So I realize that I should in theory "search function" this, but I feel that I am special. Or atleast I have an interesting position.
So I work at a LBS and we carry Felt and Specialized mountain bikes. I am currently a very dedicated roadie, regardless, my coach (Rides everything under the sun) suggests that I start doing mountain for a little change of pace. He has suggested a 29er and front suspension but he has left me with the impression that if he was going to start mountain biking again he would go with full suspension.
So on that note: I am willing to spend a decent amount of money for a good "bang for buck" mountain bike and would like to stick with Specialized or Felt.
The other option is that a frequent LBS customer and friend is trying to sell his Kona Explosif SS mountain bike (For 500$). I took it for a quick spin around the block and I have to say I loved it. But that love is probably because it is particularly light which certainly is something I have grown accustomed to after riding road and I know that any bike with an "actual drivetrain" will lack (lightness that is).
So, any suggestions?