NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS!
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: From Sarasota, FL sitting in front of a computer spewing random thoughts!
Bikes: Intense Uzzi SL, Masi Speciale, Trek 3700 Nashbar Single Speed, Old Cilo Road frame
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The Trek isn't bad for the money, it's a bit on the heavy side, but it's a good entry level bike that will allow you to hit the trails.
You will find most manufacturer's are very comparable in the $300 pricepoint, and the only TRUE difference will end up being frame geometries, paint and graphics. One bike will have an RST fork or a RockShox or Manitou, but at this price the performance will be about the same. The fork internals will be almost identical.
Some bikes may have Shimano components, some Sram. They will also be nearly identicle performance wise!
The thing I would suggest doing since you are an experienced cyclist already is to ask them to swap out the steep angled (upright) stem for something that'll put you in a more forward (race oriented) position. Something like a 110mm or 120mm in a 15 degree or 10 degree rise.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
"Your Bike Sucks" - Sky Yaeger