Starting MTB in the Bay Area (US)

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Starting MTB in the Bay Area (US)
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Posted: Jun 4, 2020 at 15:19 Quote
Hi everyone! I am a 32yo guy (6'8" tall) from the Bay Area (San Jose) and I am considering to start MTB.
My goal is to do, at some point in the near future, some trails like the ones in the videos below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL3-E7jh-Dg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9YgvcokIns
A long term goal could be downhill but nothing too extreme.

I have no idea where to start. What kind of bike should I look at considering my height and a budget of around $500?
Also, is there any club/team I can join at some point when my skills improved?

Thanks!

Posted: Jun 4, 2020 at 22:04 Quote
Unfortunately, $500 won't get you very far in this sport. That guy's bike is at least 10x that cost. I'd be looking at used hardtails or maybe 26" wheels. But 26ers are so old now that it might be a maintenance nightmare for a new rider.

Join the mtbr forums and ask in the northern California section. It's an active community for more local questions.

Posted: Jun 4, 2020 at 22:14 Quote
iliveonnitro wrote:
Unfortunately, $500 won't get you very far in this sport. That guy's bike is at least 10x that cost. I'd be looking at used hardtails or maybe 26" wheels. But 26ers are so old now that it might be a maintenance nightmare for a new rider.

Join the mtbr forums and ask in the northern California section. It's an active community for more local questions.

I am considering a bike around $500 because I want to understand if I like the sport and I want to progress towards some more professional equipment. What kind of problems could I have with a $500 bike to start?

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 at 7:00 Quote
NewRider87 wrote:
iliveonnitro wrote:
Unfortunately, $500 won't get you very far in this sport. That guy's bike is at least 10x that cost. I'd be looking at used hardtails or maybe 26" wheels. But 26ers are so old now that it might be a maintenance nightmare for a new rider.

Join the mtbr forums and ask in the northern California section. It's an active community for more local questions.

I am considering a bike around $500 because I want to understand if I like the sport and I want to progress towards some more professional equipment. What kind of problems could I have with a $500 bike to start?

A new $500 dollar bike will most likely have cheap/not durable parts, outdated geometry, and strange standards that make it hard to upgrade.

Used bikes around $500 can be hit or miss. At that price point, i would look at hardtails, because you don’t have to worry about the pivots and other things being maintained, as the bikes will most likely be older. the same problem will arise with possibly older/out of date standards and geometry but it will most likely have studier components that will be able to be fixed. My two cents is go used, but it is worth reading up on the bike you are going to buy before you visit, and if possibly check the wheels for being true, if the hubs spun smoothly and without noise, the suspension doesn’t make any noises and moves relatively smoothly, the brakes work, the tires aren’t too worn down (extra cost)

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 at 8:23 Quote
ski-n-bike-da-east wrote:
NewRider87 wrote:
iliveonnitro wrote:
Unfortunately, $500 won't get you very far in this sport. That guy's bike is at least 10x that cost. I'd be looking at used hardtails or maybe 26" wheels. But 26ers are so old now that it might be a maintenance nightmare for a new rider.

Join the mtbr forums and ask in the northern California section. It's an active community for more local questions.

I am considering a bike around $500 because I want to understand if I like the sport and I want to progress towards some more professional equipment. What kind of problems could I have with a $500 bike to start?

A new $500 dollar bike will most likely have cheap/not durable parts, outdated geometry, and strange standards that make it hard to upgrade.

Used bikes around $500 can be hit or miss. At that price point, i would look at hardtails, because you don’t have to worry about the pivots and other things being maintained, as the bikes will most likely be older. the same problem will arise with possibly older/out of date standards and geometry but it will most likely have studier components that will be able to be fixed. My two cents is go used, but it is worth reading up on the bike you are going to buy before you visit, and if possibly check the wheels for being true, if the hubs spun smoothly and without noise, the suspension doesn’t make any noises and moves relatively smoothly, the brakes work, the tires aren’t too worn down (extra cost)

Thank you for the advice. Is there any particular model of hardtail bike that you would recommend me to look for in used bikes?

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 at 8:24 Quote
Also, what size should I look for considering my 6'8" height?

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 at 9:17 Quote
Looking at the videos you linked, it seems like a trail bike would be the best. These are bikes that have roughly 120-140 mm of travel, middle of the road geometry (although there are some more extreme ones) and are pretty much do it all bikes, from long cross country rides to rowdy faster trails. For your height, I would go with at least an XL and probably 29 inch wheels. If you can stretch your budget to 620$, you can get the Vitus Nucleus VR, which has really good geometry for what you seem to want to ride and great components for the price. The downside is that they are only sold on Chain Reaction Cycles and Wiggle, and are out of stock often.

