MTB on a Budget: Where to Spend & Where to Save on Bike Parts

Jun 29, 2020
by Mike Kazimer  
Vitus Mythique 29 VRX review photo by Anthony Smith


We kicked off our MTB on a Budget series by looking at where to spend and where to save on apparel and protective gear, which means that now it's time to take a look at the one thing you actually need to go mountain biking – a mountain bike.

If you browse through previous Pinkbike reviews you'll see that yes, mountain biking is an expensive sport. The good news is that you don't need to spend $10,000, or even $5,000 to buy a bike that can do just about everything you ask of it.

This article goes over the pros and cons of spending or saving on various components and on the bike frame itself. It's worth noting that the main focus of this article is on where to spend (or save) on new parts. Going used is obviously the best way to save even more money – we recently put together this video that goes over the basics of purchasing a used bike.





MTB on a Budget

Save on a Frame

Typical Full Suspension Frame Price: $1,500 - $3,500+ USD
Recommendation: Under $2,000 USD
Used: Yes, but be sure to inspect it carefully



Whether you're going with a hardtail or a full-suspension frame there's a simple way to save – choose aluminum over carbon. By choosing alloy you'll save somewhere around $1,000 on a new frame alone, although there is typically a weight penalty, usually in the neighborhood of one pound (.5 kg).

You'll be able to go just as fast on that aluminum frame (take a look at what bike Loic Bruni, the current DH World Champion, rode to victory last season for proof), and the on-trail feel of carbon vs. aluminum isn't anything to lose sleep about. Plus, aluminum frames are typically better at surviving crashes, especially ones into rock gardens, which means your investment should hopefully last for multiple seasons without any major issues.

Going with a hardtail over a full suspension frame is another way to save – the lack of a rear shock and extra moving parts reduces the frame price and the amount of maintenance you'll need to do. However, hardtails aren't for everyone, and if you can swing it, especially if you're planning on doing more aggressive riding, I'd recommend looking for a full suspension bike.




Maxxis

Spend on Tires

Recommendation: $50-$100 USD per tire
Used: Not unless they were only ridden to church on Sundays. And not dirt church.


Yes, tires can be expensive, and you might have paid less for your last set of car tires, but it's not worth skimping when it comes to the connection between you and the ground. That bucket of tires at your local bike shop that are on sale for ridiculously low prices? There's a reason they're on sale – more than likely they're narrow, hard compound tires that are better suited to gravel paths than actual mountain biking. They're also probably 26” in diameter, but that's a different topic.

The ideal tread pattern, compound, and sidewall construction will vary depending on your location; it's worth asking other riders in your area for recommendations. The enduro pros may all be on tires with extra thick casings, but it's entirely possible you don't need that much protection, especially if you live in an area without too many rocks. There's no need to ride around with an extra pound or two of rubber if that's the case, just like you don't need sticky mud spikes if you live in a place with mostly smooth, hardpacked trails.



Hunt Trail Wide 29er wheels

Save on Wheels

Recommendation: Up to $750 USD
Used: Potentially. Check the bearings, and inspect the rim for cracks or major dents.



Just like with your frame, aluminum rims are the way to go if you're shopping for wheels on a budget. Start by choosing a wheelset with rims that have an internal width that's compatible with the tire size you're planning to run – these days 30mm has become the de facto standard, a number that works well with most tires between 2.35 – 2.6”.

When it comes to hubs, having the fastest engagement possible isn't a necessity - those ultra-quick engaging hubs are typically the most expensive. Of course, it is nice if you can find hubs that offer 10-degrees or less between points of engagement - I'm a fan of DT Swiss' 350 hubs with a 36 tooth ratchet ring. They're simple, reliable, and I've had countless sets roll through on test bikes without any issues.

Those aren't the only options, though; there are numerous pre-built wheelsets in the $500 - $700 range that hit the mark when it comes to weight and durability. Hunt Wheels, Spank, and Stans are three companies that come to mind when it comes to relatively affordable pre-built wheels.




MTB on a Budget
DMR Deathgrip review

Spend on Grips, Save on Saddles & Pedals

Recommendation: Up to $40 for grips, Less than $80 for saddles & pedals
Used: Maybe. These are heavy wear items, and it's nice to be the one that does the breaking in when it comes to grips and saddles.


Just like with tires, it's not worth it to try and skimp on contact points. You're going to be grabbing onto those grips and sitting on that saddle for hours at a time, so they'd better be as comfortable as possible. Spending the extra dough for the nice lock-on grips in your preferred width and rubber durometer is worth it every time.

When it comes to seats, it's worth spending to get the shape that works best for you, but you can save money by skipping the titanium or carbon railed version. Take the WTB Koda, for example, one of my personal favorites. You can spend $40 for the steel railed version, $80 for the chromoly, or $130 for the titanium railed model. The padding does change a little bit depending on the model, but the shape is what really matters, and that's the same no matter the pricepoint.

Pedals are an easy place to save money without incurring a massive performance penalty. Plastic bodied flat pedals cost half the price of aluminum options, and usually use the same axle and bearing system. When it comes to SPD pedals, Shimano's M530 pedals take the cake when it comes to price vs performance. They're readily available for under $60, and they seem to last forever. There's a new version on the way, the ME700, which will hopefully offer the same level of longevity with a slightly larger platform around the clip-in mechanism.



MTB on a Budget

Spend on Brakes (Within Reason)

Recommendation: Up to $150 per wheel, $250 per wheel if you want to splurge
Used: Yes, assuming nothing is bent, broken, or seized up.


Brakes aren't a place to skimp – save those cable-actuated disc brakes for commuter bikes – but you also don't need $1,000 brakes that are individually polished by German craftsmen.

As you drop down in price you won't have as many tool-free adjustments available, but if you don't mind pulling out a multi-tool to tweak your lever position that's not much of an issue.

One thing that's worth spending on are metallic brake pads, especially if you live in a wetter climate. Lower priced brakes often come with resin pads, and sometimes even resin-only rotors – it's worth spending more to gain the improved wet weather performance and pad lifespan that comes with metallic pads and compatible rotors.

It's a good time to be a brake buyer on a budget – there are more four-piston options then ever at a range of price points, which is the way to go if you're building up anything other than a lightweight XC or downcountry-mobile.





Raaw Madonna V2 review

Save on Handlebars and Stems

Recommendation: Up to $60 for a stem, $75 for a handlebar
Used: No. It's too hard to know what kind of abuse a handlebar has seen - save on dental bills by buying new.


That wall of carbon bars and shiny CNC'd stems may catch your eye at the local bike shop, but resist the urge to spend if you're on a budget. A stem is a stem, and a $30 - $40 option will work just as well as those $80 - $150 models. I would recommend going with one from a known brand in order to get a little extra peace of mind about its construction and durability.

The same goes for handlebars. You can save a decent amount of weight by going with a carbon bar, but that's also going to leave your wallet a whole lot lighter. Once again, aluminum is the way to go to save some dough. Pick a bar based on the rise, sweep, and length that feels the most comfortable to you, and then go with the one that fits your budget. Just like with stems, I'd stick with a known brand rather than trying to find the absolute cheapest option from some dark recess of the internet.





MTB on a Budget

Save on Dropper Posts

Recommendation: Up to $250 for a post and remote
Used: Yes, but don't settle for less drop than you really want.


You should absolutely spend on a dropper post if you don't already have one. I think there are still three people out there who don't understand the appeal of being able to lower your seat with the push of a lever; for everyone else, a dropper post is a necessity.

The good news is that prices have dropped dramatically over the last few years, and there's no reason to spend more than $250 for a post, remote included. OneUp, X-Fusion, and PNW Components are three examples of companies that offer reliable droppers at a reasonable price.




Shimano Deore on Vancouver s North Shore 2020

Save on a Drivetrain

Recommendation: Under $500 for a complete 12-speed drivetrain, cranks included
Used: No. Buying a used chain, cassette, or derailleur is a recipe for issues - those parts typically wear out before someone decides to sell them.


Smartly spec'd bikes have higher end brakes and suspension paired with a more affordable drivetrain. Why? Because there's not a massive performance difference between the top tier and more entry level drivetrains, other than weight.

12-speed drivetrains are here to stay, and now that both SRAM and Shimano have options ranging from budget to baller it's the way to go if you're looking to upgrade your current setup.

If you're in the Shimano camp, it's worth spending a little more to get an XT shifter, even if the rest of your drivetrain components are SLX or Deore level. It's not that much more expensive, and it gives you the ability to drop the chain two cogs down the cassette with one push of the lever.

Speaking of Deore, I've been riding on the new 12-speed drivetrain for the last couple of months and have zero complaints so far. Sure, it's not the lightest, but performance-wise it's been very, very impressive, and the entire gruppo is available for less than $300, although you'll need to budget a little more if you don't have a MicroSpline compatible freehub body.

On the SRAM side, I'd recommend going with at least a GX shifter due to its Matchmaker compatibility. The NX and SX shifters get the job done, but the ergonomics are lacking a bit. If you're looking for the most gear range, you'll need to go with at least a GX cassette - the NX and SX options have an 11-50 tooth spread compared to the 10-50 tooth range found on GX. Keep in mind that NX and SX cassettes work with a splined freehub body rather than SRAM's newer XD driver body. That could potentially help keep the costs down if you're planning a drivetrain upgrade and don't already have an XD freehub body.




Vitus Mythique 29 VRX review photo by Anthony Smith

Spend Wisely on Suspension

Recommendation: $800 or less for a fork.
Used: Maybe. Make sure that it's from a trusted seller, and that the item isn't more than a season or two old.


Typically, the more you pay for a fork or shock the more external adjustments you'll have access to. With RockShox, that means you'll get adjustable high speed compression damping, while on Fox you'll see adjustable high speed compression and high speed rebound.

In addition, higher end models often use a different damper than their lower priced siblings. For instance, in RockShox' lineup the Ultimate and Select+ series forks use a Charger 2.1 damper and the Select forks use a Charger damper, while more budget oriented forks like the Revelation use a Motion Control damper. If you can swing it, I'd recommend aiming for a Charger damper over the Motion Control – there's a noticeable difference between the two.

Fox's lineup is arranged a little differently than RockShox – they've moved their more affordable options over to the Marzocchi side, which is where you'll find the Z1 and Z2. In the budget arena, those two forks are hard to beat. They're heavier and lack some of the adjustments of a 34 or 36, but the damper works very well, and are certainly worth considering if you're trying to maximize your suspension spending.

