Trying to choose a MTB on a budget. Opinions please

Bone Cruncher

New Member
So I've been searching so hard for a bike I've literally given myself a headache. I've set a budget of up to £250.
I was initially set on a new bike from halfords, a carrera vengeance for £216. Then I thought about going second hand so I'd get better spec for my money. I was looking at a used Saracen Mantra for £250. You can get them for £400 new, it says RRP 600 but I take that with a pinch of salt.

I'm fairly new to this stuff, but a few differences I notice is it has hydraulic brakes, it appears to be much the same fork but with lockout? a few more gears. Probably other stuff I don't know much about. They both weigh about 14kg. Thoughts?
 

MichaelW2

Veteran
Decathlon BTwin Rockrider is another in that price bracket. Make sure you get the right size, not too big.
What kind of riding is it for?
 

Kajjal

Veteran
Location
Wheely World
With a bit of luck you could get a good condition , used voodoo bizango if you are confident buying used. They retail at around £600 and plenty of reviews on line.
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
Steer clear of anything with a Suntour XC, XCR, or XCM fork. They have all the springing qualities of a damp cup cake, and weigh so much even Isambard Kingsom Brunel would be impressed.

At the bottom end of the market that does limit you somewhat, but they are genuinely hideous devices.
 
OP
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Bone Cruncher

New Member
Decathlon BTwin Rockrider is another in that price bracket. Make sure you get the right size, not too big.
What kind of riding is it for?
Looks nice, it's not local though so I can't try it. I want it for mostly off road riding, woods, pathways etc.

Absolutely not what you think you want, but a billy-bargain, and something you could add value to, and which will help you learn much about MTB riding. The hills and terrain were the same in those days ^_^

https://forum.cyclinguk.org/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=131589
Vintage, nice.
With a bit of luck you could get a good condition , used voodoo bizango if you are confident buying used. They retail at around £600 and plenty of reviews on line.
Missed out on 1 for 200, gutted!
Steer clear of anything with a Suntour XC, XCR, or XCM fork. They have all the springing qualities of a damp cup cake, and weigh so much even Isambard Kingsom Brunel would be impressed.

At the bottom end of the market that does limit you somewhat, but they are genuinely hideous devices.
Most bikes below 500 seem to have a version of those, I know you can pay more than the bikes worth for some decent forks so I don't expect much from them. Though I've heard others opinion not quite so bad, in that they are 'ok' and not regarded as useless.
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
They are horrible. You're right, they are unfortunately ubiquitous, but they're really of little use as a suspension device. Even worse if you're a big lad, because they're chronically under sprung.

Some versions come with a lock out, which at least prevents the horrible, un damped sagging at the front end...until the lock out itself fails, that is.

Its not a case of expecting much from them - don't expect anything from them other than to hold the front wheel I'm approximately the correct place. As a means of providing actual suspension they have very little utility.

I looked after a fleet of 12-15 bikes (numbers varied over time), so know first hand how dire they are. I'm also an MTB instructor, so understand at a technical level how poorly they perform. I'm also a big lad, so know they lie when Suntour claim the forks intended for large frames come with stiffer springs - I've had the springs out and compared them, and they're no different.

You would genuinely do better finding a used bike that was more expensive when new, but which has now fallen into your price range. Not only will it have better forks, it'll also have better frame, components, etc, but the better fork is the end game there. Good luck.
 
OP
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Bone Cruncher

New Member
They are horrible. You're right, they are unfortunately ubiquitous, but they're really of little use as a suspension device. Even worse if you're a big lad, because they're chronically under sprung.

Some versions come with a lock out, which at least prevents the horrible, un damped sagging at the front end...until the lock out itself fails, that is.

Its not a case of expecting much from them - don't expect anything from them other than to hold the front wheel I'm approximately the correct place. As a means of providing actual suspension they have very little utility.

I looked after a fleet of 12-15 bikes (numbers varied over time), so know first hand how dire they are. I'm also an MTB instructor, so understand at a technical level how poorly they perform. I'm also a big lad, so know they lie when Suntour claim the forks intended for large frames come with stiffer springs - I've had the springs out and compared them, and they're no different.

You would genuinely do better finding a used bike that was more expensive when new, but which has now fallen into your price range. Not only will it have better forks, it'll also have better frame, components, etc, but the better fork is the end game there. Good luck.
Thanks for your input, kinda throws another spanner in the works. Also as you mention being worse if your a big lad, well i'm 6'2" and 17 stone, so not exactly small. I wonder if I need the suspension forks at all, some bumpy paths/woods etc? maybe better off getting rigid forks? or like you say, go second hand and look for a bargain. i'm just starting out, keen to get into it, but can't afford to waste my money.
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
Unless you're going seriously gnarly then rigid forks would be perfect for forest trails etc, and far superior to Suntour's finest Victoria Sponge everywhere else. The rigid forked MTB is making a bit of a comeback, and there are some very nice 90s bikes about at equally nice prices.
 

Kajjal

Veteran
Location
Wheely World
Unless you're going seriously gnarly then rigid forks would be perfect for forest trails etc, and far superior to Suntour's finest Victoria Sponge everywhere else. The rigid forked MTB is making a bit of a comeback, and there are some very nice 90s bikes about at equally nice prices.
I started mountain biking in the early 1990’s on rigid mountain bikes. After a long trail ride round the Peak District my hands were locked in the bar gripping position for a while until it eased off. Like you say they are great for forestry and smoother trails. Still have my mid 1990’s orange c16r which lives at the in laws and I ride through the forest and into the mountains when visiting, it is good but very different to modern bikes.
 
OP
B

Bone Cruncher

New Member
I've started looking for a rigid frame, but I also came across a used voodoo Hoodoo. It's got a Suntour RAIDON X1 which is air sprung, so not as junk as those other forks surely?
 
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