New Bike Purchasing Advice Needed!



JMasterJ

New Member
Jul 14, 2009
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Hi all! This is my first post here and hopefully this is a good place... I am just geting back into some cycling, and I've had the Gary Fisher Tassajara for the longest time, and I love it... however, I think it is time for a new one and I would really like one with dual suspension and nice solid brakes (completely sick of those rubber pads!!!)... I do shift aggressively so solid dependable shifters are also very important. I am 6'3" with fairly long legs, and I think the current bike is 26" or so... I am not familiar with some of these other types of sizing they use, but anyways, here are a list of possibilities for me, in order of price, so please let me know which you recommend for mostly road biking and occasional mountain biking.... thanks! (since when did GMC and Lambo make bikes???)

1. GMC Yukon Mountain Bike
_______ Oversized aluminum frame with gusset
_______ 21-speed Shimano gearing
_______ Downhill suspension fork
_______ 3-piece cotterless crank
_______ Vitesse aluminum rims
_______ Alloy linear pull brakes
_______ Zoom suspension front fork HL CH-386 and promax alloy v-brakes TX-117
_______ Microshift TS-50 ADII shifters index L3/R7
_______ Shimano RD-TZ30GS SIS derailleur
_______ 26" x 1.5 36H aluminum wheels with quick release

2. Mongoose Exile
_______ Dual-Suspension
_______ Alloy Front Triangle Frame
_______ 21-speed SRAM Pro & Shimano Shifting
_______ Alloy Crown Fork, Alloy Crank

3. GMC Topkick
_______ Frame: 26-inch full suspension aluminum MTB frame
_______ Fork: Zoom CH-386 suspension fork 65mm travel
_______ Shocks: Kind Shock adjustable 650 pounds
_______ Chain: KMC Z 51
_______ Crankset: Alloy ISA 335P 28x38x48 L170mm
_______ Front Derailleur: Falcon MF 31 T
_______ Rear Derailleur: Shimano RD-TZ30GS SIS 7SPD
_______ Shifters: Microshift TS-50 ADII index L3/R7
_______ Brake Levers: GP 30 AP aluminum
_______ Brakes: LCHI DSK-320 disk brake 160mm
_______ Rims: Alloy black 26-inch X1.5
_______ Tires: Kenda black with yellow band 700X25C
_______ Stem: A-head TDS63K-8 EXT:100mm 15D
_______ Handlebar: HL-MTB 153 W: 600mm R:30mm
_______ Sadle: Velo black padded
_______ Seat Post: Alloy micro adjust 27.2 X 300mm with quick-release

4. Bike USA Titan Glacier
_______ 21 speed shimano mountain bike
_______ Dual Suspension
_______ Alloy Wheels & Hubs
_______ V-Brakes
_______ Rugged All terrain Tires

5. Mongoose Pro Wing Comp
_______ Spinner Grind Fork front suspension fork with 70mm travel
_______ RST-22 Rear Coil Shock
_______ Shimano Altus rear derailleur and Shimano C050 front derailleur
_______ Shimano EF-29 rapid-fire Trigger Shifters
_______ RPM cold forged alloy crankset and Joy Tech alloy hubs

Thanks guys!
 
Jun 6, 2006
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First of all, I believe the "26 inch" here refers to the size of the wheels meaning they're standard mtb wheels. They might all be way too small.

I would not get full suspension for the road.

If you try to bike up a hill you'll just bob away your energy. "Real" FS bikes have suspension lockout.

Suspension absorbs some forward energy when going over slightly rough ground like broken pavement.

In general those low end bikes would be heavy and failure prone with FS. For what you spend on them, you might get a really decent used road bike, or maybe a MTB without full suspension, which had better components.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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Okay, to begin with, you can eliminate the GMC bikes from your selection because they are only marginally better (if at all) than the bikes you would get from WalMart or Target (not that there is necessarily anything wrong with bikes from WalMart or Targe AS LONG AS you know their limitations and are handy enough to adjust them so that they are-and-remain at the spec level that the "engineers" intended because the assembly the stores provide is simply that ... of course, that seems to be the way SOME bike shops put the bikes together that they sell, too).

What kind of terrain do you ride on? The terrain will dictate the type of suspension your riding experience can benefit from.

