Kona Cinder Cone
This bike isn’t entry level, and it’s not so specialized that it’s a drag on the “wrong” type of trail. The Cinder Cone is the top of the bell curve, a spot where you get the most for your money, the most versatility, all of the features, and great durability.
The Cinder Cone gets you into all of the design elements that you want. There’s a Rockshox air-sprung RL Gold fork. There’s the Sram NX 1 x 11 shifting system. Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc brakes. A WTB Volt saddle. Schwalbe Knobby Nic tires. No dropper seatpost, but with the money that you’ll save on the Cinder Cone you should have the cash leftover to get exactly what you want..