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I'm currently shopping for my biggest bicycle purchase yet. I have purchased two new bicycles in the past but both have been under $700. I'm looking more in the $2000 range and believe that an XC MTB is the type I'm going for.

I want something fast and I ride a variety of terrain from loose gravel alleys, very steep uphill paved roads, grassy trails, and bumpy roots wooded dirt trails. I am tired of having to get off my bike and push it up the steep hills on my streets. I also use my bike for grocery shopping so it must be able to handle heavy cargo for a short distance.

Is a XC MTB sufficient or am I looking in the wrong category?

How do I choose which XC is best for me?

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An XC MTB seems like a good match for what you are looking for, but a gravel bike could also be a good fit (depends how extreme are the trails you mention). In the $2000 range, I'd be looking for an aluminium hardtail, well equipped (this can be less than you budget, which is not a bad thing if you want to add accessories). It's a segment where competitive pressure is big, so products tend to end up with the same kind of components, very hard to recommend one model over another (shopping advice would anyway be against the guidelines of the site). If you take an aluminium one for this budget, you can expect to have all nice features (air-sprung suspension, tubeless tires, quality wheels, Deore XT/SRAM GX level transmission, sometimes dropper post).

For the "grocery part": heavy loads grocery style means a rack and panniers. Two "objections" against using a $2000 bike for that: theft/damage risk and from $2000 bikes become "performance oriented" rather than "utility oriented". They may lack the eyelets you need to fit a rack. Repurposing a older bike may make more sense, and you can also install accessories that are useful for utility purposes but that hinder when riding for sport (rack for example, fenders, kickstand, lights, lock mounts, puncture resistant road tires,...).

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    I never thought about making a seperate bike only intended for my shopping trips! That's actually a great idea! I have a couple of older cruisers 1970s with all the hookups for racks etc and being a heavier sturdy bike I know it can handle the weight
    – Alison
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 16:02
  • The trails aren't too extreme so yeah I do believe a xc mtb would be great, hardtail for sure. Thanks for your great advice! I haven't had tubeless tires before. Are they easy to repair flats?
    – Alison
    Commented Aug 23, 2023 at 16:03
  • @Alison depends on the size of the hole. The sealant clogs "automatically" the small holes, the bigger ones (<4mm) can be repaired while keeping the wheel on the bike (same technique as in cars). There is no tube, so no pinch flats. The issue are for the largest holes, for which it's recommended to carry a tube and repair at home - because you need to clean the inside of the tire well enough to apply the patch, which is hard to do on the trail.
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 5:39
  • I would sure hope a $2k bike comes with a dropper.
    – MaplePanda
    Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 2:14
  • @MaplePanda I did a quick check because it would have been sure 2 years ago, but not now. The Specialized Chisel doesn't, but to be honest, I didn't conduct a full market research as well. And also as European, the concept of having the prices given without taxes is a bit weird, so not sure if a $2k budget means with or without taxes ;) (in Europe consumer prices are by default taxes included)
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Aug 26, 2023 at 5:50

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