All summer long I'm on my road bike, with only the occasional ride on the mountain bike. But come autumn, I only have eyes for the mtn bike. Well... I've been riding a GT Karakorum with is now 7 years old and starting to show it's age. So today I demo'd Marin's low end FS bike. I'm hooked! FS is the way for this aging corpus to go. Now I need some suggestions about what to pick.
I'm 5'6", weigh 145 lb, generally ride moderate single track with a lot of climbing. I don't want to race but I do want to keep up, and I'm not planning on hucking anything more than my lunch after a tough ride. I'm hoping to spend $1600 - $1800 US.
The Marin was OK. I'd have to go up a level or two. The Deore grupo was noticeably slower than my LX. I'm thinking about trying out a Jamis Dakar. What else should I look at?
Thanks in advance...