May be this isn't the right forum for the question... But I'm looking to pick up a new bike.
Asking here because, well, I ride here. Let me lay out the scenario.
I haven't been riding long. Rode a lot when I was younger, but as it does, life happened. I grew up, got married, got a career. Along the way, I stopped riding, got out of shape, and frankly lost touch.
Anyhow, about a year and a half, maybe two years ago, I found myself divorced, and decided to change that. First, I got myself a crappy wal mart hybrid. My intention with that was not to do a lot of mountain biking, but to work on fitness. I was, frankly, pretty fat, and while I wanted to ride, I knew I wouldn't enjoy it until I had hit some sort of base fitness.
Rode that for most of a season. I rode bike trails and paths around the city - got myself not to a huge amount, bit something like 20 miles 3x a week, more if work and family allowed. I found myself with a bit of a windfall, and made a impulse buy - a giant anthem advanced 29er. Got the base level (a 2 I think?), figuring that the frame at least may be worth something on resale.
Common knowledge suggests this may have been a mistake. I didn't test ride a lot of stuff. I did a lot of research, but I also knew that since I had no real singletrack experience, I wasn't going to be able to tell much difference - so I went with something that would be fitness/climbing oriented, and on the easy side to ride.
I rode this stock much of last year. Its been pretty fun, but I've found that I may not be done with the bike thing. This year I've replaced the wheelset (arch ex on hope hubs), added a reverb, and I went to pretty fat tires - 2.35 nobby nics, on front and back. Pretty quickly, the bike became a lot more fun. I could keep investing in this bike (looking at a shorter stem, wider bars, and maybe a new crankset with a smaller pair of chainrings - stock was at 26/39 IIRC - at any rate not well matched to my fitness level - I could also get a 120mm fork, to slacken it up, etc).
So, I can, of course, keep on this path, and at some point a pretty decent race machine will become a really funky frankenbeast, too big and 'stable' to be a fun, flickable ride (try as I may), and too many heavier trail oriented components to be a great racer.
Or, I can look for something new. This is where you guys come in. I'm looking for something to compliment this bike, not replace it - something with more travel, lower gearing, slacker ha, and a more playful demeanor. I however don't want to make more sacrifice on the climbs than I have to, and I'll never be a big time downhill guy. Think something that will be best suited to average trails in the front range, with lots of climbing to earn the descents.
Now, because I'm a sucker for trends (or I like to pay attention to tech advances, and my lot in life is such that I can sometimes afford to try them), I'm leaning towards something running 650b hoops. That said, I'm open to 26ers, and if I could find what I'm looking for in this next bike in a 29er, I'd try that, too. That field is absolutely huge - so, what I'm looking for is suggestions - try this or try that.
More details that may help - I'm old, slow, and fat. With more specificity, that translates to nearly 40, currently around 210# (though that is trending downward, and target weight is probably around 185). I'm near 6 feet tall, plus or minus half an inch. I can ride to the top of green mountain without dabbing, from the lowest water tower in the bottom of the open space, without dabbing - though it may take some time (maybe 35 minutes? I could probably consult my strava results to be sure).
As reward for taking the time to bother reading this essay, and because I appreciate the help, I'm happy to buy anyone who wants to help (and is local enough to meet for it) a six pack or two of your favorite beer if you take some time to do a 'charity ride' with me to make a recommendation, or make the suggestion I end up going with.
I am not a great technical rider, but know that will come with time. Having the right bike is purely a crutch - but its a danged fun crutch, and I'm spoiling myself enough to enjoy that. As is probably demonstrated, I'm totally willing to buy more mike than my skill merits, as an incentive to ride more, and on the hope I'll grow into it.
Oh.. Two last things. Budget - near 5k, but not firm, if its perfect. Happy to buy a frame and build (or have built), if that makes most sense. Need to be able to test ride before I commit.
Have I missed other details? I'll try to fill them in. Want to tell me to test ride something? Great - tell me what, and where (for reference, I live right off green mountain, work in westminster, and am not infrequently in boulder - and convenience matters, as does a shop I can build a relationship with).
Lastly - thanks for any truly helpful replies. I know I'm a noob, I know I should get out on more group rides (and plan to), and I recognize that some may say I'm being super lazy by not tracking things down myself. To them, I say Boo, and go have a beer and relax - and if you don't care to help, please don't bother.
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