Re: Just starting out, but addicted already!
Nope, you do not need anything ultra fancy.
Just a bike with a good quality frame from a reputable manufacturer and preferably having front suspension with a good 3 inches of travel to take out the worst of the road shocks that would normally be transfered to your hands.
SickBikeParts has all the parts required for your conversion.
You remove the parts from your bottom bracket and install the replacement shift kit parts - it's that easy.
My bike was a $700 Learsport 3240 that was on special for $400.
It suited my 2 main criteria - 1) having disk brakes and 2) having a conventional frame with round frame tubes and front suspension.