I have an actual mountainbike, a 1989 Trek 830 that I got in high school. I rode the piss out of it, but it's in decent mechanical shape after all these years. I actually never did any technical singletrack back in the day, more mundane single/two-track and it was my all-purpose commuter and fitness bike too.
18 years later, I got back into cycling. Stop me if you've heard this.
I bought a hybrid. It's a Cannondale Quick CX Ultra (same model now called CX 1) with a Magura/Cannondale Super Fatty DLR80 headshok fork. It weighs 27 pounds, noticeably lighter than the old dog Trek. Everything is tons better.
Except.. as I ride more singletrack, it becomes very obvious that there are 2 big problems with the hybrid:
1. severe toe overlap due to frame geometry, particularly super-short wheelbase. I'm not good enough to ride around this issue so I will rub my foot on the tire a few times per session and strike a low pedal if I'm trying 12 & 6 o'clock to avoid overlap.
2. narrow rear tire clearance. I'm currently running aggressive cyclocross knobbies but they're only 700x35mm. I think I could get certain 29x2.0 to fit. But there's no way in hell larger would go like a 2.2 or 2.4. narrow tires suck on roots and rocks.
Here's the suggestions needed part. I would like to spend less than a grand. The closer to $0, the happier my wife will be. Should I:
A. Hunt for deals over the winter on a new/used 29er frame & fork, then bring over everything I can from my hybrid
B. Buy a cheapo complete 29er, BikesDirect and the like
C. HTFU and keep riding the hybrid, figuring out how to ride around the toe overlap.
D. Other-- explain in your reply