I currently have a DSB (department store bike *blush*) that gets me around fine for short rides. I'm looking to get a new bike sometime in the future but am still somewhat undecided as to which type. I currently like to do XC on fairly smooth trails, no big bumps or jumps. The twist is that I occasionally like to ride with some friends who are into road. I would like to find a bike that would be good for trails like mentioned above but be able to handle itself when I ride road with my friends. I would say my riding is split 60% trail, 40% road and will probably remain that way for a while.

I'm curious about whether or not I would want a hard tail. Does this have an effect that would be very noticeable on road or trail? Also I'm curious about 29ers. Does this offer a noticeable conservation of momentum that would help me on the road?

I'm thinking that a nice light XC bike might be what I need but am quite inexperienced. I'm looking to spend in the neighborhood of 1-1.5k give or take a little. Also of interest might be that I am reasonably tall (about 6'1") and have a larger build (about 230lbs)

I've looked at some reasonable bikes from Kona to Santa Cruz. They all look great. The bike that has caught my eye so far is the Titus RacerX. It seems to get great reviews and offers a 29.

Any help or thoughts that could be offered would be appreciated very much. Thanks.