The Tale of Two Choices, What Would You Do?

“Hmmmm,” I stood in front of the long lineup of men’s mountain bikes drooling and ogling over bikes in the downhill category priced well over my meger budget. “Is there anything I can answer for you,” said the sweet deceptive voice to my left. Yes there is, just not for a downhill bike. These are a bit out of my budget,” I said whilst stepping away from the downhill section of bikes all priced over $5,000.00 and headed down towards the cross-country middle-entry mountain bikes.

These were more like it. Each bike had a rigid rear frame with a single front fork. These forks all traveled between 110mm to 130mm. Which is the amount of compression the fork could handle. It’s important when you are bumping, and rolling over rocks and tree roots that are in your path.

The price point around these bikes were $1,500.00 or less. It all came down to four-parts:

  1. Components
  2. Tyre size
  3. Frame weight
  4. Accessories

Components, they come in two brands: Shimano (Japanese) or Sram (American) engineered, designed and manufactured. Each brand has its low entry into bicycling like Shimano Tourney, Altus, Acera or Alivio. Or Sram 3, 4, or 5. Then mid point mountain bike like Shimano Deore or Sram X9.

Tyre size, traditionally it was always 26-inch but a few years back Trek broke this mold with the introduction of a 650B. Following it was the extreme 29er then the 27.5plus in either a 2.25″ or 3″ width.

Frame weight, always a concern with mountain bikers as a lighter frame means easier manuverability than a heavier one.

Accessories, these days it seems like everyone has on a Camelbak for water and carrying extras with them. However there are still extras which makes riding more exciting like dropper seat posts, clip-in pedals, inframe wiring and mud-guards or electric conversion kits.

There it was again her raspy voice probably from being out into the wee hours of Saturday morning, probably out dancing and definitely singing or yelling as her vocal chords needed the rest nonetheless here she was telling me it’s her last day of employ, and willing to help me out in choosing a new mountain bike. Her tones were friendly and her knowledge abundant. She really did live for biking.

“What type of riding do you plan on doing? Are you after the 29er or something smaller? Both are great bikes and it’s really about your preferences,” she smiled as my eyes went back and forth.

Before she began rattling off the parts list for each bike she asked “how tall are you?”

“Six foot-two,” I smiled.

“Okay, this means your between a Large and XLarge. Usually guys your size prefer the Large as it gives you a better upright riding position as well as you’ll feel more grounded while riding.”

I do agree.”

“These are both excellent bikes and there are only minor differences which is why the Giant is priced a bit higher, it has an air filled shock which requires an air pump…”

  • Giant Fathom 29er
  • Cannondale Cujo 3

My mind slipped into, yup that’s why I’ll be going oil-filled instead. Air is higher quality but to increase or decrease the forks travel you must have an onboard air-pump retailing $40 to $100, depending on your budget. And do I really want to unpack my riding bag everytime I want to adjust the fork for the ever changing terrain?

My thought faded as I picked up her speaking about

“…and higher grade tires. Otherwise they both have Shimano Deore components throughout which is a mid-level entry point into mountain bike components. Both also have Tektro hydraulic brakes and a dropper seat post. Which only the Giant had last year.”

I replied back with, “my younger brother swears by the 29er, loves it. He enjoys the speed and overall flex as he’s got a full suspension. I’m not so big on full suspension but I do love riding singletrack, too.”

“Perhaps I could take it for a test ride?”

“Sure, we’ll need a piece of ID and a credit card.”

“No worries,” I replied handing over both my wallet and keys then remarking that a I would be back as I didn’t want to ride this thing 33-kilometers to my home. She merely smiled until we stepped outside and the +2C (35.6F) wind blasted her in the face.

Ducking inside she went as I rode away on the Cujo 3. Around to the back of the building I went. I pulled up next to a brick wall to take a couple photos.

I took in the components, quickly checked the solid front dropout and adjusted the seat using the dropper post. Cranking the front adjuster left, I stiffened the shock.

Smiling, I climbed onboard and began riding up the bumpy back alleyway. The 27.5plus tyres gripped and grabbed at the dirt kicking up pebbles and soil with each pedal pushed. I punched through the gears to hear if there was any issues with shifting, none. Then I sped up and grabbed the brakes nearly launching my 230-pounds over the handlebars, perfect! Up and around a small hill then over to the front door.

“Your back,” she smiled, “how was it?”

“Cold,” I cried out my leg hairs pressed against me seeking warmth as I stood there shivering in a pair of shorts, “and Awwwwesome I do enjoy seeing the wide stance of the front tyre, it’s smooth and I barley notice the bumps along the streets. But to be certain it’s ‘the right one’ can I take the 29er for a ride?”

“Sure,” she smiled and went to get the Giant.

Once, outside I ran through the same path, stopping to grab a set of photos and around through the alleyway. Upon my return and before she could ask, I said, “It’s PLUS all the way!!!”

Excellent choice,” she said, “you’ll be very pleased.”

Just one thing, I will need to return as my SUV is packed with golf stuff at the moment.”

No worries, we have a few larges in stock. We’re open until 6pm throughout the week and 7pm on Saturdays.”

Perfect, thanks for your assistance. It was greatly appreciated!”

As I strolled out the door, all I could think about was how elated this experience was, and why did it take 7-years for me to stop into this shop!