I posted this same thread over on ridemonkey and didn't even get one reply from those monkeys. I'm hoping that this forum is a bit more helpful. I even posted a poll that only had two hits. Anyways enough with the rant.
I have been trying to gather as much info on a handful of bikes to narrow my selection before heading to the city to buy a new bike. I live 2 hours from the nearest bike shop and really would like to have 5 - 10 bikes on my "must check out" list before booking a day off work to drive in to Calgary to some of the bike shops there.
I have been out of the mountain bike scene for the past 5 years and really want to get back into it this year. Interestingly enough I recently turned my old Iron Horse hard tail into a pig roast rotiserrie and it got me wanting a new bike to ride not just turn pigs.
So now comes the hard part. I am willing to spend $2000 but of course I am a cheap son of a _ and would rather spend much less (more like $1500). I live right next to the Canadian Badlands and want a bike that can handle the canyon like terrain as well as frequent trips to the mountains. My research tells me that I should be looking at an All-Mountain type bike. I want to be comfortable peddling this thing up as well as down just about anything I point it at as well some steep descents and the odd huck.
Some of the bikes I have been looking at are the Specialized Camber and StumpJumper, Giant Trance, Trek Fuel EX7, Kona Tanuki, Canondale RZ124, and the Jamis Dakar XamII.
I want to be able to have a list of bikes to go test ride and will have to make sure the shops carry these bikes. It is all about timing for me. Also some things to consider - I am out of shape. 5'6" and pushing 200lbs. Obviously using my bike to cook pork instead of riding it like it was intended has had a negative effect on my waist line. I am still active and expect the bike will help get me back down to the 160lbs that I normally sit at but it will need to withstand my abuse until then.
Any suggestions would be killer.