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Well, I have never owned a bike that did not come from a big box store (i.e. Wal-Mart). And I have broken every one of them.
It's been a few years since I have been on one, but I recently started going to the spin class at my gym and running outdoors, and so many people here ride bikes, across a trail called Trinity Trail - a paved/gravel trail system that follows the Trinity River from W. Fort Worth all the way to Dallas. And it starts across the street from my Apartments.
So I decided time to step it up. I snowboard/wake board/long board and just about any other thing I can get in to, so I understand that Wal Mart is not the place to purchase adventure sporting equipment. So I ran down to the local bike shop. And browsed.
My requirements, disc brakes and durability, around 400 bucks.
I quickly realized my goals did not meet today's prices. I ended up picking up this years model of GT Avalanche 3.0 Disc for around 500.
It was hard, an Aussie locker or most the cost of some Treadwrights or a bike, but I quickly realized that the bike would see more use and my tires, though they are smaller than I would like, are in fine condition and I could not justify it.
It's already a bit dirty, but here it is. I really like it. I was surprised how tiring it was though to ride roughly 6 miles, boy did I think I was in better shape. It will take a few weeks before I try and conquer any real dirt trails, that's for sure.
Also, going to have to find a good mounting system that I like on the Trooper, that I can still bring it along on expedition-style adventures. Atop the Safari Rack will not due, it will be ripped off by a tree limb in no time.



My initial review, though I understand from research, this is a good bike as far as "bang for the buck."
The suspension bottoms out too easily, I am a heavy person, currently overweight at 265, I am 6'1". That number is getting smaller, though.
The brakes are good, I noticed by the time I was done riding, they were far more responsive, I imagine there is a break in period for them.
The shocks are nice, though, that they have a Lock Out, for riding on the pavement.
I will likely put some Semi Slick tires on it, since for most of the first couple months I will be on the road/sidewalk.

I am completely new to mid-grade+ bikes, if anyone has any tips or tricks, lay them on me!

Also, because I have broken so many cheap bikes, I am terrified of breaking this. Typically I would bend or warp rims.
Can I expect this bike to take some abuse, some bunny hops and a stair case or anything?
 

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If you break a GT frame you are really trying hard. They make some of the strongest frames out there. They got their start in BMX racing. I"ve always loved the riding position on GT mountain bikes. I worked at a shop that was the 1st GT MTB dealer in Baltimore back in the late '80s. As soon as we got them I bought a GT Karakoram K2 in violet thunder paint. Back then they had some awesome paint schemes. The steel bikes were a tad on the heavy side but were very good climbers for rigid bikes.

The main reason for breaking wheels is lack of proper tension. Keep them true and tight and they will last for a long time. Dept store bikes have poop for wheels. They have no tension at all and most assembly folks don't touch them. A shop built bike should be much better. If you don't know how to work on it properly take it back to the shops at the slightest sign of a wheel being out of true and get them to true the wheels. I'm 6" and haven't been under 220 since high school. I ride very light hand built wheels both road and mountain. They hold up fine if built well and maintained.

As far as riding tips. I'll offer a couple of quickies.
>1st wear a helmet, gloves, cycling shoes, and cycling shorts. Comfort is important.

>For rail trail riding like you are talking about adjust your seat height as high as you can without rocking. If your hips rock you are too high. But you want an almost straight leg at the bottom of the stroke. Many people ride with too low a seat height and damage their knees. Your shop should be able to help you with proper fit.

>Learn to spin. You want to keep your cadence high. A human body works better and is more efficient operating like a Honda Civic not a diesel truck. When in doubt use a lower gear. Shift before you need to on hills to keep your revs up. Think under powered car with a small engine.

>If seat comfort becomes and issue. And it probably will. Seats are very personal things. What is popular in the magazines will be a too small pain in the rear for a big guy like you. Big folks need a wide flat seat in the rear portion and narrow up front. I'm not talking about tractor looking seats for old ladies. Do yourself a favor (especially for road a rail trail riding) and go straight to a Brooks saddle. They are old timey, a little heavy, expensive and the best most comfortable seat made. If it works for you it will save you lot's of money. Most riders try lots of seat before they find one they can live with. Why settle for "can live with" when you can have "Love to ride on". This is the seat on both of my mountain bikes. It's awesome on a hard tail like you have. I have the fancier "special" version. This is not the cheapest place to buy one but they will let you send it back if you don't like it. Check around their site and read the reviews on different seats. You can shop price on the web.
http://www.wallbike.com/champion-flyer
Just remember you are going to have to ride a bit to break in the butt and hands. The seat bones will be sore for a while on any seat.

Nice bike I hope you ride it a lot. If you do that weight will take care of itself. Enjoy that new bike.
 
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