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Noobs first MTB choice...any comments?

Burt de Ernie's picture

By Burt de Ernie - Posted on 06 August 2010

G`day all,

Im new to mountain biking and am currently bashing my hybrid bike up riding at red hill.
Im looking to but a new biking soley for the mud and this is what i am thinking about purchasing.
I have found a shop that will sell me this new for $900.00.

any comments?

Spec is as follows:

Manufacturer Merida
Model Matts TFS Trail 700-D
Frame size 15", 17", 19"
Frame MATTS TFS-Trail-Disc
Colour silk matt black (mango)
Fork SR Raidon RL Air 120
Front derailleur Shimano Deore
Rear derailleur Deore XT
Brake levers attached
Brakes Shimano M486 Disc 180/180 mm
Shifters Shimano Deore Rapidfire
Chain Shimano CN-HG53
Front hub Shimano Deore Centerlock
Rear hub Shimano Deore Centerlock
Rims Merida TFS Disc-Eyelet-Black
Freewheel Shimano CS-HG61-9 11-34
Pedals XC Alloy
Saddle X-Mission Line
Stem XM Comp OS CEN
Year 2010

Buck's picture

looks like a good starting point to me. Good mid range drivetrain and hydraulic brakes.

I started on a Giant hardtail with similar level specs.

$900 is pretty good value for that gear too!

TimmyAus's picture

Obviously depends on your intended use and budget, but i would take the extra time to save the $$ to get a dually. If you can find someone who has one that you can take for a little ride you will never look back. (About a year ago i got back on the bike and intially intended to go for a mid-range hardtail, but had a ride of the bro's Giant Anthem dually and the deal was sealed, had to get a dually..) I ended up getting a Giant Trance X3 for $2000. In my opinion best value for money, but i'm sure others will have their opinion (Current being discussed in another post..).

A decent dually is so much more forgiving. It will give you the confidence to ride things you never thought you would. It will get you out of situations that you would normally have ended up in the dirt on and will save you the hassel of having to upgrade when 6months down the track you decide that this mountain biking thing is a lot of fun and that you want a better toy to play with...

My 2cents.

Sinkes's picture

My thoughts are if you are riding at Red Hill, a dual suspension bike may be better suited to those conditions........

......'s picture

Looks good to me. People get to caught up in the bike side of riding.It's about you, not about the bike, Yes, for sure, you could save more dollars and get a better bike, and spending more money does sometimes mean a more durable bike. What they don't tell you is that a better bike won't make you ride any better. You will make lots of mistakes at the start. You should be riding a bike that is dispensable. Spend the $900, and save for the $2500 spend you will want to do in a year or so.

hawkeye's picture

Get a hardtail to start with. Because they're a little less forgiving, you are less likely to get overconfident, which will keep you safer while you acquire bike handling skills. For the money, you will get better quality components (transmission, wheels, fork etc) which equates to more fun time riding and less time spent in the garage cussing yet another broken or out-of-adjustment part.

Hardtails are also more versatile - with the purchase of a bike with a lockout fork and a simple change of tyres to slicks you have a half-decent commuter.

As your skills move up the learning curve and your core strength and endurance develop, and you start wanting to go on rides of several hours or more... that's when to start looking at duallies.

obmal's picture

I too started out MTB riding red hill, a couple years ago, moved in next door and started running ( I was into running) the trails, never thinking that anyone would/could ride those trails and pretty soon found that its much more fun riding than running the trails.
Anyhow I had a giant alias hard tail and pretty much destroyed it there in a very short time, so off I went to the bike shop looking for the toughest looking all mountain bike that was in my budget. (umm yeah I bought a diamondback mission 3...eeek!. but hey its survived 2 years of Red Hill.)
So with the benefit of hindsight, I'd not bother with a cheap hard tail if your planning on riding Red Hill a couple times a week, your going to wreck anything you buy, so I'd not worry too much about getting a new bike because your going to go through chains, gears, wheels and derailleurs in no time flat.. I'd be looking for an old second hand long travel alloy dually with something like pike 454 forks and decent brakes and then putting on better bits as you wear them out.
This is unless you get a great deal on a new bike as apparently the sales are on right now.

CROMERBOY's picture

Tough place needs a tough bike.
Put the money towards a dually - I would look at something with at least 5" travel - an all mountain bike.
Red Hill kills bikes - take a dually for a spin at Red Hill and you would never look at going back to a hardtail again.
My two cents.

Antsonline's picture

5 inches of travel?
I just dont think its necessary and teaches lazy skills - kinda like a driving license only for automatics.
Does anyone out there with 4" (as a beginner) get to the limit of their bike before their own skill?

Personally - I dont know anyone that owns a 4" bike and are so skillful that its the bike, or lack of travel, that holds them back...

