The quick story is that I have my first mountain bike, a TREK 4300 disc, which has been a great bike for me to cut my teeth on but am now looking for an upgrade/addition. I'm to the point that I am riding it 3-4 times during the week around the surrounding neighborhoods/lakes/parks/etc for exercise and then 1-2 times at the local single track/trails over the weekend. Not that's it the biggest deal in the world but it would be nice to not have to change tires twice a week (once putting the off-road tires on and once putting the 1.95" urban/pavement tires back on for exercise rides). So the goal of the new purchase would be to dedicate the TREK 4300 disc to urban commuting/exercise riding and the new purchase for single track trail riding (and have a nicer bike for the trails).
I've been researching all sorts of stuff (budget of $1000 - $1500 out the door) and keep coming back to the Specialized Rockhopper SL or SL Pro, Specialized Rockhopper Expert Disc, Kona Cinder Cone, Kona Caldera, and the Motobecane Fantom HT Elite (still not sure if bikesdirect.com is a good thing or not with all these differing opinions flying around).
To qualify my weekend riding ... it's flat Florida single track. With that in mind (utilizing my noob bike knowledge) I figured another HT would yield me the most bike for the budget and be an appropriate next purchase.
At this point I am stuck looking at the same handful of bikes with no certainty that I am making the best decision. Please let me know what you feel is best whether mentioned or not (even FS if you think that is something I should look into).
Thanks in advanced.