I am in the market for a mountain bike and need some guidance. I am pretty sure I want to get a hardtail, and my budget is around $750, although I won't mind upping that a little bit if I know I am getting much better parts for a little more. I do not know much about mountain bike componentry, but I do know that I would like to get disc brakes, a mid-level front fork and at least mid-level components.
With that said, I have done a little bit of looking at the LBSs here, and the bikes that I can find in this price range all seem to have low-end components and a low-end front fork (Rock Shox Dart 1/2). Is this going to be the norm in this price range, or are there other places that I should be looking at? If it matters, I have quite a bit of tools, do my own maintenance on all my road bikes and don't mind turning a wrench.
Thanks in advance.