XC full - $2,000 or so
I currently have a 2005 Giant Iguana and I am thinking that someday when I am beyond the beginner stage I will want to upgrade to a full suspension. What are people's suggestion for a full for $2,000 or so? I know I should run out and get a Turner Flux or something but I am not ready to drop that much on a bike yet.
You can build up a VT bike for about $1000 bucks. I think have about $1100 in my VT I built from the frame up. Has a Zocchi MX Comp w/ ETA fork 120mm up front and set to 5.75" in the rear. Has 8" Avids BB7 on the front and 6" in the rear. Great bike, climbs very well and decends great.
I was in the same boat as you, I can't see myself spending 1500+ on just a frame, found the VT2 frame on ebay for $300 and went from there. I was able to pick the parts i wanted and withing a nice budget. It was money well spent and will be used for yrs to come. BTW my bike is a 22.5" frame (XL) and weighs in at 31lbs I could shave weight with some better rim (rocking some stock Alex rims) and smaller tires, currently have Kenda Kentics 2.35's
Your setup sounds very close to mine, and I am very satisfied with the bike as well. Not the lightest XC setup but quite versatile.
You wont find a better frame for the money currently.
For $2,000 you could put a pricier fork (Reba, Pike or TALAS), which I wish I had done. The MX is a great fork for the money, but damping is pretty crude.
Got to go with the Trance once again, you can't beat the suspension design and the frame is the same throughout the lineup. You could land a Trance3 for around $1600 or if you're lucky a Trance2 for around the 2k mark. The Trance is a great XC / All Mountain bike and easily built under 30lbs.
I say the trance 2 or 3 great bike at a great price.