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My opinion, and they're like a-holes, we all have one, is that yes, the Salsa is worth that extra zero. In fairness, I know nothing specific about either of bikes you mentioned above (however I am going to look further into the Salsa, there's a dealer not far from me), but I'm also looking to buy a mtb to expand my riding fun. So for the last month I have been looking daily on Craigslist for a good deal to come along. So far with only a couple exceptions all I see listed are the 1 or 2 year old cheaper bikes. There's no science behind my observation, but seems odd that the people that bought the cheaper bikes are getting rid of them and the people that bought the mid-range and better bikes aren't (or very few). Atlanta has a pretty serious riding community so I should see more of those mid-level bikes all things being equal. Could be that those people just weren't serious and decided mtb's aren't for them, who knows. I'm just a firm believer in you get what you pay for and for the most part quality starts kicking in at a higher price range than what you see at Walmart.
 

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Bubble go look at them both up close. You will see and feel the difference. I am not a weight weenie by any stretch, (I know the thing I could lighten the most to improve my performance is the engine) but if you pick both of them up I think you will find a big weight difference. Assembly quality at a Wally world is more likely to be barely there and with no maintenance department if the kid working form min wage doesn't know how to adjust the gears, you better be able to yourself. A bike store bike usually includes those, sometimes for the life of the bike.
 

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Another thing that I think factors in to the decision is your commitment to the bike. If you're someone that's only going to do a casual ride one sunny weekend day a month, well, possibly a $200 bike is all you need, but if you're serious and spend half your time thinking about your next ride, I'm of the opinion a department store bike will leave you disappointed most of the time.

As a teenager (many, many years ago) a buddy of mine and I used to get paid $5 each the week before Christmas to assembly bikes at local dept store... scary.
 

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You should have a knowledgable person with you when you examine the two bikes Here is what to look for: 1. The joints on the HT will be smoother and neater. The welds on the mongoose are machine made and will be rough or sloppy overwelds. Both bikes have brand name components but the mongoose components will be the economy class while the HT will have high end components. Try the brakes for "feel" as well as stopping power. I think you will find the brakes on the HT much smoother. As to the brake system, I may be crazy but I would rather have my disc brake on the rear because the qualities of a disc like fade resistance and modulation are what I want in a rear brake. I have gotten a little chicken in my old age and often use the technique of "hanging" the bike from the rear wheel by using the brake as a drag on steep downhills. The 29" wheel does make it marginally easier to negotiate bumps and holes. It is also very "trick" right now and commands a premium price. The two bikes are for different purposes. The HT is a serious mountain bike. The Mongoose is a sort of comfort or town bike with some mountain bike ruffles and flourishes tacked on. If I may suggest a third alternative, I have had good luck buying bikes on craigslist. You have to know something about what you are doing to avoid bikes that are either stolen or rigged up to appear better than they are. If you are interested, scan the list and try to get some idea of what the market is like before you start contacting sellers.
 

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OTR-MTB and Fitness
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I'd add that the predicate for the question is me trying to explain to a friend why she'd even look at the higher end stuff, and scratching my head as to how to do that. If it were just my $ It might not have come up :D. the two bikes I linked to are meant to be representative of there type.
In fact it's likely that she will decide that the more pedestrian strain of bike with more features(knowing that the brakes, shocks, shifter etc. are not all the same) is good for her as she just wants to start riding some trail in the city and would like a reasonably plush ride. and or investigate used.
So I guess the answer i, "Well it depends" My favorite answer anyhow. My own answer may be Closer to Horse thief ( I am drooling even though my riding habits can't possibly justify it) than Mongoose, when I find room in the budget. :) My only regret w/ he bike I have now is that I didn't go in bigger, get more/better features.
 

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you picked two bikes at the opposite ends of the spectrum.....
Walmart wonder bikes usually use the dept store parts selection from the manufacturers. A lot of the components will be made from pressed steel.Which means they are heavier and easier to rust.
It will utilize non precision open bearings. They dont roll as smooth and will need adjusting, repacking etc....
You gotta figure how can they retail a bicycle for $219....
The suspension will go up and down but in a very archaic way. The mongoose uses heavy springs to get this done.
If you notice what I am typing everything about the mongoose is inexpensive and HEAVY....
Now the Salsa it uses alloy components, hydraulics, pneumatics, exotic alloys precision bearings and a price to match the technology. It will be lighter, roll easier and smoother. it will be lighter and the ride will be like youn are on cloud 9......
 

