Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: OC, California
Bikes: '04 Specialized Stumpy FSR Pro (Frame and Shock Only)
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My last two bikes have been Specialized and I cannot say enough about how exceptional a bike they build. I had an '02 Stumpy that had a manufacturer's defect (the bottom pivot bolt fell out...twice) and Specialized not only took care of the problem over two years later, they sent me the '04 Stumpy Pro frame as a replacement...with the Triad shock!
The '02 was a great ride while I had it (despite the "minor" defect) and the '04 is one of the best bike's I've ever ridden...literally. Before getting the new frame I did some serious test rides on the Yeti 575, Intense 5.5 EVP, Ellsworth Truth and the Tomack Eli and Foes FXR and wound up sticking with the Stumpy because it was better than every single one of those bikes except, perhaps, the Intense and Ellsworth but they're also almost $2000 - frame and shock only - and they were just barely a cut above; definitely not worth the extra $600-$700 I would have had to spend to get one.
Without rambling on too much longer, I'll atest to the fact that Specialized bikes are at least as good as, if not better, than most bikes that you'll wind up paying a lot more for in the end. Trek also builds a very solid bike and Giants are pretty decent as well but I personally am not a big fan of either of their MTB offerings (I do have a Giant TCR 1 for my road bike however.)
Hopefully that helps.