/ New to Mountain Biking-Please Help

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razzorbuzz - on 30 Oct 2012
Hi Guys

Having been nagged now for a number of years by my friends (we all climb only they bike)I have finally succumb to getting back on a bike. I must admit the though does excite me slightly

However, I am currently not in a position to spend money what I have discovered to be a a more expensive sport than climbing (i wasn't even sure that was possible). I do have an old Giant mountain bike from around 199/2000. I found a picture of the frame here though mine has different (I suspect standard)handle bars/wheels/peddles/forks & what I think are refereed to as v-brakes.

I would like to upgrade the bike as best I can to try and bring it up to speck without going silly on the cost. My plan is to try and pick up second hand parts of ebay etc BUT I haven't got a clue where to start and what im looking for. Can anyone give me a brief run down or highlights of the things I need to know and what options I have.

I was kind of thinking that for starters I would put new wheels & tyres on and also change the v-brakes to disc brakes, then when I get some extra cash put new suspension forks on. Now although that is the rough plan I have no idea what brands/parts etc or how I'd go about fitting

I hope someone can spare 5 mins to help. Many thanks in advance;)))
Mark Storey - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz:

I can't see any rear disk mounts on that image and disk brakes whilst not mandatory do make life a lot simpler, as well as allowing you to ride with a buckled wheel - within limits of course.

To be honest, by the time you've bought wheels etc you'll be better off hunting down either a second hand bike or looking for a heavily discounted 2012 model.

Tell us your budget and I'm sure you'll get plenty of suggestions
razzorbuzz - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to Mark Storey: Hi Mark, thanks for the info, I really don't have much to play with maybe £200 possibly £300 max but id have to spread that over a few months hence the idea of upgrading what I can when funds are available. Also if I do get into it I had thought I could buy a newish bike (eventually) and have a load of good (ish) spares from the old one if needed.

As I said I very new to all this so most of what I try and read on-line is going over my head currently.
rj_townsend on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz: I got an un-ridden Jamis Dakar for £225 on ebay. 2010 version, but pristine. Current version would have been £700, so there are bargains to be had.
JamButty - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz: Can I add a comment and also semi hijack thread.

I agree that you're better off looking at second hand - lots on Ebay and gumtree (careful!), for that sort of price.
I'm also on the lookout for a MB - I'm 5'10 so what are typical frame sizes to look for.

Tall Clare - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz:

Hello, this is a proper 'for what it's worth' post - I'm busy clattering round on a 17 year old Cannondale (complete with headshok and V-brakes) and even an old thing like that is capable of more than I am at the moment.

If you can get going with what you currently have, then you can figure out what you need/save up for a bit.

Oh, and apparently the Singletrack forums are great for people breaking bikes/clearing sheds - there are real bargains to be had if you want to build one.
Stig - on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz:

Firstly, don't spend money on discs (doubt you'll be able to fit them anyway without disc mounts, in any case hydraulics are awesome but expensive and cable discs are worse than Vs). V brakes were revolutionary in their time and will do fine. Get some new blocks, and get them adjusted if you don't know how.

Secondly, get new tyres as you suggested. Leave the wheels alone. Get new grips and a smaller/lighter saddle if the current ones are knackered. Get clipless pedals and appropriate shoes and get used to riding with them.

Get suspension forks as soon as you can. Ebay or similar would be a good place to look.

thebrookster on 30 Oct 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz:

If it is an older bike, and you have no real attachment to it, the I would do a basic rebuild on it (new cables, full clean up of gears, maybe replacement chain at a push if it needs it, inner tubes and if needed tyres, brake blocks).

The old bikes are nowhere near as good as the newer bikes, I am no great shakes on a bike, and even I can tell the difference!! However, in the circumstances I would make do with this one, but save your pennies for a better bike next year.

At the end of the day, the biggest improvements to bikes are frames and brakes over the last few years (I include suspension with frames btw) and they are generally the bits you can't just 'upgrade' on a whim :D

Doing it this way also insures you against suddenly deciding you have been a plonker, and that mtb'ing simply is not your sport!

Spend a little, get into the sport, then when you have the money get a better bike (and by the time you have saved the money you will be able to judge much better what it is you want from a bike, and make more informed choice!).
aligibb - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz:
I got a 2nd hand Specialized Muka (girls version of a rockhopper I think) for £150, which after a new seat post and discs for the brakes cost me £190. I've just bought the 2nd batch of discs as have used up the 1st so I've now had 18 months of ace MTBing in the Alps, Scotland, Peaks, and Leicestershire for £200 and still going strong.
If you're patient and ask around I'm sure something 2nd hand will come up for the dosh you've got.
aligibb - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz:
have you seen this post

Premier Post - 2010 Scott Aspect 60 MTB size L/XL with upgrades
rlines - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to Tall Clare: i'd agree. it sounds harsh, but the majority of mountain biking in the UK will not challenge a bike like that toooo much (exceptions may apply). There will be people who disagree, but you could get that down the passes in the lakes if you know what you're doing - it's all in the head. I reckon just ride the thing and enjoy it! When it was brand new, people were all riding the same routes and having fun, the trails have not changed!
Tall Clare - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to rlines:

My clanky old iron (well, aluminium) horse will happily clatter round red routes at trail centres, and so far it's been me coming unstuck on Dales routes, rather than mechanical failure (quite proud of myself for falling off going *uphill*)
MHutch - on 31 Oct 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz:

Depends what type of riding you're looking to do with it. I suspect browsing the for sale forum on the singletrackworld site may turn up a nice bargain bike which will easily beat the spec and quality of anything you could arrange around that frame.

You may even get a few quid for the retro Giant frame to get you started.