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Walmart bike:
Frame tubing is mostly going to be the lowest grade, straight gauge aluminum pipe, welded by semi-skilled laborer. The suspension design will be one that makes the rear wheel move mostly up and forward, without regard to the path of travel, or damping and rebound. Rear shock is probably a heavy coil spring, and behaves like one - every action will result in an equal and opposite reaction. The wheels will be machine assembled, the cranks are probably cast, not forged, and the seatpost and handlebars are undoubtedly steel. The front disc will have the modulation of a light switch. All components are chosen to meet a price point, not for performance.

Salsa:
Each individual tube is shaped and designed with a purpose. They may be butted (thicker at the ends, thinner in the middle) and tapered, depending on location. Suspension is designed to move the rear wheel up and down, rather than up and forward, so that it's not fighting against itself with each bump. Rebound and damping are adjustable, to dial in the performance based on rider weight and terrain. Extensive use of high quality raw materials and forgings, for low weight with high strength. Each component is selected based on the intended use of the bike, and no corners have been cut. Expect precision shifting and smooth brake modulation.

FYI - the fastest and smoothest rolling road hubs you can buy generally have loose bearings.
 

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Back in the Saddle
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I recently helped a friend get off her WalMart bike and onto a bike shop brand bike, used off of CL. Same size bike with all the same capabilities, and the Walmart bike weighed in at 34 lbs with the Raleigh we picked up at 25 lbs. She's a small lady, and the difference in the 10 lbs, smoother shifting, better braking, and confidence in the bike itself being "quality" makes a tremendous difference.

Walmart specs its products with manufacturers to meet price points, and negotiates to the penny with them. So you can imagine how that bike is made and assembled. Those bikes have a purpose, but IMO anyone riding more than once a month should be on something better.

& I see similar on CL in Indianapolis - lots of Walmart bikes for sale with "almost new" in the description, but far fewer quality bikes. The ride wasn't enjoyable thus they didn't use it and now want it out of the garage.
 

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All you really have to do is take a closer look at the cheap department store brand bike and a quality one from a bike shop. Ride them and you will feel a difference. Although there is nothing wrong with a cheap department store bike if all you are doing is riding from A to B and throwing it around and not really caring for it.
 

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FYI - the fastest and smoothest rolling road hubs you can buy generally have loose bearings.
too bad we are talking mountain bikes.....:cool:
Im not here to argue the smoothness....just the durabilty and maintenance aspect. Someone who spends $200 on a bicycle will not invest in maintaining a loose ball set up.....:D
 

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Walmart bike:
Frame tubing is mostly going to be the lowest grade, straight gauge aluminum pipe, welded by semi-skilled laborer. The suspension design will be one that makes the rear wheel move mostly up and forward, without regard to the path of travel, or damping and rebound. Rear shock is probably a heavy coil spring, and behaves like one - every action will result in an equal and opposite reaction. The wheels will be machine assembled, the cranks are probably cast, not forged, and the seatpost and handlebars are undoubtedly steel. The front disc will have the modulation of a light switch. All components are chosen to meet a price point, not for performance.

Salsa:
Each individual tube is shaped and designed with a purpose. They may be butted (thicker at the ends, thinner in the middle) and tapered, depending on location. Suspension is designed to move the rear wheel up and down, rather than up and forward, so that it's not fighting against itself with each bump. Rebound and damping are adjustable, to dial in the performance based on rider weight and terrain. Extensive use of high quality raw materials and forgings, for low weight with high strength. Each component is selected based on the intended use of the bike, and no corners have been cut. Expect precision shifting and smooth brake modulation.

FYI - the fastest and smoothest rolling road hubs you can buy generally have loose bearings.

Great reply!
 

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too bad we are talking mountain bikes.....:cool:
Im not here to argue the smoothness....just the durabilty and maintenance aspect. Someone who spends $200 on a bicycle will not invest in maintaining a loose ball set up.....:D
Yeah, but it was a great reply up to that point. While he's not wrong, that FYI is very misleading and has absolutely nothing to do with the loose ball bearing in a Walmart bike!
 

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Hey, I took time out of writing for myself (ORWM was last week, so I am swamped) to give a decent explanation here. But I had to point out that not all loose bearing hubs are poor quality.

To continue, the Walmart bike has just about zero R&D, marketing, sponsorship or advertising costs associated with it. The price of the Salsa includes someone designing the frame, down to tubing spec and geometry. On top of that, I'm certain that Salsa throws some sponsorship money out there for racers, and probably contributes to advocacy groups like IMBA. They are an entire business, made up of cyclists, with a passion for riding. Walmart takes the cheapest bike their competitors offer, and then de-content it a bit so they can sell it for a few dollars less. And no cyclists are involved in the design or construction of Walmart bikes, unless you count factory workers riding their Flying Pigeons to work.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I'm starting to see a consensus develop here. :) Certainly among the TwoSpoke members.
 

