I've been a casual mountain biker for most of my life, and I've been riding a Gary Fisher X Caliber 29er for 10 years now. I recently moved from Boston to Southern NH and have been riding 5-7 days a week. In the past I've mostly ridden fire roads/double track/non technical stuff in the past, but out here the terrain tends to be single track, steep, technical and rocky. There's also a dedicated biking mountain/park out here that I really want to get out to. Given this, the age and overall setup of my current bike I've decided to upgrade.
I've been researching very heavily over the past few weeks, so while I know that threads like this can be annoying I'm doing my best to include what I've uncovered as well as my skill level, aspirations and type of riding terrain. Also, I don't want my riding to outgrow my bike in a year a necessitate another upgrade, so I'd rather buy more than I need now than less. That said, I don't want to go overkill with something that my skill level will never make the most of.
At any rate, during the course of my research I've narrowed it down to a short list of Trek Remedy or Fuel, or Enduro Comp or Stumpjumper FSR. I realize this is a broad group, but I feel the lower level bikes (Fuel, Stumpjumper) would err on the side of fitting my skill level now to in the immediate future while the two higher end choices (Remedy, Enduro) would suit me now and in the future.
My riding priorities are downhill and technical trail tied for first, climbing is significantly less important but still of interest. I'd also like something I can use as an XC bike for long, flatish rides. I am 5'11" and 220 right now; my goal is to drop to 195-205, so the overall weight of the bike is not terribly important (though I may upgrade the wheels for speed/handling later on).
To be perfectly forward right now I'm erring away from Specialized based on a number of factors, availability being a big one. I also can't find any Remedy's whatsoever in my area, so if I got one it would be the first I've seen. That said, I do love the beefy three setting suspension setup of the Remedy 8. However another setback with all the Treks is that their new, and while there are very positive early reviews out there I don't know if I should be an early adopter.
The LBS I'll likely go with has a Fuel 7 for around $2400; they'll get me a Remedy 8 for $3,300, which is lower than list price, but not by much.
Again, I've read up reviews as well as lurked here quite a bit before signing up, and have done side by side on paper comparisons of the bikes. What I was hoping for is some real world advice on a good bike to improve my skill level and "grow into" without biting off more than I need, and any unbiased personal takes on the Fuel and Remedy 29er models, even if they're very preliminary.
If there's anything I forgot to include please let me know. Happy to rep up anyone that contributes even a little help.
Lastly - I'm open to other suggestions. I had a long list but I scrubbed out Giant, Cannondale and a few others. I was also considering moving to 650b as I'm not in love with the handling profile of 29er, but much of that seems to be due to the fact that my ride is a very early 29er and has become dated.
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