Hard Tail recommendation
I use to bike ALOT a LONG time ago. I had a Cannondale DeltaV1000 (anyone remember those??) that I dumped a lot of money into customizing back before wife and kids. I am looking to get back into biking now that I have a bit more time with the kids getting a bit older. I have taken some of the new full suspension bikes for test rides, but I think I am leaning toward a hard tail and maybe a 29'. I want something decent that I can enjoy on roads as well as take on some technical single track. I would like to be in the $800 - $1200 range if possible. I welcome all comments and suggestions.
Thanks in advance!
Look for a Cannondale '09 F3 in your size.
80mm headshok is the best 100mm fork you'll ride. Super accurate, light, smooth. They've done a lot with the frame to let you rail the corners and not beat you to a pulp.
The '10 model comes with a Lefty. Which, I think is a great "fork." and with 110mm travel, but it will go beyond your budget.
Another choice is to buy a used F-series bike and ride. Then figure out what you like and don't like and what bike suits your local trails the best.
I ended up building my own after going to an FS bike, then a full rigid 29-er. I settled on a 26" steel hardtail bike with long travel fork (95-140mm w/20mm through axle) and 1x9 drivetrain.
A 29-er HT is a great way to go. But for our local trails and my riding buddy, would have given me too much bike advantage. I settled on the 26" for its more flickability and me being able to dance with the bike more.
If you don't mind a 26'r full suspension, do give the BMC trailfox over at competitivecyclist.com a looksee. At 1299/- its a FAB deal on a great bike.
Also, Sette has some widely appreciated 29'rs