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Gear Guy

Can I get a quality dual-suspension mountain bike for $1,000?

I’m looking to upgrade my mountain bike to something in the $1,000 range. What’s the best choice for a larger rider (like, Clydesdale category) on cross-country and short adventure-race outings? Should I go for full suspension, or can I get more for my money with a front suspension? Harold Hanover, Maryland

A: These days, prices of quality dualies are so low it’s ridiculous. REI (, for instance, sells its house-brand Novara Method 1.0 dual-suspension bike for about $1,200, which is a little above your price target=, but not much. It has a proven rear-suspension design to minimize bobbing when climbing, a Manitou Elite front fork and Manitou Radium rear, plus a decent-quality Shimano drivetrain. And it also has Hayes mechanical disc brakes. That’s pretty amazing! The aluminum frame can take plenty of abuse, so I doubt you can break it (disclaimer: I weigh 160 pounds and managed to break a mountain-bike frame last year, so you never know).

REI Novara Method 1.0

Novara Method 1.0

That said, hardtails do offer a little more for the money, plus a little less weight and a little better pedaling efficiency. I like steel hardtails because the softer frame actually works a bit like a fully suspended bike. Marin’s steel Eldridge Grade ( has a Manitou front fork that’s a step up from the Elite, Hayes hydraulic brakes for a little better braking performance, and a higher-end mix of Shimano drivetrain components that includes a spiffy XT rear derailleur. At $1,070, that’s a lot of bike for the scratch. And you’d find it to be very comfortable.

I’d also suggest you look at Giant’s XTC ( It’s an aluminum hardtail that comes with a RockShox Recon front fork, nifty SRAM twist-shifters, and Avid brakes (which, perhaps a little surprisingly, are caliper brakes rather than discs). The frame is light but tough. And it’s right at that magic $1,000 mark.

Have fun!

The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest mountain bike.

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Lead Photo: courtesy, REI