In my mind, disc brakes are high maintenance compared with V-brakes (but, others may disagree) ... so, unless you're planning on riding in wet conditions, they may be an unnecessary weight burden.

If you're inclined to buying a new bike, at your size, I would recommend that give serious consideration to a 29er ... otherwise, I would suggest that you update/upgrade the components on your current bike.
 

Scotty_Dog

Member
Jul 30, 2004
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I can tell from your descriptions that you are thinking about buying a relatively inexpensive bike off Amazon.com. Please don't do it! Is there anything wrong with the Gary Fisher Tassajara that you might be able to fix, or are you simply itching for a newer bike? The Tassajara is a much better bike than any of the ones you have listed. Tell us more.
 

JMasterJ

New Member
Jul 14, 2009
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Thanks guys! I will tell you the whole story... yes I have been holding out on you, haha....

This list of bikes, well, its worse than just getting it at walmart or wherever... they are on my list of Citibank rewards, and I can get them for free... cant beat free right? The better bikes, like Smith & Wesson Tactical Police Mountain Bike (thats gotta be a good bike right???) I wont be able to get for another 3 years while spending like crazy on my card....

I know i know, this is a horrible thing to do... and that is why I got the Tassajara back when because it was the cheapest "good" bike I could buy at like $380. It has served me magnificently, even through some rough off road riding.

The thing is, I get sick of replacing the rubber brakes, and I dont know anything about the disc brakes, and no I dont ride in wet weather often, if at all, but I guess I just had an irrational preference for the metal brakes.

And my rear wheel is wobblnig now and I may just have to get a whole new rim and tire set instead of messing with the spokes... I am not sure how this even happened since it was running almost perfectly a few months ago.

My grip shifters are also getting a bit off, and I may need new cables for that, they are not crisp on all gears anymore, and that annoy sme a lot... I like to shift quick and often.

I also need new grips, they are getting nasty.

And finally, I know getting dual-s will rob me of some energy transfer espeically when I just do mostly road biking now... but I would still like front suspensions just to offset some harshness on the roads I ride around my neighborhood... granted I get a better workout letting my legs absorb the shocks, but u know... can I get some decent priced and good quality front-s for my model?

So I figured instead of putting in another $200-$300, I would just try to get a whole new bike... Maybe I should post some of the better bikes on my rewards site, where I may just have to co-pay the difference that I lack in points.... some of the "more expensive" bikes there besides the Smith-Wess are

Ironhorse Sachem, Warrior DS/5.0
Mongoose Pro Teocali

But I guess these are no good as well correct? The dont have anything like cannondales, Treks, Specialized, etc....
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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JMasterJ said:
So I figured instead of putting in another $200-$300, I would just try to get a whole new bike... Maybe I should post some of the better bikes on my rewards site, where I may just have to co-pay the difference that I lack in points.... some of the "more expensive" bikes there besides the Smith-Wess are

Ironhorse Sachem, Warrior DS/5.0
Mongoose Pro Teocali

But I guess these are no good as well correct? The dont have anything like cannondales, Treks, Specialized, etc....
I think these last two bikes you mentioned are not suitable for the type of riding you are planning to do since they are classified as DH (Downhill) bikes ... essentially, that means that they are more robust than they need to be and consequently weigh much more than you probably would want your next bike to be even if it is one with a full suspension.

Both MONGOOSE & IRONHORSE do make some good bikes ...

Regardless, I'm not sure if you can realistically expect much from any full suspension bike whose suggested retail price is under $1000. Often, I think the front fork may be marginal ...

That's not to say that a less expensive full suspension bike won't be fill-the-bill for the way many people will ultimately use them.

At your height, I would be looking at a 29er ... a RALEIGH XXIX has a retail price range from about $600 to $1000+ depending on whether it is a Single Speed or Geared.

I would get the Single Speed version of the Raleigh, an extra rear dropout with a derailleur hanger, and then add the shifters/etc. that 'I' wanted to make it a geared bike.

The REALLY fat tires would replace the need for any suspension in most situations ...

Since 29er use 700c wheels, you could put narrower tires & tubes on the bike when the situation warranted.

Some/Many of the parts on a 26" hardtail could actually be moved onto the Raleigh XXIX.