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 at 9:23 Quote
For used bikes, some models to keep an eye out for would be the Vitus Nucleus, Vitus Sentier (the more expensive brother of the Nucleus), Kona Honzo, Marin San Quentin (this is definitely on the more agressive side), and Rocky Mountain Growler (also agressive), Specalized Fuse. That’s all i can think of right now but there is tons of other bikes, and if you aren’t certain on something feel free to let me know

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 at 11:40 Quote
ski-n-bike-da-east wrote:
For used bikes, some models to keep an eye out for would be the Vitus Nucleus, Vitus Sentier (the more expensive brother of the Nucleus), Kona Honzo, Marin San Quentin (this is definitely on the more agressive side), and Rocky Mountain Growler (also agressive), Specalized Fuse. That’s all i can think of right now but there is tons of other bikes, and if you aren’t certain on something feel free to let me know

Thanks for all your info!
I can definitely stretch my budget a bit, I would say no more than 650-700 but the new models you proposed, as you expected, are out of stock. If I want to stay on the new models is there any good alternative for the Vitus Nucleus VR?
I don't know how long it will take to get them back in stock and I can't wait to start! Smile

Used bikes are good options too but I don't know anything about bikes so I wouldn't recognize a good from a bad used bike.

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 at 11:53 Quote
Would any of these bikes work best for my needs?

https://www.bicycle-guider.com/bike-reviews/best-mountain-bikes-500/

Thanks!

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 at 12:02 Quote
Unfortunately that’s really the best new bike in that range that would be pretty capable I think. New bikes in general right now are sold out of most places between the supply chain problems and the fact that everyone wants a new bike.

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 at 16:19 Quote
Not sure how far you can actually stretch your budget, but buying a nice used bike from 3-5 years ago wouldn't be a bad idea. It's depreciated most of the way, and if you don't like it, you can probably sell it for about what you paid for it. Obviously don't go out of your comfort zone, but if you are mostly worried about not enjoying the sport and losing money, this would be a good way to prevent that.

Posted: Jun 8, 2020 at 11:53 Quote
Given your height you’re going to be on an XXL, which only some brands offer. You’re also going to want bikes with 29 inch wheels, which is the largest (and now the most common) wheel size. I would not recommend getting a bike with 26 inch or 27.5 inch (also called 650b) wheels. I know I’m fixating on your height, but I think your first priority should be finding a bike that fits you and feels relatively comfortable. Even if a bike is super good, if it doesn’t fit you it won’t ride well. Try and get an XXL hardtail with at least 100mm of travel, at least 2.2 tires, and disc brakes. I would say that’s a good start. Unfortunately this sport is expensive, and you may have to look around on the used market (which is where I buy all my bikes) to find something in your price range that will actually preform well. But I think it will be well worth it. Furthermore, due to the coronavirus and trade restrictions a lot of bikes aren’t in stock right now.
But anyway welcome to Pinkbike! Once you get going, it’s nearly impossible not to like this sport. I’ve seen people fall in love with it after one ride or just a few weeks on the bike. Very fun to do a lone or with a group, as low impact or as dangerous as you want it to be. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. Everyone on this site likes helping new guys. I am also a Bay Area rider so I should be able to give some sound advice.

Posted: Jun 8, 2020 at 13:24 Quote
bridgermurray wrote:
Given your height you’re going to be on an XXL, which only some brands offer. You’re also going to want bikes with 29 inch wheels, which is the largest (and now the most common) wheel size. I would not recommend getting a bike with 26 inch or 27.5 inch (also called 650b) wheels. I know I’m fixating on your height, but I think your first priority should be finding a bike that fits you and feels relatively comfortable. Even if a bike is super good, if it doesn’t fit you it won’t ride well. Try and get an XXL hardtail with at least 100mm of travel, at least 2.2 tires, and disc brakes. I would say that’s a good start. Unfortunately this sport is expensive, and you may have to look around on the used market (which is where I buy all my bikes) to find something in your price range that will actually preform well. But I think it will be well worth it. Furthermore, due to the coronavirus and trade restrictions a lot of bikes aren’t in stock right now.
But anyway welcome to Pinkbike! Once you get going, it’s nearly impossible not to like this sport. I’ve seen people fall in love with it after one ride or just a few weeks on the bike. Very fun to do a lone or with a group, as low impact or as dangerous as you want it to be. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. Everyone on this site likes helping new guys. I am also a Bay Area rider so I should be able to give some sound advice.

Thank you! If I can stretch my budget to $1000 is there anything new I can look at?
Unfortunately I have no idea where to look at for used bikes, I would probably end up buying an overpriced bike in bad conditions.

Posted: Jun 8, 2020 at 13:55 Quote
iliveonnitro wrote:
Not sure how far you can actually stretch your budget, but buying a nice used bike from 3-5 years ago wouldn't be a bad idea. It's depreciated most of the way, and if you don't like it, you can probably sell it for about what you paid for it. Obviously don't go out of your comfort zone, but if you are mostly worried about not enjoying the sport and losing money, this would be a good way to prevent that.

If you use the buysell section of pinkbike I wouldn't be worried about people trying to rip you off. Most people on this site are pretty virtuous, unlike craigslist. But if you want to buy new I would look into the new specialized rockhopper 29 size XXL. It fits people up to 6 foot 9 and is very capable. There are models from $500-1200 I believe.

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