Remember those guys?! Anyway, my real question is 2014 Specialized Crave 29 vs 2014 Specialized Rockhopper Pro Evo?
After all six kids are now growing and out of diapers, bottles, high chairs, some are now driving, etc., it's finally time to get back into mtb. My last bike was a 2000-ish hardrock.
My wife and I are both athletic (okay so I USED to be, whatever!) and are set on getting decent bikes and spending some hard time on them. Realistically, much of day to day use will be paved or packed trails, but weekends and trips will be more hardcore. I am okay with having less of a bike on the road/trail day to day in order to have a better bike on the real trails on weekends/trips. Also, I am 48 and once I shed some weight and get back into shape, I want to start racing (XC is most interesting to me at this point) on the same bike I buy now.
Stuck on Specialized because of my past experience with them, the LBS Specialized dealer experience (near perfect) and there really isn't much else around for Trek, Giant (had one loved it), etc. Tried some of those other LBS and I was totally ignored at all of them, so those brands are out.
The local LBS has many locations around and I have been picking the knowledgeable staffs brains at a few of the locations and getting great input, but want to reach out to you all.