Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

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Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mr626 » Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:41 pm

Hello all,

Have been lurking a lot here recently whilst researching my future MTB purchase, so I thought I might as well join :)
I grew up on 10 acres of bushland and rode mainly BMX (went through Powerlite, Haro and Trek bikes over the years, couldn't tell you the models but they were all good fun). Wasn't ever more than a rank amateur but I had a blast.

Fast forward to today, and I find myself living very close to plenty of bush tracks, fire trails etc that are just begging to be explored. Add to that my desire to increase my fitness level, and MTB riding seems to be a good fit. From my research so far I think a 26 Hardtail seems to be the best fit for my intended usage/budget (but, happy to listen to suggestions).

Other than saying hello, I was hoping to get some opinions/advice on what you all suggest would be a good MTB purchase. To help you to help me, I'll provide as much info as I can:

My 'specs': 5'8, 68kgs (I suspect a 29er would be way too big for me- I've seen a few in shops and they just look huge). Experience wise I am completely new to MTB riding, but as mention I grew up riding BMX in the bush. I guess you could say I'm fairly comfortable 'reading' bush tracks, but I have no experience tackling them on a MTB.

Intended riding: bush tracks, fire trails, and a very small amount of sealed road. At present I ride 3-4 times a week (1 hour rides after work occasionally, with 1 or 2 longer rides on weekends).

My current ride: don't laugh...here it is:

Image

Basically, it was what I already had when I decided I wanted to try out some MTB riding. Rather than spend big money up front when I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it or not, I ordered ~$80 of parts from wiggle.co.uk and fixed this bike up to a level where I can at least begin to explore some tracks. It is still far from perfect (it skips some gears, the rear wheel doesn't seem to be true) but I don't want to spend any more money on this- I'd rather save the money to go towards a new bike. The new tyres in particular have made a big difference, and I was able to go for a 1.5 hour blast the other day.

Budget for new bike: Around $650 (I already have helmet, gloves, drink bottle / holder etc, so all I'm after is the bike itself). I know, not a huge budget.

What do I have my eye on? I've been doing a reasonable amount of research- mainly online but also talking to my LBS. My LBS is pointing me towards a Giant Talon (which I've seen recommended on this site and elsewhere as a good beginner hardtail) but my problem is the price :cry:

However, during my research I cam across Polygon bikes. Initially I was very hesitant, but the more I read about them the more I like the sound of them. Although there isn't heaps of info about them online, what I have read has been good. The genernal consensus seems to be 'Less well known that Giant etc, but great specs for the price'.

Long story short, I'm finding it hard to go past the Polygon Cozmic CX2.0 ( http://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/2012-p ... deore-slx/ ). I'll freely admit to not knowing much about the components (I basically just google each part looking for reviews), but for the price this seems to be a pretty good package?

My questions:
-Have many of you purchased a Polygon MTB from bicyclesonline? If so, are you happy with the bike / the purchasing process?
-Is the Polygon I'm looking at a good buy? How does it compare to the Talon?
-Any other Hardtail options that would be worth considering?
-<insert any other pearls of wisdom you'd care to share here>

Overall, I'm looking to purchase my new bike in a few months time (tax return :D ). I do have a working bike, so I can play the waiting game and keep saving if that is the best option.

Sorry for the long post, and thanks in advance for your help.
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by BNA » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:13 pm

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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby poohbear » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:13 pm

Sounds like you can do with a 29er hardtail. I'm about your size and i ride a small frame 29er giant xtc and it works fine, perhaps the handlebar could be a bit closer!

Have you considered the one spec down to the talon which is the boulder, http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-au/bik ... ifications
should be able to get it down within your budget.
another one is http://99bikes.com.au/bike/merida-big-n ... /1002/7123

not sure about the polygon perhaps someone else would be...
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby trailgumby » Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:24 pm

Polygon are great value for money. The store is walking distance from me. A beginner mate has one, the 29er, quite a decent spec for the price.

Would I buy one? probably not but then after 5 years on Cannondales and 4 years occasional racing I've become a brand snob :lol:

Not the lightest bike on the planet, but then as a beginner you're not going to be so good at getting light on your bike over rough stuff, so you want something a bit burly.

If you're confident you know your size, I'd say go for it.

Get the 29er if there's one in your size. Nobody serious buys 26er hardtails any more for cross country use. They're now exclusively the preserve of Dirt Jump and some nutcases like my friend who built up a chromoly one with 6" forks for all mountain use.

