Noob needs a mountain bike

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Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby bruxism » Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:49 pm

Hi guys,

I've signed myself up for Hells Bells 24 hour adventure race.

http://www.geocentricoutdoors.com.au/hellsbells/index.htm

Part of the race is 55-80km's of mountain biking along "Forest roads, fire trails and a large section of awesome single track."

Just wondering how much I would have to spend to buy a decent, beginner mountain bike? If you guys have any suggestions on particular types or what I should be looking out for that would also be great.

If buying works out too expensive, is there anywhere you can rent a mountain bike for weekend? (brisbane area)

thanks in advance for any help you can give me
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by BNA » Tue Sep 28, 2010 4:24 pm

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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby twizzle » Tue Sep 28, 2010 4:24 pm

Ummmm..... what do you ride now? Because if you say 'nothing', you haven't got enough time left to do enough training for this so that you don't injure yourself.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby bruxism » Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:24 pm

uh oh.....

wish me luck then i guess....
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby twizzle » Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:56 pm

bruxism wrote:uh oh.....

wish me luck then i guess....


Like every sport, there are 'sport specific' adaptations that take place as you exercise, one of my mates has gone from fairly experienced road rider to MTB and the first couple of months nearly killed him with sore arms and legs.

Buy a cheap MTB now, ride it off-road two days on, one day off until the event. Start off with whatever you can get away with comfortably (10 - 15km), work your way up from there. Hopefully, you won't end up with any physical issues.

Good luck. :|
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby bruxism » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:51 pm

thanks for the advice mate, i really appreciate it.

Any advice on what this cheap mountain bike should be? As you can tell I really have no idea about this stuff but I'm keen and relatively fit if that helps any.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby twizzle » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:00 pm

Nope - I don't do MTB. For me that's a "Black Art" of how to crash into crap without killing yourself.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby thommo09 » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:07 pm

Look at the Malvern Star XCS range, very good value for money for a beginner, otherwise Giant are always a pretty safe bet....but then you haven't mentioned what you consider to be cheap.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby trailgumby » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:28 pm

Wow, you really have left this very late. I trained for 3 months to finish the Back Yamma Bigfoot and that was only 50km, and I already have a couple of years of mtb experience behind me.

The mountain bike part requires specific skills and habits that you don't pick up in just a few weeks unless you have a magic skills acquisition pill. Be aware that if you get it wrong on a mountain bike it can go very wrong, and you are almost always a long way from emergency services help. Trying to race while never having ridden a mtb previously is setting yourself up for a world of hurt - you will come off. And when you do you will hit something, usually soemthing immovable.

My advice is sell your ticket.

If despite the warnings you still plan on going, make sure your private medical cover is paid up because helivac is hideously expensive, their debt collectors are aggressive and they will mark up your credit and sue your ass if you are slow in paying. Handing over your newly acquired mountain bike as part settlement will not work.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby bruxism » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:52 pm

Wow, thanks for the heads up man. I'll take it easy on the mountain bike section and do my best not to break anything.

Definitely won't pull out of the race but will be out there practising as much as I can over the next few weeks. Any tips on a good spot in Brisbane to practise?

With a bit of luck I'll break an arm before the race...
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby Alistair » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:58 pm

I think we are a bit light on for info. Sure it is dangerous, but if you take it easy and know your limits you might be ok.

How old are you, and how well physically prepared are you for an endurance event? Knowing your body and limits is an important factor in these events.

How much can you afford to spend on a bike?
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby bruxism » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:26 pm

G'day, thanks for the reply. I'm 28 years old and I'd say i'm about as fit as i've ever been. Not that that's saying much but I do a lot of rockclimbing and I can get through a 10km run without too much troubles.

The plan for the race is most definitely to finish, not to win. We're being realistic about our inexperience and we're just going to give it a red hot go without getting in over our heads.

I reckon $500 seems a nice round number for a mountain bike but my budget is flexible if somebody pipes up and says i need to spend a little more or should spend a little less. At the moment I'm training on the road bike just to get a little match fitness up. It's true what they say about riding a bike it seems...
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby trailgumby » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:33 pm

OK, so I haven't succeeded in scaring you off. :P

I don't know if you're used to clip-in pedals on your road bike but I would go with flat pedals if I were in your shoes (pardon the pun). That will at least give you quicker bailout options when you make a mistake. The dirt and fire roads are not an issue. If you're sensible and ride enough between now and then to get a feel for where the traction limits are you'll be fine with them. It's the singletrack that I am concerned about.