The S&W would probably be a good bike for commuting for a smaller person, but you could probably replace the worn parts & have the rear wheel "fixed" on your bike for under $100 ... just a few parts + a little maintenance will probably bring your GARY FISHER back up to spec as long as you do most of the labor (let a bike shop assess & "fix" your rear wheel).

So, you may want to look through the Citibank catalog for something else to redeem your "reward" dollars on.
 

JMasterJ

New Member
Jul 14, 2009
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Thanks I agree with a lot of that.... I just cant afford to spend over $300 or more on any "real" suspension bike now so I will forgo that, and save my rewards points for something else.... I suspected that. But a couple more things then to upgrade my Tassahara instead:

- Is there any way of getting larger wheels without changing the frame? I guess I'm not asking for a defiance of physics, but just in case there was some trick or something...
- Can I install disc brakes or is it really not worth it and i should just get a new quality pair or cable brakes or replace the cable?
- If I cant get larger front wheels, I may still consider getting front suspension... is it possible to get one for my bike? If so can you recommend the best 2-3 I should get so I can either look on ebay or somewhere and get one used, unless you think thats a bad idea?

Thanks!
 
Jun 6, 2006
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A mountain frame will take 700c wheels but only with skinny road tires.

Don't get a suspension fork. The price just isn't worth it.

If you have some fat tires on there now, try running them at 25-35 psi. If it says "65psi" on the sidewall, that's the max but that's not what you necessarily ought to use. There is a tire called the Schwalbe Big Apple which is designed to save as much rolling resistance as possible during such running. Or, you could get some cheap blackwall 2.125 cruiser tires at walmart. Just make sure your frame's wide enough to accept the size you buy. And watch for the bigger, sharp bumps because if you bottom the tire out on the rim hard enough, the beads will leave the rim, come together in the middle, and puncture your tube.

Such tires will take away most of the roughness. They will also return some of the force you need to roll over small obstacles whereas a suspension would just dampen much of it away. A solid bike should roll a bit easier over moderately rough ground than a suspension bike even if you're coasting and not pedaling.

The frame and fork have to be built with discs in mind.

There may be something wrong with the brake pads you buy. Mine just don't wear out that fast at all. Do you get a lot of oil on them or ride in gritty puddles in the rain?
 

JMasterJ

New Member
Jul 14, 2009
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Ya, I think that is why I never got a sus fork before... to bad.

See this is my dilemma... yes it makes sense to keep the tires a bit softer... but when I ride around the roads, I like speed too... I know what we cant have everything, but basically I want speed, and tires that are capable of good mountain traction when I do go offroad like once a year or so.

I am actually not unhappy about my brake pads, it is more like the brakes and the lever/cable system... I feel like I have to squeeze the brakes far too much in distance to get to contact, and then even when I do, to brake hard I have to squeeze that much more because of the soft compression of the rubber. It would be nice to just have a nice crisp disk brake, but I understand this may not be worth it either, so maybe I'll just get some new cables and stick with what I have?

I guess getting things the way I want is real tough when you dont want to spend much isnt it......
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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JMasterJ said:
Ya, I think that is why I never got a sus fork before... to bad.

See this is my dilemma... yes it makes sense to keep the tires a bit softer... but when I ride around the roads, I like speed too... I know what we cant have everything, but basically I want speed, and tires that are capable of good mountain traction when I do go offroad like once a year or so.

I am actually not unhappy about my brake pads, it is more like the brakes and the lever/cable system... I feel like I have to squeeze the brakes far too much in distance to get to contact, and then even when I do, to brake hard I have to squeeze that much more because of the soft compression of the rubber. It would be nice to just have a nice crisp disk brake, but I understand this may not be worth it either, so maybe I'll just get some new cables and stick with what I have?

I guess getting things the way I want is real tough when you dont want to spend much isnt it......
You may need a second bike -- a ROAD bike!

As far as your brakes are concerned, your description suggests that the pads are set too far away from the rims when they are not being engaged ...

I know some people whose brakes are set less than a popsicle stick width away from the rim ... they say that they like to "pulse" their brake levers.

My brakes are set so that the levers are about halfway to the bars when the pads are locked on the rims.

