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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsVehicle Mobilit...Vehicle Mobilit... Backcountry/Adventure Bike Recommendation Backcountry/Adventure Bike Recommendation
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9/2/2020 2:26 PM
 

Bought my son a MTB for his 13th birthday and he's taken a shine to some light trail adventures.  I haven't been on a bike for close to 20 years, but I used to live in Marin county CA and rode some pretty technical single track back then, but never considered overnight/wilderness travel.  Now I am, as a way to increase his exposure and provide another excuse for me to practice my skills. 

Looking for his bike, I see the biking world has become vast and much more expensive than I remember!  I got him a Haro Flightline One for just general tooling around and he loves it.  My question is for anyone that uses a bike for backcountry destination travels like backpacking (bikepacking?), access to remote hunting spots, or pleasure riding single track and/or fire roads:

What style of bike am I looking for?  Hybrid? Sport Hybrid? Adventure Touring? Straightup hardtail MTB?  Not sure how the geometry differs in performance vs comfort etc., what is good what is not good component-wise. A few I'm looking at online....nobody has anything to see in person near me due to the 'rona:

Giant Roam

Specialized Pitch or Rockhopper 27.5

Haro Flightline 27.5

Trek Marlin 5 or 6

Any input will be appreciated.  Info on mounted racks/packs is welcome too.  Thanks!

 
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9/3/2020 8:04 AM
 

You said he has a bike but you are looking for a newer one?  For a 13yo, I'd look for a used 26in Mountain bike, no walmart crap.  No derailleur cheaper than Alivio.  LX is much better.  You want a decent shock (Rock Shock) but I'd stick with coil sprung.  Find a frame that he will grow into and put a really short stem on it so he can get a few years out of it.  I just bought a Trek 970 with all LX/XT components, new Bontrager tires, for $275.   I was the first to call and I paypaled a deposit, his phone rung all weekend until I pick it up.  They are out there

What is his inseam/height?

 
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9/3/2020 12:26 PM
 

I apologize for not making it more clear, but the bike I'm asking about for is for me.

 
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9/4/2020 9:14 AM
 

Sorry I misunderstood you.  I'd look for a hardtail with a coil 100mm travel front shock.  Could be a used 26 or a newer 27.5 or a 29er.  Everybody is going tubeless, I'm not there yet.  The old Shimano component pantheon was, STX, Alivio, LX, XT, XTR.  I think Deore replaced Alivio/LX.  They still call the upper end XT and XTR.  XTR lightens the bike a tiny bit and your wallet a LOT. You'll have to research the new SRAM components on your own. Just about all bikes have disc brake, I'd go for mineral oil/hydraulic over mechanical.  Something like a Bontrager XR3 or a Mythos XC3 for tires (decent traction/easy rolling).

Mountain bikes are divided up into:   Cross Country (mostly hardtails, very light), Trail (likely full-suspension), and Enduro (rear suspension, long-travel front 140mm or more).  My next bike will likely be a Trail, with "plus" tires (2.6in wide).  Probably a Giant Stance.

 
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1/4/2021 8:34 AM
 
I bought a Santa Cruz Heckler off the showroom floor in 2013, then promptly broke my arm on it the same day messing around in front of my brother in law's house. After that, the bike sat mostly unused for quite a long time. When the pandemic hit, I suddenly found myself with a whole lot more time at home with my sons (oil/gas industry works that way). So we started riding again. I bought my two oldest new bikes, as they had outgrown theirs. Things have changed a ton in the 7 years since I bought bikes! The geometry is slacker. Suspension that wouldn't have been out of place on a down hill bike ten years ago is now commonplace on run of the mill trail bikes. Nobody sells 26 inch wheeled bikes, except for the occasional dirt jumper. The industry standard has also gone to a single chainring on the front, referred to as 1X, which is simpler and more robust. Shimano is still at the top of the heap component wise, but SRAM has joined them with their Eagle groups.

All that being said, a good trail bike, hardtail or dual suspension, 120-140 mm travel, hydraulic discs, 1X drivetrain, will get you through the huge majority of trails out there. What I would recommend would be maybe renting a bike or two from your local bike shop and ride them to get a feel of what you might prefer. When you're out on said trails, take note of what others are riding. Ask them about their bikes. The huge majority of mountain bikers are super friendly and wont pass up a chance to talk about their rig. Get a feel for what you like. Then once you have a good idea what you want, start checking out bike shops, online or otherwise. As brands, go, the further your price range goes up, the more options you get. Consider some of the direct to consumer brands, like Polygon or YT. They offer a ton of value by removing the bike shop markup from the equation. Kona, Giant, and Jamis also offer good value. The website Pinkbike also offers a great Buy/Sell section where you can get great deals on used bikes.

Ride, ask questions, do research, and ride some more. You won't be disappointed.
 
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1/4/2021 6:56 PM
 
I ended up getting a NOS 2018 Marin Pine Mountain. Old school steel frame w/rigid fork. It ticked the boxes that needed ticking, plus it was available locally....which in these strange times accounts for more weight than normal. Fun bike, responsive, 2.8" meats on it, and is readily adaptable to do the type of trail riding & bikepacking that has taken my interest.

I also found a 2020 Giant Yukon 1 fatbike locally, and it came home with me too. Learning to ride a fatty in the snow is lots of fun, and I think the 4.5" tires will be a blast in the warmer months as well. Funny, this all happened by getting my 13-year old a decent hardtail and now I'm ass-deep into it as well! Haha! Looking forward to plotting out some remote pedaling in the remote Northwoods as well as locally in the Kettles. If anyone is into bikepacking and has some info to share, please keep posting up!
 
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