I'm in the market for my first 'real mountain bike', and I think I've narrowed it down to a Specialized Rockhopper 29er. However, I'm struggling with deciding between the Pro and the LTD. The LTD is definitely more expensive, but it has a slightly better fork with remote lockout, components are basically one step up on Shimano, it's a 10 speed instead of 9, with a nicer crank with outboard BB.

Aside from the extra money, I really really dislike the looks of the LTD. It's got a bunch of cheesy gold, expecially the fork. The Pro is more affordable, and IMO, a much better looking bike. Honestly, the only thing I feel like I'd be missing out on with the Pro is the upgraded crank, which I could easily replace.

Has anyone had experience with the difference between the two? Would I be missing out on much if I went with the Pro?

One last option, my LBS will most likely have to order the Pro, so I've considered asking them what kind of credit I can get for the stock drive train, and I could get on WheelWorld for a new crank, front and rear derailleur, chain, and cassette. It would come in around the same price as the upgrade from Pro to LTD, but without the slightly better fork that I doubt, with my riding style, I'll miss.