Join Date: Jan 2006
Bikes: '08 Bianchi C2C Alum/Carbon Ultegra/105 Mix, '06 Santa Cruz Chameleon
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
With the top tube being sloped, it's just a different look and it's easier to get on and off. It also helps the handling of the bike depending on the total geometry.
As far as what you should be looking at, most bike manufacturers have all levels of bikes. So depending on what your LBS carries will be what you want to purchase and have the ease of them working on it.
An example of other Manufacturers are
Giant, Bianchi, Gary Fisher, Santa Cruz, etc. Do some research, that part is always fun.
So, what you really want to look at is the level of components and the fit, because all frames as pretty much made in china and it comes down to the level of the components, which effects the cost. Go with the best bike you can afford. XT level of components are the best bang for buck.