I'm shopping for my first mountain bike. It's a good investment; I can get sweet discounts on it while working at a LBS. I'm in the retail range of $2000+ (ish). My coworkers all have strong opinions on what bike I should purchase, but unfortunately they all differ. Looking for some BF expertise.
I'm 5'7", female, and 117 lbs. Leaning more toward dual susp. because though I currently live in the prairies, who knows where I'll end up after I complete my university degree. I want a quality bike without going into superlight stuff; it will never become my life, only an enjoyable hobby.
Brands I need to pick from: Giant, Specialized, Kona. If I go dual, I'm not getting Kona, and would lean more toward Giant (also because they have the biggest discount). I know I'm on the cusp of S/M Giant frames, and would pick small having ridden a small Trance XO on the trails.
Basically, do I get a lighter, cheaper bike that's built for prairies? Or, do I get something that will handle all the types of off-road riding I'll do in case I move to Alberta/B.C., at the expense of extra weight and likely-unneeded (due to my 117 lbs) large travel.
I like the idea of a higher BB with something like Giant's Trance (or Cypher, the women's version) to compensate for my n00b skills with roots and rocks. I like the idea of a lighter bike with less travel like Giant's Anthem because it's lighter and more racy, but am wondering how long it will be before I procure 1337 riding skills enough to handle that sort of bike in Alberta/B.C.
Thoughts to consider?