Is paying extra for that Fox's fancy Kashima coating worth it for someone on a budget? Maybe in a laboratory, but in the real world the black anodized stanchions used on the Performance Elite fork feel just as slippery smooth as the bronze/gold coating found on the Factory level forks. The internals and adjustments are identical, which makes this an easy way to save $100 or so without any significant performance loss.

Shocks

During our Sedona Field Trip, Mike Levy and I both noted that budget shocks are much easier to live with than a budget fork. On complete bikes it's not uncommon to see the same shock spec'd on a variety of price point for that very reason – there aren't as many varieties of shocks to choose from, and the performance difference isn't as drastic.

That said, rear suspension is a pretty costly upgrade to do later, so if you're choosing between different frames it may be worth your while to buy once, cry once, and spring for the full fat shock out of the gate.




Agree? Disagree? What did we miss? Where would you choose to spend your hard-earned dollars?

Stay tuned for the next edition of this series that'll cover where to spend and where to save on tools and accessories.


364 Comments

  • 284 4
 If you don't spend $150 on chain lube, are you even a real MTB'er?
  • 91 2
 Oh Muc Off!
  • 25 1
 Pssh, I direct my servant to paraffin wax my CeramicSpeed UFO chain and discard after a single use. #Watts #DentistLife
  • 11 0
 I've heard used fork oil works pretty well.
  • 6 0
 No, but you are a real triathlete
  • 2 0
 What if its really KinGud?
  • 1 0
 @Spindelatron: and automobile brake fluid in a pinch. do not do this
  • 102 0
 Buying last years models/parts at a discount is where it’s at. Spent $600 on a brand new 19’ Lyrik when the new model came out.
  • 26 0
 This is a great suggest as well. With last model year bikes, which are happening right about now, you can often get an identical bike other than paint for 20-30% off.
  • 24 7
 You're absolutely right. But has anyone noticed how over the last few years bike companies seem to be closing off options for old stock and trying to force consumer to buy new?
Years ago it was really easy to get the model you wanted but you'd have your pick of previous years models from any retailer.
Now because of market control , built in obsolescence, standards etc its impossible to go back further than 1 season with most major retailers.
I know why they do it. And its in all their interests except us as the consumer!
Also where are all those bikes and parts that dont sell going??
  • 6 0
 careful, brig brother may be watching!! Wink
  • 39 0
 @Macc10: I think a lot more brands are working on a scarcity model. Especially direct to consumer brands that don't have distributors or model year cycles to worry about as much.

If you're a bike manufacturer or a retailer, selling a bike at a discount costs you money (time, opportunity cost, etc.), so brands are doing more conservative forecasts and smaller production runs.
  • 11 0
 @Macc10: The other reason is that this year production took a big hit from COVID shutdowns AND the market spiked from people stuck at home taking up cycling, so there just isn't as much excess inventory as year's past. That's why right now its pretty tough to find deals not just on complete new bikes, but used bikes and components too.
In a typical year, the availability of deals is purely a function of how well the product managers nailed the demand. Any deal you find is a sign they over-ordered (or got pressured into over-ordering due to volume deals from suppliers).
  • 11 0
 This needs more upvotes. I just bought a 2020 bike at $1,000 off list price, and the 2021 model has come in with an increase of $1,500. So effectively (ignoring the spec differences) I've saved $2,500.
  • 8 0
 The only way to buy new bikes for me.
  • 4 0
 Definitely the way. I spent $1300 on a closeout 2019 full suspension bike a few months back.
  • 11 0
 Intense has their free carbon wheelset deal going again on this year. Last year I got a Primer; carbon fiber full suspension bike with great mid-range components, alloy wheelset, free carbon wheelset, shock pump, and torque wrench set for $3400 shipped. Insane deal.
  • 6 0
 Just bought a '18 Pivot at a steep discount. More bike than I need, but man do I love it.
  • 1 0
 @mkul7r4: Agreed. I've just bought a Intense Carbine 2020 frame that was knocked down in price quite a bit - I suspect because the 2021 models will be on the way soon. It was pretty hard to find anything comparable in the price range to be honest and the complete builds that they're offering on the Carbines, Tracers and Primers at the moment are really great value when compared to their competitors. I would have gone with one of those were it not the case that I specifically wanted to do my own build as a mini COVID-19 project.
  • 1 0
 @Macc10: I’ve noticed this too. I asked around and apparently All the companies are producing lower numbers of each production run . So they would rather forecast Conservatively and sell through instead of producing / importing higher quantities to have left at the end of the season to shift on a deal for lower margin. This means there are fewer steal deals to be had.
  • 2 0
 True! Bought a last years Pike for my dad to replace his old 32. 400$.
  • 2 0
 @siborg1980: I've got a theory, that online market place like Chain Reaction, Weegle, Jenson, etc... have access and buy these previous season stock, and because they buy a large volume of item, they still make profit while selling product at 10 or 30% discount compared to bike shop
  • 1 0
 Yes, same goes for complete bikes! Picked up a 2019 Stumpjumper at 40% discount with litteraly the same spec as this years model. (Luckily that was before the whole lockdown thing during which people panic bought bikes...)
  • 2 0
 @JonGales: I am a bit worried about this development. I see people in the trails, that should not be there... mostly lacking helmets, gloves, and proper footwear... her in Switzerland, Ebikes have taken over the world... Get people who have no clue about mtb'ing to places, where it is just dangerous for them.. wonder how long it is gonna take, till someone gets injured badly...
  • 1 0
 @saladdodger: Happens all the time, last season there was an article about some 60+ year old Heiri that crashed his 10k Spesh E-Bike on a gravel road and broke his collarbone every week or so on 20min.
  • 2 0
 @MathiasBd: I'm pretty sure that's true. As well as buying huge amounts of grey imports and leftover OEam kit
  • 1 0
 @Macc10: They're still out there if you hunt around. I bought a brand new MY2016 Kona Process 111 in 2018 at less than half the RRP.
  • 1 0
 Or build your own bike around that clearance frame & fork you found online. With the myriad of "standards" looking for all the parts that fit your particular frame is half the fun!
  • 1 0
 @arna86: So you're the reason it disappeared from the monthly deals page!
  • 1 0
 @MathiasBd: you are 100% correct. It can be a real race to see who buys up deals from suppliers as soon as they are announced.
  • 1 0
 hmm
  • 64 12
 I agree with most of this, except the drivetrain part, I'd go with Spend wisely on drivetrains. Shimano, anything Deore and up is fine, but for Sram... nothing under GX is worth half the asking price, and even GX is... underwhelming, the rear derailleur is flimsy and ends up breaking down after a few months of use.

As said, you can get a full Deore groupset for like 300$, which when on a budget, is the best deal around.
  • 57 3
 I've had my GX groupset for 2 years now and never had any issues with it. Maybe i'm just lucky.
  • 74 0
 It's also worth mentioning that you don't have to have 12 speeds. You can get killer deals on SRAM and Shimano 11 speed, or on MicroShift Advent X 10 speed with an even wider range.
  • 16 1
 @addingst: I second that, never skipped a beat!
  • 18 3
 @Nathancrick13: Triple that. GX runs smooth and will last as long as the higher priced groups as long as you keep it cleaned and tuned.
  • 4 0
 @pacificnorthwet: microshift ftw
  • 9 1
 Yeah GX is my go to. Seems to be solid for me. I do agree that I don’t need a 12 speed. I’m actually fine with 10. But I’ll run a 12 if a bike comes with it. I’ll usually switch to a e13 or garbaruk cassette.
  • 22 5
 @pacificnorthwet: 11-Speed XT forever
  • 9 23
flag thenotoriousmic (Jun 29, 2020 at 11:12) (Below Threshold)
 I’ve found GX to be pretty bulletproof. I wouldn’t waste my money on SLX / NX. It doesn’t last. 6 months to a year and it’s ready for the bin. Pay the extra for better stuff and if you look after it, you’ll get your moneys worth twice over.
  • 12 0
 Running GX on my trail bike for 4 years with zero issues.
  • 12 0
 @thenotoriousmic: Which component lasts 6 months to a year on SLX? Other than stuff like flimsy derailleurs, do you really get increased durability with higher end groupsets? I thought it was mostly more features, and less weight, maybe a shifter that feels better etc.
Not trying to argue, genuinely curious, because I want to build a bike with Deore M6100. The new Deore group looks amazing, and I don't see why I would need to go with a higher end groupset (i'll probably get an XT shifter).
  • 14 4
 I’ve had GX for a year now, recently put on new cassette, chain and cable. Rode my bike in direct comparison to a new one from the shop with the exact same GX setup and the difference was astonishing. One year was enough to make it shift like absolute shit compared to the new one.

And I even bought the f*cking 7 bucks piece of crap plastic thing to set the distance of the b-screw to set it up properly.

Next drivetrain will be Shimano again.
  • 8 4
 @thenotoriousmic: While I agree with you on NX, SLX are pretty though too. I consider SLX being slightly better than GX
  • 5 1
 I'm hoping the GX refresh helps with reliability.

I've spent years on SRAM and Shimano 11 speed (X01 and XT) with zero issues.

One season on GX Eagle was a nightmare by comparison. I had to warranty the first derailleur because of ejected jockey wheels... then the second one worked well for about 2 months before shifting degraded. (even after a tune-up)

I went back to XT 11 speed and I've been happy ever since.
  • 5 0
 @pacificnorthwet: Agreed, I love my 11 sp Shimano XT and Advent X (on fatbike) drivetrains!

I cheap out on chainrings. I now buy "Deckas" brand narrow-wide chain rings on Amazon or Ali Express for around $20, and they work just as well as my RaceFace or Wolftooth chainrings
  • 2 0
 @HollyBoni: yeah I’m talking mainly drivetrain. SLX cranks are decent even if the chain ring is a little cheap and there brakes aren’t just the same as XTR just with cheaper pads, rotors and they’re painted instead of anodised.
  • 7 0
 @thenotoriousmic: So what lasts 6 months to a year in the drivetrain? Cassette, chain? Are more expensive cassettes and chains more durable? AFAIK the only difference you get when you go from Deore to SLX to XT cassettes are more aluminium sprockets, which are actually less durable. Not seeing much difference in the chains, although I know that in the past you only got stuff like full chrome plating on XT and up (if I remember correctly).
Is the cheap chainring a con? Do you get extra durability from a more expensive chainring? An XT 12spd ring costs almost twice as much as a 12spd SLX ring.

