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Hey Guys, I have decided to start biking for some fitness and outdoor fun. I am currently looking to get a bike for mostly pavement riding as of right now but want to take it off road a little later (plenty of it near where I live). I have narrowed my selection down to two different bikes and was wanting some input on them. I am currently 6'3 and weigh 347 lbs (down 25 so far and looking to lose more!).

I understand that feel is important and to try them both out to see which I like better. I plan on doing so this coming Thursday. I was just looking at the specs and was wondering if I like both is there a better buy (I plan on doing some upgrades later). They both are $700 at my local LBS (my current limit for a bike). I appreciate you guys taking the time to look at this for me.

First bike is a Raleigh Talus Sport 29:
http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/mountain/talus-sport-29-11/
Frame
Atomic 13 SL Custom Butted Aluminum, Formed Downtube, CNC Machined Headtube
Fork
Suntour XCR 29 80mm w/Lockout, Aluminum Steer
Cranks
Shimano Alivo MC430 Octalink 22/32/44t
BB
Shimano Octalink ES25
F.Derail
Shimano Alivio
R.Derail
Shimano Alivio 9spd
Shifter
Shimano Alivio 9spd
Br.Levers
Promax XL86
Brakes
Promax DSK720 Mechanical Disc, 180/160mm Rotors
Gear
Shimano HG30 9spd (11-34t)
Rims
Weinmann XM260 Disc
Tires
Geax Saguaro 29x2.2
Pedals
Avenir ATB Resin Platform
Handlebar
Avenir 100 Series Alloy 15mm Riser, 31.8
Stem
Avenir 200 Series, 3D Forged, 31.8
Seatpost
Alloy Micro Adjust 27.2x400mm
Seat
Avenir 200 Series Mountain
Headset
Alloy Ahead 1-1/8"
Colors
Dark Silver/Silver/Blue
Spokes
14g Stainless Steel
Grips
Avenir Single File

Second bike is a Hardrock Sport Disc 29er
http://www.specialized.com/zz/en/bc/SBCProduct.jsp?spid=51625&scid=1000&scname=Mountain

FRAME Specialized A1 Premium Aluminum, Trail 29" geometry, fully butted, formed TT, Double ORE DT, externally relieved HT, reinforced disc mount, forged dropouts w/ replaceable hanger, disc only
FORK SR Suntour SF11-XCM-V3-29-DS-MLO, 80mm, 1pc. alloy lower, 30mm Hi-Ten stanchions, mechanical LO, coil/mcu spring w/ preload adj., spring assisted seals
HEADSET 1-1/8" threadless, loose ball
STEM 3D forged alloy, 4 bolt, 10 degree rise, 25.4mm clamp
HANDLEBARS Alloy riserbar, 25mm rise, 8 degree back sweep, 6 degree up
GRIPS Specialized Enduro, dual compound Kraton, no flange, 131mm
FRONT BRAKE Avid BB5, mechanical disc, 160mm G2 Clean Sweep rotor
REAR BRAKE Avid BB5, mechanical disc, 160mm G2 Clean Sweep rotor
BRAKE LEVERS Alloy, linear pull
FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano Altus, 34.9mm clamp
REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM X.4 8sp Midcage
SHIFT LEVERS SRAM X.4 8sp trigger
CASSETTE SRAM PG-820, 8-speed, 11-32t
CHAIN KMC X8 w/ reuseable Missing Link
CRANKSET SR SunTour, Octalink spline
CHAINRINGS 42S x 32S x 22S replaceable
BOTTOM BRACKET Shimano BB-ES25, Octalink spline, cartridge bearing, 68mm x 118mm
PEDALS Composite platform, toe clip compatible, 9/16" w/ reflectors
RIMS Alex RHD 29", alloy double wall, pinned w/eyelets, 32h
FRONT HUB Forged alloy, hi/low flange, double sealed, ground race, machined disc mount and flange, QR, 32h
REAR HUB Forged alloy, mid flange, double sealed, ground race, machined disc mount and flanges, cassette, QR, 36h
SPOKES 2mm (14g) stainless
FRONT TIRE Specialized Fast Trak LK Sport, 29x2.0", 60TPI, wire bead
REAR TIRE Specialized Fast Trak LK Sport, 29x2.0", 60TPI, wire bead
INNER TUBES Schraeder valve
SADDLE Specialized XC, Body Geometry, 143mm width, front and rear bumpers
SEATPOST Alloy two bolt, 12.5mm offset, micro adjust, 30.9mm
SEAT BINDER Alloy QR, nylon washer
 

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The Raleigh is 9s shimano, the Spec is 8s Sram, that's basically the only difference between the two. I'd probably go with the Spec, Shimano's lower-end stuff, I've found, can be hard to keep in adjustment, where Sram is usually more tolerant of crap. Also 8s wear items (chains, cassettes) are cheaper.

If I were you, I'd also see what you can find in a 26" wheel in your price range. 29ers on pavement won't buy you much (even on dirt they aren't better than 26 for all riders all the time, regardless of what the zealots say), but they are often more expensive. 26" wheels are stronger with the same components and the same builder - yes 29ers can be built strong, but it's easier to build a 26" and with machine built wheels you're going to find in that price range, your odds are better.
 
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