You probably just need to take some slack out of your brake cables. You can do this by either loosening the anchor bolt that is on the brake caliper and then pull the cable taut OR by using the cable adjuster that is on the brake lever (where the brake cable exists the lever).

BTW. Changing the wheels to 700c can be done, but then there is the cost of the wheels/tires/tubes + a pair of ROAD brake calipers ... you'll probably want a different crankset, too! The largest tire size that will fit in a MTB frame is actually closer to 700x42.

If you want to go faster with your Gary Fisher, you can probably get by with simply changing the outer chainring from what I presume is a 42t (the most common size for the outer ring on a MTB crank) to anything larger (48t is the largest commonly available for a 4-arm, 104BCD crank).
 
Jun 6, 2006
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You can take the slack out of your front brake even if the rear wheel is too wobbly. That's the brake you ought to stop with. I believe some of what you're feeling is flex in the lever and the cable stretching. Rubber brake pads are actually pretty stiff. A disc brake will have some of the same issues.

Try the pressure thing. You may not lose as much speed as you think especially if the road's rough, and the bike will handle better and get better traction in the dirt. You don't NEED the Schwalbes, they are just tires that are designed for that kind of running. Your current tires may work fine.
 

JMasterJ

New Member
Jul 14, 2009
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#1.... I just wanted to let you guys know you are far and away the best and most helpful cycling forum out there, and I am very happy here, so thank you!

Ya I dont have money right now to get a whole another bike, so I guess the first step is go to the shop, get my wheel fixed, ugh... then get the brakes tightened/adjusted, and then just live with what I have until I really need new tires... then I will look at some options for maybe some higher speed ones...

This may be another post, but while we are here, I haevnt been to a bike shop in this area in years... any suggestions on how to pick a good bike shop, like key questions, etc., or is it just like picking an auto mechanic?
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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JMasterJ said:
Ya I dont have money right now to get a whole another bike, so I guess the first step is go to the shop, get my wheel fixed, ugh... then get the brakes tightened/adjusted, and then just live with what I have until I really need new tires... then I will look at some options for maybe some higher speed ones...

This may be another post, but while we are here, I haevnt been to a bike shop in this area in years... any suggestions on how to pick a good bike shop, like key questions, etc., or is it just like picking an auto mechanic?

THAT's the $64,000 question!

As far as the work, most bike shops can do the work you will need ... but, some are more oriented to MTBs than ROAD bikes, and consequently one or the other may be better for servicing a particular type of bike -- i.e., a bike shop that caters to MTBs may have the rebuild kits for a fork in stock whereas another shop may have to order the rebuild kit.

Some other shops may cater to BMXers, etc.

Although some components may not be oriented to a particular bike type, look at the bikes the shop has in inventory & the types of components they have in their display cases to get a sense of to whom the shop primarily caters.

If a shop can't do the work you need, they'll probably/hopefully tell you!

So, I guess it boils down to two things -- customer service and/or price, or vice-versa. I think both are legitimate reasons for spending your Dollars in one place or another ...

If you have the luxury of having more than one bike shop within a reasonable distance of where you live/work, then see if you can spend some time in the various shops and see how the shop personnel interact with OTHER customers as well as yourself before you throw-your-money-down-on-the-counter.

Different shops definitely have different personalities ...

Several years ago, I walked into a shop right after a woman wheeled her bike into the shop ... while I was waiting to buy a small part, from what I heard from where I was standing (about 20+ feet away), I heard the woman explain to the person who was helping her how she thought she wanted a tune up for a bike she indicated that she had bought from that particular shop the year before ...

As far as I could tell by looking at her bike (it looked pristine ... as if it had never been ridden), the only thing the bike probably needed was air in the tires ...

He told her how much a tune-up cost ... and, the guy wrote up a work ticket for the bike for a tune-up RATHER THAN doing a quick assessment (e.g., squeeze the brake levers & spin the wheels), filling the tires, and sending her out the door with her bike in a ready-to-ride condition.

If that shop were one of two-or-three that had a frame-or-bike which I was interested in, would I buy a bike from that shop? Absolutely not.

If he had sold her a floor and/or frame pump ... maybe.

Word of mouth counts for a lot, so if you hear good-or-bad things about a shop -- validate or invalidate it with your direct observation.