How much money do I need to spend to get something decent? I don't want/need a high end bike at all. I just want something that is better than a Walmart special and is fairly reliable. Something that can handle some tar, gravel, and mild/moderate trails. I don't want to clip into pedals. Any biking experts out there? I'm guessing several of you can offer some helpful info! Thanks in advance. Scott
ND String Puller's Link
We went camping for a week at Devils Lake and took all the bikes with...think Beverly Hillbillies ;) I have to say that fat tire is fun, you can pedal through all kinds of stuff, sand, rocks, rough stuff. Ended up averaging about 5 miles a day without even trying.
Now I have to get one for myself. Maybe you could rent one to try it out first. I tried out an all carbon at a store they are expensive but damn easy to pedal and throw around.
Bikes can be HARD to find due to supply chain issues right now. Lots of folks are selling used stuff, and it's being snapped up fast - but it's worth a look at used if you are erring to fitness focused riding. It seems like you can still get some top end bikes if you are cool with dropping 6-12g... but the most common price points from like 1500-5K... those things evaporate the past year and a half. Often sold before the shop unboxes the dang things.
Brands are like bows. Most you could buy at a bow shop are really good and it's about how it feels to YOU and fits YOU. For example a Cannondale may feel awesome to you and a Specialized feel like poo - both are GREAT. Just comes down to what you want/like/feel good one.
Someone above said to set a budget and just go with it - sound advice.
It's easy to spend a lot if you get excited. If you are unsure you will like it, see if any shops in your area have demo bikes you could try a few times OR rent. either option could let you ride a nice rig, and see how it feels, helping you decide if you do enjoy riding or not before investing significantly.
That said, a few things that are worth it if you think you will ride trail, if your budget allows you want:
1.) single chain ring up front - it's just simpler and easier to deal with. 2.) a dropper seat post - amazing how handy that is on steeper down hills (the ability to push a lever and have the seat post drop 2-5" pending model etc). 3.) at least front suspension. 4.) 27.5 OR 29" wheels and unless you want to race cross country events in the future, plus or near plus size tires are great. More traction, you can ride lower PSI so they also add a smidge of extra cushion.
If you are going to ride dirt roads and rail trails - then I'd get 29" tires and front suspension but everything else is debatable and the dropper post I noted above not needed at all.
Based on what the OP stated for intended use, the answer is a 700c Hybrid if you want flat/riser bars and a gravel bike if you want drops. The Graveler is going to cost more and weigh less because they are racing” bikes and not just “recreational”. That’s assuming that you are looking at buying new. Budget? I would look at what you have into your bow, accessories, and a dozen arrows as a baseline if you want something in the Perfectly Respectable range. That won’t get you anywhere close to high end - Top End is into 5 figures - but you’re well out of the Crap Zone.
Is it necessary to spend that much? Absolutely not. About 30 years ago, I knew a guy who bought a Wal-mart special and started riding everywhere around town where he would normally have driven to, and he lost 70 pounds in about 6 months. That’s the thing with exercise equipment - it ALL works you use it.
For that matter, earlier today I saw a white-haired guy doing laps on a mid-seventies Schwinn 10-speed, and he was clearly enjoying his exercise. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Anyway…. My wife has a new Graveler and I’ve got 3 MTBs - the oldest is a late ‘80s rigid (with a GOOD (Ritchey) fork) which is set up as a commuter; I’ve got a 50 up front and the Granny is a 28, but I ride it on singletrack when my wife or one of my boys is on my “vintage” 26” hardtail, which still rides great because I dumped the elastomers in the fork and installed Speed Springs that match my weight. I also have a 4” fatbike I bought used a couple years ago. Basically I ride the fatty for pure fun, the hardtail if I want to get somewhere and the commuter if I care what time I arrive. If I were still commuting on a bike, it would be a cyclocross or gravel bike for sure. But one that doesn’t aggravate my neck.
Front suspension is all I have ever done; on the fatbike, it’s pretty well unnecessary; on the road, it’s an Energy Suck; climbing twitchy singletrack at 10,000 feet, it’s worth the extra weight. A good “Rigid” fork is anything but. Better (IMHO) than a cheap “suspension”, which really does nothing but take the edge off of a hit. If it’s tapered and curved and made from cro-moly steel, it’s probably fine. There are no crappy carbon forks that I know of, but I wouldn’t want to ride a cheap steel fork even on the road. For that matter, I wouldn’t even bother with any of the cheap 700c hybrid forks I’ve ever seen. I guess they’re OK if you just want to ride along not paying any attention to what you’re doing without knocking any teeth loose, but…
Problem is that bike shops are sold out these days. The little Indy guy up the street is waiting on $85k in inventory.
If you go looking for Used…. Loads of options. The 700c wheels cover more ground, but 26” wheels are stronger and are pretty much out of fashion. So there are plenty of those bikes around, and you shouldn’t have to pay a fortune for one in good working condition. Rust or a lot of noise is a bad sign. And a new drivetrain can run into hundreds really fast. You will pay more for a used bike at your local shop, but it will have new parts where needed, it will have been tuned up if not completely overhauled, and a decent Full tune-up is probably at least $100. Ask your local shop about rates on tune-ups and overhauls before you buy anything.
Other notes….. Good V-brakes are better than cheap discs. If you wanna ride fast, you need hard, skinny tires. DO NOT just swap out fat tires for much skinnier ones, because that will work Evil Magic on the handling. Don’t buy anything expecting to update the drive train to “modern” gearing because a bike built around a 7 or 8-speed rear probably won’t accommodate anything in the 10-12 range without being forced into it.
Long and short, you can’t go wrong on a bike unless you go too cheap. And even then, you can still enjoy the ride….
Yeti… LMAO. Not exactly a utilitarian option. That’s like buying Rolls Royce SUV when all you need is an F150 Custom.
Scoot, top MTB brands (equivalent to Hoyts/Matthews) are YETI, Pivot, Santa Cruz. You can pay anywhere from 3500 and up for a new MTB with full suspension, and dropper post. Another great download is MTB project.. It will have almost all mtb trails where you live.
Grey Ghost's Link
I have a 2008 Fugi Thrill LT 2.0 MTB. It's a dual suspension bike with (at the time) top of the line accessories. The rear shock can be locked out for normal road riding. It's got very low miles on it, and is in pristine shape. I'd let it go for cheap, since I don't see myself riding it much now that I have an e-bike.
See the link above to see the specs on my MTB. PM me, if interested.
But the OP is looking for an ENTRY LEVEL Real Bike, not an Object of Desire. What you probably know but most people don’t is thar there are a handful of bike factories - all owned by Geant (Giant) which crank out almost all of the bikes in the entire world - except for the boutique brands like those you mentioned - and there is not a damn thing wrong with a well-spec’d, mass-produced bike. Except for being largely devoid of snob appeal.
Direct quote from the OP:
“ I don't want/need a high end bike at all. I just want something that is better than a Walmart special and is fairly reliable. “
You don’t have to spend anything near $3500 for that. My local Craigslist has a spotless Fisher Paragon, fully tuned (XT bike) for $350. If it were the right size, I’d be too busy picking it up for my son to be sitting here talking about it.
You can spend whatever you want, but there are thousands of perfectly good bikes out there that were higher end at the time they were bought, have hardly been touched and can be had for a song.