Trying to decide on a hardtail
I am graduating college and entering the working world, now that I will have a car I'd like to spend more of my time on the weekends on singletrack, I am located in Atlanta, all the trails require a car from here. I have raced and ridden on the road for 7 years and I am looking to get more into mountain biking (including racing). I raced a bit with my school on an 07' stumpjumper, which I enjoyed. I believe I'd like to get a hardtail because optimally I would like a bike that is light, stiff and climbs well, rather than being able to smooth my ride. Ideally I'd like to spend between $800-1200. I have looked at getting a Felt Nine Sporthttp://www.bikesale.com/felt-nine-sp...bike-2011.aspx and I have also looked at the Giant XTC 29er 2 and the Specialized Stumpjumper. I have never raced on a 29er but I have been told that the ride is nicer and the ability to roll small objects is much better.
I am open to any advice
You may want to look at used bikes. The ATL craigslist is loaded with ads. Here's an example - http://atlanta.craigslist.org/eat/bik/2324360335.html
It would be good to get some saddle time on a 29er before buying one. Many people find them ideal, but they're not for everyone. Check this guy's experience, "New 2011 Giant Talon 29er, used a couple of times , nothing is wrong with the bike. i am selling it because i decided i didnt like the 29er and want to go back to the 26 inch wheels." http://atlanta.craigslist.org/atl/bik/2333419322.html
Stores occasionally have demo days at some trails. They usually list them on sorba.org.
Thanks, the Scott Scale 29er seems like a great bike from all I can read. I am not sure if I would be better off getting a used 2010 model, or getting a new 2011 Team. The 2010 model seems to have the Reba fork and generally nicer components, so I am inclined to lean that way, however $1050 seems a bit high, since a new 2011 team could probably be had for $1100. Maybe I will offer $900 and see, what do you think?
Most bikes on CL seem overpriced to me. Demand is high during the spring, so people can usually sell them for a good price. Just guessing, I wouldn't imagine either price would be way out of line if the drivetrain doesn't have much wear.
Bikepedia is a good place to find model, specs, msrp......