I've been reading the forums here avidly for a while. I was hoping I might be able to draw on people's good advice here. I used to be an avid cross country mountain biker back in the 1990s, but I basically ran out of time and haven't ridden much for the last six or seven years. I have an old specialized stump jumper dual suspension from roughly 2003 that's in good shape. I'd be happy to canabalize it for any available parts.
After doing a bunch of test rides, I've figured out this much. I'd like to stick with a steel frame. I don't want to build, or buy, a full time mountain bike. From what I've ridden so far, I've liked the Surly Troll and Cross Check, and also the All City Space Horse. My goal is to put something together, or buy something built, that would be useful for the following three things (in descending order of importance):
1. Mixed terrain long day trips (maybe 60% paved road, 30% unpaved road/fire road/gravel, 10% trail).
3. configurable for more off road/unpaved riding.
I'm open to any general advice. I'm happy to get something out of the box, but I can do some of a build myself. There's a good local bike shop that would help with parts that are too tricky for me. I prefer drop bars, and I'm pretty indifferent between brifters and barcons, although I like the former a bit more. I'd like to keep my budget under $1500, and less is better. I'm not obsessed about weight, but I'd like to try to keep the bike at under 27lbs ideally. Don't care much about disk v. cantilever brakes. I'm about 5'9" with a long torso and shorter legs. I'd like to avoid sora shifters if I can-I don't like the configuration much.
Thank you for an advice. I'd really like to invest in a good frame that I can build on as I figure out my main riding priorities over the next few years. I've been to the local bike shops, and I'll buy from there. Unfortunately, the staff are somewhat inexperienced, and I'd like to hear a few other perspectives.
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