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It's as simple as trying both. There IS a difference, but if you can only afford the Walmart bike then buy it, it's still better than no bike and will last for a little while. But I am surprised that no one has mentioned there are a thousand bikes between those extremes. Do a little more shopping to find all the options, Specialized, Trek, Giant....many good quality bikes that would be between the extremes that would fit most peoples budget.
Most riders start with a lesser bike, then move up the ranks as they improve and want a better bike, sort of like a first car being a Pinto, but wanting a F-250 or a Mustang before too long.
 

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I'm starting to see a consensus develop here. :) Certainly among the TwoSpoke members.
Nearly 30 years ago, my parents gave me the option of a new BMX bike from a local department store, or a used one of my choice, as long as the price was the same. I took the used one. If your budget is $219, you'd come out ahead to do the same here.

A used bike might require a bit of wheel truing, and perhaps the brakes and shifters may need some adjusting. I can almost guarantee that the Walmart bike will need the same. The difference is that Walmart can't service the bike, and more and more bike shops are turning the really cheap bikes away, simply because there is no way to get the flimsy shifters to shift, or the flexing v-brakes and cheap discs to stop without squealing, if at all.
 

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My advice ...
Get the cheap bike! ... ?
For several reasons.
If you decide you don't like biking, you learned a cheap lesson.
If you decide you like biking, you will have learned, much better, what you want, in a "real" bike.
Even a cheap bike is normally adequate, for most people-purposes,

Besides ... you might not appreciate a "real" bike, unless you have something to compare it against.

Most important!
Make sure the bike is properly tuned-adjusted.
Have it done, by a professional, he, (or she), might let you watch.
(Walmart assemblers are not pros)
At least you will learn how the bike should "feel",
Even the "best" bike can seem crappy, or even be hazardous if poorly maintained, adjusted.

PS The expensive bike might be 10 - 20lb lighter!
It's much better to get the heavier bike, and wear off 10 - 20 lb of fat ... faster ...
 

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By using legit sources for used bikes you can get a bike store bike for a walmart price. The thing I hated about cheap bikes when I was a mechanic is that they were more likely to hurt you when you worked on them. Bolts were more likely to stick and then suddenly release. This can cause you to jam your hand into the sprocket teeth or the frayed end of a brake wire. There were sharp or abrasive edges in places where you didn't expect to run into them that could knick you. Did anybody mention that the major manufacturers have dual product lines? The higher quality bikes go to shops. The others go to the big box stores. Think about that when you see a major brand name on a bike in a big box store. Or think about this. Somewhere in the rabbit warren of offices, workspaces and storage closets that we customers never see is a teenager with a pamphlet. He is going to assemble your big box bike. His boss has never assembled a bike and hasn't ridden one in years. The teenager is thinking about his/her lovelife, the big game, drinking beer last night; who knows. He is going to put together a piece of machinery that you or the person you buy it for will take out on the public roads. You will bet your life that everything on that bike will either work as it should or give you fair warning before failing. A loose head bolt can throw you face first into the pavement. A broken chain or pawl can leave you stranded with a nasty bruise on your groin. Do you know how many left hand threads there are on this bike and where they are. More important , does that teenager?
Most cyclists I know would be happy to help someone find a good bike. One thing I have done (after making arrangements, of course) is to forward likely looking bikes I find browsing on CL. I have an old riding buddy who specializes in finding bikes that were bought for college students and then never used. He has purchased virtually unused (though years old) bikes for a quarter of their retail price. If you have lots of time you can buy a bike "one piece at a time" just like the old Johnny Cash song. I have done this a couple of times and in fact I am doing it now to build an urban trail bike for my wife. Keep an eye on the major web retailers for sales. When the frame you want is on sale buy it. when they have a sale on wheels that suit you buy that, and so on. Using this method I have built $1,000 bikes for around $600 so the savings are not so great, but it is a lot of fun to build up a bike and you will learn about the complexities of this apparently simple machine. I also throw some of the business to my local shop so they don't feel left out. Being a source for some of the parts also lubes the social bearings so if you need some advice of the hands-on variety, the locals will be encouraged to help out. If you do this you will have to develop some knowledge about sizes and purposes and you will have to know what you can and cannot do. Like Dirty Harry, "A man's got to know his limitations." I would never attempt to install the headset in an aluminum frame, for instance, because for that you really need to have the tool and I don't. My bike shop will gladly do it for a fee, and I earn still more goodwill.
 

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OTR-MTB and Fitness
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Discussion Starter #20
I'm getting a lot of good ideas here. We're watching CL and of course the lower end at the bike shop offers some affordable options. I'm seeing some close outs that may be available now. There are nice bikes with suspension forks v brakes and twist shifters, (I'm hoping better ones than the Mart) for $3-400. Or one with a steal frame, but thumb shifts.:thumbsup:
 
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