650b I'd look at if you're worried about the 29er being too big, but don't buy a 26er. Really, I think you'd be fine on a 29er. If Willow Koeber (who is a really tiny World Cup women;s XC racer) can race one, I don't see you having any issues. :D
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mr626 » Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:58 am

Thanks for the replies guys.

So a 29er will probably be okay? Cool, I guess that means I'll have to start researching them! The Merida Big9 looks like exactly the kind of thing I'd be after though. Polygon doesn't seen to have as much in the way of 29ers.
I don't mind about the weight- I'm not looking to be competitive or anything like that so a few extra kilos aren't an issue.

650b I haven't heard of before, will have to read up on it.

Edit: to throw a spanner in the works, a friend has offered me a 'Suzico Wolf' MTB for free- apparently its in perfect condition and is a fairly high-end bike (I haven't seen it yet). If it is indeed a good quality bike with a good frame, would it be out of the question to simply upgrade the from forks and use that?

I'm not 100% clear on fork compatibility- are things like front forks a fairly universal fit?
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby barefoot » Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:58 am

You'll get much more 26er for your money than 29er, and despite the claims to the contrary, 26" MTBs will be around for a long while yet. You'll pay a premium for anything 29er... the upfront purchase of the bike, any replacement fork, tyres, tubes... all will be more expensive than 26", now and for the foreseeable future.

If you want to tear up even more good money for half of the alleged benefits of 29ers, 650b is the wheel size for you.

Different people have different definitions of "fairly high-end". I've never heard of a Suzico Wolf, and it may well be quite a good bike, but I have heard people referring to the top of Big W's bike range as "fairly high end". It's all about the context.

At your price point, I'd be looking at a good solid 26" hardtail with as few gimmicks as possible. The more they spend on chasing fashion, the less they have left over for the things that matter.

Fork compatibility has got a bit more complex in recent years with onepointfive steerers and tapered head tubes, but they're not likely to be a consideration in your market segment. Essentially, there's the old-school fork design like you have (threaded headset, mostly 1", sometimes 1.125" ), where the stem slides down inside the fork, and the new-school design (threadless, almost always 1.125", very rarely 1" or 1.25", now more commonly 1.5" or 1.125/1.5" tapered), where the steerer of the fork protrudes right through the headset where it is clamped on by a dog-bone style stem usually with spacers above/below.

You're not going to find many (if any) decent suspension forks to fit a threaded headset. That's about the only limitation of the bike you currently have. If your friend's Suzico has a threadless headset system, then it might be a good starting point... as long as it fits you.

As for components... most bikes have Shimano or SRAM componentrry. SRAM models are easy... the higher the number, the better the quality (X7 is better than X5). Shimano has silly names that you have to remember. No-model or "SIS" is junk (see the $89.95 section at BigW). IIRC, from bottom up, the groups go Tourney, Altus, Alivio, Deore, SLX, XT, XTR. For $650, I'd be expecting to see Alivio parts. Better would be better, worse would be worse. Be aware that they often hide lower-spec or off-brand parts where you can't see them or won't notice them... hubs, cassette, cranks etc.. I've seen bikes advertised as "XT" when they have a full Alivio drivetrain and a XT rear derailer.

Good luck.

tim
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mr626 » Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:15 am

Tim,

Thanks for the reply and the explaination about forks and components. I gather that the 26er vs 29er thing is a fairly divisive topic?
My original thought was that a 26er hardtail seems to be a reasonable fit for me. I might try and actually ride a 29er at some point to see what all the fuss is about though.

Haha, my current bike has SIS parts!

I understand what you are saying about different people's definitions of 'high end'. Happily, I know this particular friend isn't one whose definition would include the latest special from Kmart. I'm looking forward to seeing what this bike is like (and posting some pics so those in the know can advise if it is any good or not).
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby Shiner Bock » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:31 am

I was in the same boat... Ended up with a Trek Marlin 29er (RRP $699)...

I looked at the Giant Talon and went through the same budget VS equipment weigh-up and felt as a 1st timer, Mechanical brakes and Suntour Forks were good enough for me.

I'm having a blast on it. :mrgreen:
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby brett.hooker » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:40 am

I am 5'8" and a lot heavier than you.

I went with the Merida big9 tfs100d (hydraulic disc) that I got for a ripper of a price at my LBS for $720...

The 29er is awesome on the road for getting to the tracks, and once off road it has been a blast!!! Particularly like having the disc brakes on some of the downhills we do.

I use it for both commuting now, and for riding with the kids, and for firetrails and tame single track.

Absolutely love it!!!!