"Sweet singletrack" usually means banked turns weaving between trees that are handlebar width apart, over tree roots and rocks, the occasional drop-off mixed with loose and possibly rocky descents. Do you have someone who can take you out on the trail and demonstate how to handle these? The risk here is that mistakes can very easily lead to you hitting immovable objects in an uncontrolled fashion. That does not usually end well.

A 500 dollar bike will be unlikely to get you through 55-80km of trail without mechanical issues. I'd budget twice that at minimum.

On the weekend it took me 2 hours 35 to cover 50km on a relatively flat course going continuously flat out, and I finished middle of the field. Add some hills and your time on the bike goes up significantly. What are you doing for nutrition on the bike?
Last edited by trailgumby on Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby Nobody » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:42 pm

bruxism wrote:I reckon $500 seems a nice round number for a mountain bike but my budget is flexible if somebody pipes up and says i need to spend a little more or should spend a little less.
Spend a little more if you want to complete it. Maybe look at secondhand for that price.

bruxism wrote:At the moment I'm training on the road bike just to get a little match fitness up. It's true what they say about riding a bike it seems...
That may be true, but not for MTB. I used to race in the early '90s but still crashed a lot getting back into MTB early last year. It will likely be the night riding (harder to judge the trail) and especially the early morning riding (tired) that will get you.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby bruxism » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:50 pm

cool nobody, what do you suggest as a bike to start out with?
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby bruxism » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:58 pm

sorry trailgumby, didn't see your reply there.

I don't scare too easily but I am slowly coming to the realisation that this is kind of like the time at pacific fair when i put a whole Macdonalds cheeseburger in my mouth at once (I bit off more than I could chew).

So if it's anything like that, I'll chew slowly, breathe through my nose and try my best to stop laughing and spraying chunks all over my friends. Um, this analogy isn't working....

A thousand bucks for a bike is perhaps a little more than I was hoping to spend. I'm fine with being laughed at on the internet so I guess I have to ask...Is renting a mountain bike for $50 from Anaconda a terrible idea for this thing?
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby Cinder » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:05 pm

I'll be specific for ya...

You should buy a Felt Q820, specifically this one...

http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bikes/pr ... ntain-bike

:mrgreen:

That was a shameless plug which will probably get deleted...

But it's not a bad example of what you should look for roughly, assuming your going to take it easy, and don't plan to "race" as such. It has decent gear on it, hydro brakes, reliable drive system and shifters and reasonable frame.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby trailgumby » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:12 pm

OK, I'm glad to see some sense of the scale of what you've undertaken is starting to sink in.

You'd be unlikely to get anything better than your $500 bike for that kind of rental for a weekend. And you desperately need to practice before the event. The race is not the time to have first thrown your leg over a mountain bike.

Work out what size (most important for an event of that length) you need and see if you can pick up something secondhand... Do you know anyone who might be able to lend you a bike the right size for a few weekends?

The right bike size is crucial. Imagine trying to run for four hours in shoes that don't fit you properly. Bike fit is similar. Oh, and get yourself some decent bike shorts and chamois cream, pronto. Are you aware that you need to "go commando" with bike shorts?
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby trailgumby » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:14 pm

Actually, if that bike of Cincer's fits you, I'd buy it.

That is the kind of bike you need to get you to the other end of the course without falling apart. Good quality gear on it that is up to the job.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby thommo09 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:10 pm

I've gotta say, I really don't agree with what you guys are saying about needing to spend more than $500...maybe a little more than $500, but not a whole lot. I've recently bought myself a Giant Talon 3, nothing more than really entry level, but I've ridden it a few hundred km's in the last month or so and haven't had a single issue (bar adjustment after initial cable stretch). It's by no means the fastest/lightest/coolest bike out there, but it's done pretty well so far with me banging up and down trails all over the place. On top of that, there's probably better value out there than the Giant too. Keep in mind that I'm not exactly the smoothest rider either at this stage and the bike's copped a few hits.

If the main aim is to finish, then you'll find something for that sort of money that will fit the bill IMHO.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby trailgumby » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:22 pm

There is a difference between doing a few hundred k's spread over a few weeks and attempting 55-80km in one hit.

