Simply put I’m a research hound. When the time comes to buy a new object I spend countless hours reading over the specifications, digging into the history of the object, what are the pros and what are the cons, what is the current pricing, what is the history behind this object, is it new, has it been thoroughly tested and more.
Literally spending hours upon hours researching, testing, conducting more research before ever laying down a penny for said object. I am relentless. June 2019 a friend asked if I would like to join him on an MS Bike ride. The ride goes from the town of Leduc southeast to the town of Camrose. Its 90-kilometres of nearly flat road cycling along the edge of two highways with rest stops in-between for water and snacks. You do this on a Saturday morning, setting out for Camrose. Then you sleep over, get your party on and wake up Sunday morning for the 90-kilometre trek back to Leduc.
“Yeah, man, that sounds totally like something I would never do,” said my wife and I at the exact same time. We laughed. He smiled. Then I continued researching the type of Mountain Bike I wanted to invest my money in. Something like two weeks after that conversation I was reading through an online Mountain Bike forum when I read this statement:
‘Buy what you can afford and ride the SHIT out of it!’
After reading this statement I thought shit I have just lost six months and like 127 hours of research on a the new variety of Mountain bikes: 29er, 27.5, 27.5 plus and every option possible for these new models: hard tail, full suspension, dropper post, swing frame, single fork, double fork, hydraulic brakes, internal cable lines, clip-less pedals, raked pedals, and the variety of frame composites.
On top of the above, one should also consider budget, timeline, and value, for making the correct decision. Yet I was just guilting myself into purchasing sooner rather than later. As the month of July slipped passed and I had not made a decision. The last piece of the puzzle was determining the type of bike components: Shimano vs SRAM.
That’s when I found this handy Shimano vs SRAM, comparison chart online for Mountain Bikes.
For myself it wasn’t price point, as my budget was $1,500.00 CAD which would by a decent intermediate hardtail bike, as I was never a big fan of full suspension mountain bikes due to my riding style and the location of 75% of my rides.
For myself I knew I didn’t want the lower end on the Shimano side of the equation, components like Shimano Tourney, Alivio, Acera or Sram 5, 6, or 7, as these were just not going to withstand my abusive riding style and aggression towards the trails.
I knew I had to look mid-range on this chart and this might mean a bit of compromise on other items like dropper posts or internal cable routing or hydraulic disc brakes. For myself I had to go middle grade components like Shimano Deore or Sram 10, or above.
As I was nearing my decision to purchase a decent hardtail, I kept eyeing two bikes. A Cannondale Cujo 3 with its 27.5 plus fattish tires which sat just under my total budget at $1,450.00 or a Giant Talon 3 with its 29er tires also with the dropper post but its priced a little less at $1,300.00
Because I can never go without asking her, I said, “hey wife, would you want to have a mountain bike to ride with me?” She stopped reading her book, looked perplexed then said, “is it a GT?” Laughing I asked why she would want a GT over a Giant or a Cannondale. Then she explained whilst she lived in Japan, she bought a GT mountain bike that she road everyday up Mount Yakasa. She loved her GT mountain bike.
Looking up where anyone would but a GT mountain bike, I found them at the local SportChek stores. We headed over. I gave her a budget and she found a mountain bike that suited her. “Are you sure that’s the one?” I asked her. She nodded her approval and we bought it on the spot.
This is the difference between my wife and I. I spend over 145 hours researching, test riding, trying out every bike option possible. She goes into a store, rides around two maybe three times. Says that one. And its bought. We bought her bike before my own.
Whilst she was test riding her future mountain bike, I spotted a GT Avalanche Elite and was surprised to see it literally had every component that the Giant Talon 3 had with the exception of the dropper seat post. And in its place it had a push button lockout for the front fork. The Elite was priced at $1,049.99
A day later, I went back to Giant and looked at the bike. I compared component for component and realized the GT Avalanche Elite would save me $250.00 and I’d get a 29er, hardtail mountain bike with Deore XT components, a Suntour front shock, Hydraulic disc brakes, a 2×9 drive train and still have money for a helmet, clip-less pedals and a lock.
The day we went to pickup my wife’s GT after it was built, I left her at the counter to talk to the bike mechanic and go over the build together. I spotted the GT Avalanche Elite and guess what SportChek was having an “end of summer sale” for their 2019 bikes. The original price was slashed 25% less and now would cost $749.99 laughing I had a guy pull one down, we adjusted the seat, and I took it for a spin. Then I made my decision and bought myself a GT mountain bike for half the price I would have paid for either the Giant Talon 3 or the Cannondale Cujo 3.