Trail riding noobie, suggestion for a decent bike?
Recently I got a Giant Rincon, when I didn't really know anything about bikes, I just knew I wanted to do some trail riding. Well, I learned a thing or two and now I want to get a beefier bike - one that can hold up a lot better than this one (The chain slips, gear-shifter has a huge delay, TruVativ crankshaft was majorly flawed). I revisited the bike shop I purchased the Rincon from and told them my situation (Of course they won't return the bike because I rode it already... How are you supposed to know if it's any good if you can't ride it?! On their end though, I guess I understand why they couldn't return a bike that's been ridden into a stream or into a tree... It still sucks though) and they're selling the Specialized Rockhopper for $519, the Disc version for $680. The $650 area is about what I'm looking at - something decent. Around me, in the Charlottesville Virginia area, there are only 2 or 3 bike shops that I'd bother with, and the names I've seen sold are Gary Fisher, Specialized, Giant, Trek, Orbea, and Fuji. Those are all I really remember anyway. The small - and great quality - bike shop that I prefer to go to only sell Specialized, Giant and Orbea.
If anyone can recommend a good bike by - preferably, but not limited to - one of the latter 3, I'd greatly appreciate it. I prefer to buy one in a shop rather than from ebay because of the free tuneups they offer; I'm not confident enough in myself yet to do repairs/maintenance on a bike, but eventually I'll be able to.
Thanks for the help!