Originally Posted by NukeouT
If youre going to get a new MTB and not a vintage one, look for something with front shocks that lock.
That's my preference too, if you're getting a suspension fork (the Fuji Nevada 4.0 the Original Poster (OP) mentioned has a rigid fork, which I prefer on pavement or gravel trails). That's why I recommended the Trek 4300 out of the 3 -- it is the only one with a lockout suspension fork (unless you go up to Hardrock Sport Disc), so you can make the fork become rigid when you want, which as I said is really better for riding on pavement, gravel and many packed-dirt trails, and is also better for climbing hills.
The reason rigid is better in those situations is that the "bounce" of a suspension fork can actually make it a little harder (it lessens your "power transfer") -- this is especially so if you're a larger rider like me (there's a section in the forums called Clydesdales/Athenas for us).
One other bike around the same price range is the Scott Aspect 50/55 (50 has V-brakes, 55 has disc). On any bike with a lockout suspension fork, you'll probably have to find a good deal on Craigslist or eBay to stay in your price range.
I do think that if the OP is not planning on doing a lot of off-road riding, the Nevada 4.0 might be a good choice -- it's on sale at Performance Bike for $299 now, and I've been impressed by the quality of the Fuji bikes that I've ridden recently (haven't ridden a Nevada yet, but hopefully soon). Also, if you don't care about locking the fork (some people don't), here are a couple of other budget bikes with front suspensions that have decent reviews online: Schwinn High Timber
and Nashbar AT-1
Hope this helps!
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