Disc brakes are better in performance with water and mud. More importantly they require little to no maintenance aside from switching out pads which is simple and doesn't have to be done for a while. This contradicts what I said, but what does everyone think of the Gary Fisher Mako for this guy?
Oh and idk if you're just looking through the Dicks website but, I would try to find the bikes at a shop that is not Dicks. Unfortuantely, a lot of the people that assemble bikes at Dicks are newbies.
Im kind of a newbie to mountain biking, I use to do a little trail riding in my target brand Schwinn but that was before it broke. Basicly Im looking for something cheaper, and some thing that wont break too quick.
I never learned to ride a bike. It is my deepest shame.
THe Diamondback Response XE is probably the one I would chose too. However, I got queasy looking at the picture on the website of the XE... If Dick's has one guy that can assemble a bike properly perhaps they should let him do the bikes for the website photos. Judging by the photo - particularly the way the bars are set up - I think they must not have one guy who can assemble a bike properly.
As for your criteria - something cheap that won't break, well... if they were assembled properly these would likely hold up OK. But you can get the same quality from a real bike shop that knows how to assemble and service bikes and the price difference, if there is one, will be saved the first time you don't have to pay the shop to fix the botched assembly on a Dick's bike. You normally get a year of free service from a bike shop to cover the break-in period whereas Dick's makes you pay $45 for their substandard help.
FWIW - I have never set foot in a Dick's Sporting Goods, but judging by their reputation and my experience as a customer and staff member in similar multi-sport stores in Canada, don't assume they know any more about building or fixing bikes than you do.
I have an XE, and yea right outta the store it needed a tune-up. But heck, thats a great way to familiarize yourself with the mechanics of a bike, right?! Ive done all the work on my bike aside from wheel truing, and that frame is SOLID. Heavy, but solid. Treat 'er right, she'll last.