I'm looking to get back into Mountain Biking after several years away from the sport. As a result, I'm looking for a new mountain bike. I'm wondering if there is a bike in existance that will even meet my needs, as they are so diverse.
First, what I don't plan to do with my mountain bike:
2) Ride really fast
3) Downhill (I just don't have the insanity to do this, although I do crazy things on skis)
What I do plan to do with a mountain bike:
1) Put a lot of miles on it
2) Off road touring/camping
3) Leiserly and slow meandering enjoying the scenery and freedom of a bike
With that said, I know many of you are going to suggest I get a hardtail. I'll consider a hardtail, but I really have my heart set on a dual suspension mountain bike. Why? Honestly, I'm not the type of person who is going to derive pleasure from going through a technical area taking the best possible line over various obstacles, etc. Secondly, I want to have fun, and it seems like an awful lot of fun to ran over rocks and roots, and enjoy the wonder of the shocks absorbing most of the bumps. Third, I want comfort, and I want to be able to enjoy the sport, and to not have to get off my saddle to absorb the various bumps along the way.
The fun factor is really the main reason I want a dual suspension bike. I not only enjoy the sport, I very much enjoy the fact that I'm using a machine that I am supplying the power for, and can bring me virtually anywhere I want to go. I don't want to have any limits, I want to feel the freedom, and pleasure from traveling off road, even if I decide to take on some pretty rough trails.
In the past, I road a completely rigid Cannondale, so a full suspension bike would be pretty new to me. I just have a feeling it would improve my enjoyment of the sport immensly.
I have a pretty broad budget to work with, although I know my top end isn't very high for a dualie. I would prefer to spend about $500, but I'd be willing to (although my bank account will hate me) go as high as $1500.
The other interesting information that should help you steer me in the right direction is to let you know how diverse the terrain is this bike will be handling. I will be starting the sport up in New Jersey, where I currently live, so train riding will be mostly flat, with many dirt/mud trails. With that said, my finance and I plan to move to Colorado in a couple of years to be with her family, so I plan to also ride many a rocky, bumpy trail when I get there. I don't want to purchase another bike at that time, and sell my used bike. This is a bike purchase I want to keep for years.
Am I being unrealistic in my expectations? Can I can a good, durable, realible dualie in my price range? Can a dualie serve my needs as a bike I can use for bike touring? Why are components of a bike so important, aside from weight savings?
One other piece of information. The store I would probably get the bike from is Cycle Craft in Parsippany. They have been a great help when I had my two other bike purchased from that store. You can check them out at www.cyclecraft.com. They have Trek, Cannondale, and Gary Fisher mountain bikes. I would certainly be willing to go with another brand from another store, however, if it really meant I'd get a better bike, that performs better than what is offered from the three above companies.
I would prefer a dualie with at least 5 inches of travel, since comfort, and the ability to handle technical trails with ease is a huge desire I have with my bike purchase.
Sorry for the long post, but I really would like your help, and wanted to give us much useful information as possible. Thanks!