These days, prices of quality dualies are so low its ridiculous. REI (www.rei.com), 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. Thats 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. Marins steel Eldridge Grade (www.marinbikes.com) has a Manitou front fork thats 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, thats a lot of bike for the scratch. And youd find it to be very comfortable.
Id also suggest you look at Giants XTC (www.giant-bicycles.com). Its 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 its right at that magic $1,000 mark.
The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest mountain bike.
Lead Photo: courtesy, REI
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