Can't decide what I want in a trail bike....
I have a 2011 Giant XTC 29er hardtail which I have used to race XC for the past 2 years. I am done racing competitively, and I want to sell my 29er hardtail to buy a trail bike. I live in Western North Carolina and mostly go for long rides with several thousand feet of technical climbing and technical descending. I also like to hit jumps occasionally. I have decided I want a 26 inch trail bike. I have ridden a 29er for the past 3 years, and I am looking for something which I can push harder on corners, is more maneuverable on the descents, and is more fun to jump.
I thought that I wanted something with geometry similar to a specialized Stumpjumper EVO, which has a 67 degree head tube angle, and 150 mm front and rear travel. However, this past weekend, I rented a 2012 stumpjumper EVO Comp and took it for an epic trail ride to test it out. I am 5'11, right between a size medium and a size large. I rode the medium because the shop only had 29ers in a larger, and I thought a medium might be a little more fun. The bike was excellent on the descents. However, I found on the technical climbs, It was incredibly difficult to stick to my lines.
I realize that a trail bike is not meant to be the climbing machine that my 29er hardtail is, but this bike was really hard to climb on. I borrowed the morewood trail bike my friend was riding, and it was not nearly as difficult to climb. I do want a bike which is really fun to descend on, but I felt like the head tube was way too slack (67 degrees). I couldnt tell how much of this difficulty was caused by my not being used to the 26 inch full suspension bike and how much of it was actually the bike itself. A 67 degree head tube angle is common on a lot of trail bikes (Yeti SB66, Trek remedy).
Do you think that I couldn't climb as well as I would like to because the headtube angle was too slack, or just because I wasnt used to the bike? My 29er has a 71.5 degree headtube angle.
I am thinking I should go for something like a normal stumpjumper FSR, with a 68 degree headtube angle. What do you think?