I'm a complete noob to mountain biking. Looking to get a bike for our son who rides mostly on dirt and semi-sandy roads. No steep hills. Our budget is $200-$250. I figured that since only Walmart bikes are available new in this price range, used is the way to go. Aside from the fact that I don't know much about mountain bikes, finding a used bike has been made more difficult by the fact that 95% of sellers don't bother to list the frame size of the bike. Isn't that a bit like selling a pair of shoes without stating the size?

We're considering an older steel mountain bike which is listed with the following components. (The price of the bike is about $200.) Assuming that the bike is in reasonably good condition, are these decent components for the price or just too outdated? 3x9 XT derailleur, truvativ fireX crankset, sunRinglé flat pedals, wtb speedDisc wheel set, avid mechanical disc brakes, kalloy guizzo stem (100mm), race face evolvXC low rise bar (640mm), odi rogue lockons, race face evolvXC seatpost w wtb laserV saddle. It says that the brand name of the bike is Zion. I've never heard of that brand. A google search brings up biking trails in Zion National Park but no mountain bikes of that brand.

A fatbike might be better for our roads but those seem to be out of our price range. I wonder how feasible it would be to add fatter tires to the bike we're looking at. Since the seller only included one photo, I can't tell the width of the forks. enter image description here

  • How old is the rider? Are they still growing ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 22:41

3 Answers 3


Zion was the brand for in-house bicycles from Jenson's USA. The Zion bicycles were solid and nicely built bicycles, with a reputation of having a very good quality-price ratio.

Fat bike have very wide tires (4" or more). Even too wide for daily rides. They are deemed to be good for snow/sands (outside roads). However, they can be quite slushy. Fat bikes can run on very low air pressure in the tyres, but at that point it becames very tiring to cycle on smoother surfaces. If you pump the tyres enough to get a comfortable pace on smooth surfaces, then as soon as you are on an irregular terrain, it is very bouncy and uncomfortable.

I suggest to give a try at the bicycle you posted. Zion bicycle may not fit the large tyres that are fashionable now (something around 3"), usually being able to accomodate tyres up 2.3/2.5", but it should be more than enough for dirt and semi-sandy roads.

EDIT/add-on: since you state the tubing is Reynolds 4130, it should be a Zion 660. Coming with disc brakes mount on the rear, it is likely to be one of the most recent model (relatively speaking, I think they started having the disc mount ca. in 2005) before the brand was discontinued from Jenson's.


First, it's the condition of the bike and components that matter, not really the age. Although I haven't heard of Zion either, the components you describe are at at least a level up from those typical of really bottom-end mountain bikes.

Crankset (info https://www.servicearchive.sram.com/sites/default/files/techdocs/2005_cr-4arm-e-r2.pdf ): FireX was at least mid-level (seems to use ISIS BB); although it may be difficult to find spares for it, if it wears out or breaks it's easy and inexpensive to switch to a square taper or Hollowtech II BB (same threads) and a crankset that will fit on that new BB.

Derailleurs: Shimano XT is good quality. Hopefully, the description means the rear derailleur is XT, as the front derailleur's performance varies less with quality.

Avid mechanical disk brakes (BB7 are very good, BB5 are good) and Speed Disc wheels again seem like mid-level parts.

In your price range, the non-suspension fork makes sense, as even a decent entry level suspension fork would be $200+ on its own.

Good luck!

PS - As you've no doubt noticed, bikes and parts have been in high demand for the last year and much is sold out. Other than that, I wouldn't expect major difficulties in getting replacement parts for this for at least the next few years, although selection may be reduced as a 26"(?) 9-speed system.

  • 2
    Mid level is surely Deore or LX. The group and wheelset were expensive, good parts when they were new, not a million miles from some of the best parts, though not ''elite.'' It's a late 90s dream machine!
    – Noise
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 20:47
  • @JoeK Yes, your description is better.
    – Armand
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 21:14


The "fatbike" is a marketting term - its just a rigid MTB that has been coupled with super wide tyres, often 100+mm wide. They do have places where they excel, but that is soft blown sand and fresh snow, and when the tyre's air pressure is very low.

A fatbike rides at about normal walking pace when riding on these surfaces (which is much faster than walking pace on these surfaces!)

In normal usage, a fatbike is very slow due to high rolling resistance. And the expensive tyres mean that the maker often cuts corners on the rest of the build, to be affordable and meet a price point.

For anything that could be called a road, ie is driveable by normal cars, the pictured bike will be perfectly adequate. You don't need one.

  • I agree with the answers that the mixed bag of components are of decent quality. One thing that concerns me based on the photo is the length of the fork. It seems quite long for the bike--as if they placed a 700c fork on a 26" bike. Perhaps, though, it is merely the way the photo was taken and it's an illusion. OP doesn't state the size of wheels it has, but perhaps it's a 29er and all is well.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 23:07
  • Thank you so much, Armand, JoeK, and Criggie for your very helpful responses. I really appreciate it. I forgot to mention that the frame is 4130 steel in case that matters.
    – Kendall2
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 23:08
  • The frame size is 18" medium. Would this be the correct size for a rider who is about 5'7'? My son is really busy. The bike is an hour away so I may be the one meeting with the seller and deciding whether to buy the bike. Kind of scary. I did watch some videos on how to tell if a bike is in good shape but it remains to be seen if that helps.
    – Kendall2
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 23:20
  • Sorry for the multiple comments. I keep hitting enter to begin a new paragraph. Jeff, thank you for pointing out the length of the forks. I see what you mean. The wheels are 26", not 29". Should I ask about the fork length or just plan to swap them out if they're too long? I'm sure my son won't want to put a lot of extra money into the bike though. He is much more into music than bikes. Are there good used forks that could be found on eBay for under $100?
    – Kendall2
    Commented Jun 3, 2021 at 23:32
  • 2
    The fork is correctly long, because the frame ( Zion 660 , in my opinion) was designed to have a suspended fork.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jun 4, 2021 at 8:51

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