as a long time MTB rider i think i'm finally going to try a full suspension - before i just wasn't willing to accept the extra weight, climbing penalty and cost...
i currently ride a '98 Norco Torrent hardtail w/ mostly XT and some LX that had a Rock Shox SID (originally Manitou SXR) until i blew it up last fall and now i have a Judy XC - i decided to save a little and put it toward a new bike sometime - I miss my SID already -- i've repleaced everything on the bike except the frame at least once... i ride at least 5,000 miles per year - don't quite keep track but i think about 12,000 average the last 4 years... so this bike has definitely been used and ridden at least 25k miles already... so it can live on as my daily commuter (currently 12 miles/day)
i'm looking for something in the XT/XTR class from $1500-2500... don't think i want disc brakes (they're more maintenance and heavier and i think V brakes work fine - for me the only motivation i see for discs is i can save wear on my rims which i detroy pretty rapidly with all the miles i do...)
so the main things i'm looking for are:
* good frame and suspension i will probably use for 3+ years and 50k+ miles
* xcountry 'hard-tail-like' setup - almost no pedal/suspension backfeed when climbing
* good light XC fork - preferably SID or better - although there are so many new ones like the DUKE and Black that i don't know much about
* quality components - minimum XT/LX mix, but preferably XT/XTR mix
* light weight - max 26lbs, but i'd really like 23/24 which is a lot for a full suspension that's not $3000+
* strong, solid, light weight is more important than cushy or major big drops extreme
i race xcountry and do lots of tours, lots of climbing, and lots of singletrack... technical, but no trials or extreme drops or whatever (i.e. i always climb up and then ride down)
i think most serious mountain bikers are gearheads, and i am too, but not so much as most of the people i ride with - i.e. i usually DO NOT have the newest latest and prefer to just ride better rather than spend $$$ to improve my riding, but... i think the time has come to upgrade -- and it sounds fun
i've heard comments from people that the benefits to a fully:
* smooths out the bumps and leads to less fatigue - and i have slight lower back problems from running too much, so it can't hurt
* gives better control downhill and high speed
* allows for more technical riding - i.e. drops, etc.
i've been looking at the following, although i'm still researching:
* Trek Fuel (98 and 100)
* Gary Fisher Sugar (i guess 2 and 3 but i'm not quite sure which is which)
* Giant NRS - something here, i don't quite know, but i've heard some good stuff
* GT - not sure, but i heard they have some knew suspension setup that's light w/ no backfeed for climbing
* Santa Cruz - not sure which one
the following i think will be too expensive for the components i want:
* Specialized FSR
* Klein - don't know much
* Cannondale - don't know jack about them...
any personal experience or comments in general...
2 other notes:
* i currently live in Germany, but the bikes seem more expensive here (i saw a Trek Fuel 98 for €3000 which is like $2700 including tax) so i'm thinking of buying one when i'm back in the States in June...
* i would consider looking at used bikes, but in Germany many of the bikes i'm interested in seem hard to find (of the North America bikes Cannondale, Klein, and Rocky Mountain are abundant but all expensive) and i know so little about the German/Euro bikes like Rotwild, Votec, etc...