Mountain bike right for me?
I have been tossing up what sort of bike is right for me. I have been riding on a too-small, old, rigid mountain bike up until now. I am considering a hybrid bike, but am unsure whether it is much quicker at all, considering the main advantage seems to be the tires. The weight difference seems to be small and the riding position more upright.
I should probably explain the riding I plan on doing. The majority of the time I am on the road but a 10 mile ride is about the upper limit, with 10 mile round trips more common. I am steering away from a road bike because I love to be able to get off the road when possible (walking trails, grass, gravel). There are some good mountain bike trails in the area which I don't use much, but will be off limits without a mountain bike. I also have some short touring trips planned. Nothing long distance, just a rear rack with panniers would be needed and a reasonably comfortable ride.
My budget for the bike is around us$500-$600. Would a XC hardtail with a lockout fork be suitable for my needs? Would some road tires make a big difference over knobbies? Are the combination road/off road tires any good at either environment?
The LBSs in the area carry Avanti, Mongoose, Felt, GT, Norco and Giant. There is also a huge outdoor shop (some distance away) which sells its own range of bikes. They are a minor brand, but for less then the major brands offer the following:
* Sizes: Mens S: 15", M:17", L:19", XL:21"
* Colours: Mens: Blue
* Price Retail:$799.00
* Frame:7005 Alloy with Double Butted Fluid form top tube, down tube with squared rear stays
* Fork:Suntour XMC-MLO Alloy outer legs with Lock Out and 100mm Travel
* Rear Derailleur:Shimano Deore 9 speed
* Front Derailleur:Shimano Deore
* Gear Shifters:Shimano Deore 9 speed
* Crankset:Shimano 442
* Bottom Bracket:Cartridge
* Brakes:Shimano 415 Disc front and rear
* Brake Levers:Shimano
* Hubs:Shimano with Quick Release front and rear
* Rims:Alloy Double Wall Weinman Tauras 2000
* Spokes:14g Stainless steel
* Tyres:Kenda MTB 26 x 1.95 all black
* Pedals :MTB Alloy
* H.Bar/Stem:Alloy Riser Bar with Alloy A Head Stem
* Seat Post:Alloy Micro Adjust
* Saddle:WTB Pure V Race
* Grips:Kraton Rubber
The bikes are often heavily discounted (always at least au$100 off the au$799 price above). Would it be wiser to stick to something local and a major brand?
Thanks a lot for your help!