Entry-level Bicycle

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CurseTheSky

Diamond Member
Oct 21, 2006
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My fiancée and I are looking to take up road / mountain biking. We haven't biked in ~6 years (me) and ~8 years (her), so we're definitely in the beginner category. The area around our place is very hilly but also nice, quiet country roads. There are several beginner to intermediate level forest trails that we're interested in as well. We'll probably be riding once or twice a month realistically, but ideally once or twice a week, tops.

We're looking for bikes for $350 or less that will be decent on the road and acceptable on the trails. After doing some research and pouring through Craigslist for weeks (to no avail, all questionable or over-priced junk), we went to a bike shop.

The nicest of the two models they carry in our price range are the Raleigh Talus 3.0 and the Trek 3500. Both are aluminum-framed, entry-level mountain bikes and both felt great compared to the Wal-mart junk that we're used to. After doing some more research and dismissing tons of "ZOMG SPEND DOUBLE THAT MORE AND GET A REAL BIKE, NOOB!" banter, I've seen a number of recommendations for the Raleigh Talus 3.0 over the Trek 3500. The problem is, I don't understand what makes it any better. All I remember is the Trek having (seemingly) nicer tires.

For $350 ($700 for two, I can't afford to go higher), what do you guys recommend? Please keep in mind that this will be used both on the road and on moderate trails, and we're not looking to be speed demons here - just some calm, enjoyable exercise. I'm hoping to pick something up tomorrow, so unfortunately Craigslist / other used places are out at this point.

Thanks. :)
 

Nintendesert

Diamond Member
Mar 28, 2010
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It's good to see someone else getting into bicycling. I myself started about 25 years ago using a http://www.originalbigwheel.com/ I highly recommend you and your girlfriend/fiancee start there. Once you ride that for a while you'll be ready to move on to http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&rh=n%3A1266043011&page=1

Once you use those for a while you'll be ready for just about anything else that someone here can recommend. Don't forget your proper headgear. Safety is paramount. Good luck and happy bicycling. :)
 

CurseTheSky

Diamond Member
Oct 21, 2006
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After doing even more research, it seems that the Trek 3500 is considered a POS, while the Raleigh Talus 3.0 is considered a decent bike. There aren't that many differences between them, and I'm sure either one would suit us fine, but I'd rather get something that won't give me buyer's remorse a week after I purchased it. ;)

Leaning heavily toward the Talus 3.0 right now, unless there's something drastically better for similar $.
 

Bignate603

Lifer
Sep 5, 2000
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In your price range you're not going to see a huge amount of difference from brand to brand, as long as you don't go with the cheap crap from walmart. Any of the decent brands can make a strong frame that isn't too heavy that will do what you want, and most of them will have the same or similar components (gearing, brakes, etc). The best bike you'll get for what you're looking for is probably whatever you can find on sale because it might let you bump up to a slightly nicer model without getting out of your price range.

One suggestion, check the bike stores and see if they have any bikes that have been sitting for a while without being sold. Just like car dealers, many bike shops will cut a deal on last year's model to get rid of it. Also, ask about discounts for anything you might qualify for, student, military, AAA, etc. A bike shop here will knock 10% off if you're a student.
 

Ksyder

Golden Member
Feb 14, 2006
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I compared the specs of those bikes and they are very similar, nothing special about either bike's component set, but fair for the price. Both aluminum frame, both low end shimano drivetrain. Probably similar build quality. Both made in China no doubt. On the surface, it would appear that you couldn't go wrong with either one that is available and you like.

This is, of course, a generalization. There could be specifics about either that could make one better or worse, but it doesn't seem to be anything I see that is really noticable based on specs alone. Having disc brake ready frame and hubs would definitely be a deciding factor, although I'd be surprised if either had this.

It looks like the Raleigh has a longer travel fork which I would would be more useful, although I don't think you would see much difference based on the type of riding you will be doing.
 
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