Upgrade or new MTB

Hi all, I’m a roadie / triathlete and have just upgraded my road bike to a 2019 Tarmac SL6 Pro (which I love). Whilst I spend most of my time on the road, living in Somerset, UK there are a number of local roads (and many bridleways etc) which are not suitable for my Tarmac that I would like to explore on sunny spring / summer days for a bit of variety.

My current MTB is a Trek 4100 (hardtail 26er) that my parents bought for me around 20 years ago, it was about £300 new. Luckily for me I grew early so it still fits but has never been upgraded so needs a little TLC. My question is, given how old and heavy the bike is, rather than spending money on a new groupset (which I think will cost about £300) would I be better putting that money towards a new entry-level MTB? Happy to take recommendations for new bikes as I really know nothing about MTBs.

I had considered getting a CX / Gravel bike but not sure I would be able to get another drop-bar bike past my wife (she doesn’t understand why I need more than one bike as it is). So I think a new MTB (or an upgrade) would be the best option.

Thanks in advance for any / all advice.

I would not invest in a 20 year old 26 entry level bike :slight_smile:
But if you are used to high end road stuff, I’m not sure if you would enjoy riding a 300 gbp bike…

I’m the other way around and have a ~ 1000 euro road bike and an mtb with wheels that cost about the same. And I guess that’s the bare minimum for me on the road.
And maybe it’s because I see myself as a mountainbiker instead of a roadie, but I would say i’t rather ride with XT on the MTB and tiagra on the road as you shift way more and at more critical moments on the mtb (compared to ultegra on the road and deore (or alivio or less on your budget) on the MTB.

would you ride a roadbike of 13 kg, cheap flexy wheels and a claris groupset? if not, invest more in your MTB, otherwise it’s not wort it


My budget for a new bike would be more than £300, I’m not sure how much yet (only just started scoping whether I’d get approval from my wife at all). I’m going to guess I could go somewhere in the £600-1000 range.

For more context the road bike I’ve just upgraded from (about 5 weeks ago) was about 13kg, a Sora groupset, Mavic Aksium wheels and cost £300 second hand. It has always been “fine”, but the Tarmac has truly amazed me with how good it is.

Ultimately though, I feel like n+1 is going to win here…

If you don’t need it for gnarly duties I would lean towards the CX bike (that can take a 40mm tyre). You get more for your money typically as not having to pay for expensive suspension forks and cassettes, both a lot more than you would expect

Maybe you can order a CX bike and then act surprised when it turns up with drop bars?

For £1000 you can get a capable hardtail, it is very likely to be ally (not an issue) and you will probably have a choice of a mid level groupset or nice fork. I would go for the fork every time.

Still say CX bike though.

1 Like

I’m about to take my Trek out for a spin on the only local “trails” I’m aware of so will see what the terrain is like.

Agree with above. 300 toward a new bike will get you a lot more than trying to upgrade a 20+ year old bike.

What bike you get depends on what you are riding. I’m not exactly sure what a bridleway is but I’m assuming its a dirt/light gravel path. If that is all you are going to be riding then a gravel bike will most likely be all that you need. However, if this will be for mtb trails and gravel roads then a hardtail cross country bike with ~100mm fork will work well (Like a trek x-caliber). It won’t be the fastest bike if you are planning on doing gravel races however. The other thing to consider is that if where you live is very flat then you may find the gearing on a mtb to be too low and find yourself spinning out frequently.

1 Like

Bridleway is a UK (actually England and Wales but not Scotland) legal designation. We have footpaths which are limited to pedestrians only. Next up are bridleways on which pedestrians, cycle riders and horse riders have legal access, basically non-motorised traffic.

The actual physical representation on the ground can be anything from a dirt road that wouldn’t trouble a typical family car to something on which you’d only really be comfortable on a DH bike.

The following are both bridleways


I wouldn’t invest good money into an old bike unless it’s just to get outside. You could look into the used bike market. There is always great values floating around here if you’re not looking for the latest carbon go fast bike.

1 Like

Try buying new, MTBs have come a long way since 2000. Wheel size, brakes and suspension make it a completely different game nowadays.

4 or 5 years ago I bought my first 650B enduro, which was by then pretty much on par with DH bikes I rode 3 years earlier. Recently I added a 29er marathon full suspension, which is almost as fast as my old enduro on the trails. Also, with direct sales companies and such entry level of today is pretty much middle class of 20 years ago. Something like a cheap canyon hard tail will be so much fun and perfect for those trails!

1 Like

Thanks all, you’ve basically confirmed what I was thinking (buy something new). Given that I’ve just bought my Tarmac and I’m going to be out of the country for most of next year and will only take the Tarmac with me, I’ll likely have a look around in the end of season sales next autumn / winter and see what I can pick up - should have a bigger budget by then too. Will likely be back then asking for some more advice!

Thanks again.