I test rode all of the bikes, and I ended up getting it narrowed down to the Reign 2 and the Dawg Primo. I really like the Specialized, but seeing as my brother is set on getting one and the fact that I ride with him all the time, it made sense for me to get something a bit different. I can always trade off and ride his FSR...it's like having two bikes but only paying for one!
I thought the Trance 2's steering was a bit twitchy for my taste, and I didn't like how passive its suspension felt. The Reign 2 felt awesome, however its 33 lb weight and some of the components (Nixon fork, Alex rims, etc.) steered me away. Also, its slack head angle and relatively active suspension (compared to the Trance) were most likely a bit excessive for the type of riding areas we have available here in the Midwest.
That left me with the Dawg Primo.
To me, it feels just as good, if not better than the FSR, weighs only 28 lb compared to the hefty Reign, doesn't have twitchy steering (it's not all floppy and chopper-like either!), and has a very,very nice component group for the money I paid. In addition, the suspension works really well and is active enough ft smooth out a wide variety of bumps and drops. I also am afraid to beat on the thing and push the bike past its intended limits. If I break this frame, I'll probably be laying in a hospital bed because of it! That being said, I absolutely LOVE the bike. I don't think I've ever had so much fun riding and can't wait for this Spring and Summer.
Kona seems to build strong, FUN bikes. They might not have the newest technology or build them the lightest, but the bikes they produce always seem to bring smiles to riders' faces. And that, my friends, is what this is all about, isn't it?