Monday, March 29, 2010

Buying Your First Mountain Bike? Here's What You Should and Shouldn't Do

After participating in multiple online mountain bike forums for several years, I have noticed there is a general question that keeps getting asked over and over again. It can take many forms, but it boils down to the same general subject. This basic question can be asked as:

  • I want to start mountain biking.  How important is having a name-brand bike?
  • I only have x amount of money.  What is the best bike that I can get?
  • Why shouldn't I buy a full suspension bike from Walmart for $150 dollars, instead of a hardtail from the bike shop for $300?
  • I bought a Next a month ago, and _______ is loose/broken, PLEASE HELP!
  • Why do experienced mountain bikers always get all snobby whenever they see me riding my "Walmart Special?"
The above questions will be answered through a 5-part series released over the next 5 days:

Over the course of this series, I hope to present a pretty all-encompassing view of the issue.  Sure, some of the initial posts may be on the harsher end, but I think the last couple of posts will bring more balance to the issue.  As the series progress I will update this post with links to the individual articles.  Check back daily for the next installment, and I would love to hear what you think about the issue!


Anonymous,  March 29, 2010 at 5:10 PM  

Nice post, dude!
I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, for sure.

Greg Heil March 29, 2010 at 5:25 PM  

Thanks dude! It should be a fun series. I hope I cover all the topics in-depth enough for everyone to be satisfied!

Mark March 31, 2010 at 9:20 AM  

Older 'Gooses are great! I had one from '97 that I used to pull the kids around on and it was a joy to ride. Shimano Thumb shifters, real cantilever brakes, solid construction.

It was a sad day when I sold mine but I needed room in the stable. It was either sold, or convert to fixie but then I would have still had to have sold due to the space issue.

Not sure when they went downhill in terms of quality, even these days they seem to be making a big push on high end bikes. But they have a huge credibility issue - how can you trust somebody that has sold crap at Wally World for the past 10 years, or for that matter do you want to even be associated with that?

Greg Heil March 31, 2010 at 9:28 AM  

I agree dude, the Mongoose situation is a really interesting one. When I bought my current rig, I was seriously considering purchasing a low-range Teocali, which MSRPed at roughly $1,000. Over the last year or two since I've owned my current bike (Jamis Dakar XLT), I've read several good reviews about the newer Teocalis & other high end bikes that Mongoose puts out.

But they still sell junk at Walmart.... totally agree with the credibility issue. But if I ever meet up with someone out on the trail with a Teocali, I may ask to take it for a spin ;)

Mark March 31, 2010 at 1:09 PM  

I sold a wheelset to a guy that had a Teocali and I asked him what he thought about the bike. Granted it was his first bike and he must have been 16 or so, his Dad was driving, but he liked it alot and thought it was a great value.

Now, what's worse is Mongoose is owned by Dorel Industries who also owns Schwinn, GT, Sugoi, and Cannondale. Granted all these companies run themselves but you have to realize that there is going to be a lot of cross pollination of ideas and don't forget "Best Practises" which I am afraid will dilute the individual brands.

Will you ever see a C'dale or GT at Wally World, maybe not, but "best practises" that go into making cheap bikes my creep into the manufacturing of the more notable brands.

Greg Heil March 31, 2010 at 3:29 PM  

Huh, I didn't know that. Crazy stuff! Learn something new everyday.

I've always held Cannondale in high regard. Hopefully they don't get "diluted."

Lefties are just so dang cool...

Mike,  April 2, 2010 at 12:51 PM  

hey greg if your ever in colorado and want to take a teocali for a spin let me know, im trailrider247 on

Greg Heil April 2, 2010 at 5:28 PM  

Sweet, thanks man, I may take you up on that offer :D I might actually be buying a truck in Colorado. If I'm traveling out there to pick up a vehicle, I'm sure I could work some biking in there somewhere!

(BTW my screen name is "Goo")

Sal Picataggio July 9, 2010 at 11:58 AM  

This is such a great series. Everyone looking for a bike (or trying to sell one on Craigslist) should read this first.

Greg Heil July 9, 2010 at 12:06 PM  

@Sal, Thanks man! I appreciate the support!

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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