Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Upstate NY
Bikes: Giant Defy 1, and some others
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I think most of the old 1990's name brand mountain bikes were pretty tough. I see them all over Craigslist here, including large frame bikes. Asking prices are low, $75 to $150 typically; so even if you do break the bike it's no big deal. LHT or Trek 520 will cost some bigger bucks. Don't count out Mongoose and Diamondback from that era. I'm no Clyde but I'm still riding my Mongoose Rockadile that I bought in 1993. It's been crashed multiple times, fell of the back of my car once and she's still straight. The tough part is finding something with a mid or better level compost group. Seems like most are lower middle, to bottom. But, a brand new 7/8 Alivio rear derailleur is like $25 to $35 so no big deal if the bike comes with something bottom of the barrel. Also, find something with a 1 1/8" steerer tube. 1" was common back then, I think mostly on lower end bikes. The 1" steerer tubes just look to skinny to be on a mountain bike.
Also, my neighbor is a big guy and he just bought a Gravity mtn bike with disc brakes from bikesdirect.com at a great price; he loves it.