Another Melbourner- Complete Newb to MTB

Hey all, cheers for having me!
Had a bit of a hiccup with my account being rejected but Dozer was nice enough to let me in after a bit of nagging :p

As in the title, I'm a complete newb when it comes to MTBs.
I've been working on cars from a young age so am pretty mechanically minded (have done a ground up rebuild on my AE86) but I'm a bit clueless at this stage when it comes to MTB's and the associated jargon/specs/brands etc. I have been spending a good deal of time trying to get up to speed however, was hoping I could tap a bit of the forums experience and with any luck not get bitten too hard for the noob questions :p

So, basically I'm here because I've got some money to spare from the refinance due to some other things coming under budget and have started looking for a bike. I used to ride ~30km a day to work and back on an old beater, and was originally considering getting a road bike as a commuter however I don't plan on road riding for 100's of km's and figure I can do the same commuting on a MTB whilst also exploring some of the lower grade trails on the weekends. The plan is to get a second set of rims with road tires for the weekly commute and then chuck the originals back on for the trails, I used to live down the Mornington Peninsular and regularly head out to Gippsland so keen to check out some trails around there.

Budget is fairly limited, ideally I'm looking for a bike under $1500 with $500 allocated towards the second set of rims, helmet, gloves, appropriate sunnies etc.
I'm 6'4" an 100kg so I'm thinking I'll need an XL or XXL to suit my size. I live in Caulfield and there's a local Giant retailer around the corner, I've also heard some good things about Ivanhoe Cycles which aren't too far away so plan on having a look around over the next couple of weeks as time allows and my knowledge increases.
At this stage, considering my price range am looking at XDS Boss 2.0 or 3.0, Giant Fathom 29er 2, GT Zaskaer Alloy Sport and the Scott Scale 980 or would be happy with a 2nd hander if the right one came up and had someone knowledgeable to check it over.
My thoughts are to go with a 29" as it's probably a bit more convenient for the commute and from what I've been reading, maybe a bit more easy going for someone just getting into the MTB scene..

Am also looking for something for the partner to ride, under $500, mainly for gravel/tarmac bike trails. no idea even where to start here, if anyone has any suggestions I'd be keen to hear them! :D

Anyways, I'll leave it there for the moment, sorry for the light novel but feel free to leave some feedback/thoughts.



Sphincter beanie
Thanks for joining - welcome! You've got some excellent ideas.

I'd look at what people are selling here second-hand to start with. Lots of great deals to be had over time...


The obviative

Sounds like you are on the right track. Keep an eye on the trading section for an XL hardtail 29er. Or if you ride something that you feel comfortable on but not convinced on spec then check out the direct / internet sales options with similar geometry.

For a 2nd set of wheels the key thing will be making sure you get the right hub/axle setup for the bike with all the different combos now. Don’t be afraid to ask the question as there’s a lot of knowledge here.
Cheers for the replies!

So, I went window shopping today to get a bit more of a feel for what I'm looking at, no test rides as yet will do those a bit closer when I have money in hand. A couple of bikes have entered my shortlist being the Merida 19 Big Nine Limited and the Roscoe 8 (the only non 29er so far).
Have spent the rest of the day trying to figure out the differences between the grades of gear sets and shocks etc.
Feeling a little less in over my head at this stage but thinkin I still have a ways to go before I'll be able to confidently pick out the best of the bunch lol.

I am keeping my eye out for 2nd handers, I don't know if I'll be patient enough to wait for the right deal once I have the cash in hand though and that combined with my limited tech knowledge/ lack of knowing what to look out for besides the blaringly obvious, has me a little cautious about buying used. All that said, there's a 4mth old Specialized Men's Camber Comp 29 advertised on Gumtree for under $1k that I'd be pretty keen on if I had the cash :p

Will keep researching, improving my understanding, lookin to see what's on offer over the coming weeks and check back in as I work out what I want/ am gonna get.
Always happy to take advice on board though so feel free to chip in!

The Duckmeister

Eats Squid
Don't get too hung up on the finer details of groupset specs at this stage. Within the ranges of the major component manufacturers there is little functional difference between the groupset levels; the differences are mainly in the materials, which to the casual user will manifest themselves in differences in durability more than anything else.

Then there's Shimano vs SRAM drivtrain options (cautiously opening the can of worms....) SRAM has drivetrains built around a 12-sp..cassette at no less than five groupset levels, where Shimano only has one, the most recent iteration of the top tier XTR groupset. This is mainly because SRAM could never make front shifting that worked, so their "solution" was to jam the whole gear spread onto the back wheel..... Shimano front shifting has always worked very well, so they've hung onto it a lot longer, with fewer gears in the rear cassette, giving a better gear spread. However, many frame manufacturers are tending to overlook the finer possibilities & leaping onto the 1x bandwagon, which will tend to make Shimano appear to be the less attractive option. On the flip side, while SRAM tend to push the boundaries and introduce New Stuff first, the execution of concept often leaves a lot to be desired and quality can be.... well..... shit. Shimano tend to be more conservative, but the stuff works. Anyway, there's my bias on the table. :)

On the suspension front, in your budget you'll most likely be finding Rock Shox or Suntour, but just maybe the odd Fox, although they tend to be pretty uncommon at the lower-middle end of the spectrum. Suntour are getting better, but Rock Shox are better in that sector, and also easily serviceable with a ready supply of spare parts.

