I'm shopping for a lower-to-mid range "competition level" hardtail though i probably won't actually be doing any competitions. Just something that I can take out to the mountains every once in a while to do singletrack and stuff along with everyday transportation. I've looked at a 2002 trek 6700 and a 2001 specialized rockhopper A1 comp FS, among others. What do you think is the best bike i can buy in this price range? Thanks.
Scott Gambler, Scott Ransom, Kona Bear, Bianchi 928 Carbon/Chorus, C'Dale Rize4
Just about any reputable company will have good HTs with good components in a range of 600 to 800 USD. Once you start getting up in price(1000$ +, you will notice the biggest diff. will be weight and material (i.e. titanium, carbon composits). Find one you like and make sure it fits. My LBS carries 5 diff. brands and they even let you take the bikes out to demo for the weekend.
I'm a bit of a skinflint. If you are looking for a real bargain, search around for new 2001 bikes that shops are eager to unload. Do your research and try to get a bike that has current technology like spline/isis drive. As for the other components, try to get Avid brakes and, at the very least, LX components with a smattering of XT. Take a look at the wheels, these are the most expensive things to replace (along with the shock), do they have brass nipples? Cartridge bearings? butted spokes? Good luck and have fun with the search. The K2 Zed was rated very highly by mountain bike action in that price range.