It weighs in at 14.7kg, so not light, but even in my unfit state I can get it up the hills... Triple front, with a 24 tooth small cog, and 8 speed rear, with a max 32 climbing gear. Have been able to ascend the nasties just fine with this combo... Have looked longingly at the 22-34 combos, but there is always something... :-)
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mr626 » Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:54 am

Thanks for the replies all. Seems there are a lot of 29er fans around.

Yes, I'm not exactly a huge guy and I'm a bit worried that a big 29er will be less easy for me to maneuver around on twisty tracks. I don't really have a huge distance to travel to get to the tracks themselves, so road performance is less of a priority for me.

The bike I have felt fine size-wise on my ride the other day, and its obviously not a 29er. I guess what I'm mainly looking for in a MTB is something that I can take on my local tracks without having to worry about it falling apart after a few rides.

At least I have a few bike options to tide me over until I actually make a purchase, so I can take my time and not rush in to anything.

Keep the info/suggestions coming though- very much appreciated.
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby barefoot » Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:34 pm

mr626 wrote:Haha, my current bike has SIS parts!

Don't immediately downplay it though.

SIS has meant a few things over the years. Shimano Index Shifting or Shimano Integrated System spring to mind. It's usually trickle-down technology, so something that was worth promoting on their top-of-the-line range at the time is later seen promoted on the bottom-rung parts.

Today, all shifters are indexed, so they print it on the parts that have nothing else worthy of mentioning. Parts that are significantly inferior to the first release of integrated system (brakes and shifters in a single pod) in each line, which may also have been labelled SIS.

Confused yet? :lol:

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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby Ozkaban » Tue Apr 02, 2013 5:55 pm

Both Giant and Specialized do demo days at Old Mans Valley in Hornsby. the Giant one was a few weeks ago and the specialized is coming up.

If you're near(ish), sign up and test them out. Sounds like you could do with a few laps to a) test out the 29er for yourself and b) see how awesome OMV is.

For the record, I bought a MTB about a month or so ago. I ended up with a mint Giant XTC 29er second hand for less than $1k. I used my brothers Giant Boulder 26er to test it out and had a lot of fun. The XTC is a LOT lighter (about 4-5kg, I think...). It's a much nicer bike. Especially in the second hand market, hard tails are good buying.

Cheers,
Dave
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mr626 » Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:06 pm

Tim,

Suitably confused, but thanks anyway :wink:

Dave,

Thanks for the suggestion- it makes sense to take advantage of a demo day like you suggest. I'm pretty far away from Hornsby unfortunately, but I'll keep an eye open for some more local demo days.
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby trailgumby » Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:56 am

mr626 wrote:Tim,

Thanks for the reply and the explaination about forks and components. I gather that the 26er vs 29er thing is a fairly divisive topic?...

It is fairly well settled if you care to survey the market and mainstream brands :)

Specialized and Giant have both stopped making 26ers in their race-grade hardtails.

Most well-known brand name companies have stopped announcing new 26er models in anything less than 6" travel duallies. GT is an exception, which has a few folks including myself scratching their heads. Why would you?

Those who are announcing new short-travel XC 26ers tend to be Euro brands. It is these and other Euro brands that are heading the push to 650b, having missed the 29er wave.

FWIW, I don't (yet) own a 29er, but it will come. I'm getting sick of my less fit mates keeping up with me without having to work as hard :P
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby AdrianL » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:27 am

Hi.
First post but found this page because I am in exactly the same position as the OP (Mr626). In fact if I was to start a new post it would read almost verbatim....So given that it is still current I hope you don't mind me joining in the discussion also.

My 'specs': 6'0" 98kgs. Moderate to crappy fitness with the intention to improve, hence purchase of MTB. First 20 years of my life was on pushbikes in rural Vic Back in the days of "10 speed racers" and was there for the begining of mountain bikes on the Australian market. First proper MTB I owned was the 88 or 89 model Malvern Star Mongrel :D . Last bike I owned was a Shogun Slick Rock Expert back in about 99. Things have changed somewhat.

Intended riding: bush tracks, fire trails, and a very small amount of sealed road. Same. Live in Toolangi so the terrain is variable. Not looking to get airborne or tackle gnarly trials sections at massive speed. I dont bounce anywhere near as well as I did 20 years ago.

Budget for new bike: Around $650. I know, not a huge budget. Same but could stretch it a bit further but would be happy to shorten it up also.

