I'm thinking of building up a single speed hardtail. Any suggestions on a cheap frame that isn't total junk? I'm not too familiar with all the subgenres of MTB at the moment but I wouldn't be going as extreme as some of the downhill/dirtjump business though I already have a cyclocross bike that would be fine for flowy singletrack so I'm shooting for something in the middle. Is there anything like that in the $200ish range or is a Surly 1x1 at around $400 about as cheap as you can get good quality?
There's a lot of stuff going on between DH and cyclocross. What kind of fork are you putting on this bike? There's everything from the Banshee Morphine that's built for a 160mm fork (hoirzontal dropouts, can be found ~$400) to a rigid Surly 1x1. I'm not sure if you mentioned the 1x1 because you want a rigid, or because you figured a rigid would be cheaper than a suspended option. And what kid of material are you looking for? Steel? Aluminum? Anything else you'll likely pay a premium for, but you at least have those two options.
If you don't care about old, want something that can take a 100mm fork, and ride a 16" by some chance, Brodie has a closeout '04 1ball on its website for $225.
frame material is not a deal breaker for me. I suppose I would give a slight edge to steel though.
Unfortunately i know precious little about forks. Originally I thought I wanted a rigid SS 29er but since I have a cross bike, I think I would shoot for something more different so the idea of a 26" hardtail came about. I don't plan on doing big jumps so 160mm sounds like more travel than I would need. I guess I would shoot for a fork travel that is well established so there are lots of good forks at various pricepoints available, but I don't know what that travel range is (I would guess 80-100mm).
I mentioned the Surly mostly because I'm familiar with their road/cross bikes so I know they build really solid stuff for reasonable prices. I think keeping the option of going rigid is nice but I'd want a suspension fork to start with.