If you only have a few hundred, you could certainly get a decent fork for that, but that would leave next to nothing for the rest of the drivetrain and brakes.

atlantis on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz:

More expensive than climbing.. are you kidding?

I had a Trek ZX8000 for at least 10 years and still whipped butts on it mostly being at the front of the rides with at least 3 other faster riders in the group, that was night riding as well as hard weekend rides. I wouldn't purchase over 1000 pounds on one, those with more expensive bikes than that didn't go faster than me anyway, it's fitness not how much the bike costs that counts. Though a cheap bike does weigh more so going up hills may slow you down a bit in comparison.

As others said, you'd get a better one 2nd hand in that case for the price you want to pay out.

Once purchased, if you look after it well it will last you a long time, cheaper than climbing gear I might add, it's climbing gear that costs especially as you build it up over time.
atlantis on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to atlantis:

Oh, I meant to add, it made me laugh when I raced some years back on a regular basis and heard all these other bikers bragging and comparing how much more they spent on their bikes (this was before my first race)..

only to be left behind when I whipped their butts and came in 1st place out of the females (female race though men and women were racing at the same time) I didn't know I had won until prize giving that evening. As I say, it's fitness that counts not the price of a bike, I never did believe in spending 3K on one as some do. That first bike of mine was a GT timberline, about 400 pounds, and some with over 600 pound bikes were bragging to each other before the race on how much theirs cost, I didn't say a word.

Good quality mountain bikes, 'real' mtb bikes include: Trek, Canondale, Giant, Marin, specialized, to name a few.

I always rode hard tails, front fork suspension only. Downhill bikes are heavier and you don't need the rear suspension anyway unless it is pure downhill biking you intend to do. I am a cross country biker fan, and you still get your hills.

I am also a great fan of V brakes, they worked effectively well for me, and very sharp too. I personally hated disk brakes in comparison, and grip shift which easily moves without you wanting it to due to how your hands wrap around the handles with them directly next to it, compared to manually clicking down and up gears with V brakes(finger control is so much nicer and better for overall control of gear changing in my personal opinion). It's personal choice end of the day though.
mikehike on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz:

Buy an end of line bike on interest free credit may be worth considering.
Ive just spent around £400 getting my 1995 Proflex up and running again.
Ive been using it on weekly MTB club runs for this last 8 month, whilst Im coping, I really think an up to date bike would be better, so looking to buy spring next year and keep the proflex as a retro classic.
Dave Kerr - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to atlantis:

You're my hero.
MHutch - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to Dave Kerr:

He is clearly awesome.

But obviously I could whip his butt with my 1970s unicycle.
aligibb - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to atlantis:

Ha ha thats brill, I love it.
Whilst I don't race, I ride my hard tail everywhere with lots of people on full suss/much 'better' hardtails, pretty expensive bikes. Its all about who is on the bike and whose legs and head are doing the pedalling. I won't claim to have gone faster downhill than alot of the guys I rode with in the alps but I definately made it up the hills faster and hiked a bike a lot less. I guess its what you're into in as I'm not really that fussed with downhill, x country all the way. And its all about having the technique and doing it on a hardtail, at least until you get seriously into it anyway.
Bob Hughes - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz: If you're on a budget, I wouldn't spend any money on upgrades until you've spent a decent amount of time riding it. It might need some replacement parts to keep it going (cables, chain, brake pads, maybe tyres etc). But after you've spent e.g. 12 months riding, you'll start to get more of an idea of what kind of riding you like to do and that will help you decide what to spend your money on.

e.g. if you like cross-country you'll want shorter travel forks, a longer stem, lighter wheels and narrower handle bars. If you prefer hooning down steeper, more technical hills and aren't so bothered about climbing quickly, you'll want wider handle bars, shorter stem, burlier wheels, longer-travel forks and maybe a disk brake on the front.

BTW, in case it isn't already obvious - if you buy disk brakes you'll have to change your wheels too.


ps - I regularly ride a Gary Fisher from 1998 (similar to your bike, I haven't upgraded anything) and a carbon fibre full suspension all mountain weapon. They're both great fun in different ways. I certainly wouldn't sell the Fisher.
pps - I'm almost certainly slower than whatsisname who posted above.
ChrisJD on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to atlantis:

I generally find that big ego's weigh the most and are best left at home.
ti_pin_man - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to razzorbuzz: some funny things above and I wont bite!

... BUT yes biking is on the whole tons more money and once youre into the sport it easy to buy bikes at 5k+, then you decide you want another and another ... it soon adds up, plus the gear to wear, the crash lids, shoes, clipless pedals, backpacks, goretex, and so on and so on.

I suspect what the best approach for you is to make sure your current bike is safe and works, get it serviced at a local bike shop and then start riding with your mates. On the whole you'll probably find, if your in reasonable condition, that you arent far behind them. Once you've got back into it then you can decide on what you want to spend the money on. The big disadvantage on a bike of that age is brakes. V brakes are ok but Disk brakes are so much better especially in winter mud but your frame probably wont have disk mounts as its just before disks crept onto bikes. So that would mean a new frame/bike.

I would get out on the bike you have, do a few rides, get back into it THEN decide what you want to do with your bike. Mountain bikers are usually gear freaks, really into the technical stuff, and its easy to be sucked into gear envy. Dont! Resist! at least for now.
muppetfilter - on 02 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man: I think you hit the nail on the head there, getting out and riding is the best thing to do. Sadly someone inevitably gives you a shot on their full suspension XC bike and thats it.
An old hardtail is definately a gateway bike, I spent ages on my old Marin then borrowed a demo bike at Dalby, two weeks research and hunting on ebay and I got a bargain full sus.

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