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Topic - Mountain BIke - How much do I really have to spend?

Steff - on 21 Jan 2014
I have recently started mountain biking a bit, in order to supplement my running (those of you that frequent the running forum might know me from there). Currently, I use an 9 year old bike that cost me 150 pounds back then, and now that I am getting into it, I have decide to buy a "real" bike.

I have set myself a budget of 600-700 quid and have found a nice La Pierre Raid 529 that I would quite like to purchase. However, the group I have started cycling with all insist I will have to spend at least twice as much as a minimum. I am sceptical though, because whilst they have all super expensive bikes, I still usually get to tops first with my current cheap bike (they descent much faster though).

So do I really have to spend that much money? Won't I be able to get anything decent on 700 quid budget? My reasoning is to spend the rest on some really good cycling trips instead.
Intended use: longish training routes on hilly double track with the occasional easy single track thrown in. Being on the bike for 7-10 hours continuously might happen about once a month in summer but otherwise we are looking at 3-4 hours max a week.
I might do a couple of mountain triathlons a year (the mountain biking leg is usually under 20km and not too technical). Any advice appreciated.
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