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I bike a lot and I'm looking to spend £400-800 on a full size bike. It must have full suspension, detachable front wheel, preferably room for a minipump and a large water bottle (without using the far bottom side of the frame). I see this is close to a discussion, but I think there are some obvious answers I'm overlooking. Bike or shop suggestions welcome.

Update: I commute (half off-road), use the canals, in-town and between-town roads, and a lot of off-roading. I would like to be able to manage my bike well, hopefully learn to do more than just replace tyres/tubes. It will occasionally be carried by car. I use bike lanes, pavements and the middle of the road fairly equally.

How complex are softer drivetrains and disc brakes? I'm not familiar with either of them.

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Welcome @tobylane. Please tell us about how you plan to use your bike. Will you ride it to work every day, or use it for errands, or long rides on the weekends, or carry it by car to a special riding course? Will you ride in any weather, or just when it's nice out? Will you ride in busy traffic or dedicated bike lanes? Are you already physically fit? –  Jay Bazuzi Jan 17 '11 at 18:09
    
No stabilizers ;) –  Peter Bridger Jan 18 '11 at 17:02
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Whats the community opinion on cards in the spokes to make a motorbike noise? –  mgb Jan 18 '11 at 22:19
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3 Answers 3

£ so if you are in the UK, check out Edinburgh bike coop if there's one near you.

Definitely get disc brakes. Opinions on full suspension bikes differ - it used to be said that if your are spending less than $1000 don't get it. But I don't do extreme downhill so don't really know.

Most mountain bikers use camelbacks rather than water bottles because off road the bottles get covered in dirt (=cow shit) and you catch lurgy and die. You can always add a water bottle holder later.

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+1 Edinburgh Bike Coop is brilliant. –  5arx Dec 18 '11 at 21:13
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Even with lots of good advice, it takes a while to get to know what bike works best for you.

Each person's body is different, so getting a good fit is difficult. And getting a good fit has a huge impact on the joy of riding, which makes the difference between the ride you can't wait to start vs. the ride you talk yourself out of.

Start with a used bike. Look for one that has been stored out of the rain, and where the wheels don't wobble when you spin them. Get a tuneup right away, as there are a few safety and longevity issues with neglected bikes.

Getting the right frame is the most important thing, as it affects everything else, and is the hardest to change. Once you have that, you can adjust the handlebars & seat to fine-tune the fit.

I like a great drivetrain. Smooth shifting under load is wonderful to ride.

I'm not too picky about brakes, as long as they work.

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Great answer but I would defiantly recommend disk breaks. They work consistently when wet or dry and I find that they grab much better than rim breaks. –  sixtyfootersdude Jan 18 '11 at 12:04
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It's sounds like you're committed to a full suspension bike. But, I worry you won't find a quality bike for that price range, and you may end up with a heavy bike that will be a drag when you're on the road. You can get a good quality hard-tail for that price range that might suit you well.

You could consider the Boardman Team Mountain Bike:

http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_storeId_10001_catalogId_10151_productId_501999_langId_-1_categoryId_165499

They've got a full suspension version, but that'll take you over your £800 limit.

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