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Doing a ton of research lately trying to figure out what bike is best for me. I'll be doing mostly light trail/bikepath, and biking on the roads to get there in many cases. Living in South Florida, if I do any true trail work it'd probably be at Oleta or Amelia Earhart.

Should I forego a true hardtail mtb altogether and look at something more along the lines of a hybrid? Something like the Specialized Crosstrail or GF Katai/TrekGF Utopia?

Any recommendations?
 

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a 29er with rigid fork + schwalbe big apples is the best hybrid imo. with slicks you don't lose much speed (unless you are a racer) but enjoy the versatility, comfort & cornering of wider tires.

its most cost effective to buy an assembled bike than to build one from scratch unless you have extra parts laying around. this is why i've stayed away from the surly karate monkey. i imagine that a 29er with front suspension with a nice damper like motion control is going to be very efficient. it will only move when you hit something and will not bob up and down constantly.

i know people have suggested redline and marin muirwoods and kona...but i'm most comfortable with trek bikes....trek does not offer 29ers with rigid forks...they'll have an aftermarket g2 offset bontrager switchblade available january 2011 for $300...but that's not very cost effective and i personally don't trust carbon but i don't want to have a discussion on that here.

if you're shopping in 2011 one possibility is to buy a trek 29er + switchblade (if you're comfortable with carbon), swap forks, and put the suspension on ebay. since its g2 offset i don't know if the market is big enough for that. another option is to get your hand on a sawyer fork with someone who is swapping for suspension...the steel will last forever and should be cheap.
 
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