I'm just trying to wrap my head around what a more expensive groupset would give me. I love XT/XTR shifters, but other than that i'm only seeing less weight and more bling, not much else.
  • 5 0
 @HollyBoni: yes more expensive chains and cassettes last longer. I get about a year out of a an XT cassette, I’ve currently got a x01 cassette that’s still working perfectly after over three. More expensive chains are made from better lighter materials usually with better corrosion protection. They’ll last longer before developing play and stretching and tearing your cassette and chain ring up in the process. A cheap chainring will cause the same issues. SLX shifters are just nasty but functionally fine but if you’re going to have to touch it every time you shift spending money on nicer paddles is worth it in my book.
  • 4 0
 @HollyBoni: I've just got the new xtr group. It's good but is almost exclusively a weight saving group over xt. Different materials in the components including the brake calipers. Still my m9000 xtr cassette lasted 4 yrs and I sold it on so it's a worthy investment. If I was buying Shimano 12 speed of be happy with slx if I didn't mind about weight but I'd be tempted to get the xt shifter and maybe the xt chains.
  • 3 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I'm looking at an M6100, M7100, M8100 cassette. The Deore has all steel sprockets, the SLX has 1 alu sprocket, and the XT has 2 alu sprockets. Other than that they're the same. Why/how does the XT last longer?
Personally I haven't noticed a difference in terms of wear between cheaper and more expensive chains (i'm pretty meticulous about drivetrain cleanliness tho), although the difference between a Deore and XT chain is about 9-10€, so you can always go with an XT chain when you replace it.
The chainring bit is interesting, i'd love to see how much longer an XT chainring lasts compared to an SLX and Deore, and whether the durability offsets the price difference. Deore chainrings are not available yet, but judging from the SLX prices I suspect that from the price of 1 XT ring, you could buy 2 Deore rings.

For my new build i'd like to go with an M6100 drivetrain with an XT shifter, and M6100 4 pot brakes. Seems like a cheap to run that would do everything I want, i'm just wondering if the durability issues are really there.
  • 5 0
 GX drivetrain with an XO1 cassette is my go to. The GX has taken a lot of abuse for me, A LOT.
  • 1 0
 @vaedwards: This is EXACTLY what I meant by underwhelming in my initial comment.

I work part time as a mechanic in a shop and had to replace quite a few GX Eagle derailleurs (at least 3-4 that I handled personnaly, and I know we had to deal with at least 2/3x that in reality) that would just decide to stop shifting properly, in particular on the larger cogs. And as much as I'd want to believe that they are nearly as durable as their more expensive counterparts, experience seems to prove otherwise...

Is it a good groupset? Yes it's actually pretty decent, even with my experience. Can you more performance for the same cost? Most definitely.
  • 1 1
 @HollyBoni: Nagyon jó az új 61öö Deore.
Főleg ha XT váltót használsz, kb egy komplett 8100 csoportnak 80%a, úgy érzésre. Talán nem annyira robusztus. De legalább annyira mint a SRAM GX.
  • 5 0
 I have a bunch of friends just emerging from the triple ring x 8spd cassette dark ages who don't have much to spend at all but want fun with low maintenance. I've been reworking their old Shimano square taper XT/LX cranks to take a 94bcd SRAM steel narrow wide x-sync chainring and fitting a wide range 9spd 11-42t sunrace cassette on the rear to give them a cheap 1x9 drivetrain. The old 8spd Shimano derailleurs happily stretch to cover all 9 gears once you update to a second hand 9spd shifter and a new chain and the transformation costs about £100 all in, lasts for ages cause it's steel front and rear and comes with the main benefits of a 1x drivetrain without the astronomic cost.
  • 7 0
 @alexridesbikes-13:
I don't doubt your experience, but could the robustness of srams >gx groups just be a sampling effect? For example you could see 3x more gx failures than x01 but if there are 3x less x01 rigs then failure rates would be similar. Just thinking out loud. I've had both 11 and 12 x01, and I'm finally coming back to camp blue with an slx xt hodge podge. Personally, I'd take deore over xx1.
  • 2 0
 @dirtyburger: I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yes possibly. I will admit most bikes we send out are equipped with GX, more so than anything else.

But I still believe they have a reliability issue, and hope the latest version (the one that works with the 52 tooth cog) has been made more reliable. If not, I see lots of replacements in my not so distant future hahaha
  • 2 0
 I agree with not getting anything under GX in Sram especially if you are running a full-suspension bike. In our shop, we have had nothing but problems getting SX to shift well on full suspensions. If you are running a hardtail then the NX and SX seem to work OK.
  • 4 0
 I've had NX for a couple of years and not had any problems, shifting has always been fine. Yes when it finally wears out I'll replace it with XT but I can't justify it when i push the lever it shifts gear ok.
  • 1 0
 @PtDiddy:
10 spd XO shifter
10 spd Sunrace 11-46 cassette
12 spd gx eagle mech

no issues here Smile
  • 2 0
 @Xlr8n: Not all Sram problems are shift related. I have a sit of cranks that has an axle .2mm undersize, and it clunks and creaks like hell. Warranty claim resulting in "Its within manufacturer tolerance". TBH the rest of the groups is fine but given SRAM thinks .2mm undersize is within tolerance - never again.
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: Mine SLX derailleur is still running smooth since - 17. A little bent, but still fine.
  • 1 0
 @addingst: Same, but i 've read horror stories.. First SRAM i've ever owned.. But i do plan to switch it for SLX once it's worn out....
  • 3 2
 @dirtyburger: 90% of all bikes come equipped with sram. If you consider how much more product they have in circulation compared to everyone else then your obviously going to see more issues because they’re more popular products. I still ride SRAM and Shimano. You get shimano because you want something cheap that does the job you buy sram because you want something that works really well and lasts but it comes at a premium. NX is just as shit as SLX.
  • 1 5
flag Dogl0rd (2 days ago) (Below Threshold)
 Comment is garbage
  • 2 0
 I got like 7000 miles out of the Deore rear der on my HT... and if I would have replaced the pulleys prior to bearing failure it would have gone farther!
  • 3 2
 No, really, to claim that GX fails that easily is total bunk. I've been riding mine for over two years and it's going strong. Hate SRAM if you want, but your comment is a gross generalization that doesn't match reality
  • 2 2
 @Dogl0rd: you talk about gross generalization, but then comment of your own personal experience as if it was the one and only truth. No need to get your panties up in a bunch lol.

First, I don't hate SRAM, having ridden X01 all of last year and not really having a complaint to say other than the performance I'm getting from my 12 speed XT this year is better. Like I've said in my second comment, even with the experience I've had, I still believe GX is a decent groupset, when it works correctly and doesn't fail prematurely (as is your case). But dollar for dollar, you can get better.
  • 3 2
 Uhh I'm an individual, so I gave you my personal experience You, however, made a generalization about the product from your personal experience. I provided a data point to counter that.
  • 3 0
 @Dogl0rd: Just go look at the whistler bike survey and look at how much sram absolutely dominates and has done for years now. Considering how many GX mechs are out there it’s amazing how reliable they actually are.
  • 1 1
 @thenotoriousmic: cool, didn't know that, I'll check it out
  • 62 13
 Is this article a joke ?
Kaz - i don't think you understand the term "budget"
up to $750 on wheels ??
up to $250 on a dropper ??
Wheels - you can get a set of hope wheels from merlincycles.com for £135
Dropper - get a Brand X dropper from chainreactioncycles for £100
Both BRAND NEW.
  • 3 1
 Merlin takes some time to ship to the US but man they do offer some deals and my fork was no tax free shipping.
  • 8 0
 Same thought. There are much better bargains to catch on internet for brand new stuffs.
  • 5 0
 I got a full XT 12speed drivetrain for $370 shipped to the US. Cant beat it!
  • 12 1
 So true. 750 for wheels! Come on.
  • 24 1
 I think the words "up to" are important to note.
  • 4 0
 Fully agree on both, especially wheelsets. If you’re mechanically inclined, build it yourself. If not, buy a used DT Swiss set Wink
  • 2 0
 @shotouthoods: Merlin spends $0 on customer service so is able to offer such discounts. I'm pretty sure of this.

If you actually need customer service, say if a company like Merlin screws up, or the product is faulty, Merlin is the absolute last place you'll want to have purchased from.
  • 1 0
 @NWBasser: what about "mtb on a budget"?
  • 2 0
 No you can't buy a Hope wheelset for £135. You can buy the front wheel for that, the set will cost you £365. But there are cheaper brands.
  • 2 0
 merlin cycles is out of stock on most things, It could just be that I'm set on 26"
  • 2 0
 The $40 grips are the craziest thing on the list
  • 2 0
 @lecriquet: Well, you don't have to spend the maximum that they noted. I think they wrote it as a range of prices that could potentially go up to whatever is listed.
  • 1 0
 @NWBasser: yeah, thanks, I got the idea. But still, 750$ for a pair of wheel is not "budget friendly". And there are good wheels for way less and. If beginners would read this article (I think they are the target) I would advice them not to spend more than 400$ in a pair of wheel.
  • 1 0
 @lecriquet: Yeah, I agree. That's good advice.
  • 65 20
 Save on your ego by recognizing your local trails are probably not as gnarly as you want them to be and buy a hardtail.
  • 8 1
 I've learned this hard way so many times haha! Just less travel rather than hardtail.
  • 20 0
 Not necessarily. Rocky/rooty areas are a lot more fun and easier on the body on a full-squish, even if they aren't super steep.
  • 34 4
 I think most of us have a grip on our local trails, and what we would like to ride them on.
  • 3 7
flag oragy (Jun 29, 2020 at 11:33) (Below Threshold)
 Exactly, you can get a twice as nice spec hardtail than a full squish for half the price
  • 1 0
 Yeah, less bike can make mellow trails more spicy. However, still like some suspension. I'm over the bone jarring. Lol.
  • 17 1
 My XC hardtail handles the double black trails that people like to ride on DH bikes (Snow Summit bike park).

