I Found The Best Mountain Bike Under $200! (And what I miss going from a Cannondale full suspension to a hardtail)

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I just moved to a new place after getting back to Florida from Maine, and I missed being in the great outdoors everyday.  I looked around for a mountain bike on Craigslist, and even went to a couple pawn shops with the intention of buying something for the first time in my life.

Click here to see the bike on Amazon

Update 3/1/2016 toward the bottom of this post

See the new apartment I moved into doesn’t have a garage and zero outdoor storage other than a porch, which I’m not quite used to yet.  I knew I’d have to store the bike on the porch, and didn’t want to be worried about someone stealing a $1200 hardtail all the time.  (probably what I would’ve spent if I’d gone to the local bike shop down the street like and picked up another Cannondale.)

I found a used Scott and Trek for sale at a local pawn shop from a craigslist ad, and it seemed like a better value than what you’d get at a bike shop.  I didn’t really know what to expect, but being that I’ve had my race bikes stolen as a kid, I know what it feels like to have your shit ripped off, and I know what a stolen bike looks like when I see one.  The feeling I got from the two pawn shops I went to, is that they really don’t care where the merchandise came from, and you’re probably buying someone’s stolen bicycle if you shop there.  It just didn’t feel right, so I passed.

I guess you could say “karma wise” I didn’t want any part of this stolen bike nonsense, and started looking around online.  My buddy had bought a Critical Cycles fixie from Amazon for just a little over $200, and recommended it to me… but I didn’t really want a hipster fixed gear road bike that I couldn’t take in the dirt.  I also wanted gears in case I decided to get a cool bike rack to carry stuff back and forth from the farmers market.

My Quest For The Best Cheap Mountain Bike Under $200 – $300 Began!

Once my buddy got me looking on Amazon at his critical bike, another buddy picked up a Purefix for around $300.  It seemed like it was great quality, so I went to check out some more reviews and whatnot, but when I saw the related bikes at the bottom of the page the Merax Finiss really caught my eye!

Review Of Merax Finiss Mountain BIke On The Street

I really liked the way it looked, the wheels and tires, just everything about it screamed cool factor.  (I figured the more I like something, the more I’ll use it, right?)

It was on sale for, get this… LESS THAN $200 bucks at the time (I paid $199), which is a smokin’ deal for a mountain bike with Shimano parts and disk brakes!

I pulled the trigger since it was an Amazon Prime Item (they’d take it back if it sucked, no questions asked), and anxiously awaited it to come in.  Free shipping of course!  The best part was I didn’t have to waste anymore time driving around town to get a bike.  Oh Amazon how I love thee. 😉

merax-finiss-mountain-bike-price

Unboxing: Hardtail Mtn Bike Assembly And First Ride Review Of The Merax Finiss

What I Normally Look For In A Budget Mountain Bike:  Affordability VS Components VS Intended Use

With all the major mountain bike companies making high quality inexpensive frames these days, a lot of what you’re paying for in a cheaper vs more expensive mountain bike is the quality of the components.  There is a HUGE difference between a budget derailleur and shock setup, and a performance oriented pair like you’d find on a Specialized mountain bike for instance.

The components on this Merax Finiss I would rate as average quality.  It at least has Shimano derailleurs, ratchet shifters, disc brakes, an adjustable handlebar stem, and what seems to be an okay crankset.  I’m a little rusty on what comes standard on a good bike these days (it’s been about 8 years since I’ve been riding), but in my opinion these are not top quality parts by any means.  That didn’t stop me from buying it however, and I think it’s an incredible value for the money!

Is it the right bike for you?  It really depends on what you want to do with it…

The biggest thing to consider is what you’re really going to use it for.  For example, I wanted a mountain bike so I’d get gears, a cooler looking bike for a guy (didn’t want one of those cheap unisex bikes), and something I could take in the dirt if I wanted to or jump off of curbs and whatnot.  I also wanted at least a front shock since I live in the city and there’s tons of brick roads, since it’s much smoother when you hit an unexpected pot hole or curb.  (a full suspension bicycle would be better, but it’s a waste of money to buy an ultra cheap full suspension mountain, bike without quality components.  If you weight over 200lbs, the stuff will just give out anyway in a short period of time… you gotaa have a high quality rear shock, so we’d be spending at least $1,000 probably more)

Although I love riding in the mountains and grew up riding in Maine during the summers, the reality is here in Orlando (I live in Florida btw) I’m probably never going to encounter rough terrain like you would living in Colorado or something.  I’m also not likely to drive an hour to Santos Trails for some aggressive riding and jumps/drops. (I wouldn’t take the Merax on 10′ drops or anything like that either, save that for a name brand frame maker that you trust your testicles to.;))  Point being, most of my riding is around town on the streets, with the occasional sprint through the woods or park. The Finiss is perfect for that, with plenty of riding room to spare as well.

I didn’t need the latest and greatest suspension or components to have fun in the city either, I just needed something nice to get me out on the road an riding again.  It’s also really nice to have a cheaper bicycle in case it gets stolen… Toss it up as a loss and order another one by Wednesday. lol  I figured if I ride it every week for 6 months or so, I could easily sell this bike on Craigslist for more than I paid for it (yes, it looks that good in person!) or break even at least… and then invest in a higher end bike I know I’m going to use consistently.  If this sounds like you, this would be a great bike for you to buy.  If you want a race ready super bike that you can thrash the hell out of and have it last forever, this is probably not it and you need to go spend at least two grand. (yes, $2,000 dollars.  You aren’t going to get a bike like you see in the latest Red Bull Rampage for a couple hundred bucks pal!)

