RE: Bike or rack?
Dude, dont get a rockhopper there crap, ive destroyed 3 frames in 5 years, so went onto bigger and better things, IE a specialized bighit, fully customized (Â£3000+ worth, which is for sale for Â£750 as i have to get rid)
dont go hardtail though, get something with a good rear shock at the least, as now, you can lock them out to turn them into hardtails for road and flat use, then offroad you have the shock option too. thats just my opinion from racing them and biking at high level for 8 years, but its your call at the end of the day.
id say go for the rack.
Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.