I've narrowed down my search for a FS trail bike to the Cannondale RZ One Twenty 3. I want to ride trails, climb, etc. Nothing hardcore.
The 2011 bike has 9 speed X9/X7.
The 2012 bike has 10 speed X5 components. My only concern is that I've read lots of reports of people complaining about the durability of the 10 speed SRAM stuff.
The 2011 bike is $1499.
The 2012 bike is $1599. (plus 10% back -- from REI)
Those are the best prices I can find in the area (Nor Cal) and since Cannondale doesn't allow their stuff to be shipped, I'll have to stay local.
I've also looked the the Trek EX series. The EX 5 seems comparable to the the 2012 Cannondale, but is $1649 and I get no money back. There's a 2011 EX 7 on clearance for $1949, but that's a pretty steep jump financially and I don't know if it's worth the extra cost for a beginner like me.
Any advice is much appreciated.