I know this has probably been asked a million times but must ask again. I've been road riding for a few years with a little over a year of road racing & 2 years track racing experience. Job and family responsibility means no more racing this year. I am looking to buy a performance oriented mountain bike as I am moving to Northville, MI and have many mountain bike options in that area.
I have done some (limited) mountain biking with a training partner so I am learning the drastic differences between the two sports. Every bike shop I walk into wants me to buy a full suspension. I'd like to keep the cost under $2K and am concerned about weight but obviously don't have enough experience to know if this is valid.
So, I'd like your advice on this topic. I don't plan to race in the near future but do plan to ride aggressively and want to keep up with a few friends that are still road racing and mountain biking as a training alternative. I'm leaning towards a hard-tail as they are lighter and seam to be easier to work/maneuver on the trail.
What do you think?