Time for a change.
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: 6 miles inland from the coast of Sussex, in the South East of England
Bikes: Dale MT2000. Bianchi FS920 Kona Explosif. Giant TCR C. Boreas Ignis. Pinarello Fp Uno.
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Problem with mountain bikes is the quality you require for the price you want to pay. Those of us with experience would recomend a known manufacturer that is known to make a good frame- with a minimum of LX as the groupset but with a Fork and set of wheels that will stand up to you and your riding style. But that is for those of us that will take the bike out on some pretty nasty trails that will punish the bike and the rider.
I am not saying that you are not up to that grade- but for $800- you are not going to get everything on that list.
The heart of any bike is the frame and that is why I would suggest looking at Trek-Specialised-Giant and a few other top marque manufacturers. If you have the frame to start out with- then upgrades as parts wear out are worthwhile. This is what I used to do on the MTB's before I got soft and went road. My current ride is old- too old by modern standards but it is still a good frame. Running gear is XT- and the wheels are Mavic Crossrides. Forks and they now need replacing but are a set that suit my riding style.
But when I got it I knew that the original forks were not going to last- The wheels were replaced after 2 years when they started to wear out- and the Groupset was replaced so that over the years it had a good set on it. Same day I got this bike- a mate started riding and he got a Low end Giant Boulder. Wheels were replaced very quickly- Cranks and they wore out within a year- Forks broke within a month. But gradually over the years he replaced with what he could afford but finally had to replace the bike last year as he broke the frame. But 8 years of 4,000 miles a year with 260lbs on it and it lasted well. The Boulder cost him around $400- He has just spent £2,000 on a custom build bike that will last him another 10 years (Hopefully).
Only advice I can offer is look at what is available in your LBS. See if any deals can be done on a 2010 bike- and be prepared to replace parts with an upgrade as they wear out. Within your price range is the bike on the link. This would allow for a couple of upgrades before purchase or for those extras that you think you may want.
Something like this could suit you- but do look at other Known makes of bikes aswell
How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.