Help! new bike search...
Hey all. New to this forum. My family owns a shopping center where a local Mountian Bike store moved in. I was into biking back in high school (3 years ago), but had a pretty crappy bike and eventually gave it up. Anywhoo, I'm a student and thus don't have a boatload of money, so I pitched to the owner that a friend and I (who is also looking for a bike) would trade services for a good deal on a bike. Basically we can design a decent website for him if he can get us 2 bikes at cost.
My friend can lay down about $300, and I can put down about $400. That puts us in range for about $500-600 bikes or so, and I've been looking at the Specialized HardRock Pro.
So I'm looking for some advice. My friend really likes the extras on the Pro (disc breaks and whatnot) and neither of us are looking for ultra-light or full-suspension bike. I'm willing to loose the disc breaks for a better frame or derailer, since I know my money is going to work there.
My question is, what is the best bang for my buck? What are some bikes I should be looking at in the $500-$600 range, and some pros/cons or comparisons between the two?
Also, I don't really know this guy, how can I find out about how much these bikes cost dealers. I'm not too worried about getting ripped off, but I will be spending some time working for this guy, and I want to make sure it's a fair trade.