Currently I have a hard tail that I love, but I know that as I get more into mountain biking I'm probably going to want to upgrade. But I'm still pretty new to the trails. I'm wondering which you all think (this question is opinion based) I should buy: a Full suspension bike or just a full suspension frame, using the old components I have. I have a Diamondback hardtail, so yeah it's pretty cheap but I like what I have and the fork seems pretty good as far as I'm concerned. Also, I'm trying to keep a low budget (like under $1000)
I think first you should read up on the price point people recommend staying with a hard tail. Below that figure (about $US2000 depending who you speak to) Soft tails are heavy with poor rear suspension performance.
Almost always, the most economic way to upgrade is to sell the current bike and buy a second hand one. The BD (if its the bike I am thinking of $500ish price point) does not have components worth putting onto a a ST frame worth riding.
If you are new to MTB, and enjoy the bike you have, stick with the bike you have and start saving until you get a bank balance that lets you truly upgrade - not just a sideways or downwards shift. Riding a HT needs skills that you can get away with not having on a ST. These skills make you a better rider and a HT is the best way to learn them. Don't upgrade till you are sure its the bike limiting you riding - most riders get much more improvement for a lot less by upgrading themselves rather than the bike - get some training - a coaching session or four, read mags and books, or watch few MTB coaching videos.
This is a very common dilemma. You should ride as much as you can on your current bike. Wear that thing out. Your legs and lungs will get stronger every ride because it's probably heavy and not quite perfect.
Starting out is incredibly tough, but if you can keep your dedication up by riding once a week for a year THEN you should upgrade to a better bike. It's just too easy to spend a load of money and then let the bike sit around.
Ride as much as you can, read as much as you can (MTBR forums, BIKE magazine, etc.), talk to other MTBers and then ride some more.
I had a low-end Canondale hardtail that kept blowing out the front shock. From there I went to a medium-end Canondale Moto 5 full suspension bike that was super heavy but the price was right used. I rode that for about a year. Finally, I upgraded to a Yeti SB-66 with nice components. I've been riding it for 3 years and it's an amazing bike. It was a pretty hefty investment, but I have gotten my money's worth out of the beast, and I really love having an amazing bike out on the trails.
One good route when you already have a bike with working components is secondhand.
It might seem daunting if you don't know much - but the gears and brakes should work, suspension should bounce smoothly without creaking, and basically no play in anything that slides, hinges, or spins. A good first test for play is to pick up the whole bike and shake it!
Any few little niggles on the "new" bike can probably be taken care of immediately with bits off your old, and when you have a day spare with some rags, brushes, and WD40, you can get whatever's left ready to go right back on ebay or sell to mates.