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While I enjoy DH riding, I'm not really one to just bomb it or anything. My favorite part of riding is just getting out and exploring, which often involves lots of climbing/mileage (Northern Utah). I don't want a full-on race bike or anything as I still want to enjoy the DH, but which of these bikes might have the best balance of both with a greater weight towards the uphill (whereas most reviews seem to put the emphasis on the DH).

I'll be demo'ing what I can when my favorite trails dry out from this big winter, but I figure it's never too early to start narrowing things down.

I'll be adding a dropper post and tubeless setup to any bike that doesn't already have them.

Bikes I can demo at my LBS's:
-Fuel EX 8 (over budget but I could possibly stretch it)
-Rocky Mountain Altitude
-Specialized Stumpjumper
-Norco Sight 29 (and 27.5)

That's really all I can find to ride here locally t in my price range. Oher options that I'm considering but I can't try out are

-Trek Fuel 5
-Giant Trance 3
-YT Jeffsy AL Base
-Canyon Spectral AL 6.0

EDIT: As a wildcard my LBS has a leftover 2018 Salsa Redpoint NX1 in my size that they have marked all the way down to $1699. It is a 27.5 (the rest I was looking at in 29ers).

I am 6'0, 200lbs.
 

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I'm on a 2018 Trance 3 XL. I started on it at 300+ lbs and am down to 260 and the bike has took everything i have thrown at it. That said I do have some upgrades. Rock Shox replaced my faulty shock and upgraded it to the much better super deluxe, I killed the original dropper post so Giant replaced that, I also killed a crank arm and they replaced it. I upgraded to full xt drivetrain with their giant pinner pedals that were on the old cranks. Pedal trashed that crank and giant bought me new pedals of my choice and replaced the xt crank. Can't argue with their support since I didn't even ask them to do that. I just dropped my bike off to get a helicoil and got a call from the shop saying they talked to giant about the pedals (i had issues with them since i bought them new but liked the size so kept them) and that was their solution. I also have upgraded to slx brakes and flow s1 wheels because the 2018 had a fairly skinny wheel at something like 21mm. Its been a good, tough bike for me. Seat on it is HORRIBLE though so i'm running an ergon
 

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I would be inclined to focus on shorter travel - as in less than about 120-130 mm of rear travel - 29ers. More travel is fine, as is 27.5, but it doesn't comply with your focus on climbing ability.

I see you're in NUTAH, as am I. I have a pretty tricked out Yeti SB5 that was 26 pounds or so, demo'd a 32 pound (!) Giant TRance 29 that was just as fast climbing. I now have a Trance 29 Pro 1 and continue to get PR's climbing in SLC and Park City and have posted some PR's down as well, as on Bull Run and Ahab in Moab.

I haven't ridden it, but I know the EX8 gets great reviews as well.
 

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If you're open to consumer direct (you listed YT and Canyon), I'd add a Whyte T-130 to your list. Distributed out if CA, free fast (2-4 day across the U.S.) shipping, 30 day return if you don't like it, etc. I believe the T-130 S (aluminium GX equipped) is in your price range.

Like you, my typical riding includes its share of climbing, techy and not techy. But I also like to take on rough, fast, jumpy down hill when the opportunity comes up. I looked at YT's Jeffsey, but for me, it wasn't the best climber. Canyon's Spectral was a pretty good climber, but wasn't as confident going down as the Jeffsey. The Whyte T-130 felt the best of the three on climbing and descending. It's really stable and confident going down. Of all the trail bikes I tried, Trek, Pivot, Rocky Mountain, Canyon, YT, etc., etc., the T-130 felt like the best 'jack of all trades' bike. It likes to go fast and really likes sweeping turns, and it manages to be stable and solid on slow technical stuff. It's a fun bike. I ride mine happily on everything from gravel, to XC, to trail, to down.
 

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Have you considered used ? Suspect Trek Fuels----Santa Cruz Hightowers are easy to find given the new models around the corner. Maybe even an IBIS Ripley LS----super climbing bike. Note used asking prices tend to be nuts but real sell prices are low given the used market is tough on sellers. I think for $2500 you could get any of these bikes
 

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OP, I approached my first serious mtb purchase in much the same way in April, '18. I ended up with an '18 Fuel EX 5+ with (like you mentioned) a dropper and tubeless setup on delivery. I've been real pleased with this setup. Most of my riding buddies take advantage of me on the climbs but they let me go ahead for the dh's and wood features. I find the FEX+ gives me a measure of confidence and safety that allows me to challenge the drops, small jumps, walls, etc. And the plus setup helps this aging beginner with botched lines that all beginners, aging or otherwise, may tackle.
 
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