Cardy George

got ink? want some?
Just to expand a little on Duck's 1x point, I live in flat country, where it's not uncommon to have 30kmh tailwinds and speeds around the 40kmh mark. But I also chuck it in the car and ride in the Adelaide Hills, where I can climb 20% grades at 3-4kmh. 1x can not cover that speed range so while 2x is fading, it still has a place.

Something to consider anyway.

In the end, if you enjoy it, this won't be the last bike you buy ;)

The Duckmeister

Eats Squid
On the other hand, I'm a devotee of the now unfavoured 3x drivetrain, which gives both a very wide overall range, and an extremely useful mid-range where you need it most of the time. It's best viewed as a 1x with range extensions at both ends; most of the time is spent in the middle ring, and a moderately tight 11-34 or 36 cassette still gives a good gear spread for most terrain. But you have the small ring in reserve for the nastier climbs, and the big ring for when you need to open the taps on open sections.

Believe it or not, Shimano offers 3x11 options on their XTR and XT groups, although I've never actually seen it in the wild. Which is a shame because crunching the numbers shows it to be a phenomenally useful gear spread.

Unfortunately though, you won't find 3x on anything above an entry-level bike.
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The Duckmeister

Eats Squid
@beeb No problems at all. :) Front derailleur is a very effective chain guide. I've never dropped the chain off the big or small rings, and only ever dropped off the middle when it's getting very worn; never drops when chain & ring are in decent nick.

Rider retention is a far bigger concern with my bike..... with its tight geometry, it'll dump me face-first on the ground in a choppy section long before it'll throw a chain! :p
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Eats Squid
Yeah but if you've got 3x and gears coming out the wazoo, how are you ever going to make excuses for yourself when you are struggling up a climb or getting dropped on the road back to the carpark?

This is why all my bikes are 1x.
Thanks for the responses and discussion, appreciate the feedback and food for thought!

My week-week finances are fairly tight between the home-loan, uni fees and my son plus the g.f and social life to balance. I don't foresee another opportunity to splurge so much money on a non-essential item in the near future so am trying to future proof the purchase lol.
Taking that into consideration, the frame and frame features are of highest importance to me at this stage with the thought that the drivetrain is a 'consumable' part and can be incrementally upgraded as my needs, experience and abilities increase. In light of that, of the new bikes, I'm leaning towards the Merida 19 Big Nine Limited at this stage due to the internal cable routing (I find the zipties holding cables in place on other new bikes a tad cringe) and solid axles. It also features an SLX gearset and from what I've read the Manitou Markhor Comp forks are relatively on par with the RockShox Recon Silver and apparently there is an 'ABS+' drop in that will make them a bit better.
The review here
also helps reassure me the bike is pretty well built and the only thing so far that I'm not so keen on is the lack of internal routing support for a dropper post..

At this stage though, I'm still too green to understand the real life implications of the differences, I have no real understanding of how the frame geometry affects the ride and in all likelihood most of the kit fitted to any of the bikes in this price range will be more than enough to handle what I'll be capable of throwing at 'em. Until I get a coupla hundred hours of trails under my belt, I don't think I'd be able to appreciate the subtle differences those improvements make and, for the most part, so long as it's durable and functions as it should, I'll be a happy camper lol :p

In regards to the 1x, 2x, 3x drivetrain, considering a good portion of the time spent on the bike will be commuting I'd probably prefer a 2x or 3x however it seems they're rare at this price point and only one of the bikes I'm considering actually features them. That said, I'm justifying the purchase in part as a good source of exercise so a little extra peddling in the short term isn't a deal breaker ;)

Again, cheers for the input and discussion!
Will touch base again when I'm a tad closer to buying something :D
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Likes Bikes and Dirt
External cabling can look a bit dorky at times (can look really slick if done well though), but is a lot easier to maintain or replace cables/hoses if needed down the track. IMO the only internal cabling I'd really not want to go without is for the dropper, as I've not really seen a neat external cable routing, and it also opens up your dropper post options a lot more as the majority are now made to suit internal routing.

Ultra Lord

Beanie Fitment Specialist
Gear cables aren’t too bad. Internal brake cables can eat a big ol’ bagful of dicks though! Brake fluid dribbling through the frame and it means you HAVE to bleed the brakes on the bike.


Hey @PandaMonium, welcome.

Just passing through this thread and thought I'd add my $0.02 worth. Firstly, it doesn't matter what you really start out on, if you get the bug you'll want another bike soon enough! Although, for your stated primary purpose of commuting your thought process seems sound.

I'd run the commuter tyres on the wheels that come with the bike, and get a wheelset with wider rims for the weekend dirt riding, perhaps 25mm inner diameter or so, to allow a larger tyre width like a 2.4 or 2.5. Being 100kg on the stock 2.2 inch Ikons will mean you'll need a fair amount of air in them on the dirt to stop rim damage, and being a hardtail it will make for a rougher ride. It might also be worth checking the maximum tyre size that can fit on the rear too - XC frames might not have that much clearance for wider tyres.

A 30.9mm seat post diameter is good - should be a few external dropper options in that size if you ever decide to get one.


Do the manitou fork thingy, they are generally pretty good, and the benefit is not many people use them. They are sick as