One more race and I'll qualify for the team discount on a new bike as a perk for racing on my LBS's MTB racing team. It will be several months before I'm financially ready to take advantage of the big discount. Maybe by my birthday in October or by Christmas. There should be some good discounts on 2007 models by then to make the deal even sweeter. I could get a frame and build it up, but the deal is better on a full bike. They now only carry Specialized as a major brand, but any of the bikes or frames carried by the major parts distribution companies would be available.
Picking a bike won't be as hard as deciding what kind of bike to get. I've given a lot of thought to several completely different types of bike. I'm not sure what my budget will be, but I'm looking at options anywhere from under $1000 retail up to $2500.
1) 29er MTB.
Salsa El Mariachi comes as a frame (steel) or built as a rigid 1x9 with a good parts mix.
Frames available include Surly Karate Monkey, Soma Juice, On One Inbred.
Specialized will have some 29ers for 2008, but they are aluminum, not my first choice for a rigid MTB.
2) Full suspension MTB
Specialized has several good ones like FSRxc Pro or Stumpjumper FSR Comp
3) Fast road bike
Several good choices from Specialized here. None are steel, but I could venture to the dark side with carbon or even aluminum with carbon fork and stays to try life in the fast lane.
Allez Comp Double
or I could build a go-fast steel bike with one of these
or more traditional with Salsa La Raza
4) Cyclocross / multi-purpose road bike
This is a bike I can set up many ways to ride on trails, commute, tour or race. It even has horizontal drops and can be set up as a fixie/SS.
It comes as a frame also, but the complete bike has a pretty decent mix of parts at a good price.
A build it myself option is the Soma Double Cross
This one offers a lot for the money. Surly Long Haul Trucker
6) Single speed / Fixie
Right now my leanings are for the Surly Cross-Check if the budget is tight or for one of the fast road bikes if the budget allows a good one. The Salsa Primero with a SRAM Rival build kit and light but rugged wheels would be very sweet. But at different times I think I'd like each of the options. If I don't get a road bike, I'll probably get a lighter set of wheels for Ribby, my Bridgestone RB-1.