Questions from a newbie
Just joined the forum... I'm trying to get some information on my first *real* mountain bike. I started bicycling back in 2008 when I moved to Tallahassee Florida for college, and I bought a Schwinn hybrid with a 27" wheel base off craigslist for $50... and it served its purpose. I rode about 6-15 miles/day on campus / streets.
However, now I live in Atlanta, and don't live close enough to bike to work. So I'm really interested in mountain biking... I took my hybrid to a 1.5 mile trail which connected to a 15 mile (round trip) paved trail... and I was scared to death on the "trail" part. I really want to get a *real* mountain bike... but being a recent grad, I am still on a bit of a budget.
Are 29ers really worth it? Being so new to this opportunity of actually having mountains to ride on, I'm lost. I am pretty set on wanting disc brakes... but as far as far as the other features... front fork lock out, number of gears, 26 vs 29, etc... I know on paper why it's better... but I'm looking for real world experiences. I have a price cap of about $600 on this bike.
I've also been looking on Craigslist for the past week or so, but haven't found anything which fit me, had the features I desire, and was in my price range.
(Honestly, being a recent grad, I just got a $700 paycheck from refereeing as a side job... which is where my bike money comes from... and it's really hard to drop the $600 +tax on a bike... but I don't want to get something I'll have to upgrade even within a couple years. I want one I'll be happy with for quite a while.)
Sorry this is probably way too long, but I appreciate any advice!