That doesn't make it fun though.
  • 5 0
 @fullfacemike says the guy with the full face...
  • 37 2
 Disagree with dropper... a crappy dropper can ruin your day fast. And if you have a Reverb, can ruin a few weeks.
  • 12 2
 in other words, 'anything but a Reverb' Big Grin and totally agree
  • 3 0
 @bman33:
True. I must have the most reliable reverb on the planet and I still woudnt buy another. High cost high maintenance and not as slick or smooth as other much cheaper posts with a inferior handle bar lever.
Reverb is completely out of date relic. Needs a complete revamp.
  • 2 0
 @markg1150: Everybody hates the Reverb. It definitely isn't the easiest to bleed, but once you get it right it works well. My Reverb is like it is on extra strength viagra.
  • 1 0
 Bought a bike yoke revive when they were first released. Been on my last 2 bikes, just installed it on the 3rd and it’s still faultless.
Buy a 30.9 and it will fit any future frames
  • 1 0
 @markg1150: uhhh they did just revamp it
  • 27 2
 Article:"The good news is that you don't need to spend ... $5,000 to buy a bike"
Add up the price of suggestions: $5,000
Hmmmmmmm......
  • 3 0
 “Up to”
  • 32 7
 Single-speed. At least you won't have wasted money on excuses, like the rest of your friends.
  • 16 5
 One downvote from somebody with Eagle and a 76-degree seat-tube who's still pushing their bike up climbs.
  • 4 2
 @JVance: and another from the e-biker who's still pushing their bike up climbs
  • 2 0
 @stumphumper92: Hah, but your bike probably has walk assist. You'd better use it Smile .
  • 6 0
 @vinay: I'd ride an ebike all day everyday if they didn't cost the price of my car... Call me cheater whatever idc I am here for a good time not a long time
  • 1 0
 @stumphumper92: Ehrm, sorry if I came across the wrong way. I wasn't blaming and I've got nothing against e-bikes. I don't have one and I don't see myself getting an e-mtb anytime soon, if ever. But I've got nothing against them. And of course in commuting they make a massive amount of sense to me. I don't have one, but my girlfriend has. It is just a bitch to work on as I usually am fine working on bikes, but I don't dare to touch the expensive electronics Wink . On my commuter bike (a lighter weight one with hub dynamo and 8sp Nexus rear hub) I usually already go a bit over 25km/h so it feels like the regular e-bikes aren't worth it for me. But I travel only 11km to work. If it were double that it would be a different story, especially as heavy winds could drop my (unassisted) speed massively. Which is fun for the occasion, but if you've got a tight schedule and want some certainty of when you are going to be where, pedal assist would definitely a good solution. And even for me it would be silly to not get it. That said, no I probably still would find enough purpose for riding unassisted. But that's just me.
  • 21 0
 "OneUp, X-Fusion, and PNW Components are three examples of companies that offer reliable droppers at a reasonable price."

I have a BrandX dropper post (rebranded TransX, 100eur at CRC), and another Satori Sorata Pro (85EUR on Ali), they both work flawlessly. PNW also rebrands TransX. But I am afraid of the first maintenance on the Satori.
  • 8 1
 I have had 2 oem trans x droppers and they are super bom proof. Why ever spend more?
  • 2 1
 There ARE some great budget options out there. But personally, I wouldn't recommend the TransX. It's the only thing speced on my Devinci Spartan 29 that is on the "replace ASAP" list. Everything else is at least passable till I have the money for upgrades. For some reason my post, after 6 months or so, refuses to hold enough air spring pressure to have it actually reach the end of it's stroke when going up. And after already having a warranty replacement sent to me the first time I had this issue about 8-10 months ago, the replacement post is doing the exact same thing. Seems functional and reliable enough at first. But it's not up to par for me personally as someone who does suspension or seatpost service once a year at most. It may be fine for someone who does their own service regularly though. But it can be expensive and frustrating for someone who sends all their suspension parts out to be serviced.
  • 2 0
 @tmwjr777: That issue has cropped up with every brand rebranding Tranz-X internals (Race Face Aeffect, PNW, One Up) so it's kind of luck of the draw....
  • 7 0
 I have two Brand-X droppers, one 1.5 years old and one 0.5 years old. Both are awesome. They've lasted longer than my reverbs that's for sure!
  • 1 0
 Bontrager ones work flawlessly. Just if you get one of the older models, change the lever. Other than that zero issues (I have like... 6 of them)
  • 1 0
 Awesome info! I may look into one of those next. So far my XFusion has been flawless, but I havent ridden it for a whole season yet.
  • 4 0
 @Marky771: Yeah, I mean... I can see that. Sh*t happens. But it still leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth so to speak. Call me old skool, but for what we spend on these bikes, even the lover end models, typically 4-5 grand or more as an "aggressive rider"... I expect almost everything on the bike to still be virtually bomb proof unless it's being "abused". Buying a high end model vs. a lower end one shouldn't be about sacrificing reliability. In my opinion, buying a "baller build" model should be because you want to save weight and have all the "bells n whistles". Not because you're "buying reliability". So in turn, buying a more "budget friendly" build shouldn't be about sacrificing reliability either. But maybe that's just me.
  • 1 0
 @rickybobby18: Good to know. But.... Were these the "old reverbs"? They were unreliable pieces of crap. But even though I personally haven't used one, I hear the new Reverb is pretty awesome.
  • 2 0
 @HopeFbn: That's kind of the same take I had on my Specialized Command Post. A lot of other people had issues (usually by errors in setup tho), but I used mine for 6 years plus, only had it rebuilt once and it. was super reliable. Matter of fact, it's still on my old bike, hasn't been serviced in years and it STILL works just fine as long as I don't over-pressurize the air chamber. Which just means it's due to be serviced again. AND THAT POST IS OVER 10 YEARS OLD NOW!!! Just seems to me that the MTB world is getting to be just like everything nowadays. Less longevity and reliability, at a HIGHER price point. Sign of the times I guess.
  • 1 0
 Trans x is pretty legit. Performs better than the specialized command post, reverb and giant contact imo.
  • 2 0
 @bridgermurray: I respect your opinion. Personally I had a very different experience tho.
  • 1 0
 The Satori isn’t bad to clean and relube, although the guide pins are fiddly.

But when you screw the collar back on I recommend you use a touch of loctite. I had one of those eject itself on a ride when the collar had loosened up on rough trails. Never found THAT set of guide pins again!
  • 21 0
 "Spend on brakes"
Never tried them, but aren't Shimano M520 4 pistons really really good? Ok, the within reason part is right
  • 8 1
 My friend has those brakes, and yes, they're really good. I'd say they are the best brakes on the market when it comes to the perfomance to cost ratio.
  • 16 1
 Shimano's secret has always been that deore brakes have the same design and work just as well as xtr
  • 3 1
 Absolutely. Amazing performance for the price. Have then since January 2019, never been in a situation where they'd limit me in any way. Maybe slight fade on very long downhills, but that can be sorted by icetech pads and rotors.
  • 5 0
 Have them on my Trek Rail. Wanted to swap them right away but was really surprised how well they work, even on a heavy ebike. Don’t miss my Codes RSC on my enduro at all.
  • 8 0
 @chize: Shimano's "secret" in general is the way high end engineering carries over to budget options in the long run. In 20plus yrs of riding, I have "switched teams" between Sram and Shimano multiple times, just due to what's on the bike stock (I could never afford a 100% custom build). And after that 20 years of experience, when it comes to brakes. And drivetrains... I'll take Shimano every day of the week over Sram. Just this one riders opinion tho.
  • 3 0
 Another good budget option is Magura MT Trail Sport. I've run them for years, and they outperform many higher-end brakes.

The M520s and SLX 4-piston models both look good, but I'm still wary of Shimano since dealing with the wandering bite-point issue on a set of XT 8000s - Has anyone had this issue on their Deore and M-series stoppers, or is it just the higher-end models?
  • 7 0
 Yeah, I'd also say save on brakes. I have Shimano M6000 brakes (two-piston Deore) which I upgraded with metallic pads. Compared to SLX or XT, feel and power are damn near the same. Adjustability is the main difference.

Don't get cheap Srams though. I had Level T brakes and they suck.
  • 2 0
 The MT520s came stock on my bike and i have no complaints. I did upgrade the pads to metallic (and consequently had to upgrade the resin-only rotors to ones that were metal-compatible). If I were doing a build they'd probably be near the top of my list because of how inexpensive they are
  • 1 0
 I have an, paid $50 a wheel. Awesome brakes.
  • 1 0
 Yes, very very good.
  • 1 0
 This topic hit a bullseye for me. I'm on the fence right now about rebuilding my old M800 Saints vs looking for a newer set and maybe these Shimano M520 are the thing.
  • 1 2
 @gmac: fwiw old shimano's are better than new shimano's, fewer issues with wandering bite point and generally more reliable
  • 2 1
 @tmwjr777: I was in the same camp for a long time but got code rsc on my most recent complete build and I'm super impressed with them. Still 100% in the Shimano drivetrain camp however
  • 2 0
 Sram Guide RE! Code caliper with Guide lever. I think they're only OE, but not hard to find as take-offs.
  • 1 0
 @vaedwards: I have the MT520 caliper with metal pads, the 501 lever, and 203 rotor for my front brake, and have not experienced the wandering bite point. I think that comes with the tool free adjustable levers, like SLX and up, if I’m not mistaken.
  • 19 1
 Using a rear tire with hard rubber will sacrifice some grip, but will keep the tread fresh for longer, thus providing more grip in the long run, and also save you quite a bit of money since hard rubber tires are cheaper usually, and last longer.
  • 3 0
 Yes! The new Aggressor in 2.5 WT Dual Compound is way cheaper even in Double Down...and seems to be lasting way longer than 3C. I'm sold on it
  • 1 0
 Almost toasted the DD DHR2 in no time already. But damn, I love the performance!
  • 1 0
 yup, old news for people who ride in tire destroying places like i do, but definitely a good tip. When I was mostly riding Maxxis, i'd go single compound 60a or even 70a rears if I could find them. I'd rather have the back end break loose before the front anyway. That said, Conti makes one tire compound, and I ain't even mad. black chili grips and lasts, no compromises.
  • 3 0
 @Nwilkes: I use DC tires in the front too (DHF or Assegai). Lasts foreeeeever and they grip plenty well. I'm sure I give up marginal amounts of grip but I really have no complaints.
  • 20 0
 More aluminum frames,please.
  • 4 2
 And even more steel,please
  • 16 1
 I got my entire fs bike new for $2500 with a good spec. I know people will disagree with this, but direct to consumer is gonna save you a significant amount of money. And if you complain about taking money away from bike shops, get your servicing done there as that's where they make most of their money anyway.
  • 3 3
 Not entirely true, as many bikeshops offer free service on bikes purchased at their shop. Yes direct to consumer can be a cheaper option. Where the downfall comes in as a consumer, is the customer service. YT for example is a good one. If you break a frame ect, you now need to deal with YT directly. Given that they also make a limited amount of frames per season, (depending when you break it) you could be waiting months for a replacement. This is not the case with companies like Santa Cruz. Bike shops purchase their frames, which frees up revenue within the company for rider support ect. Reality is its not JUST about the bike shops. While i reccomend supporting your local shop one way or another, I do fully understand that as a consumer, you want the best bang for your buck. Consumer direct works well for this, but keep in mind there are drawbacks.
  • 3 19
flag makudad (Jun 29, 2020 at 9:39) (Below Threshold)
 You're not wrong that direct-to-consumer can be a real money saver. And it's great to take said bike to your LBS. However, shops definitely don't make most of their money on service. I'm generalizing here but the average shop (in Canada and the US) probably makes about 10% of it's total revenue on parts and labor, as opposed to something more like 50% on new bike sales.
  • 11 0
 @makudad: Not sure where you're getting those numbers from cuz that's just entirely untrue
  • 4 0
 @jomacba: it's not that simple. Sometimes direct brands have given me better service than local shop, and sometimes local shops have given me better service than direct brands. For example I've gotten better service from Chain Reaction than I did from one of the LBS's in my area in the past (though I'm sure experiences vary, and this is just one example).

