I'll just answer the q's in the sticky:
1) Your budget: <$500
2) What bikes, if any, are you already considering? Stumpjumpers seem to be recommended highly.
3) What type of riding do you intend to do? Cross country, I guess. The fire roads in nearby parks.
4) Do you have a preference over a hardtail or full suspension? It's my impressions a HT is the only way to go sub-$1500
5) Age, weight and height: 5'11" 200lbs
6) What sources will you consider buying from? Craigslist only, really. I don't need a new bike, and I have had enough eBay hassle to last me a lifetime.
7) Do you want people to offer you alternative suggestions to issues such as budget, bikes already considered, and sources? Dear lord yes
A little more:
I've been riding a ~10 year old, steel Novara Alight for a couple days now, as my roadie is incapacitated. Turns out I love riding around the fire roads in nearby parks (Tilden in Berkeley, for those from the bay area).
My above budget is a guess more than anything, I'm a student and very, very short on cash, especially for bikes. The only thing I can really say is that with road bikes, many people (myself included) feel 105/Rival is the sweet spot for price/benefit, and is a happy medium for "race worthiness" and durability.
I have no clue if this sort of standard exists in mtb. I know it's hard to recommend 1 bike if you're buying used, so knowing what group/frames/forks (anything else?) are in that range is probably the most useful. Any help/advice is appreciated.
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