That said, this Merax Finiss is the best mountain bike, at the most affordable price, with the best value components on it I could find anywhere!  I looked online, at retail stores, pawn shops, bike shops, and couldn’t find anything like it, so I bought it.

I was skeptical when the box came, but when I opened it… Holy Shit Man!!  This bike looks like an $800 dollar race bike lemme’ tell ya!

The graphics and wheels/hubs/tires are just downright awesome looking.  The best part is the little pouch that came with the bike that I didn’t know about… Super nice surprise that was! My Iphone 6 with headphones fits right in there, so I can listen to pandora as I ride.  Also my keys, wallet, and even concealed carry holster fits on the opposite side, which was a major major surprise and bonus!  Should come in handy on those long rides!

Is The Merax Finiss Really The Best Mens HardTail Mountain Bike Under $300?

I have to say $300 now because last I checked the price was a little higher than I paid.  I paid $199, but the price seems to change every now and then to $229… Come on amazon, don’t make me change this article to best mountain bike under $300 already!  So it looks like the price fluctuates some every now and then, but the shipping should stay free which is a huge savings considering the big box a bike comes in.

Now on to the question… Yes, I think this is the cheapest, best all around hard tail mountain bike I found for the money, hands down.  There’s been a couple little things here and there that I wish were better, (I’m just used to higher end shocks, full suspension, etc…) but for $200 bucks and never having to leave your house to go shopping for it, you can’t beat this deal in my opinion.  In fact, I have a couple friends and relatives that are already ordering one after swinging by their houses on a ride or two.  The value vs price is just too hard to pass up, even if it’s not perfect… It’ll get you out on the road or trails, without much huss or fuss, and without breaking the bank!

Related Reading:

My Final Overview / Review Of The Merax Finiss

Verdict:  I’d buy it again and am super happy with my purchase.  I’ve been riding consistently, getting great exercise plus seeing parts of the city I normally drive right past… and got to go on a Bike Mob ride since amazon shipped it so quick!  (you can get free shipping on amazon too!)

Merax Finiss Mountain Bike Review

Get This Bike With Free Shipping On Amazon

The only thing I’d add to this bike, are a set of these lights.

I should mention that I grew up racing bikes, and one of my last bikes was a Cannondale full suspension.  I miss the ability to soften the rear shock when traveling through the city on long brick roads and whatnot.  Your ass can really take a beating, especially if you haven’t ridden in years or are rough terrain for a little while.  But that’s neither here nor there, and you should know the ride differences between a hardtail and full suspension anyhow.

What About 29er Or The New 27.5 MTN Bike Sizes Instead?

I was originally interested in a larger wheel size, since you cover more distance per pedal stroke.  But I couldn’t find anything in a 29er size that looked as good as this one, and the 27.5 seems to still be new to market by the big boys.  (the cheaper manufacturers don’t usually start making all the sizes in a model until the major players have made all the accessories and proven the sales for a particular new model.)  If anyone knows of a budget 29er I could upgrade to in the future, please let me know in the comments!

Update 3/1/2016

How Is The Merax Finiss Reliability So Far? So Far So Good!

I’ve had two mishaps with the bike so far… one being that I never lubed the chain after I put it together, and the other being the seat rail bolt kept coming loose. Long story short, the chain got a stuck link or two in it (probably my fault for riding it through the dirt and never lubing it for months after assembly!) but it was easily fixed at a local bike shop. They just removed a link, and adjusted the derailleur, so I didn’t even have to buy anything which was cool.

The other thing was the seat bolt that holds the saddle to the rails kept coming loose mid ride. Some lock tight and an adjustment in position has fixed this, although it took a couple times to realize lock-tight was a necessity!\

All in all, still very happy with the bike. For the price, and the amount of times I’ve been able to get out and ride, you can’t beat it. Only things that really irk me are the quality of the brakes and front fork, but you’re not going to get competition style equipment for a few hundred bucks.

Overall I’m very happy, and would buy this bike again.

I’ve gotten several questions on youtube from my videos of this bike, and some people asked if there are any alternative bikes similar to this for a few bucks more. I think part of this is because amazon keeps changing the price of this bike depending on the day, so I found a few Diamondbacks that I’d buy if the Merax wasn’t available. (I’d still want free shipping since bike shipping is expensive, so I only looked at Prime items below) Addendum: I got even more questions via youtube, so I put together another video and my final Merax Finiss review verdict.

If you wanted to spend a little bit more money, I’d buy one of these bikes below and get a little better components. The only reason I didn’t do this is because I leave this bike outside unlocked, so it’s cheap enough to where I don’t have to worry about it if it gets stolen, but good enough quality to where I still enjoy riding it.

Best Looking Women’s Mountain Bike On Amazon Under $200 Bucks – I need your help too!

913qmwEH--L._SL1500_Unfortunately I didn’t see a women’s version of this mtn bike, but I did look since it would be nice to have the female counterpart for joint rides on the weekends! I did see a full suspension Mongoose however that had some decent reviews.  I haven’t personally bought it, so I can’t say if it’s legit or not, but if you’re on a budget and need a female mountain bike I wouldn’t rule out amazon.  If anyone sees a women’s Merax version, please let me know in the comments I want to buy it!

 

What’s The Best Full Suspension Mountain Bike Under $1000? (top 5 rated models/brands on Amazon)

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