I have had a specialized hardrock for 3 years, mostly riding around on campus and maybe mountain biking a couple times a week. I am looking to upgrade my bike just a little and was looking at the trek 4500. I know that this is still an "entry" level bike, but I am a college student and can't quite aford a real bike. I am looking for something that will hold up for 3-4 years until I can afford a real MTB. My lbs has the 2007s for $489. Is this a good deal?
Sounds about right. If you can find a 2006 you may be able to get a real good deal, like knock off another 15-20%. Look at Gary Fisher too, better bang for the buck IMHO.
Im pretty sure the Trek 4500 is a real bike. May not be super expensive or to notch, but it is a real bike and you shouldnt feel bad about owning one. I bought the 4300 simply because I wasnt sure what type of riding I would end up doing. with a couple sets of tires, its quite versatile. The 4500 and 4300 are essentially the same frame with some different components and I like mine a lot. Just make sure the bike fits you right and you should be happy. Oh, and the seats for the 4300 and 4500 are awful. Just have the bike shop replace the stock seat with a brick, as it would be more comfortable.
Most bike shop bikes are REAL bikes. Some of them are REAL expensive as well.