After months of debating on my new bike and trying everybody's patience here on the forums, I just pulled the trigger on a 2005 Kona Cinder Cone. It took me a while to decide on this over equivalent Cannodales and Specialized, and I couldn't be more happy. This bike is so smoooooth and the geometry is absolutely dialed.
I was previously a cannondale guy but I picked this over even an 04 F-600 that the guy at a competing shop was going to give me for the same price, but the Kona feels that much better, It even climbs better in spite of being a few pounds heavier.
Thanks again for the advice. This is by far the most fun I've had on a bike in a long time.