What do I have my eye on? I've been doing a reasonable amount of research- mainly online but also talking to my LBS. My LBS is pointing me towards a Giant Talon (which I've seen recommended on this site and elsewhere as a good beginner hardtail) but my problem is the price
However, during my research I cam across Polygon bikes. Initially I was very hesitant, but the more I read about them the more I like the sound of them. Although there isn't heaps of info about them online, what I have read has been good. The genernal consensus seems to be 'Less well known that Giant etc, but great specs for the price'.
Ditto.....Visited local store with absolutely no prior research on current bicycles and no idea of what was available. I got pointed towards the Talon 29er also. So came home and delved into the confusion of acronyms, model numbers, brands, preferences etc etc.

So after giving the google machine here a thorough workout I am considering;

Giant Talon 1 29er $739
Polygon cx2.0 deore 30 speed 26" http://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/polygo ... -30-speed/ $748
Polygon cx2.0 deore 30 speed 26" 2012 model http://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/2012-p ... ano-deore/ $648
Polygon cx3.0 deore 30 speed 26" 2012 model http://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/2012-p ... deore-slx/ $748
Or Polygon cx3.0 deore slx 20 speed 29" http://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/2013-p ... peed-29er/ $748

The best bang for buck looks to be the 26" cx2.0....I think.
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mr626 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 10:40 am

Hi AdrianL,

No worries on joining in- as you say it sounds like we are fairly similar in our situation and what we are after.

Personally, I'm playing the wait and see game at the moment. Since posting this thread I've been gifted a 'retro' MTB which while not perfect, is better than what I already have. My short term plan is to fix this up and use it while I keep researching / saving.

Other than the fact that they are slightly heavier that the equivalent bikes from other brands, I'm yet to find anything bad about Polygon overall. I'm still undecided about 26er vs 29er- the plan is to follow the advice given here and try and attend a demo day of sorts so I can try them both out.

Right now, I'm (like you) finding it hard to go past the cx2.0.
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mitzikatzi » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:05 am

All the cool kids ride 29ers.
Marketing also tells us they are the ones to buy (29ers).
Marketing also tells us 10spd drive trains are better. :shock:

Trailgumbys' view that 29ers are faster may well be correct.
I am with Barefoot. At the price point you mention at this point in time 26 inch bikes are much better value for money.
After 12 months riding you will have a better idea of what kind of bike you want. New bike time yay :D

The 26 v 29 debate is large.

From another forum
my opinion on the 29er craze

Posted By normdouglas

In my opinion, there is a very simple yet important question and determination that needs to be made first.

Is the rider over 5'10".
Because if they aren't, then there will be a serious issue...


I value Norms opinion (If you not recognize the name Google Australian mountain bike riders called "Douglas")

drubie wrote:, in the future, every bike will be a 29er. You will have a choice between hard t ail 29er, dual suspension 29er and rigid 29er with drop bars :lol:


29 vs 26

Ideal MTB (See requirements)
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby Shifter » Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:34 pm

trailgumby wrote:650b I'd look at if you're worried about the 29er being too big, but don't buy a 26er. Really, I think you'd be fine on a 29er. If Willow Koeber (who is a really tiny World Cup women;s XC racer) can race one, I don't see you having any issues. :D


Yeah, but Nino Schurter is on 650B...

Don't forget the general public doesn't have the same set of resources as Willow (who is no longer racing), to be able to swap and change the bike, without a lot of capital investment (stems, bars, custom frame with short headtube etc.).

Side note, my missus who is 5'4" is on a 29er... she likes it.

Best tip I can give is grab the bike you'll want to ride. Other than that, get the one with the best fork - it's the component you're least likely to upgrade IMO.
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby trailgumby » Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:02 pm

I know Norm through JesusMTB. He certainly knows his stuff.

Stems and bars are something anybody who buys a bike should budget for, to customise their bike to fit them properly. If you buy secondhand on eBay the net cost on the turnover basically comes down the eBay fees.

Some of my mates who race and are very much faster than me are also much smaller, down to 5'4". They ride 29ers.

Yes, headtube height can be an issue, but that is less an issue than it was even a year ago, with a lot of manufacturers dropping theirs to as little as 100mm. There are also "negative" riser bars coming out from manufacturers like Syntace, that will filter to the rest of the market pretty quickly.
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby leximack » Fri Apr 05, 2013 9:43 pm

budget is $650
get a 26" hardtail, better spec at this price level
if you know what to look for get a 2nd hand one, can probably get something like a 2-3yr old giant xtc for this price. If you dont know what to look for in 2nd hand bikes then dont get one, will cost you alot more if you need to change every part that is worn out.
dont get a dual suspension in any size, will be total crap at this price point new or 2nd hand.
29er if you can get a 2nd hand one might be an option (again need to know what to look for). New at this price will be heavy and with a crappy spec level.