I reckon go the hardtail. Ride it hard, look after it, ride it some more, until you get to the limit of the bikes ability, or your nerve.
Then - buy a duelly sometime down the track, and when its a bit horrible outside, or want a commuter - old faithful (the hardtail) is still there for you.

If you look after it, no matter how hard you ride it, it should last 2 yrs.

......'s picture

The guy is starting out. Dually's cost more, and they cost more to maintain. Get a hardtail. you'll be a better rider for it in the long run, save your penny's and get a dually after you have learned to ride smooth on a heavy hardtail.

ps's picture

I am still in the hardtail phase on a bike that is only slightly better specked than the one your looking at. I have had it a few years and have only needed to replace things this year due to extra use. The hardtail hasn't stopped me from enjoying the local trails or stopped me from riding any of the technical stuff.
just my 2c
btw I will get a dual suspension bike at some stage this year.

hawkeye's picture

Post deleted

Burt de Ernie's picture

At this stage of my MTB career, it is cost more than anything that pushing me toward this bike. I dont know very much about the componantry of bikes but from what i can gather, 900 bucks is reletively cheap for this spec. Its not that i dont want to or cant afford to pay more, its pretty much as hawkeye stated in a previous post "you have keep the Minister for Finance in the loop!" It would end up costing me a divorce if i spend $2,500.

obmal's picture

Its Red Hill, if you want to really enjoy that place then your just delaying the inevitable..
Anyhow get your hardtail for now while keeping within the ministers budget approval to spend money on a bike (a non trivial task)
But lets look back in a years time, you will have a full suspension bike and perhaps even that original hard tail.

Keep an eye out for a good second hand frame and build it up with parts that you can find on sale and ebay.

CROMERBOY's picture

The secret is to make the wife think it is her idea that you get the bike of choice.
This is skill that comes with time.
If this fails remember it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission

richo's picture

I bought my hardtail last year and have up grade it to the point where the frame and forks are the only original parts which the wife was fine with until she started read my mtb mags and found the real price!
She has forgiven me i think

daveh's picture

If you have the money then look to what it would cost for a decent dually and then double it. That's not to suggest that you spend twice us much on the bike, that's half for your bike and half for your better half! Seriously though, I do think dually is the way to go, it's a comfort thing. I don't think it teaches you to be a lazy rider (I can be lazy on any bike thank you very much!), it just means that you're not having to stand on the pedals half the time to absorb the bumps and it grabs onto the gravel and rocks better which makes it more stable. I just cannot see myself as enjoying getting out for long periods of time as much as I do if more of the bumps and hits were transferred through to my body. There look to be some pretty good Konas, Giants, etc. around for pretty good prices, especially if you can find the odd 2009 model.

nix85's picture

hey im a newbie and i ride a giant xtc2 hardtail and i dont have any problems.... (bar the need to improve skill level and fitness level...but i think that will ALWAYS be ongoing cause there is always a new challenge), but my thought process behind a hardtail was this....when i was very first starting out, i couldnt guarantee that in a years time i would still be loving mtb (that thought process has now changed...thought seems crazy now) not being able to guarantee id be riding in a year i didnt want to put down the extra cash for a dually.... so ive always said if im going to stick with it as my skills upgrade so will the bike...hence i will eventually be upgrading but not till i save up the $$ and my skills are a bit better.... plus on raining days when trails are wet my hardtail is good to spin around the roads and bike paths..
but ultimately everyone will have there opinion...and realistically ur going to be the only one riding it...

armo's picture

I started out on a Giant XTC0 hardtail then 18 mounths later moved up to a Trancex1 after getting the bug good and proper and fell it is good to start out on a resonable good hardtail to learn without spending to much money then save for a duelly suitable for the type of MTB rideing you choose whether it be XC, trail or allmountain. I kept the hardtail for training on cycle ways ,road and the ocassional dirt ride and spare bike to share the expeirence with friends that may not have a bike or weren't able to bring theres'

philberesford's picture

I agree with Chica and Armo.

I started on a Giant XTC 2. 18mths later I went the full hogg and picked out a lovely 575. Wouldn't dream about riding anything else on the trails. She's my fun bike and my race bike.

I still have the XTC she's my commuter weapon these days and occasionally makes it out on the trail every now and then.

Flynny's picture

If it's more bit hit technical riding maybe look towards a more heavy duty hard tail. Something like the Norco Shore range.

The Norco Wolverine would be in that $900 range at the moment. Heavy duty frame that will cop a pounding and you can up grade components as you go. Not so good for longer gentle XC type riding but there a re plenty of people who race DH on Sassie and manics which basically share the same frame.

As for the comment of does anyone ride a 4" travel bike where the bike let them down before their skill.

Yep. My first dually was a 4 inch travel Giant Warp and for the more high speed technical and bigger drop off stuff we got into it took about 6months before I was at the limit of what the bike would handle (Actually crack the frame) and was looking for something bigger.

The frame geometry and gusseting make more difference on techinical riding for beginners than does travel

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