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I just purchased a 2013 GT Transeo 3.0 for my 13 year old daughter who is now about an inch taller than her mother at 5'7". After riding it, my wife now wants one to replace her 2000 GT Aggressor. I ride a 2000 GT XCR 5000 that feels too small for me. I'm 6'2" and 231lbs.

We ride mostly smooth trails, but paved roads/streets too. I bought my son a GT Avalanche 3.0 Hydro last year on close out. I bought it thinking we would ride more technical trails, but the family hated it. So when my daughter needed a new bike, the hybrid GT Transeo made sense to me. I think it was a great choice, and she loves it.

So now my wife would like a Transeo as well, and that might make sense. But might there be another choice for something similar? And then there's me. I've been wanting a 29er, and I skim this forum looking for ideas. I don't need a high end bike, but I do appreciate quality and function. I'd like to stay around $600 or so to not scare my wife into thinking we shouldn't spend the money.

The bikes I'm considering are the GT Karakoram, Marin Bobcat Trail, and the Airborne Guardian 2. The problem for me is that I just don't understand what components are better than others, or what is a better value for my money. Anyone want to help me out?

Thanks.
 

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The Marin has the best fork, an air fork with a sealed damper. It would work best at your weight. Air is pumped in to set the sag height.
The 28mm stanchions on the Guardian's RS XC fork are too flexy for heavy riders. It is also a coil spring fork and you would need the stiffest spring installed for it to work. 225 is the limit.
The GT 3 has a low level Suntour 'X' fork with the coil spring problem. It also lacks rebound adjustment, something the other two have. On faster downhills multiple bumps can get it pogoing and make it challenging to hang on. The GT 2 has the same fork as the Guardian.
They all have comparable Shimano Alivio/Deore or Sram X5 drive components. I prefer Shimano a little at this level.

If you want to ride trails the Bobcat 29 is the only one for you. The choice is not so critical if you stick to roads and bike paths.
 
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