What IS for sure though is you save a ton buying direct. My bike's spec would have cost $1500 more if I bought it in my LBS. $1500 is a lot of upgrades and service money. There's no comparison.
  • 7 1
 @makudad: I completely disagree with your profit percentages. 10% on labor?
50% on sales? Uh, no..
  • 4 0
 @makudad: everyone I know that have inside info on bikes shops say bikes are not where they make money. It’s from the peripherals and service they keep the lights on.
(Also it wasn’t me that downvoted you.)
  • 1 1
 @rickybobby18: I cant speak to the service your bike shop provides. I can tell you their potential ability to support riders is there though. Dunbar cycles in Vancouver Canada is a great example of this. I'd be hard pressed to find somewhere that provides better customer service.
  • 4 1
 @Beez177: he says revenue not profit.
  • 3 0
 @makudad: revenue maybe no one is dropping thousands on Labour Like they do with a new bike, But Labour has a way bigger profit margin
  • 14 0
 The shop I work at we do a lot of work on Canyon's, YTs and Commencals and we could care less where they came from, it keeps up busy and beats working on beat ass commuter bikes all the time lol
  • 1 0
 @stumphumper92: @stumphumper92: partly personal experience working in multiple shops. But I was curious, and before posting I read an article by Fred Clements in Bicycle Retailer, where he says: "High-profit stores report 11.4 percent of their revenue comes from repair parts and labor, compared to only 6.5 percent for the average."
  • 1 4
 @Beez177: like @hhaaiirryy said, I'm talking revenue, not profit. No question that margins are way better in the service dept (ever seen the markup on bulk housing?). My point is that @stumphumper92 said service is "where they make most of their money anyway" and that simply isn't true.
  • 4 2
 @jomacba: honestly at this point it’s time bike shops started supporting us and gave us a reason to buy from them. There’s some really good shops out there that do things right but they’re a minority, most of them are run by pirates these days.
  • 1 0
 I chose a BikesDirect.com Motobecane and saved up to 60% off my bike, but the bike shop wanted to charge me for more than I paid for the bike to fix it after only 2 rides? Maybe I will just throw it on Craigslist for more than I paid for it because I put a cool bike bag on it...
  • 1 0
 @thenotoriousmic: I cant argue with that statement. However, what your referring to is the business model certain shops follow. I can say I know many shops locally that do a great job supporting riders, and the rest... Well ultimately, you as a consumer have the choice to support that shop, and thus; The livelihood of that business relies on a strong customer base. Eventually they will need to change their business model, or go out of business.
  • 1 0
 Intense free carbon wheelset deal is happening again this year. I got in on it with an Intense Primer and I'm the happiest of campers.
  • 1 0
 @makudad: Guy, they make their most of their money through selling services and parts/accessories. And that is a fact. Bike sales make up the smallest percentage of their profit.
  • 1 0
 @hhaaiirryy: Ok that may be true but it's besides the point as profit is what keeps you in business. If you're braking even on bike sales what's the point?
  • 16 5
 Is this serious? "Potentially " on used wheels and a hard no on used handlebars and saddles? A whole bike can be realistically be put together with used parts, and it won't be a rolling death trap. I've bought used wheels here as well as *gasp* used handlebars too and i still have all my teeth and limbs.
  • 11 10
 And apparently suspension that is 2 seasons old isn't worth buying either. Funny how in the BLM article they put out a few weeks ago they talked about entry point into MTB being too expensive, then completely contradict themselves by advising people to not buy second hand parts. Good one PB.
  • 7 0
 Everyone's bike is a pile of used parts.
  • 21 2
 @Davec85, secondhand parts are definitely worth buying - that fact is mentioned multiple times in the article. I don't recommend buying secondhand handlebars at all, simply because there's no way to determine how much use / abuse they've seen. A snapped bar is one of the worst things that can happen on a ride - personally, I don't think it's worth the risk, especially considering that a new alloy bar isn't crazy expensive.
  • 1 0
 @Davec85: No kidding. So much for doing a rebuild on a shock and fork. I guess I've been buying my used parts from the wrong sellers.
  • 4 1
 @mikekazimer: I won't even sell my used handlebars for exactly that reason. I replace my bars every couple seasons so that I don't ever have to worry about one breaking from fatigue failure, and I'm not going to sell someone something that I wouldn't ride myself.
  • 6 0
 No way. You have to buy new, especially on a used bike. If you accidentally get one, sell all the parts immediately for cheap (including the frame) and then go buy all new ones.
  • 7 1
 @mikekazimer: I wouldn't Enve anybody who snapped their bars
  • 10 0
 Patience is key when working on a budget. I built up my last bike over winter and was able to find amazing deals online and for used stuff.

Wheels: Hope Pro2 Evo (case of beer and a rebuild for the rear. $80 new for the front. Octane1 rims ($30/each). DHF/DHR II ($100 for both at a shop moving sale)
Fork: RS Yari ($500 for a new fork pulled off a stock build)
Shock: RS Vivid Coil ($80 plus a new spring)
Bars: Chromag OSX ($40 at a shop moving sale)
Brakes: Shimano Zee ($250 for front/rear w/ rotors)
Drivetrain: Sram GX 11spd ($250, but sold the cranks for $100)
Dropper: Brand-X 150mm ($150cdn)
Saddle: Ergon ($30 used)

Also picked up a NS dirt jumper for $50 (mom was selling because her kid hadn't used it in a few years)
  • 2 0
 Totally agree, patience and buying when you spot the deal is key. However, a new Yari for $500 is a hard nope for me, the MoCo damper is just awful... they're also $499 brand new in box.
  • 3 0
 @jpat22: That was Canadian dollar, so like, $360 usd.
  • 1 0
 For all cheap people: Suntour Durolux/Auron R2C2 - people sell Them for 200-300 bucks in good condition and they work really well.

Way better than a Yari for the Same price
  • 9 0
 Also on the suspension...if you're a "set it and forget it" type, then dont shell out the bucks for the hyper adjustable suspension that comes with a manual the size of "War and Peace".
  • 2 0
 The PERFORMANCE difference between the Yari and Ohlins I have, in real world riding, is tiny. Once set up at least.
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: Are the Öhlins that bad? No, seriously, I had a Yari, that MotionControl damper is quite bad in my opinion. Swapped it with a Charger 2.1 RC2, costly but a new level of fork!
  • 1 0
 @Leicester: Ohlins feels amazing.

But "feel" doesn't translate to Strava times. I think the "feel" is WAY more in the head than in the reality. But no one likes being told they spent money on something that barely made an improvement when they "feel" so much better.
  • 13 1
 Poor man pays twice.
  • 11 1
 Rich man steal from poor no taxes filthy rich evasion nepotism corruption
  • 1 0
 @browner: goose-frabba?
  • 1 1
 I'd much rather have a cheap part break, then say 'oh well it was cheap', than have an expensive part break.
  • 2 0
 Wise man buying mid-level durable components buys once has more beer money much happy satisfaction
  • 10 0
 i'll continue running 11-speed XT drivetrains until they stop making them. They're just so good and cheap AF
  • 1 0
 Recently got a wide range 9 speed 11/50 ztto cassete. Jump between gears are perfect to me. SLX 11speed RD with Sram 9 speed shifter.
  • 7 0
 Peeps gonna hate this but with many carbon wheel manufacturers offering lifetime no fault warranties, are you really saving with aluminum wheels over the long run? Also controversial but after reading how carbon wheels are largely a waste of money, I was shocked at the ride difference that I experienced when I went to them. Same bike back to back the difference is real in my humble opinion.
  • 2 0
 Depends on the price point you're looking at. Factor in the number of times you're reliably going to be able to get that warranty replacement, then multiply by the cost of your alloy wheels.
  • 6 0
 (Looks at my Flow EX rims that are 5 years old and still running fine) No, carbon isn’t worth it.
  • 3 0
 Saving money and buying carbon wheels is like trying to buy a budget sports car from Italian car manufacturers only...

Seriously though, you can’t tell me that carbon wheels are 3-4 times better than a set of aluminum wheels. 3 to 4 times the price is a lot to save 100 grams...

They’re nice, but not for budget buying.

Looking for close-outs, discontinued and
Off season buying are the way to go.
  • 2 0
 @Saidrick: you can get a real nice set of carbon wheels these days for like $1200. A decent set of aluminums rum you $500. Then assuming you don’t know how to lace a wheel up you pay about $250 for a new aluminum rim plus labor. So if you break 3 aluminum rims and don’t break your carbon rims it is about a wash. I read about people that break carbon rims too. I broke 1 aluminum rim a season til I went carbon. On year 3 of my original carbon wheel set. So for me carbon is around the same price. Of course maybe what I did to break the aluminum rims would have broken the carbon ones too? I don’t know? The calculus would change too if you could rebuild the wheel yourself.
  • 1 0
 @Saidrick: I'm not interested in them at all for the weight savings, that's simply a bonus.
I'm saying that I personally found the difference in ride quality to be more than I suspected it would be based on what I had read. The other thing I've noticed that even ridden extremely hard, they stay true. As always to each their own but when a lot of manufacturers are offering lifetime warranties they start to make sense.
  • 6 0
 Impressive forks for cheaper price? Manitou Mattocs with the Dorado damper. They have done so well, I got a pair of Mattocs and I wasnt happy initially then I rode them and wow. I shit you not they are in the same ballpark as my Fox 36 and BOS Devilles. Kudos Manitou keep it up
  • 1 0
 It's also much easier to find forks sold at a big discount when they aren't made by RockShox or Fox/Marzocchi.
  • 10 2
 This is super useful, I'll be sending this over to a few of my more novice rider friends!
  • 5 0
 My recent budget buys are
Vitus sommet vr frame £570 new eBay,
Suntour aion forks crc £160 reduced from 380.
Sram level t brakes tweekz £95 front n rear.
Sun ringle boost rear wheel duroc rim decathlon £ 67
Sram gx rear mech £25 new ebay
All other bits are off my 2017 marin mount vision, the summets great rides like a new bike
  • 5 0
 Gotta disagree with you on the contact points. I would spend on grips & saddle, and save on pedals. $45 Race Face Chesters work fine, but I can't imagine saving money and sacrificing comfort by buying a cheaper saddle. YMMV, though.
  • 7 0
 The article is called MTB on a budget and then drivetrain is about SRAM and Shimano and suspension about Rockshox and Fox.... Puts things in perspective I suppose....
  • 2 0
 That's when you live in an ivory tower and have never heard of things other than OEM Products...
  • 4 0
 @squarewheel: Well I can't deny that was indeed the impression I got from the article.

