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Looking to get on a new bike, replacing an 08 Specialized Epic Expert. Trying to decide which bike will fit my needs the best. Ride in North GA, so good range of trail types, rocky/roots to groomed single track, descent amount of climbing over rocky/rooty terrain. Trying to decide if 27.5 or 29 is the way to go, also hardtail of full suspension.

Looking at Giant XTC 29er Composite, XTC 27.5 2 for hardtail options, and Giant Anthem 3 27.5 for full suspension. Not stuck on Giant, but like their bang for the buck factor/warranty. Bike will be used for a broad spectrum of rides (mainly XC), with some longer rides mixed in, not really going to race much if at all. HT seems to be better bike for the money, but will is thrash my lower back over time, or on long rides? Thanks.
 

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If you can raise your budget a little and don't mind a mail order bike, I'd take a serious look at an Airborne Hobgoblin XO for $2999. That $600 get you a hell of a lot more bike.
 
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