I tried a Gary Fisher Superfly 100 FS 29er. This was the best riding bike I ever tried. But I wanted a frame to build up, and GF did not offer. So I bought a Santa Cruz Tallboy 29er (FS) frame from Mark Dement at MOAB in Murf. Great shop and shop owner. I highly recommend. Anyway, Mark build me some light wheels (I am 160 lbs), and I could not be happier with my bike. It rides like a 29er Blur: takes the edge off the bumps, but still pedals efficiently. It rolls smoother like all 29ers, but with its 71 degree head angle, still handles fast like my old Blur.

    What convinced me to go 29 vs. my old 26 was a Trek test ride. I had been riding (the Blur) for about an hour. Then came in and got on the Superfly 100. Over a section of trail that I ride several times per week, (rooty section); the Superfly just rolled easier over the roots. In my estimate, it rolled with about 10-15% less energy input than the 26er.

    I have ridden many other FS bikes and find my Blur the one I like best. It has a rigid frame rear triangle, with dual links. Santa Cruz calls the Variable Pivot Point. A variation of this same idea is the DW link, offered by several other mfrs. The benefit is an extremely stable rear triangle, and a natural "platform" that does not or very minimally bobs on pedaling. Many of your mfrs rely on the shock induced platform setting. I pedal my Santa Cruz's without any platform dialed in.

    BTW, I recommend Fox Forks if you can afford. I have a Fox RP23 rear shock on the Blur, and I have a Rockshox Monarch rear shock on the Tallboy. I got the Monarch as it was reported to have a firmer ride than the Fox on the Tallboy.

    I recommend and like SPD cleats. Will not break at Hammy like some others. Can be a little trouble in the snow and ice when add some dirt.

    One thing on used bikes. You cannot tell how much wear a fork has had without disassembling. which is not practical. So the less miles the better on that component. Most everything else is easier to assess the functionality of if buying used. I would buy used mainly if I was used to working on my own stuff, and had some idea of how to size up the condition. Otherwise, you might make arrangements with a shop to check the bike out for a fee.
    Lots of valuable stuff, thank you. I'm glad I can come back and reference it once I get going. I'll keep everyone posted on my progress, and will probably looking for someone to ride with eventually.

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    What say you guys about this bike?

    http://nashville.craigslist.org/bik/2444796276.html

    Thanks!

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    I think that's more of a downhill / freeride type bike, best for big hits, high speed descent with airtime, etc. You're trading weight / climb ability / lower center of gravity for toughness and huge amounts of travel. In my limited experience, I don't see that type of bike often on the trails around here. If your mission is more cross-country style single track, riding the trail loops around here, etc. It's probably more than you need. Hope this helps.

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  21. #17
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    Very helpful info, thanks.
    I think I'll bring the family down to the fat tire fest and see if I can check out some different rides there. Hope to meet some of you.

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  23. #18
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    That is a 180mm, or 7" travel bike. Generally that length of travel is used for 'freeride' or short travel downhill, so gravity fed riding with lots of BIG bumps and jumps. What you're looking for will likely be between 120 and 150mm's, or about 5-6" of travel. That much travel will give you a comfy ride, and, especially towards the 6" end, will give you plenty of cushion for jumping and riding more steep and technical terrain. Keep in mind, this is all just my very humble opinion.

    Just remember that if you're going to leave the ground, you're likely going to come back down hard every once in a while. (And if you're me, it's most of the time). So, again, I would advise looking for a frame and components that are light enough, (under 30lbs), that you enjoy riding it up the hill, but are strong enough to be fun coming back down the hill.

    Haha, or just get a 'cross bike! I read that some pro just did the first recorded backflip on one!

