Right off the bat, I'm a roadie. 150 miles a week and all that. However I've always had a fascination with mountain biking and have tried it on a couple of previous occasions, neither of which worked out for long.
I've always built my own bikes from scratch (I'm an excellent, ex-professional mechanic), usually starting with something from somebody's yard bought for $30.00. My main rule (in defense of my past record) is that the finished product had to be salable on Craigslist for $100.00 and I wouldn't lose money - and hopefully make a couple of bucks. My previous Trek 850 (turns out I was riding too small a frame) and Schwinn Ranger (worked, but didn't turn me on) ended up fulfilling the last point, even if the riding didn't work out.
Third time seems to be a charm.
This past summer I picked up an abandoned but promising underneath all the dirt and corrosion Gary Fisher Gitchiee Gumee, rebuilt it, and I've been enjoying it. Did a short 1/4 mile practice trail in the woods on my property, and usually hit it every evening after work before dinner. And the practice is paying off. When I hit the local park/major MTB trail area, I'm getting faster, actually feeling like I know what I'm doing, and enjoying myself. Even if I come out of the woods with insanely sore wrists at the end of the hour or so. I'm finding the limitations of hard-nose/hard-tail - I may start looking for a second-hand suspension fork.
However, I've got a more immediate problem: To keep the costs down, I reused everything original on the bike, and while I like the SRAM 3x7 twist grips, they work but are worn, and shifting is a bit on the sloppy side. I'm considering something else, either twist grip (I'm happy with both my experiences with them) or trigger (leaning more to the latter - I did like the Shimano's that were on the Trek, although I've long forgotten what model). And I need some advice from those on the list with more experience than me.
The limitations are 3x7 and inexpensive. New inexpensive is good, used somewhat-above-inexpensive would probably be better. I've planned on sticking with either Shimano or SRAM.
Anyone got any favorites they'd care to turn me on to?