Hello everyone. This is my first post on this forum and I have recently been reviewing many of the threads to do research for my new bike. I had never really planned on replacing my old bike however on Monday (3/1/2010) this changed. I was riding home from doing errands and as I crossed over a draw bridge, an 80 year old driver in a Cadillac came into my lane hit me squarely from behind going 45 mph. I was wearing a helmet, gloves and a backpack and after a quick knee operation it looks like I have a good chance at getting back on a bike this season. I will have some gnarly scars and potential long term joint pain but that is minimal considering the physics involved so I count myself lucky. The bike didn't fare so well and was launched off the bridge and into the river. The police cited the driver and his insurance will have to pay for everything including my bike so I am spending some of my recovery time planing what my next bike will be.
I do not know enough to build my own bike but I did like the modifications I had done to my old one and I am seeking something similar but maybe a little faster. I had a Trek hardtail frame with upgraded rims and 1.6 slick tires. This combination gave me the strength that I need (I am a big guy) and the option of throwing on my wider tires for trail riding a few times a year. Most of my riding is for exercise or running errands and is almost always on roads or packed earth. I also much prefer the riding position of a MTB over a road bike. I haven't been able to demo anything yet obviously but from my online research so far, the Gary Fisher Montare is at the top of my list.
I like this bike because of the ability to do some serious urban riding with the option of the occasional light trail riding without needing to change tires. Price is only an issue to the point that I don't want to have something so nice that I have to worry about babying it or locking it in a bad neighborhood while I run errands.
If anyone wants to share their opinion of what bike would suite my needs then I would really appreciate the input and I obviously have plenty of time on my hands to follow up on your suggestions. I can't wait to get rolling again.