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A noob here, preparing for a bike race (want to do a race in all components first before trying a tri). It's a 100km race, mostly on a trail but it's supposed to be quite flat and easy (Vitosha 100km, July, Bulgaria - http://is.gd/YHDNML )
I am still very inexperienced with biking and know very little about the machines - e.g. I had to google what tyre sizes do bikes usually use - although I'm a seasoned motorbike enthusiast so I know the mechanics, etc. quite well. From what I gather, the optimal bike should be a hard tail cross country, leaning towards a road bike in parameters. A lot of people actually do this race with road bikes, including last year's winner - I was tempted to follow this route as I would reuse the bike for my tri, but then again, especially for a beginner, the better safety of a mountain bike would be advantageous, and it has better chances to survive the race and the training
Important contstraint - budget. £250/300 EUR tops, and I'm OK with second hand, I don't mind having to fiddle with a thing or two or even replace this and that. Apart from budget constraints, I don't have any safe place to keep it - it will live on the street, so I don't want to have to buy a new one each month.
I've spent some time looking at bikes online and 3 basic questions spring to mind:
1. What features should I be looking at in order to have a mountain bike that's closer to a road bike, i.e. capable of delivering good timing on a flat terrain?
Frame - I think I've settled on hard tail. Reasonably priced, and offer some cushioning
Fork - I believe it doesn't need to have more than 100mm travel
Tyres - that's clear, more towards the slicker side, but with at least a bit of texture for better off-road grip
Wheels - am I right in thinking that the larger the better, considering my goals? I would then need to look at 20" I guess?
Anything else important that I'm missing?
2. Specific models - maybe you can give me some suggestions?
The ones I've identified so far:
Carrera - Fury, Vulcan, Kraken
Voodoo - Hoodoo, Bokor
Boardman MTB HT Comp
3. Any tips for buying second hand?
I'll appreciate suggestions but probably everything on this subject has already been said, so a link to a good buyers guide will probably do. Also, anything specific for these types of bikes?
Appreciate your suggestion!
And if anyone from abroad is willing to join this race - give me a shout, I can provide all kinds of support, from help with translating from Bulgarian to finding good company for an afterparty