I've been mountain biking for about 14 years, but not many days per year as it's been a secondary sport to climbing for me. I started out in high school on Walmart bikes, before I made a big purchase of a ~$1,000 full suspension bike a decade ago, an Iron Horse MkIII comp:
I've started riding a lot more since moving to Colorado, and noticed a lot of changes in new models of bikes (29 inch wheels, dropper posts, 1x drivetrains), and am considering upgrading my bike. But it seems like a new decent FS bike is at least $2,000, and nicer FS bikes off Craigslist are still really expensive. I'm not a gearhead, I don't race, and I mostly bike by myself, but really like technical descents. I tend not to care about time on the ups, and I haven't done a trail in CO yet that I felt I couldn't go down on my bike.... but would I have much more fun on a newer bike? I'm especially interested in a 29er due to the number of rock gardens where I ride. But is it all marketing, and as a non-competitive rider, it wouldn't be worth it? Thanks for any advice.
Well... maybe. It looks like your bike is a pretty good bike. There are a lot of features on that Iron Horse that hold their own fairly well compared to today’s bikes. That said, a newer bike is going to have some features on it that really do up your riding game, mainly dropper posts. The ability to get your seat out of the way on the fly isn’t just convenient, it’s a game changer. Also the 1x drive train eliminates many problems people have with the front gears. I used to ride a bike with a 3x and it caused nothing but trouble, the front derailleur never wanted to work properly and I had to replace my entire cogset in the front because the old one hit a rock. 1x drivetrains give much more clearance for the bottom of your bike and it eliminates all of the front derailleur problems by getting rid of the front derailleur! Brakes have become much more reliable and functional over the years and I love the brakes on my new bike. 29 inch wheels are nice because they allow you to get over rocks and roots easier thanks to their massive size. They aren’t for everyone but they are certainly a blast.Of course there are other things that will be better like suspension, weight, and geometry that will come on a new bike but the features I previously listed are the key standout points for me. Now if you should get one of these bikes I ask; is your current bike holding you back? If you think you could progress further by having one of these newer bikes than I think you should get one. If it really doesn’t feel that your bike is holding you back then I say stick with it. It’s got a good spec with pretty nice components. If you do feel like you need a new bike, I highly recommend the Marin Hawk Hill 2. It’s priced at 1,949 dollars and has a spec that can outdo 2,500 dollar bikes. Dropper, 1x, Good suspension, you name it. It’s a great bike at a great price. If you’re looking to go a little higher in price than the Trek Fuel EX 7 (my bike) is a really solid choice as well. At 2,800 dollars it’s certainly more expensive but it is well worth it’s price point. Hope this helps and ride on!
Thanks so much for your excellent response; that's really helpful! Sounds like I'll start saving up, especially as I have wear and tear causing front gear shifting issues, but enjoy my old bike until then. And thanks for the bike suggestions, those are in my eventual price range and look great.