Ok first of all, the 09 has the SLX, the 08 the LX. Second of all, the SLX isn't one iota cheaper than the LX; it is in fact the direct successor to LX for mtb, as LX has now become a trekking groupset. Third of all, there are actually some pretty significant changes in the 09 Safari. The two biggest:
rear disc in the 09 is now mounted on the chainstay as opposed to the traditional seatstay. This means that just about any rear rack should work fine with the 09. With the 08, to get around the disc caliper, the stock rack bolted to eyelets that were mounted much higher than eyelets would normally be found. This is a large compatibility issue should you want to use an aftermarket rack instead of the original. Again, the 09 should be able to use just about any rack.
09 Safari has 700c wheels in the larger frame sizes. This is a mixed bag. On the one hand, 700c, also called 29er, mtb wheels are reputed to be noticeably more comfortable than 26" wheels. On the other hand, market penetration of 29er designs has not reached the point where you can comfortably expect to find replacements anywhere you go, especially in developing nations. Here
a blogger writes about his experiences touring with a 29er in Asia. He has a detailed discussion of the pros and cons, including his suffering the worst case scenario of a complete rim blowout.
Last edited by Thasiet; 01-11-09 at 01:36 PM.