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Seeking advice on obtaining a mountain bike (cross country)

echo_NY

Angel Diva
New to mountain biking. Typically do touring and commuting. Now that we live in the green mountains and close to an awesome trail system, it seems like we need gravel bikes or mountain bikes. And if mountain bikes, cross country.

I called like 10 shops today. No one has anything. I got put on some lists. I can put a deposit on a hard tail but I don’t think it’s for me. I think we need the dual suspension with the option to lock the rear shock. Am I wrong?

Also, Tell me it will get better! The waiting and not knowing if we’ll get to get out there is a little unnerving.

Maybe do some geeking out on all the mountain biking gear that I need in my life so I know what to get if a bike falls into my lap?
 

Iwannaski

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
While you’re in limbo, I’ll tell you our local bike shop said that the supply chain issues are definitely a challenge again this year for bikes. He does a good used bike business, and what we needed was for our kids, so we went VERY early in the season (early march?) and swapped bikes and money with him ... if you have a LOCAL shop, maybe a stopgap would be buying a used bike while you figure out what features you REALLLLLY want?

As a bonus, our local guy knows the whole family, and has really treated us fairly. Maybe call your 10 shops and see if anyone does trade ins and if they have any regular trade in folks? Maybe they know who has and will likely trade in the bike you want? ;)
 

SallyCat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Also check Facebook marketplace for local used bikes. I think that if you really want to get on the trails this season, you may have to settle for whatever used bike you can grab.

A hardtail bike will be absolutely fine in VT, especially starting out in the sport. I ride with plenty of people who are awesome and experienced riders and they ride hardtails. If you get into MTB this season and decide you like it, then you can invest in a full-suss bike and you'll do it with a much clearer idea of what type of riding you want to do. (XC is great, but so are trail bikes, and there are differences in the geometry, etc.). And you'll have way more options once the supply chain opens up.

Fwiw, I bought a gravel bike from Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester, VT last fall and was surprised that he had it in stock. He has lots of used bikes, too. I love my gravel bike, but if you want to get on VT singletrack, a gravel bike would be limiting just because of the techy nature of the trails here. Most people seem to have both a mountain bike and a gravel bike. That way you can enjoy the singletrack but also be able to ride on back roads during the shoulder seasons when MTB trails aren't open.

Good luck!! I hope you get out riding in whatever form works out this season!
 

snoWYmonkey

Angel Diva
Agree with the gals who replied before me. Check out used bikes, including the aforementioned pinkbike, which I how I sold my bikes.

As for the type of bike, even mountainbikes have such a wide range of specs depending on where you think you will be riding, in terms of terrain, climbing, descending, smooth, drops, etc... If mostly cruising smooth flow trails you might not need or want the cost or weight of full suspension, or maybe you end up loving techy gnarly trails or have spine issues and need tons of suspension. Also look at gearing set up. I love only having one set of gears to fiddle with instead of dealing with chains coming off because of accidental cross gearing etc....

Fun either way and I highly suggest a lesson or two as going from a road bike or commuter bike to riding single track is like going from a canoe on a lake to class 3 rapids in a kayak. Falling sucks, and the best way to minimize it is learning how to brake using both levers, not just the rear, how to stand and how to corner. Spoken from a former MTB instructor who like to think she saved a lot of guests from broken collarbones or worse.
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Agree with all here—would also recommend a hardtail as a great place to start because you have to finesse your line and weight transfer a bit more. When I rode (I’d say ride but it’s been precovid so a while) with a ladies group here you could pick out newer riders who went straight to a dual suspension bike based upon how they would ride straight into (over) roots rocks etc without moving their weight. They were “getting away with it” at the level they were riding but as they started riding more difficult terrain I gave a lot of space for the crashes I saw coming inevitably when they stalled out and stopped clearing the obstacles they were attempting. Learning on a hardtail helps you learn to maneuver the bike and yourself to lighten the weight where it’s needed. It’s also cheaper and you may or may not decide you need the upgrade. I have had a ton of bikes over the years and I often prefer my XC geometry hardtail to my trail full suspension if the route for the day has a lot of climbing.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It really does depend on what type of terrain you'll have available to ride (I say available, because once you get started, you might ride a lot more challenging terrain than you think you will.) One thing about MTB is you can walk sections that are too challenging, and still have a hoot of a time on other sections of a trail that is considered "difficult". That being said, a GOOD hardtail that will get you on a decently spec'd bike will cost you between $1500 and $2000 if you buy new, and right now, even used as the used market is highly inflated due to the supply issues.

I bought my daughter a Trek Marlin two years ago. She enjoys pedaling it around the streets/paved trails/smooth singletrack as it's a nice little cruiser bike. I hopped on it while on a camping trip and rode a smooth path that had a little jump in it that I can pop off of, and I bottomed the suspension out (it's not adjustable) and thought I was going to break the bike. I ride a very high-end Trek Fuel EX 9.8, which can handle pretty much anything so not a super valid comparison, just know that if you get something sub-$1000, you want to be cautious in how hard you push it.

