Well, I think I've decided to get a 29er hardtail. I think I've narrowed it down to these three (though if you have other suggestions of the same caliber, fire away) and thought I'd pulse the collective wisdom here on these three bikes.
I just went through this process, and test rode the Spec and the GF, both of which didn't feel right to me. I finally rode a Niner SIR 9, and had made up my mind that building up a Niner (emd or air 9) was the way to go, even though it would end up blowing my budget and taking a while to get on the bike.
But then I stopped by one of my LBSs and they had the new Giant XTC 29 1. I test rode it and it rode very much like the Niner, which is to say that it felt/handled like a proper bike; not sluggish like the GF and Spec. I would have probably bought it on the spot, but it was a Medium and a little too small for me, so I ordered a Large, which I hope to pick up today or tomorrow!
Good call! Got a chance to take one for a brief spin in the shop parking lot today. I think I'm down to the Felt, Giant and Specialized. The GF just... didn't do it. Probably will be between the Giant and Specialized because the Felt, at $2350 (and with a Tora) will be just a bit over budget. They're both $1900 MRRP, but I think the Spec shop has it at $1700. Didn't get into dickering with the Giant shop, though.
I just went through this whole process 10 days ago... JI had it down to the Paragon and Stumpy... Went with the Stumpy, the GF just felt sluggish and strange to me. Besides the price being lower for the Stumpy it just felt... RIGHT. I have ridden it approx. 4 hours a day since she came into my life and I coudnt be happier. Get the Stumpjumper, specialized knows exactly what they are doing here, and they do it for less money! The frame is sick, and climbing has now become fun.
Well, strange turn of events let me get the Felt yesterday. I had shifted away from the Stumpy and Giant and had thought I was going to get a Niner EMD frame and build it up over the winter. The Niner's numbers were the closes to the Felt, which had the best fit and ride feel to me of all the bikes I tested.
I finally got Colorado Cyclist to build up an EMD to try out and it felt pretty good; about what I expected given the geometry. Yesterday, I went back into test the Felt since I had finally ridden the EMD. In talking about the bike and swapping the Tora for a Reba, they mentioned it was on sale and gave me a great price. It didn't compute by my math, so I questioned and confirmed multiple times. Finally, I called home for the OK, thinking they'd figure out they had made a mistake and say they couldn't do that, but when it came up at the price I came to, and the manager couldn't figure out how he got to the lower price, he just changed it in the computer and said, "There. I'm the boss and I can do that." I swapped the Small Blocks for Maxxis Ignitors and they had said I'd pay the difference (or get it back in this case) and I just said we could call it even for the price they gave me.
So, half hour later after a fork and tire swap, I loaded it onto my rack and took it home! First ride today and I had a blast. I need more time on it to (1) get back into HT mode and (2) get used to the bigger wheels, but all in all, I'm a happy camper!
[IMG]OK, I realize this is Foo and not much in the way of bike discussions goes on in here, but since I'm here more than the MTB forum, I thought I'd share it with you guys. Decided to join the 29er club and have been testing and reading about and comparing geometries and stashing money away for a while now. I kept coming back to this bike and today, when I was in the shop, we were talking about it and a part switch, they mentioned a sale and gave me a price. It didn't compute by my math so I pushed and asked them to confirm it. When they did, I said I'd take it. At the register... one last chance. It came up to the higher price (the one my math produced), but the manager said, I can fix that and changed it to the price he had told me earlier. 30 minutes later, I was out the door and in the 29er club! It's a Felt Niner Race. All XT, Reba SL fork. Can't wait to ride it tomorrow! [/IMG]