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    Very good to know. I'm learning more all the time on here. Thanks
    I've been doing some online shopping around and have gathered a few links to other bikes that I'd like to get some opinions on. Based on you guys' advice I may or may not pursue some of these. Let me know what you think:

    >
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...06-cannondale-
    rush-2c-carbon-lefty-2c-xtr-2c-large&cat=3
    >
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...tus-switchblad
    e-w-fox-suspension&cat=3
    >
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...ek-fuel-ex9&ca
    t=3
    >
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...nta-crux-blur-
    4x-mountain-bike-2007-w-2f-pike-454-many-new-parts&cat=3
    >
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...ecialized-epic
    -light-custom-build-23lb&cat=3
    >
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...rge-yeti-575&c
    at=3

    http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...nnondale-rize-
    2008-frame-large-custom-build&cat=3

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    You can take the EX9 off your list... it's been sold.

    I kinda like the Blur... well at least the hype... "Climbs like a goat and descends like water flowing down a mountain side" lol
    Mike

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    Again, just my opinions on this stuff! See my responses in bold italics

    Quote Originally Posted by racedad View Post
    Very good to know. I'm learning more all the time on here. Thanks
    I've been doing some online shopping around and have gathered a few links to other bikes that I'd like to get some opinions on. Based on you guys' advice I may or may not pursue some of these. Let me know what you think:

    >
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...06-cannondale-
    rush-2c-carbon-lefty-2c-xtr-2c-large&cat=3
    >
    110mm is going to fall into the xc or cross country category. I don't know much about Cannondale, but I wouldn't want this for a fun, all around bike, and I definitely wouldn't want to jump it.
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...tus-switchblad
    e-w-fox-suspension&cat=3
    >
    I've actually heard good things about this bike, and I've owned, and really liked a Titus before...BUT it is pretty old, and Titus hasn't made this frame in many years.
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...ek-fuel-ex9&ca
    t=3
    >
    Sold
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...nta-crux-blur-
    4x-mountain-bike-2007-w-2f-pike-454-many-new-parts&cat=3
    >
    VERY cool bike that I lusted after for a number of years. Santa Cruz hasn't made it in the last few, and it was designed to be a short travel gravity bike, not so much for trail riding, although many people used it for just that. Good for jumping, and great suspension design.
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...ecialized-epic
    -light-custom-build-23lb&cat=3
    >
    Not totally sure on this bike, but it looks like an xc race bike. Very light and likely pretty fragile. It probably climbs well though.
    > http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...rge-yeti-575&c
    at=3
    I am a very big fan of the newest version of this bike after having just ridden one in Moab, UT. It's older, but if the guy is being honest about the usage, it could be a good one. This is a longer travel bike, but the new version climbs VERY well. This is also a bike that is meant to take abuse and love it.

    http://classifieds.mtbr.com/showprod...nnondale-rize-
    2008-frame-large-custom-build&cat=3
    Just generally not sure about this bike, but it seems like a viable option, (potentially). Definitely on the shorter travel end of the scale.

    Hope that helps!

    PS - I'm an idiot, it all shows up in italics!

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  28. #22
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    Thanks very much TryFour for giving me your thoughts on these. I've been eyeing that Santa Cruz as well - at least it looks cool. The hunt continues...

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    Ok, found another one. First, what do you guys think about this: http://nashville.craigslist.org/bik/2488883258.html

    Secondly, and kind of related - How much of a drop/jump would a bike like this be able to tolerate? I would like for the bike that I end up getting to withstand at least 3 feet without any problems. Thanks again!

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    The 08's were the first year of the new ABP frame design [good] but had weak rear triangles. so good news that it's been replaced. In terms of jumping / drops, I think it is as much technique as terrain. You could prob break a bike if you screw a smaller jump up bad enough.. In the right hands this bike (or many) can hold up on bigger air.

    If you're looking for Windrock riding, this prob isn't the bike. But a good option for 90% of the trail around here.

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  32. #25
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    Thanks again. I'll take it for a spin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by racedad View Post
    Ok, found another one. First, what do you guys think about this: http://nashville.craigslist.org/bik/2488883258.html

    Secondly, and kind of related - How much of a drop/jump would a bike like this be able to tolerate? I would like for the bike that I end up getting to withstand at least 3 feet without any problems. Thanks again!
    I"ve got the same exact bike.
    I got lucky & got one with the newer triangle weld.
    I've pounded the crap out of it with no problems.
    Mike

    www.rideforreading.org


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    08' Trek 1.2 Road Bike
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  35. #27
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    Thanks Mike. Looks like this might be the one. Wish me luck.

