I am needing to seriously get myself back into shape. I currently have a specialized fsr pro comp full suspension bike but I weight 260lbs now and am just too much of a load for the rear shock. I am wanting to try to drop at least 30-40lbs so my "goal" weight is around 220lbs. I'm in the market for a hardtail with a front shock that will be good for quite a bit of road riding(probably 80%) and probably 1-2 trail rides a week. I'ld like to stay somewhere int he $700-$1200 range. I have gone to three local dealers and looked at several bikes but the ones that I am currently most interested is the Trek 6700 with disk brakes($1100) and the Trek 8000($1500). I have looked at the specialized, gary fisher, trek, haro, and schwinn. That pretty much covers the dealers in my local area so I'ld like to try to stay with one of those.
Can anyone recommend a bike for what I'm wanting to do? I know alot of people will probably suggest a lower end bike but I want to go a little higher than a bottom line bike because I do enjoy trail riding and as I get more in shape I'm sure I'll be doing more and more of it. Plus I'ld also like to have the 9speed rear end opposed to the 8 speeds that are on most of the bikes under 5-600. Thanks.