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Hello everyone! I'm looking for a new mountain bike and I need some advice. First of all, I'm not going to use it for true mountain biking. I live in Houston, Texas - which is as flat as it gets. I'll ride off-road trails and while I realize that mountain bike is an overkill for this, it is my personal preference.

My price range is $500-$700 bucks and I'd like the best bang for my buck in this range. I need front suspension and I definitely don't need the rear one - so I'm looking at hardtails only. Given the purpose, I don't think I need disc brakes, but I kind of like them. Hydraulic are probably too much though - I think mechanical is enough.

I am kind of picky about shifters though - I'd love Shimano Deore in the rear - which is very hard to find - but I'd like an Alivio or about the same. I don't know much about suspension forks and other components - so I'm looking for some basic guidance in do's ad don'ts here.

I used to have a Felt Q620 years ago (I think it was a 2004 model) - which came with Deore at the time at below $500. If I could get the same one again, I would - but they don't have such deals anymore.

I seriously looked at Giant Talon 27.5 4 as well as Trek Wahoo Disc 29 and recently zeroed in on Giant Revel 29er - but the store had issues with the lead time from the factory and now I'm back looking again.

Given all of the above, what bike(s) would you advise I look at? Any input is appreciated!
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