I was set on buying a NOS Rockhopper until the shop ran out of my size, damn. I really liked the Rockhopper as the Dart 3 (SL) fork, though not great, seemed better than anything else I was looking at; also the frame seemed at least worthy of a few upgrades.
Budget is $600.
Cannondale Trail 5 - haven't found much on this model as it's new for 2011
Specialized Hard Rock Sport Disc
(Gary Fisher Marlin is also available I suppose)
To me the Cannondale frame seems a bit nicer, and the Shimano components also seem a little nicer.
The Specialized has better brakes and is more proven.
Honestly, I've done a few test rides and nothing screams out at me; most mountain bike feel the same in 10 minute rides around the block.
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