Basically you should stick with 12-speed SRAM or Shimano. No mention of Microshift, 11-speed, sunrace cassette's for instance.

I run a sunrace 10-46t cassette with a SLX derailleur and and 11-s XT shifter. Works perfect, very affordable and bigger range than SRAM 1x11s (which at launch was considered sufficient range by the reviewers).

On the fork side, no mention of Suntour, Manitou, DVO etc. which would seem very likely suggestions if you want to advise people on a budget to get good value for money.

Article just comes across somewhat narrow-minded when on a budget one of the things you need to do is think outside the box.
  • 4 0
 I spent $1700 CAD for a brand new 2018 RM slayer frame this year from a bike store online. New old-stock. Saved about half of what it retailed for originally and got an X2 upgrade with it.

Deals are there if you look for them.
  • 3 0
 No way whats the name of this store?! And do they ship to the US? Asking for, uh, a friend.
  • 3 0
 @yoimaninja:

GearHub sports in Fernie BC

They may ship to the US. Check them out. They have some RM frames available for good prices.
  • 1 0
 @kilo11: Thanks and no kidding they do got some good deals! Might have to make a spontaneous purchase...
  • 1 0
 @yoimaninja:

They have some really well priced altitude frames in stock right now and with the exchange rate you should make out like a criminal
  • 1 0
 @kilo11: yea I'm eyeing that up or they got a '17 slayer frame left in my size that's also very tempting.
  • 1 0
 @yoimaninja:

Take the slayer. It aready has an X2 on it or if you want a coil they do suspension upgrades with purchase. Basically you pay the difference for an upgraded shock.

My slayer came with a DPX2 and I upgraded to an X2 for about $130
  • 6 0
 My components hierarchy list (other than a must dropper post):
1. Suspension
2. Tires
3. Brakes
4. Cackpit
5. Pedals
6. Everything else
  • 11 0
 I like to spend all I have on a CNC'd stem and rotors with all sorts of cooling fins, and then everything else gets what is left over.
  • 4 0
 I agree although and awkward cakepit can really mess up the bike fit.
  • 9 0
 @sunringlerider: I can't afford a full cakepit but you can get a cakepot much cheaper although it doesn't hold as much cake.
  • 3 0
 @slovenian6474: what kind of pleb doesn't have a cake pit? How do you relax after a long day of manipulating the stock market and suppressing zero point energy devices?
  • 1 0
 @PhillipJ: Not sure if this is just your PB username or if you're actually Phillip J. Fry...
  • 4 0
 A fun topic to discuss that I'm sure will generate a lot of debate/disagreement. I think you guys nailed it though, and that is also where I'd recommend to my friends looking to buy a new bike where to spend/save. The rest just depends on your total budget.
  • 6 0
 Another way to save money would be for USA manufacturers to pass on some of the 14% corporate tax cut they received a couple years ago.
  • 4 0
 Think of the poor investors you are hurting!
  • 7 0
 @MikeAzBS: no, the point is those tax savings trickle down to the employees. Didn’t everyone notice the raise they got last year? No? Oh....
  • 8 2
 I try to go budget but always upgrade everything right away, once you try high end parts it's hard to go back to low end.
  • 1 0
 Totally agree but when my oem high end parts wear out I replace with whatever I can get cheap.
  • 1 0
 @kingbike2: I do that for Cassette I will never pay 400$ for something that wear out fast and don't give any advantage other than weight savings.
  • 7 0
 That's a pretty BIG "Budget".
  • 6 0
 Sunrace cassettes! Cheaper, lighter and shift just as the blue and red big S' do!
  • 3 0
 + 1 for Sunrace Cassettes. Do it people.
  • 1 0
 Great alternative. But unless they have improved A LOT in the past couple of years, they certainly do not shift nearly as well.
  • 1 0
 The one i had weighed a crap ton and shifted not that great. Mine was a 2017 version so maybe its different now.
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: mine do
  • 1 0
 No way. I came off years of sunrace 10 to M9100 this season. I mean, sunrace works fine. But M9100 is pure smooth magic.
  • 2 0
 I ride one too, and for the price (which was my argument when buying) they are absolutely fine. But I have to say, they don't shift nearly as well as the Shimano stuff, not even close. They just work, nothing more.

Edit: And they are not that light eighter.
  • 3 0
 Get saddle that fits your butt, not your budget. Don't spend on blinks like titanium or carbon rails, but absolutely find saddle that's comfortable. If you wanna save on drivetrain, get 1x11, they're absolutely fine. If you cheap out on wheels too much, it's gonna be the first part you'll have to replace.
  • 3 0
 I always have been a sort of budget guy when it comes to bike projects... but I decided to go „all in“with nicely-wisely purchased parts... now ended up with Megatower x01 eagle carbon wheels and everything I wanted to have on it - and am I a better biker now? Well I think not but I have a lot of fun with my bike... Spending money on things you appreciate and use are always worth it
  • 3 0
 Wheels - if you're willing to rebuild/true your wheels, you can save a bunch of $$$ there. My spare wheel is an SRAM Roam 30 - hardly a drool-worthy hoop, but I can reliably score replacement rims on ebay for $20-30, which means casing a rim on a square edged rock or cement ledge doesn't necessitate taking out a second mortgage.

Also, taking care of your gear (i.e., getting a bash guard and not letting your shocks get crudded up) is a good way of saving money by deferring replacement.
  • 1 0
 Those SRAM wheels were great though, so underrated.
  • 1 0
 @VersusTires: Yes, I like mine. SRAM had some interesting ideas with those wheels, such as making the rim asymmetrical, so you can use the same spoke length throughout. Similarly, the low spoke count/bladed spoke combination is light, but the downside is that low spoke count means that they're a pain in the butt to get back into shape if you dent them, or hit them harder than they like.
  • 1 0
 I also got some Roam 30s. They are holding up fine for over 4 years now. The only thing now is a little bit of play in the rear bearings. One thing I don't unterstand though is why they didn't equipp it with 4 pawls in the hub body. With only two pawls they have half the engagement points and it would be only two little pawls to improve it and there's no ways to buy them seperately.
  • 3 0
 Used tires are a steal if you have places that sell them. We have a place locally that sells take of tires for $10. A lot of them are junk, but you can find tires that still have the molding flash on them pretty easy.
  • 1 0
 Friend of mine is sensitive about tire wear. Barely worn, and he tosses them. Used to give them to me when I was dirt poor, and I would run them until they were dead.
  • 1 0
 Paid $100.00 for new maxxis soft compound that I skidded to death in only a month. Only buy new on deep discount or on Craigslist now.
  • 2 0
 The only parts I go cheap on are the cranks, dropper post, chain, and cassette. I'm a big fan of lighter wheels due to all my climbing, so those are gonna cost an arm and a leg. I've had great luck with PNW droppers for well under $200, and cheap NX cranks have served me fine. Cassette-wise, I cannot tell the difference from my NX to my XO1. Handlebars and stem, I just like Renthal (I know how to silence the dreaded stem creak!). Frame-wise, I always go mid-level anyways. I'll never be able to justify S-works level prices... I'm just not that fast.
  • 4 0
 For suspensions, just take a look at suntour. 2021 R2C2 Durolux for under 800€. Yes. (But includes patented PainInAss® axle)
  • 1 0
 @fracasnoxteam How is it's performance compared to the competition? Reviews seem scarce, even for the 2020 fork. I was looking for a Durolux (new) but couldn't find it for sale in the UK and ended up getting an Ohlins RFX 36 Evo instead for a similar price (£750). Still fancy giving the Durolux a go at some point though...
  • 2 0
 @arna86: I can't compare, I can't say I'm a specialist. But I had a lot of forks, some race prep. And this is the best I've ever had "stock" for now. Plus it looks really strong. I'll tell you more at the end of summer... Was hard to find mine: 2021 Durolux r2c2 160mm/29in 44mm offset. More will be sold in Europe in August I heard. 750 for rfx36evo, nice too!
  • 1 0
 @fracasnoxteam: That's really helpful, thank you. I haven't actually ridden my Ohlins yet as I haven't been able to get home to the UK to build my new bike up yet but if that fork doesn't work out for me, I'll definitely consider the Suntour as a leading alternative. The burly build really sings to me too at 102kg without kit! The deal for the Ohlins at £750 was awesome though. I bought it through J-Tech suspension in the UK and the best part was that they do a custom rebuild and tune on every fork they send out based on rider weight, style and skill level before dispatching the fork. I had to go for it Smile
  • 2 0
 @arna86: I'm quite a big boy too at 95kg /w kit so yes, that's a go/no go point for me
  • 2 0
 How do the Marzocchi forks compare to the DVO Diamond D1 in small bump and overall performance? I had a DVO loaner last year for a couple and it was incredible. I'm considering getting a new fork and the Marz and DVO are basically the same price.
  • 1 0
 On my second DVO fork. Started with a Diamond, now on a Onyx single crown. Really love it and much easier to dial in a service than Fox in my humble opinion.
  • 2 0
 Can't agree on saving money on wheels or a saddle... Saving within reason on wheels yes. A quality wheel set will make riding so much more enjoyable, seriously! Cheaper wheels typically are older, narrower, and have less POA for hubs.

The Saddle - being comfortable is vitally important here. Most quality saddles won't break the bank relatively speaking, so having a saddle that works for you is worth the investment. Do you need carbon or Ti rails on the saddle? Again Saving within reason may mean the difference between enjoying mountain biking or not - especially for the wives & daughters you want to get into riding with you!
  • 2 0
 Frames depreciate in price so quickly, if you can score a good deal on a used frame, you can bling out that bike with all-new top of the line parts and still end up cheaper than an “entry level” $3000 bike. I’ve bought 3 used frames and none of them were over $700, all of them came from bikes that cost $2000-3000 at the bottom spec 1-2 years before
  • 2 0
 That's why my last frame just sits in a corner. Back up in case I break my current one. Worth nothing used, so why give it away?
  • 2 0
 Bike industry is so weird: Get a top-spec direct sales bike like a Radon and harvest parts. You can throw away the carbon frame and the shock and still save money on the parts for your custom build with another fancy frame set.