I'm glad you're enjoying such good reliability from your bike - your bike shop has built it well. IME Shimano Deore shifters, derailleurs (both) and brakes are the minimum spec for long term reliable operation on a mtb. SRAM SX5 would be similar. Anything more "budget" than that can be expected to give poor service life and become unreliable relatively quickly.

The advertised used bike above represents outstanding value for the OP ... if it fits him.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby thommo09 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:26 am

trailgumby wrote:There is a difference between doing a few hundred k's spread over a few weeks and attempting 55-80km in one hit.


I don't quite understand that, do you mind explaining please?
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby Nobody » Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:41 am

thommo09 wrote:
trailgumby wrote:There is a difference between doing a few hundred k's spread over a few weeks and attempting 55-80km in one hit.


I don't quite understand that, do you mind explaining please?
I'll have a go.

Aren't your brakes M416 Shimano mechanical? I've tried them on a associate's bike at work to find it was hard to stop well. I use Avid SD7 (V brakes) and BB7. The SD7 were much easier to operate that the Shimano mechanicals. The BB7s even more so. Maybe they have improved over the last couple years, but it would be difficult to convince me to use them for an extreme enduro event. Even though I'm happy to use BB7s for what I do, I might consider hydros if I was doing extreme events.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby zero » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:26 pm

thommo09 wrote:I've gotta say, I really don't agree with what you guys are saying about needing to spend more than $500...maybe a little more than $500, but not a whole lot. I've recently bought myself a Giant Talon 3, nothing more than really entry level, but I've ridden it a few hundred km's in the last month or so and haven't had a single issue (bar adjustment after initial cable stretch). It's by no means the fastest/lightest/coolest bike out there, but it's done pretty well so far with me banging up and down trails all over the place. On top of that, there's probably better value out there than the Giant too. Keep in mind that I'm not exactly the smoothest rider either at this stage and the bike's copped a few hits.

If the main aim is to finish, then you'll find something for that sort of money that will fit the bill IMHO.


I've broken 3 of those alivio RDs fitted to your bike (in a bike that lasted me all of 2.5years), and I'd imagine it wouldn't take many hard changes to bend that front cage of yours either as it looks weaker than the old alivio front cage which also bent, got straightened, bent again and got thrown out.

Bear in mind both of my deore deraileurs have thus far had 4 year service lives including completing a similar race distance, and the training leading up to it, quite a bit of general single track and firetrail and stop start, wet commuting etc, most likely totalling 20,000kms or so now.

Not saying that he can't or won't finish the race on a cheaper bike, its just a question of whether buying a $500 asset with a short ultimate lifespan before trouble strikes is what he wants. Lots of people do only need a bike with a lifespan of a couple of 1000 kms, because they'll stop riding it after the second puncture unless someone tells them to get some puncture protected tires.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby trailgumby » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:29 pm

thommo09 wrote:
trailgumby wrote:There is a difference between doing a few hundred k's spread over a few weeks and attempting 55-80km in one hit.


I don't quite understand that, do you mind explaining please?

There are a number of things going on in an enduro race that make it a quite different environment to just pootling around on your local trails, even if you are training at a high rate of perceived exertion.

Firstly, the red mist that descends in a competitive event. You are going a lot harder, pushing a LOT closer to your real limits and your bike's limits.

You'd be amazed at how much faster you go in a race compared to a normal ride. This puts reliability and consistency at a premium. You need to be able to trust your bike.

Secondly, the chances are high that at some stage you'll find yourself riding and riding hard in conditions you wouldn't contemplate recreationally. I'm talking dust, rain and mud.

In wet races, low-end hydraulic brakes go through their pads pretty quickly - you need to carry spare pad sets if you want to get to the end with brakes. Folks with more upmarket brakes have metallic pads available to them, which have a much longer life. Cable brakes can completely lose the rear brake when it's muddy - the cable gets so much drag that all your finger strength goes to overcoming cable friction and none worth speaking of actually gets to the pads!

Thirdly, in a long race (50-100km) you don;t have much opportunity to stop and wash your chain or maintain your bike - none, if you want to be at the pointy end of the field. It's going to sound pretty 'orrible by the time you cross the finish line from all the crud in it, and the higher-end systems are much better able to tolerate dusty dirty and muddy environments before misbehaving.
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Re: Noob needs a mountain bike

Postby Nobody » Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:07 pm

That's what I like about thumb shifters. When it all goes wrong you can still shift to friction mode and get home.

I'm also starting to think full length cable housings are a worthwhile weight penalty.
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