MTB advice (long post)
After some advice from the pedal powered bikers on purchasing my first proper mtb since my basic Emmelle 18 speed as a teen about 17 years ago. Main reason for purchase is to get some good exercise and hopefully burn off my spare tyre and more importantly have fun while doing so. Used to do alot of off roading as a teen along cliff tops and sand dunes etc.
We don't have much in the way of mountains here in sunny Norfolk but there is a trail centre at Thetford forest which is about 30 miles away for weekend riding and there is abit of a play area in the forest about 2 miles away that will do during the week. Also heard of a 25-30 mile unofficial route around Sheringham (North norfolk coast) which is popular with bikers and has much more hilly terrain than Thetford, some of the LBS organise runs in that neck of the woods.
Been doing a bit of research over the last month or so on bikeradar and checking out alot of online shops etc, also have a bike mad mate at work but he has very expensive tastes. Was originally thinking of spending about £500-600 on a bike but could stretch to £700 ish if the extra would buy a much better bike. Looks like you can get alot more for your money from a £500 bike to say a £700 ish bike as far as components and weight are concerned. Needs to be from a shop as will be using a 0% credit card to purchase.
Was thinking originally about the Voodoo Hoodoo from Halfords for £500 which gets very good reviews on bike radar, fairly basic components and not the lightest bike around but for the money good value. Also from Halfords is the Boardman comp at £650 which seems to be a good bike for the money. Then after looking on the bikeradar forums was swaying towards the B'Twin rockrider 8.1 from Decathlon which seems to be the default choice by many bikers for bikes around £600. Would be a good 4-5 hour round trip to get to nearest store though.
Also highly recommended was to order a bike from germany as you get alot more for your money than the bikes in the uk, even it seems with the end of line bikes on special offer from some of the online retailers. Canyon, Cube, Rose and especially Radon which all look to be highly rated by magazines and bikers. Only real potential issues being I can't physically test the bike for fit and also if anything goes wrong potential costs sending parts back under warranty.
From the German bikes there is the Canyon yellowstone 5.0 for £640 ish delivered, or the Radon ZR team 6.0 for £650ish delivered. Also if I really pushed the boat out the Radon ZR team 7.0 on offer at £750 delivered. My favourite out of all the bikes listed would be the Radon team 6.0 as even though the multi test winning team 7.0 is only another £100 I doubt I would be able to benefit much from the better parts on the 7. Would also be another £100 in the kitty towards bike gear and tools etc. The Radons have a 2 year warrany on parts and 5 years on the frame and also refund shipping costs if I have any issues with the bike.
I am fairly handy with a set of spanners so can do alot of maintenance myself, used to work in a hire shop on a holiday camp in my teens hiring out MTB's etc. So have rebuilt quite a few bikes although not for many years, also stripped and rebuilt the front forks on my motorbike last year when the seals sprung a leak.
So my choices really are to buy a lesser spec'd bike from Halfords or LBS that is close if I have any issues with parts, although have heard some horror stories depending which store you buy from. Or mail order bike from either UK or Germany with the German bikes looking to have the best value for money spec wise. I know you would need to spend around £1k on a bike in the UK to get a Reba fork for example thats on the Radon 6.0.
LBS wise I can get a Specialised rock hopper for say £600 but looks like the badge on the front must be made out of 24carrat gold as you don't get much for your money, higher overheads for LBS so understandable. So what do you think of my choices and would I be mad to buy a bike from Germany?
I did try e-mailing some questions about the Radon bikes but was advised to either ring them up or leave a number and they would call me back. Main query was about what size frame I would need as there online calculator comes up as a 19 and a bit inch frame and the Radon are only in 18" or 20". I am 6ft (183cm) tall with an inside leg of aprox 34" (85 cm ish).
Will go and have a sit on the bikes in Halfords to check them out and another mate at work has a Spec rockhopper which will hopefully give me an idea on sizing if I do decide to go for mail order. Out of interest what size bikes do you guys ride and what are your dimensions?
Sorry about the long post but any advice would be welcome.