With this technique you can build up your S-Works rig cheaper than the official version.
  • 2 0
 Is that actually true?
  • 2 0
 As someone with a small budget, I can tell you following advice... you don't an brandnew unused fork or suspension even wheels or frame. You can easy start with everything second hand, except Stem, Handlebar, Tires and Drivetrain. Just keep an eye on cracks or dents on frame, fork and wheels. Everything else is good to start with used parts as it teaches you how to service and fix stuff. After some experience, you'll learn on what to save and where to spend more of your hard earned bucks....riding a less performant bike teaches you also how to ride smother than having a monster truck which does all the job for you.... if you are new to the sport buy a used bike..ask a friend who is into cycling to come with you when you look for a new bike
  • 3 0
 New in box, sure. New old stock, sure. Barely used, maybe Well used, oh hell no. There are so many deals to be had on new parts if you're willing to wait. For bikes, used is rarely a deal, esp since Covid.
  • 2 0
 I've got a full-on budget build and the weight of the wheels is very noticeable when I hop on a friend's bike and then back on mine. It doesn't bother me most of the time, but if I had the cash to blow, wheels would be a pretty nice upgrade.

...But not until after a dropper post, which I'm told will be life changing. I crawled under a rock in 2007 so I really wouldn't know.

Saw a "dream build" version of my bike on fb marketplace and the seller was claiming he had spent $13k on it. I struggle to imagine it being 7 times more fun than mine.
  • 2 0
 Sorry, have to be "that guy:" the term alloy is not exclusive to aluminium.

Anyway... there are a number of things that you can buy that can make your life (mostly slightly) better as a mountain biker. That being said unless something dramatically changes I try not to buy new (or upgrade) things until the difference is so substantial that I get that "night and day" feeling. Most bikes these days seem to really last. and the geometry, even when it's a couple years old, has changed the way everyone rides My tip for an investment would be to learn how to repair and tune your own stuff. That old "give a man a fish" story.
  • 9 4
 Tally all this up. How much does the bike cost?
  • 14 1
 That's not really the point - the intent wasn't to highlight the absolute cheapest options. It's meant to provide information for people looking to purchase either a complete new bike, or considering upgrading certain components on their existing bike. Complete bikes are typically cheaper than purchasing every part individually, especially if you go consumer direct. And of course, used will always be the cheapest option.
  • 5 0
 A little over 5k using the high end of the numbers, but I'm assuming the idea is not to build a bike up from scratch as that is clearly more expensive (lots of good full-build bikes for 3k or less), but where to save money if you are upgrading or need/want to replace parts. But who knows.
  • 2 0
 @gemma8788: This is why you have people calling it a "luxury sport". Sadly my bikes tires cost more than my car tires and my bike wheels cost more than the set of my four aftermarket higher-end car wheels.
  • 2 0
 @rossluzz: For sure. At the same time, I'm struggling to think of a sport that is drastically cheaper that doesn't involve a ball (and playing those competitively can be very expensive). Motos, kayak/canoe, ski/snowboard (almost an equal amount of gear/clothing/lift tickets as bikes), snowmobile, etc. Model trains are expensive if you really get into it. Sports are just expensive man, I wish it wasn't so but it is. You can run, play pickup games for cheap, and you can surf the same beach every day, but otherwise you gotta cough up the $$.
  • 2 0
 @rossluzz: But I agree that the price of high end bike wheels is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen.
  • 1 0
 @rossluzz: True. But when I go mountain biking, most people I see are riding mid level bikes that cost less than a set of the off road tires on the 4x4 that have never seen dirt.
  • 2 0
 @gemma8788: freestyle BMX
  • 2 0
 @dirtyburger: haha touche
  • 3 0
 Personally I think full range compression adjust is a must have for a rear shock. Those 3-way levers always leave me with too little or too much damping.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. I’m loving the new super deluxe ultimate.
  • 2 0
 That´s not because of number of adjusters but wrong tune for you and your bike.
  • 1 0
 disagree with some brands. DVO has a very good range in the Topaz, dont know about the new jade x
  • 5 0
 Gotta spend on a saddle. Your ass is worth it.
  • 2 0
 No issues with wtb volt or silverado's for $50. Used them on zwift over winter for hour long rides that are mostly sitting. Could pay a little more for less weight, but the comfort is there. But, I hear you. Nothing is worse than riding in pain for no good reason.
  • 1 0
 Looks like my wish list for my entry level Sensor. Bomber Z2, Hunt Wheels, and shimano 12 speed. Already bought a One Up Dropper and some grippy Maxxis rubber. The wait is so long to get Hunt Wheels that I probably will just upgrade it over the winter.
  • 1 0
 How long have you been waiting so far and what was the proposed despatch date? I ask as I'm waiting on some too and I'm wondering what to expect - especially with COVID-19 delays...!
  • 2 0
 @arna86: The wait is 2 months, and I'm not sure if that is dispatched or eta they estimate. Since that's practically September, I've decided to wait for winter to do upgrades.
  • 1 0
 @JayUpNorth: I think it's until dispatch from looking at the website. I wish I had an alternative in the meantime :'(
  • 2 0
 @arna86: Merlin's had some dt swiss m1700's that looked pretty good on sale, but I missed those too. Just looking for something durable and light that's not too expensive. I have two wheel sets that are 2300g or more. Both are way too heavy. I thought take off oem Rovals would be the same as the aftermarket Roval wheels. Live and learn.
  • 5 0
 Just what I'm looking for is a pre-broken in saddle mmmmmm
  • 3 0
 This article couldn't have came at a better time. I'm mid bike build and some of these points are pretty helpful.

TIL: Fox own Marzocchi.
  • 1 0
 This is a fun topic, a lot of opinions. I have never really owned any carbon anything so I can't weigh in on that. I am a big guy and ride fairly hard and produce a lot of power (in short bursts). I have never found expensive drive train to be more durable beyond deore and I break enough that I don't want more expensive. I also find I don't need more range but some people might.
I am one of the three people who rides a lot but doesn't have a dropper - I have three bikes I ride a lot and can never decide which to put it on - even have one sitting in a box.
Brakes - I really like Shimano deore - I have them on all my mtn bikes now and find they work well, are reliable and cheap. I also bought a huge bulk order of pads so I am committed - I have never really had higher end brakes so it could be I don't know what I am talking about
  • 4 0
 Forks.. buy used pre 2007 marzocchi, never worry about them again for the next 10 years.
  • 2 0
 I would go for the top level shifter (either XTR or XX1). The price gap isn't astronomical, and the upgrade in shift quality will be noticeable considering how many thousands of times you will shift over a bike's lifetime.
  • 1 0
 Some things I will go budget on, but some things will just cost you more money, time, and aggravation by getting too budget of stuff especially bike frames and components. Riding for so long I have fined tuned what is needed and wanted.
  • 2 0
 Scour eBay for new random parts. I won an auction for brand new, current xtr levers for like $50. Mixed these up with some eBay auctioned zee calipers and i have a sweet yet very reasonable brakeset
  • 1 0
 I went from a 2017 $3000 (MSRP) E29 to a 2018 $8500 (MSRP) E29. I learned a few things from that change (geo barely changed between the two).

One thing I learned: That extra cash doesn't make you faster, really. Two great examples are a 20 minute, 1300' local trail. I'm in the top 1% out of 1000 people, only 10 seconds difference between my fastest time on the old vs new bike. On another local bike park trail that is 3:30, I am in the top 1% out of 4000 people, and only 10 seconds faster on the new bike.

Was the more expensive bike faster? Yes. $5000 faster? You have to answer that question for yourself (I actually don't regret it).
  • 1 0
 Stay away of sram cheap things like NX group,it is money lost...3 rides in my new bike and the derailleur has a ton of play and no spring tension...It is crap...SLX 11 speed is near indestructible,0 problems in 3 years in my old bike,still works flawless. Put your money in a well equipped bike from stock,it is cheaper but really difficult to find a good one. Spend your money going places and ridding,it is by far the best value for your buck rather than buying fancy parts.
  • 2 0
 Why spend $40 on grips when odi longnecks are $14 and as good as it gets?

I'd be much more inclined to splurge on a nicely shaped pair of (flat) pedals with easily replaceable sealed bearings and good pin placement
  • 3 0
 Fit larger discs eg 203s to boost power on weaker cheaper brakes. Cost peanuts and adds about the same as a few peanuts in weight.
  • 1 0
 Seems to me this article goes toward the newbie spectrum of mtb enthusiasts. Anybody obsessed enough with the sport knows the diference between “this or that”. My question is: do the newcomers really benefit from a 12 speed drivetrain or a $100 tire? I mean, there are $30-40 tires that perform decently or you aren’t ripping the trail apart, or perfectly functional 10 speed drivetrains (even wide range) that were all rage a few months ago. with this kind of recommendations outsiders will think we all are a bunch of snob dentists.
  • 1 0
 Hmm $750 for 'budget' wheels? I just spent £280 on a nice new complete wheelset on UK-made hubs (Superstar) and I didn't even consider it a cheapo option. The hubs are great, the rims are, well, rims - it's a simple enough part to not overpay for it. The set is not too heavy and if they prove durable long term, then I won't have much reason to spend more next time.

A similar amount would have got me a set of Spank 350s or Stan's Flows on CRC, so it's not like Superstar is the exception. No need to splash out 700 on wheels if we're talking budget build.

$150-250 a pop for brakes? If you're on a budget get a pair of Zees with 203 mm rotors and enjoy DH-worthy performance for peanuts.

Overall good article though and great that PB even discusses this. I agree with a lot of it: get good tyres, plastic pedals are great for half the price of alu, suspension over drivetrain, get a dropper if you can.

Could have mentioned the actual value players in suspension though: Manitou, Suntour, X-fusion. They never get much love or attention from PB but if I was building a bike from scratch or replacing some Recon/Revelation/35 from a stock build, I would for sure look at those 3 brands.

Smaller drivetrain players like Box could be a good idea but with the price of the complete new Deore (or even better discounted 11 speed if you find it) I think I'd trust good old Shimano.
  • 2 1
 Hi.

Have to mention that Versus has really well-rated tires for $120 a set, shipped to the US (we have a $5 off a set promo this week on top of that, too). We also have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee & a frequent buyer program, which earns points towards discounts. We have special pricing at events (whenever they start happening again, too).

