Let’s think back when we were newbies to the sport. I remember buying my first mountain bike, spent $240 on it. I thought that was pretty expensive until I learned that there were bikes that were priced in the thousands. I do remember when I first started shopping around for a bike, I went to the LBS and looked at bikes. Most LBS’s will have their bikes lined up according to price. The further you get into the shop, the more the bikes cost.
If there’s a slick sales man, they’ll quickly take you away from the $369.00 Trek 3900 that you’re looking at and direct your attention to the Trek Remedy 6…the bike that has all the bells and whistles…
With that in mind, do you, the newbie, spend the money on a cheaper bike like the Trek 3900 or do you spend twice as much and go for a better bike. See what most newbies don’t know are parts, and the over all specs of a bike. To them all they see is the price. The bikes look identical, they both have shocks, knobby tires and brakes…but that’s about it. So if you are barely getting into the sport or you know of someone that is looking to buy a bike, here’s what to look for.
First of all, the Trek 3900 is a great bike. Though its not really meant for some crazy drops, it can still handle some light to medium trails. The big difference between a $300 bike and a $600 bike would be in the components. Some bikes may even use the same frame, but spec it with two different groups of parts. For example, a $300 bike may have parts like Alivio/Acera. That’s usually the lower end of the spectrum for Shimano. The $600 bikes are going to usually carry parts like Deore and possibly LX, that’s about mid-grade and way better in performance.
Sometimes you may find that a $600 bike will have disc brakes. Those brakes are either Hayes MX2, Avid BB5 or Tektro disc brakes. Not the best out there, but certainly a better choice than v-brakes(at least that’s what some people say, I personally like v-brakes!).
Another difference that $300 and $600 bikes will have are wheels. Cheaper bikes will have cheaper wheels. Those will include single wall wheels that get bent easily or come untrue after the first few rides. $600 bikes will typically carry double walled wheels, stronger than the single walled and are more durable in the long run.
The drive train will also be different. On a $600 bike, you’ll get a crankset that will have removable chain rings rather than riveted ones. So if you go with a cheaper bike and you wear out your chain ring down the line, you’ll have to swap out the whole crankset rather than just the problem ring.
Hopefully having some insight on knowing the difference between a $300 and a $600 will help you figure out what the best choice is. If the LBS smart, they’ll ask you what kind of riding do you expect to do and based on your answer and budget, they’ll try to match up with what they have in mind. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!