1. The most important thing about buying a new
bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right
for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches
your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will
let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut
it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should
be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because
your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean
that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your
needs and ability.
Looks like Specialized has made frames in different colors for same model. Optional or different market areas. In the Specialized Archives, they show that model in black and blue. 2005 looks grey to me. More detailsed spec might pin it down, except that there were different specs for the same model too, for different market areas.
"it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"