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  37. #28
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    Sent you a PM Racedad, I might have just what you're looking for.
    Bryan

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    Quote Originally Posted by racedad View Post
    Ok, found another one. First, what do you guys think about this: http://nashville.craigslist.org/bik/2488883258.html

    Secondly, and kind of related - How much of a drop/jump would a bike like this be able to tolerate? I would like for the bike that I end up getting to withstand at least 3 feet without any problems. Thanks again!
    I largely agree with CCzarnik on how much abuse a bike can take. It is really going to depend on the rider. That being said, since you are new at this, I would recommend more than 120mm of travel, (and the frame that comes with it), for doing 3 foot drops, especially to flat landings that you're going to find around here. I would want to be more in the 5.5-6" range.

    You've got to think of it in these terms; in general the more travel a bike has, the stronger the frame will be. Now, this isn't always the case, since you'll find very strong hardtails for dirt jumping, and very lightweight 5" bikes built specifically for racing, but that general rule stands overall.

    That Ex8 would likely be a good bike, I had an older Ex7 for a short while, and liked it pretty well. I would definitely want to know why he had to put a new rear triangle on it though. Might just be from regular use, (since that was a weak part), but if he is a more aggressive rider, I'd want to have everything checked out more closely.

    Either way, you're shopping for a good deal, so even if you don't like whatever bike you get, you'll always be able to resell it and get something else. But you're obviously on the right track!

    As always, just my opinions, and good luck!

  39. The following user says "Thank You" to TryFour for this useful post:


  40. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by TryFour View Post
    I largely agree with CCzarnik on how much abuse a bike can take. It is really going to depend on the rider. That being said, since you are new at this, I would recommend more than 120mm of travel, (and the frame that comes with it), for doing 3 foot drops, especially to flat landings that you're going to find around here. I would want to be more in the 5.5-6" range.

    You've got to think of it in these terms; in general the more travel a bike has, the stronger the frame will be. Now, this isn't always the case, since you'll find very strong hardtails for dirt jumping, and very lightweight 5" bikes built specifically for racing, but that general rule stands overall.

    That Ex8 would likely be a good bike, I had an older Ex7 for a short while, and liked it pretty well. I would definitely want to know why he had to put a new rear triangle on it though. Might just be from regular use, (since that was a weak part), but if he is a more aggressive rider, I'd want to have everything checked out more closely.

    Either way, you're shopping for a good deal, so even if you don't like whatever bike you get, you'll always be able to resell it and get something else. But you're obviously on the right track!

    As always, just my opinions, and good luck!
    Thanks a lot for your input. I did get the EX8. I've been out on it twice now. We did the Chickasaw loop this morning, and it's done well so far. There's a couple of real hairy spots out there. I just need to get the fit dialed in. The guy I bought it from did seem to be a bit aggressive (he's saving up for a DH) and outweighed me by 30lbs.. But I feel it was a good deal and a good fit for what I'm looking to do.
    Thanks again!

  41. #31
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    Good stuff man, I'm glad you got a bike! Have fun, and you should come out to Sugar Valley some time and try it out on some small jumps and drops!

    Tryon

  42. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by TryFour View Post
    Good stuff man, I'm glad you got a bike! Have fun, and you should come out to Sugar Valley some time and try it out on some small jumps and drops!

    Tryon
    Thanks! And I just discovered that Sugar Valley is 10 minutes from home! I'll definitely be out there...sounds like my kind of place.

  43. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by racedad View Post
    Thanks! And I just discovered that Sugar Valley is 10 minutes from home! I'll definitely be out there...sounds like my kind of place.
    Shoot me a PM when you're headed out there, I'll join ya. It's nice to be be shown around too on your first time our; it can be a little confusing, but is definitely fun!

  44. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by TryFour View Post
    Shoot me a PM when you're headed out there, I'll join ya. It's nice to be be shown around too on your first time our; it can be a little confusing, but is definitely fun!
    Hey, thanks. I'll try to plan on tomorrow evening. I'll let you know for sure though.

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