Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
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All depends on what type of riding you do, £500 is the low end of anything which will survive going off road,but it's the sales time, so there is a lot of choice out there if you are happy with 2011 models.
If you can stretch to £599, Halfords has the 2009 Banshee X http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/s...egoryId_165499
There are plenty of other places to look at, like Pauls Cycles, Winstanley, CRC, Evans & Wiggle.
As with ShimmerFade, getting a hardtail will give you a better bike, but if you are used to riding FS, you may want to stick to that.
For bikes making crunchy sounds from the cranks, that happens, some people can ride for years without wearing kit out, some for weeks, a lot will also depend on were you ride, and how you clean / maintain your bike