I know this topic has been beat into the ground, but I'm looking for info relating to current '08-'09 model so I thought I'd wing it and start a new thread. I may sell my box-store mountain bike to my sons buddy and buy a new mountain bike. I don't want to spend a lot of money and my criteria are pretty simple.
*I'd like to buy something affordable (hard tail is fine), but descent quality-like the one's I mentioned in the title
*I'd like the best quality components for the money (seems like EVERY bike--box-store included--has shimano components which tells me they must make poor, fair, good & excellent components)
*Brake style doesn't really matter (seems like pads may be cheaper to maintain and work well for riding on muddy/rocky terrain)
*Ability to carry/haul a trailer
*A FRAME THAT FITS! My last bike I bought didn't fit well.
*I'd definitely want to stay below $500, but would much rather spend $300-400. The bike will mainly be used for riding in our neighborhood, bike trails with the kids, to and from work, and for scouting/hunting/over-nighters on resurrection.
So, I guess my question is: do any of the above (or other) non-box store brand bikes make something that fits my needs? Or do I need to haul my cheap hindquarters to Sports Authority and buy a Mongoose?