What's the best budget mountain bike?

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What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby nerion » Thu May 06, 2010 2:37 am

Hi, I bought a mountain bike out of my local paper a few months back to get back into cycling.

Since then I've done several charity rides and can now go about 40 miles. I'm really loving being back in the saddle after years away (I'm now 36).

Now I really want to buy a new bike. I currently have a Decathlon Rockrider 4.1. It's fine but very basic - and very heavy. That's the main problem.

I want to buy a new, lighter, mountain bike - but I don't have silly money to spend. I'm talking a max of £500. Hopefully quite a bit less!

If anyone could make some recommendations, I'd be so grateful. I've bought magazines like What Mountain Bike - but all the suggestions in them are out of my price range.

Many thanks,

Andy
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby frank9755 » Thu May 06, 2010 7:19 am

Andy,

Well done on getting back into cycling and glad you are enjoying it. This is what happens - once you start doing a bit you feel you need to get a better bike!

First question is why a mountain bike? I infer from your post that you are not riding off-road, as 40 miles on rough trails is a pretty long ride.

If that is the case, you would be far better with a hybrid - something like a Carrera Subway. That would be lighter without stuff you don't need like suspension and have much lower rolling resistance, hence be easier to pedal and go faster for the same effort. You could take it off-road but it wouldn't go quite as well as a mountain bike and you'd be better changing the tyres.

If I have misunderstood and you want it to do off-road riding, then a good entry level bike would be something like a Specialized Hardrock or Rockhopper. I've got a Marin Hawk Hill which is a similar spec to the Rockhopper and I bought it second hand recently for a shade over £100. Wiggle seems to have a reasonable range. You will struggle to find anything new below £500, but there are plenty of reasonable options when you get to £7-800.

However, if you really do want a mountain bike to ride on the road, that is a fashion, not a cycling, choice so I can't really help!
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby gilesjuk » Thu May 06, 2010 8:11 am

Specialized and Giant are the leaders in value at the low end (so I'm told).
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby squeaker » Thu May 06, 2010 9:01 am

And if you are riding only on-road, decent slicks like these will improve things....
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby al_yrpal » Thu May 06, 2010 9:33 am

The Halfords Carrera Subway 2 (£275 0r so) is on offer at the moment. Heres mine turned into a Thorn type tourer with the addition of muguards, rack and decent grips. Since having it I have taken it off road on pretty rough bridleways and tracks and it was great. Tyres are the key, if you fit Schwalbe Land Cruisers you will have a fair weather versatile tough MTB/Commuter bike/Touring bike that will tackle anything. Land Cruisers have a continuous central bead so roll very easily on the road, and, knobbles on the side to tackle off road surfaces. The bike has the same wheels gears cranks and disc brakes as the Carera Kraken MTB, but has solid steel forks instead of the fairly rubbish Suntour suspension forks fitted on that. At the price it is fantastic value for money.

Don't make the common novice mistake of cycling with knobbly tyres on road, its like cycling through thick soup, and don't think paying more will get you a better bike, with Halfords buying power you get more for your money.

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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby chris667 » Thu May 06, 2010 4:30 pm

If you are sure it's a mountain bike you need, £500 will buy you the finest bike secondhand, or a mediocre new one.

Sorry to sound a snob, but there you go.
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby stoobs » Thu May 06, 2010 4:46 pm

Specialized Rockhopper. Great frame, reasonable groupset, and upgradable as you get better and do more stuff off-road.

Starting at around £500, you can upgrade it to the £1000 price point if you feel so inclined.
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby djnotts » Thu May 06, 2010 6:12 pm

chris667 wrote:If you are sure it's a mountain bike you need, £500 will buy you the finest bike secondhand, or a mediocre new one.

Sorry to sound a snob, but there you go.


Just so. Chosen at random (and about 30secs of browsing) off the well known auction site:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/GT-Avalance-1-0-X ... 19bc0c1b81

And if it's an mtb you want, HAVE one. A set of slicks for when you want tarmac-only or even in summer just semi-slicks and an mtb will do all that a hybrid will do - just maybe not quite so quickly!

If I had only one bike, an mtb it would be - albeit with two sets of wheels (quicker than swopping tyres!).

Don't forget that this is the C T(ouring) C Forum - most of us are accordingly predisposed in favour of bikes that match that description!
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby djnotts » Thu May 06, 2010 6:14 pm

And while I'm here...."common novice mistake of cycling with knobbly tyres on road, its like cycling through thick soup,"

Clearly I'm a novice, but IMO it depends on what tyres and how hard you pump 'em up.
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby Andy_M » Thu May 06, 2010 6:24 pm

chris667 wrote:If you are sure it's a mountain bike you need, £500 will buy you the finest bike secondhand, or a mediocre new one.

Sorry to sound a snob, but there you go.


The lower end GT, specialized and Trek bikes (or Boardman for that matter) are far from mediocre, there is very little that you couldn't ride on them, it just might take you a bit longer.
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby stoobs » Thu May 06, 2010 6:34 pm

djnotts wrote:And while I'm here...."common novice mistake of cycling with knobbly tyres on road, its like cycling through thick soup,"

Clearly I'm a novice, but IMO it depends on what tyres and how hard you pump 'em up.


+1

I accept that some knobblies might be a bit slower than road tyres, but some run really quite well when pumped up on-road, and will give you performance off-road that is impossible with road tyres. I had some tyres that sounded like an air raid siren. All that noise is your energy. My current knobblies do not do that.

It really depends on what your proposed usage will be. When I returned to cycling after a break, I bought an MTB first, so that when I'm out, I can go off-road wherever I see a route that I like. You might be closing off that ability if you go to a road bike. Horses for courses and all that (is there a translation in cycling terms?)
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby gilesjuk » Thu May 06, 2010 7:40 pm

I think there's an argument of volume vs skinny as well.

Skinny is great for speed, but our roads are rubbish and if you don't want to weave all over the road then fatter tyres are handy.
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby TwoPlusTen » Thu May 06, 2010 9:32 pm

stoobs wrote:Specialized Rockhopper. Great frame, reasonable groupset, and upgradable as you get better and do more stuff off-road.

Starting at around £500, you can upgrade it to the £1000 price point if you feel so inclined.


+1. That's what I have, 2008 version. There are several variations with corresponding price points.
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby nerion » Fri May 07, 2010 7:15 pm

Wow, thanks for all your replies, folks! I shall check out what you've told me regarding models to look at.

And yeah, I do really want a mountain bike. I do very little road riding - far more off-road.

That said, I'm doing a 40-mile road ride tomorrow for the British Heart Foundation in the Vale of Belvoir.

On my old mountain bike.

Might need to pump the old tyres up a bit then!!!
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Re: What's the best budget mountain bike?

Postby tooley92 » Fri May 07, 2010 8:28 pm

TwoPlusTen wrote:
stoobs wrote:Specialized Rockhopper. Great frame, reasonable groupset, and upgradable as you get better and do more stuff off-road.

Starting at around £500, you can upgrade it to the £1000 price point if you feel so inclined.


+1. That's what I have, 2008 version. There are several variations with corresponding price points.


+1 Again, I still have a 1989 Rockhopper that I have had from new - although it now has drop bars and is set up as an expedition tourer :D
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