Mountain Bike Decision? I have 2 road bikes, the primary bike is a Litespeed Classic, 10 years old. I'm 63, with a 25 year history of triathlon and have done amateur bike racing. I will still occasionally ride on the road. But partner doesn't want me out there anymore, after 2 very minor falls. I also swim and do water running. Here where we live, in a rural area, it's a about 5km down to the beach, all off road, stoney and can be sandy. Currently get down there on a motor bike, What I'm looking at is an entry level mountain bike. And what is available is (here in the Philippines), are Chinese frame bikes with original components, Shimano or Sram. The price range is $300-600 and the brand is Trek, Giant, Merida....not original. The other choice is a Merida or Giant, duty free, original frame, and these bikes have slick tires rather than the treaded type. These bikes are $1000-1100. All thee bikes are alloy frame probably in the 12kg range with the wheels and components. My inclination is to go cheap. So what features would you look for? Yes, the slick tyre bikes are more of a hybrid with 26" wheels so would be better on paved roads. As for components. What do have against Shimano Ultegra or 105, or the newer DA series? What else is there? SRAM indexed?
First I would look for the quality of components. From your description, the expensive bikes dont seem to be mountain bikes based on the tires alone. Each brand has many levels of components. Shimano and sram both make parts that may not be the most reliable. My suggestion would be to look for a mountain bike between $600-1000. That's when you leave the casual ride and get an entry level bike capable of lasting if taken care of. Sand is quite tiresome to bike through and you don't want slick or skinny tires.