Oh, and Versus is rider owned.
  • 1 0
 I agree on where to spend vs where to save mostly. Price ranges are way too high though. Pretty decent entry level trailbike like Canyon Neuron AL sells complete with Fox 34 Rhythm/DPS, GX/NX mix & dropper for 2300 euros. Nothing on that needs immediate replacement for any beginner. So really don't spend 2500 on a frame unless you really know what you want and you don't need an article like this....
  • 1 0
 New old stock/budget full suspension:
Frame $400
Fork/shock $450
Custom wheels $250
Crank/drivetrain $200
170mm dropper $135
Rest $365
Total $1800
Time will tell how it worked out but first impressions are good. Nothing truly heavy and cheap and plenty of rebound and compression adjustment on suspension. But obviously nothing too fancy either.
  • 1 0
 This is an awful guide to building a cheap bike. Even going on the cheaper side of the recommendations you still end up spending well in excess of $2000. For anyone looking to get into mountain biking on the cheap thats alot of money. Hell, for anyone who doesn't have a shed load of expendable income, thats a fair load of cash.

If you actually wanted to build a budget guide, youd need to heavily revise down your expendiature recommendations and actually look to save money. Try building a bike for $1000 or less. Its completely do able and the end product is actually great. You'll have just as much fun as the boomer riding his full carbon $10,000 shop rig.

In summary, this is bullshit from people who get sponsored to make sure you overgear yourself for the trial.
  • 1 0
 Pro tip: Learn how to build wheels! It's not that hard, I have no mechanical background and managed to build some sturdy wheels. Bought tools worth 60$ and built 5 wheels so far. DT EX510 costs 80$, spokes for 30$, a hub 100-200$ and you have a premium wheelset for half or even a third of the price.

I know this is not exactly how "budget" work, but what I want to say is that you can have better stuff for a much lower price here. Also, your riding buddies will happily spend some beer and pizza if you true or build them some badass wheels.
  • 1 0
 Don‘t go for those Hunt Wheels! I dented and broke both rims in pretty mellow terrain on my first ride. Never happened to me before even with way lighter rims.
It‘s not an outlier also. Buddy of mine is only three rides in on the same wheels and the back wheel is already broken.
All I got offered from Hunt was „crash replacement“, which doesn’t help when the rims are that bad from the start...
  • 1 0
 I don't understand the plastic pedal recommendations. I have major issues ripping pins out of plastic pedals. Aluminum bodies are much lower net cost and I don't have to deal with deciding to use them a few pins short or buy new ones
  • 1 0
 There are deals to be had on tires. I rarely spend over 50, but retail price on what I get is over 50. Sometimes I buy them if I dont need them if there are good deals going on. Merlin cycles often has pretty good deals. Got the e13 trs tires when like were like $27.00 at jenson.
  • 1 0
 The best money I've spent on bike parts lately is a pair of Hunt aluminum wheels. Coming from carbon, which I thought was better, the aluminum wheels have been so much better feeling. I can't believe anyone would spend the money on carbon knowing there is zero benefit.
  • 3 3
 The thing you missed is that if you buy used, you can buy a really good 2012 - 2014 26" carbon bike (think 2013 Yeti Sb66c) that will likely be a better bike than your ability level. It will likely have already taken a ton of depreciation, so you could get a few years of riding out of it for only a couple hundred bucks. Just make sure to stock up on 26" tires when you find ones you like.
  • 4 0
 Hey who told them about dirt church!?!?!?!
  • 2 2
 I save on all of these. I got a frame for free, DT Swiss wheel set for less than £100 (I got the front for free), Shimano SLX brakes for £10 (they need a little bit of maintenance), an older Rockshox Reba that is in great condition for £50, a truativ carbon bar for £10 (680 mm wide) and that is all I have at the moment
  • 4 0
 conclusion : buy a used bike
  • 4 0
 Spend your time biking! Not making money for components.
  • 4 0
 Don't buy upgrades, ride up grades.
  • 1 0
 Buy a used complete bike that is 2 years old. Choose one with the most modern geo and best price to component ratio within your budget. Don't buy a frame and build it up with budget parts. You will spend more.
  • 1 0
 26'' in shops?!? Here in Aus, they have all sold out. Hens teeth. Which is a real pain!!

And before you ask, i have about 8 friends i ride with the most, and ALL of them are on 26. I'm the only one on 27.5.
  • 3 1
 Buy nice one time, then move said parts every two years to a last year model frame either used or new.
  • 3 0
 Standards changes really get you then.
  • 2 0
 @dsellinger: I haven't really run into that too much
  • 2 0
 it used to be the case of buy Marzzochi fit and forget, cheap and didnt stop working, lets home these new ones are the same.
  • 2 0
 don't need $1,000 brakes that are individually polished by German craftsmen.
LOL
  • 4 0
 Save on hookers...
  • 1 0
 This guy
  • 2 0
 But never buy cut rate coke.
  • 2 0
 Spend on rubber.
  • 2 0
 I buy used where i can. Fork, dropper, stem, cranks, brakes. I could never afford this sport with out used parts.
  • 1 0
 Great call on the 520 pedals. I've been beating mine for about five years and they look like shite, but still work excellent.
  • 2 0
 F**k me, how much are grips in the USA?!?!?! Pair of £16 Hard Deathgrips will last a good 12 months
  • 1 0
 People here are obsessed with Rev grips, Deity Knuckleduster for me, I'll never revgrips another shot.
  • 2 0
 I disagree whit the pedals, specially if you Ride flats, I thinks you need to buy a good choice and not the cheaper Inês.
  • 1 0
 What Kaz meant is go for the plastic version instead of alu wen you've chosen a design that works for you. He's absolutely right, save half the price and lose zero performance, only some bling factor.
  • 2 1
 Mountain biking has just gotten insanely expensive. Its just insane to see how much hardtails and entry level dual suspension bikes costs.
  • 1 0
 If you really want to save , buy last years model in the WINTER. I did this and the owner didn’t even flinch when i offered him way less than the asking price .
  • 1 0
 Agree for the most part. The Marzochi forks are the best performance for the money, and if you re under 180 lbs, it will actually function better than a grip 2 for you...
  • 1 0
 Pinkbike world where there is only two brands of suspension : foxzzochi and Sram....

This is crazy, especially when we talk about budget suspension. This is very bad.
  • 1 0
 Off topic. Could anyone let me know what’s the saddle on the pic about “save on dropper posts”
  • 2 0
 @pipomax, that's an Ergon SM Enduro - it's one of my current favorites.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Thank you, such a cool saddle. It seem to have longer than usual rails, is this correct? I am looking for a saddle with longer rails to move it forward on a bike with not so good ST angle.
  • 2 0
 Great article boys! Keep it up!
  • 1 0
 Only buy your bikes in the fall and winter, and sell your stuff in the spring.
  • 1 0
 Bought a used coil from 2020 lineup for my 3 years old bike (2017 model)! Got a deal on it too! Works perfectly!
  • 1 0
 If you have a very limited budget focus on good tires and brakes (assuming you have a useable dropper).
  • 1 1
 Suspension, Drivetrain, wheel set/tires, touch points, frame composition in that order.
  • 1 0
 Tyres, brakes, bar, stem, grips and pedals are the best upgrades.
  • 1 0
 Dt swiss e1700 any good? Saw them on sale
  • 1 0
 Not bad. They come on Yeti's & a ton of other high end bikes. Get 'em
  • 1 0
 I like mine a lot. Decently light and strong.
  • 1 0
 They came with an sb75 a couple of years ago. crap hub, self destroyed after less than 10 rides. Switched to deemax and have been trouble free.
  • 2 0
 ALUMINUM
  • 1 0
 Don't buy a used dropper.
  • 1 0
 This is a great article.
  • 1 4
 One might argue that the damping properties of a good carbon bar is worth it, even on a budget.
  • 8 0
 Definitely not. I've got carbon bars on some bikes, and am no alloy-only cheerleader, but the damping differences are subtle at best. Carbon bars are great for weight savings, and they're plenty strong. But if you're chasing down hand/vibration problems I'd try to solve them in this order:

• slightly lower tire pressure
• push on grips
• thicker push on grips
• alloy bars with different geometry (12° back? more height?)
• Rev grips
• carbon bars
  • 8 0
 Nothing carbon is worth it on a budget
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: cushcore, for even lower tire pressure and better tire performance.
As a person with short stubby fingers, thick grips aren't even an option. The increased grip force (hand strength) needed to hold onto larger OD grips more than negates the soft squishyness of the grip due to the faster osent of hand /forearm fatigue ... How I wish for a smaller diameter bar, so I could have a thicker squishier/softer grip at the same OD of thin grips on regular bars. kids bikes have the same problem. adult size grips w/pint size hands. Imagine trying to control your bike if your grips were the OD of a 12oz beer with a koozy? Poor groms.
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: You forgot Cushcore!
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: hmm. Yes as someone described below thicker squishy grips are no go for me. I tried the ODI Rogues and felt like I was holding a paper towel roll. I went from a pretty ghetto "GX level" alloy bar to a Deity and definitely felt a great difference in damping. But maybe the overall flex pattern of that bar was just better for me in general, regardless of material.
  • 1 0
 @onemanarmy: wuh. Wuh?
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: I only run aluminum bars on my DH bikes due to the durability. On my trail bikes I've never found an aluminum bar that's as comfortable as my carbon Renthals. I can actually feel the flex and increase in damping... so, that's usually my very first upgrade. Weight savings isn't my goal for that part either. Good pointers! Thx
  • 2 0
 @laksboy: that’s why he suggested push on grips. Same thickness as bolt on but without that plastic sleeve that just makes things even harsher.
  • 2 0
 @DHhack: ohhh, I get it now. Thanks. My only problem is I like having double lock on grips for durability. Even locks on with just rubber ends always seem to be trashed with a few wipeouts. And then you just have sharp bar end or plastic exposed
  • 1 0
 @Nwilkes: that is true. I just repair any holes with shoe goo.
  • 2 0
 @Nwilkes: Push on are super cheap. So replacing them often isn't a huge deal. BUT...

At what point are replacing all those grips more expensive than just getting the carbon bar?

That said, I ride an aluminum bad with ODI Elite Pro.
  • 2 0
 @JSTootell: can’t say I’ve noticed any carbon bar feeling noticeably better than alloy. Like most things carbon, they’ve been getting heavier and more alloy like over the last few years. You see it in frames, cranks, rims, bars etc.
  • 1 0
 @fullendurbro: yep, should have been near the top of the list.
  • 2 0
 @laksboy: good call on a tire insert. And I agree about the bar diameter thigh. I’ve mentioned to several manufacturers that I’d love to see grown up bars made with the kids bike 19mm diameter standard, and then use that extra space to make lock ons that have more squish but the same OD as regular push ons.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: That would be SO great.
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