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First Suspension Bike

By Justin - Posted on 30 April 2006

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.


To answer questions about - what should my first MTB be?

Some simple guidelines.
- You may find you don't enjoy MTB after a few months - so don't over-invest! After a couple of seasons, you will have the bug and be ready to hit the big-time Smiling
- To keep the cost down, your first bike should probably be a hardtail (front-suspension only)
- Don't even consider bikes from Kmart etc, go to a bike store.
- We've all bought bikes from Bike Addiction, Supreme Cycles, Learsport
- 24 or 27 gears

What sort of price range for the first MTB?
- Unfortunately for a bike that will last you for a few years off-road, you will have to spend around $500. Anything less will be more likely to wear quickly, not have the range of gears, and not have very good suspension.
- Don't forget you will also need:
-Helmet ($80+),
-Water bottle cage ($10 but should be free with the bike),
-water bottle ($10 again the shop should throw this in)
-bike lock ($30+)
-bike lights ($30 for front and back, lots of us carry them 'cos we have been caught out late!)

One bike that many of the NoBMoBers started out on was the Giant Rincon this year it even has mechanical disk brakes - have a look at: (go through our 'supporters' page for free postage)

Another option for light MTB duties is the next model Giant down, the Boulder, no personal experience with these, but the price is very reasonable and it is sold as a 'first MTB':

Also, some of us started out on Learsports - mixed reviews, but I liked mine a lot (I had the TR3270): ($550)

Second hand bikes:
- I'd recommend new, but if you have to... (post on this forum before you bid though for a second-opinion if needed!)
- Ensure they have been recently serviced. Also, you may be up for new tyres and tubes as people usually sell bikes because they have been sitting around unused for a couple of years - this can cause problems, look for perished tyres, any unusual creaks or groans (a sign bearings have rusted), check the brakes and gears work
- E-bay or trading post - go for a brand name second hand (e.g. Trek, giant, shogun etc), don't ever buy a 'new' bike from ebay, these are as bad or worse than supermarket bikes. I just had a look at trading post and didn't see anything exciting, here are a couple of links to current (Apr06) options from ebay:
This one is new, strike what I said above, but again remember to try before you buy:

There is an NRS1 which looks like great value for $900

Here's a good value dual-suspension for $500


I think 2nd hand bikes are the way to go. I brought mine off eBay (kind of). I found it on eBay, the auction ended with no bids, so we went out, inspected it, bargained it down a bit, and got it for half the reatail price of $800, and it is barely 1 year old.

Some tips for buying second hand:
-look up a spec sheet on the internet for the bike

-GO AND HAVE A LOOK i.e. don't buy a bike in Perth if your in Sydney

-When you inspect the bike have a look through your components list, make sure they match up with what is on the spec sheet. If they don't ask the person for a receipt for the purchase of the new product, or something to show that it has been purchased recently. This is purely to make sure that 1) your bike will be eligible for any warranties that are still in place, and 2) that you know how old the compents are (i.e. the person could have taken 10 year old components and put them on a 1 year old bike).

-Another thing to do when at the bike is to inspect components (as said above). Take the wheels off, check how much brake pads it has left. Have a look at the sprockets (the gear things with teeth), see if you can see much wear on them (shown by scratches on the metal), and check areas where solid grease may accumulate (much grease will mean the bike has been used a lot), check tires, see how much wear they have; another indicator to how much work the bike has done.

-Shop around. Don't find one bike on your first day of looking and buy it. Just cruise the ads for a few weeks, have a look at the market price for the kind of bike you want, to get an idea of what you should be paying. Which brings me to my next point:
-Bargain the price. You sould be able to get almost $100 off most bikes if you bargain. For instance, offer them a low price, one they probably won't accept, and if they don't gradually increase it to your maximum price (don't go over it by much).

-I know eBay doesn't agree to settling outside of their site, purely because they miss out on the profit, but it is quite safe if you see the bike, and meet the person. There are some bad people on eBay, so if you are buying a bike from there first check their feedback (people with low feedback should not be trusted as much as people with say 100 positive feedback).

-It is not advisable to buy components off ebay, as you cannot see what they have come off, nor can you easily tell how much use they have had. So for components use the great retailers listed in the above post.

-PLEASE NOTE: these are only rough indications, they can only give an IDEA on what the bike has been used for; the person could have adressed these issues, so never totally rely on these.

I think that is pretty much it. Good luck to those purchasing a bike. If anyone here wants any help with eBay I would be glad to give some advice, I have been trading for a number of years, and have a bit of experience. Drop me an e-mail at

If anyone thinks there is anything wrong with the above, or if mods don't agree, then by all means tell me.


Mitch, that's all top advice, thanks a lot.

FWIW, Pratiwi's bike isn't that old so here's a little of what I remember about when we were looking for it:

First off, Pratiwi is small, as are a lot of women. Actually, she is about 1/3 of Justin's size if you can believe it! Eye-wink So it stands to reason that whereas Justin needs a solid frame, top notch componentry and a chain Mick Doohan could use, Pratiwi can get away with a coat hanger frame and dental floss for the drive. OK, not quiet, but you get the point - if you're a 'big' person then get something that will handle the load you will put on it.

We looked at the Giant options Justin mentions but none of them really seemed to fit quiet right.

Trek have some Women's Specific Design (WSD) bikes. At first I thought this was marketing BS, but the models are no more expensive then the same spec. in the men's range. They also did seem to fit Pratiwi a whole lot better. Ie. On a 16" men's bike the top tube was too long, but on the 13" the seat was too low. Then the 15.5" WSD seems pretty much as good a fit as we have found.

Of course, new riders aren't likely to be hurtling down runs as fast as more aggressive, advanced riders either, so I'm not convinced of the virtues of discs there. If you have the money, sure, and perhaps if you're a hefty bloke discs might be a good idea, but for a more petite, more cautious rider I reckon V brakes should do you just fine to get going.

Other things that come to mind:

- Light is good. I also liked the Trek aluminium frame. Check out where the frames change in the manufacture’s line up and price points. It's nice to know you are getting the same frame on a $700 bike as the $2100. Well, depending which one you're buying of course. We all know the latter will have much better components of course, but if you started at the lower end you could add those same components later. This even goes for mega bucks dual suspension setups - take Cannondale... the $2300 Rush 400 has (AFAIK) the exact same frame as the $8000 Rush 3000!

- Double wall/double duty rims kind of go without saying. All decent models have them and models with these are probably where the 'proper' off road range starts.

Just a few more points... don't worry, when this thread is through everyone will be well boggled by them!

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