There's nothing wrong with a hard tail, especially if you don't ride a lot of rocky or rooty terrain. I'd make sure it has a dropper seat at the very least.
 

scandium

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I am very much a cruise around grade 2 trails kind of person and still ride an old 26" hard tail unless I'm hiring/borrowing. I think full suspension makes some things easier such as roots, especially on uphill sections, and not having to think about weight transfer, but I feel like it makes me a lazier rider.
 

echo_NY

Angel Diva
Hey thanks for all the thoughtful responses.
I ride a surly crosscheck that is set up like a commuter / bike packing type of bike, but I certainly can see where it gets it’s cyclocross or gravel bike reputation. I think the dimensions allow to change out some stuff in order to use on gravel more. But I have definitely been using it around here in Vermont. The two issues I’ve had with it are the front derailleur is big (more for pedaling long distances on flattish paths or roads) and gets caught, and my fenders smh ‍♀️ which I should take off. It will also take up to 2-2.5 inch tires so I know it’s an option. The husband has already swapped out his city tires (32) for the fatter knobby tires (2 inch) and had fun in the mud not too long ago.

I called around and have a few options. Some are trail with longer travel which I don’t want. My brother in law has said if I have to, go with enduro, but try to land that cross country sweet spot.

I found the following bikes in my size. For someone who’s looking to stay in the saddle all day going up and down in Vermont in mixed and varied terrain, what would you say?

- diamondback release 3
- orbea occam M30
- scott genius (this seems more like a trail but was assured it rides like a cross country)

I’ll test all 3, but have been asking people what they think about components and such
 
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echo_NY

Angel Diva
I somehow called around enough shops and landed a Devinci Marshall for my husband (his sized bike) so we have half of us covered for now.

I have also hit up all the used bike listings on Facebook marketplace and there’s nothing in Craigslist. I looked at pinkbike listings too. None could ship, they were mostly pick up local.

One Facebook listing came back to me with a 2018 Liv Advanced 0 but it’s a 8K trail bike that is being sold in a price range I can swallow. However they won’t be back in Vermont til end of May.
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I cannot imagine how the Scott Genius rides like a cross country with a stated head angle of 64.5. My Scott 935 has 69.5 and that is definitely a cross country feeling ride. My Pivot 429 is 66.5 and it definitely feels more slack than what I would consider cross country. Slow steep uphills I have to actively weight the front end to maintain good ground contact and steering. Haven’t ridden any of the 3 models you mention to advise in detail just saw that geometry and figured I’d give it a mention.

Components I’d recommend shimano brakes or similar that use mineral oil as opposed to those that use DOT fluid as it’s classed hazardous for disposal and generally just more of a pain as far as messing up paint etc.
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The two issues I’ve had with it are the front derailleur is big (more for pedaling long distances on flattish paths or roads) and gets caught, and my fenders smh ‍♀️ which I should take off. It will also take up to 2-2.5 inch tires so I know it’s an option

Changing out the front chainrings and removing fenders for some more rubber could be a super easy solution. If the tooth difference in the rings is within the current front derailleur capacity you may just be able to move it down in the seat tube and not have to change it out even.

ETA: just reread and the actual derailleur catches on stuff? You could change to a different model-just mind the pull direction and mounting diameter. Or even go 1x up front. May need a new cassette in the back and possibly a new derailleur to accommodate if you get a lot more teeth but these are kind of in the few hundred dollar changes not thousands on a new bike if it otherwise does what you want...
 
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SallyCat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I've spent a lot of time on a Scott Genius: it is a great trail bike. It is not a cross-country bike and does not at all ride like one.

Based on what you've said so far about what you are looking for, I would not recommend an "enduro" bike. Those are low, slack, long-travel bikes meant for going down more than up. They will climb, but it will be a chore.

Cross-country bikes are great, but keep in mind that if you're on the short side, a 29er might not be a good fit. XC bikes will climb really well, but they will be more "twitchy" cornering and going downhill than a trail bike.
 

echo_NY

Angel Diva
Changing out the front chainrings and removing fenders for some more rubber could be a super easy solution. If the tooth difference in the rings is within the current front derailleur capacity you may just be able to move it down in the seat tube and not have to change it out even.

ETA: just reread and the actual derailleur catches on stuff? You could change to a different model-just mind the pull direction and mounting diameter. Or even go 1x up front. May need a new cassette in the back and possibly a new derailleur to accommodate if you get a lot more teeth but these are kind of in the few hundred dollar changes not thousands on a new bike if it otherwise does what you want...
Sorry no I meant chainring but lost the word in my head and said front derailleur. Thanks for that!
 

echo_NY

Angel Diva
Makes sense sallycat that it’s twitchy going down given how not-as-burly it would be. Thanks so much for the detail. Very helpful!!
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
“Twitchy” really has to do more with the steering response (fast!) than the build weight.... a feeling in the bike created by a combination of geometry (head angle/seat tube angle/wheelbase length/chainstay/stem length and bar width) selected for these builds. I didn’t watch the video but here’s an article comparing XC/enduro/trail:

https://www.bikeexchange.com/blog/c...uro-mountain-bikes-explained-comparison-guide
 

SallyCat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Makes sense sallycat that it’s twitchy going down given how not-as-burly it would be. Thanks so much for the detail. Very helpful!!


The Genius is an awesome bike, btw and is a great investment for someone who's not sure exactly what type of riding they want to do, or who wants to ride different types of trail. I say that because of the ability to switch wheel sizes and adjust geometry as well as lock out the suspension.

I have a similar bike (Rocky Mountain Pipeline, which if I put 29ers on it becomes an Instinct). It also allows me to adjust the hta via a chip. Like the Scott, I can also lock out or minimize my suspension. If I want to ride in more of a trail-XC style, I can steepen it and put the 29ers on. When I go to the downhill park, I make it slacker, open up the suspension and put 2.8" 27.5 tires on it and it's an absolute blast.
 

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