Personally i have a 26" hardtail at the moment and can get around most tracks with no issue and without being humiliated by the supposed faster 29er riders.
remember if you are slow a 29er isnt going to transform you into a fast rider, you will just be a bigger obstacle to get around :wink: :wink: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mitzikatzi » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:18 pm

In fairness Norm comment is 1yr? or so old, it's on mtbr somewhere.

Head tubes have gotten a little shorter, fork rake has also increased on some forks allowing slacker head tube angles on smaller frames (helping to stop toe overlap)
In "short people on 29er threads" on mtbr 5"6' to 5"8' seems to be the lower limit but there are shorter riders who post they are happy on there 29er. Getting the handle bars lower or level with the saddle can be a bit of work.
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby AdrianL » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:51 am

Hi again.
Not concerned about speed as such as there is no intention of racing.
As a new person to the world of serious MTB's and wanting something that isn't going to fall apart the choices are bewildering at the entry level price range that MR626 and I are looking at.
I tend to agree with what some have said that better value can be had from a conventional 26" hardtail and will more than likely steer away from a 29er.

Now....lets crack open another can of worms.
Equipment levels. Forks I can understand that you want / need the highest quality available because they are going to work hard and should offer adjustability, servicability, strength and longevity. But whats with the drivetrain? Alvio vs Deore? xt xc sr abc wxyv??????? What the? What sets them apart in terms of Deore being held in higher regard?
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby Ozkaban » Sat Apr 06, 2013 6:21 am

AdrianL wrote: But whats with the drivetrain? Alvio vs Deore? xt xc sr abc wxyv??????? What the? What sets them apart in terms of Deore being held in higher regard?

Dunno about the rest of your questions but with drive train, typically the higher up the chain you go the shifting improves in both precision and effort required and weight reduces. And price goes up. The higher up the chain the closer the mechanical differences are and the bigger the price difference. Everybody has their own priorities so their sweet spot may be different.

For me, I'm used to ultegra on a road bike (xt equivalent) and had alivio on the mtb. It drove me nuts do I'm in the process of upgrading bits and pieces as they break to slx/xt.

Bottom line is don't get too caught up in it. Most groupsets work reasonably well and will do the job fine. If you get more serious, you'll probably upgrade your whole bike anyway...
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mr626 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:13 pm

Hello again all,

Between speaking with some LBS, riding some friend's bikes and research online, I'm pretty well convinced that a Polygon hardtail is going to offer the best package for my needs/budget. The only problem now is choosing which one.

The main dilemma I have is this- I planned originally to purchase a bike around June/July (give me time to save, possible tax return etc). However, the particular Polygon I've had my eye on is a 2012 model and from what bicyclesonline have said they aren't getting any further shipments of this model after the end of this month. Basically, I've got two options:

-Pony up the cash for the 2012 model now (not my original plan, but doable)
-Spend an extra $100 on the 2013 model of the same bike, and purchase on my original schedule

Here's the two bikes:

(2012 Model, for $648)
http://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/2012-p ... ano-deore/

(2013 Model, for $748)
http://www.bicyclesonline.com.au/polygo ... -30-speed/

From what I can see, the frame, forks and derailleurs are the same but other than that the 2013 Model looks to have different (better?) parts.

TL;DR version: is the 2013 Model worth the extra $100 over the 2012 Model?
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby Slow6 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:36 pm

For 600 I'd go second hand and spend the change on some decent tools.

here's an interesting older Marin for cheap in Sydney. older (but very serviceable) xt and xtr kit.. looks well looked after.

http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/newport/bicycles/-marin-vision-mountain-bike-owner-emigrating-/1017178530

You said you're not looking to race the thing, it would be a blast to ride and you'd have nicely stocked tool box when it comes time to start watching youtube clips on mtb maintenance .

the other small bonus is that if it's really not your cuppa, odds are you can sell it for the same or similar money.
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Re: Hello from a new member, MTB recommendations

Postby mr626 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:11 am

Thanks for the reply Slow6. I've been keeping an eye on gumtree and I'm pretty sure I saw that bike previously.

I guess I'm slightly hesitant to purchase something like a dual suspension bike second hand, as I really don't feel that I know enough about fixing/maintaining them (yet!). Agreed, it seems to be in good condition and at a good price though. I'm about 2 hours away from where that particular bike is located unfortunately, but I might contact the seller anyway and see what he says.

Probably still leaning towards buying new though
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