NoyzSource wrote:Would some of the more experienced riders please post some good entry level bikes for new riders (men and women) that won't break the bank? Maybe even touch on the "big box store" vs "local bike shop (LBS)" quality of bikes.
NoyzSource - Here's an answer from personal experience, somewhat. I have owned a couple bikes in my time, and bought a Gary Fisher from Hall's back in April. I love the bike, best bike I've ever owned, previously had a '94 GF Tassajara, and some early 90's Schwinn. Anyway, right away I noticed there was a problem with either the brakes or the rear derailleur. I stopped in one day, Steve put it up on the stand and messed with the adjustments of the derailleur. Rode it a few more days, and still had the same rubbing sound. So, I put it on my own stand, and figured out it was the brakes. The pads were rubbing on the rotors. Since my bike came with Avid Juicy 3's, there's not much you can do to adjust them. So, the next time I was at Halls, Steve put it back up on the stand, and messed with the rotors and pads a little bit. Probably spent about 20 or 30 minutes on them. Still no luck. So, the next day, he called Trek(they own Gary Fisher), and got some new brakes(the complete set) sent to the shop. I brought my bike in on a Monday evening, and had it back the next day, with a complete set of Avid Juicy 3.5's installed and working great. Trek was out of the 3's, and the 3.5 are a step up. How much did all this cost me? Nothing.
This is just one example of the service you get from a local bike shop versus a big box store. I've had them straighten derailleur hangers, paint over scratches, and help install stuff all the time for me. I've known the guys at Hall's for years, and know that they love bikes, and love biking even more. They take great care of their customers, for over 100 years. I know that this level of service is the same at almost any locally owned bike shop. Also, one of the things you'll notice at shops is that they will do the repairs of their customers' bikes first, and put the big box bikes at the back of the line. Now, they will provide the same level of service, just will take longer.
Also, when my wife and I bought our bikes, they gave us discounts for the two purchases, as well as a discount on any other items we bought over the next 90 days. I know that places like Scheel's will do that, but only at the time of the bike purchase. You always realize later you need tools, tubes, tires, bottles, lights, etc.
Really, the short of it is that you don't get a high level of service from big box stores that you will get at the local bike shop.
Now, the quality of bikes. There's so many levels when it comes to quality. A big box bike will never last very long if you try to ride it as a trails bike. You will also grow tired of the items breaking, coming out of adjustment, etc, very quickly. The quality just isn't there. After a quick check on walmart.com, the bikes there range from $100-$500. Made from companies that also happen to make motorcycles and guns. Interesting.
I know for a fact that a person can buy a great bike from a local bike shop for less than $500, and have a great time riding it! No, it won't be carbon fiber, and no it probably won't be full suspension. But, it will be lighter and last longer than a big box bike. So, that means you'll be able to be on the trails longer in the day, because in the end, that's what it is all about.
The people on this forum and at the trails who have full suspension and carbon fiber, and whatever else, almost always started on something that was around $500. Whether they bought it new at a local shop, or bought a great used bike at a garage sale or Craigslist, they started small, fell in love with riding, and then started to upgrade to something more that they discovered they liked more. How did they do it? Most of us read sites like this, dirtrag.com, bikemag.com, or read magazines on an almost daily basis(I know I do!) to learn about what's out there that can make our participation in this crazy sport that much more fun. I also know that most of us are more than willing to take some time, talk about what we are liking in products out, what to watch out for, and to help anyone get the most out of their ride, and their bike. Just ask!
And to the guys and gals on this forum who have the carbon fiber and the full-suspension, listen up - The more people we stop and help along the way and get involved in this sport, the better it becomes.