I have been doing XC trails in Az for a couple months now on a Redline Monocog w/ Rockshox Judy J4 fork. I have progressed to a point where I am at the end of the mono-cogs capabilities in hill climbing.
My LBS has a used Motobecane 600HT, it has two rides on it, and I can pick it up for $250(close with the owner). I would put my Judy J4 fork on it, and probably upgrade the brake system.
My question is would this be an Ok bike for doing some begginner XC racing next season? It has LX deore on it for componentry.
This may not answer your question accurately.
I got one of those a few months ago (and a 700HT for the lady "because it's silver") online and took it to the LBS for fine-tuning. The store owner said it's a great bike, and that I may have wasted money getting something with higher end components as a first vessel. He said "I could have got you one of these for under $700" as he pointed to some variouse brand bikes with Altus and Alivios. I didn't tell him we got both for under $950 delivered.