I have a Specialized Rock Hopper awesome bike and not to expensive. Baught a 07 model last summer for a bit under 500.00. Hard tail front shock and can take alot of punishment. I am not a huge mountain biker or biker for that matter but I wanted something nice and occasionally I do kick the crap out of it so a cheepy I figured would break fast.
I personally like the Jamis bikes... I boought it when I didn't mountain bike much, and it was great for putting around on and I even took it to a 24hr race/event and it held up to the rest. They are nice bikes... but it really comes to preferance... Everyone has their own opinion...
Hope it's okay I answered seeing as that I am not physically one of the guys, he he..
Just go to a real bike shop (an Independent Bike Dealer, not a sports store or big box store that sells bikes), and make sure you get a proper name-brand bike, eg. Trek, Specialized, Kona, Rocky Mountain, Cannondale, Gary Fisher, etc.
Get them to give you a proper fit, spend as much as you can, and make sure they have a good free tune-up plan. If you don't feel comfortable at one shop, go to another.
well my problem is im in Italy and i dont speak italian. i want something i can commute to work but i can also take it the mountains and tear up some mountains. i know about cannondales a friend has one.
Check out the Trek Series 6 (I think) model. Also Giant should be added to the list of nice hardtails with good components and you can stay under the 800 range pretty easily but still get a really nice bike.
Also, I work in a sporting goods store and we are not all that bad. If you can find a store that sells name brand bikes and find an experienced person (like me) you can get a deal. A lot of the private, mom and pop kind of shops price their bikes ridiculously high for the same product and service plans. I sell and work on the same bikes that the small shops around town do but for hundreds less.
Just shop around, compare components and you'll be fine.
Well being military they have a bike shop in my Exchange thats run by an italian. Funny thing is he has a store out in the town that he sells the bike for 2/3s the price. Found this out today when I was talking to a friend. Who just bought a bike. But I'll look at the other models too.
I'm taking that hardtail is pretty much like a good all around bike for like riding on a road to work about 2 miles not really far but will be better on gas and being able to take it into the mountains and tear them up.
I've got a Kona Stinky Dee lux 2001 ( in rasta colours) & upgraded the brakes to 203mm front & rear with Hope M4 4 piston calipers. If you are wanting serious downhill bikes these are epic, but not for riding uphill as I have 2.7 tyres, & it weighs 42 Ib. I will not ride this on the road.
I built (from bits on ebay) my GF a Kona Coiler. This cost me approx £650 in total & can by ridden 'almost' anywhere but still handle the downhills.
A Hard tail is much more forgiving as a daily rider as it it a lot lighter but you will 'kill' most of them on a downhill run.
Sizing is all over the place when it comes to mountain bikes.
A downhill 14" will fit upto a 6 ft whereas a XC 17" might fit a 5'7. As was said you have to sit on them.
If you are going to be riding (roads) uphill then a lighter Hardtail bike will be much more suitable for you.
A decent downhill bike is not much good for anything else. My uncle has the Specialised Epic Marathon which is a very nice XC bike (€2300) but when it comes to downhills (& he lives in the French Alps) he gets murdered because it is just not beefy enough, Brakes are only 160mm, & only 4in travel - it don't cut it.
Decide what you really want the bike for as they all have pros & cons. The more extreme you go, the bigger the cons.
i may just buy a cheapy for going to and from work as its not really that far. and getting a good one for the downhill stuff. if i get a chance ill goto the bike shop on my exchange in naples and sit on them and see what i like