I think you need to decide on wheel size before making yourself crazy.
I also think wheel size is more an equation related to the riders size than it is about all the hype created by marketing departments.
Then I think you need to decide on travel required for your style and terrain. All the nonsense about bigger wheels making up for travel has little application when landing a drop, landing a boost into rough terrain, railing a corner that G's the suspension down etc etc.
I think if you are honest with yourself you will be able to zero in on a more select set of rigs.
As most people will say it all depends on the type of trails you will ride and what wheel size you want. Over the summer I had a chance to demo both the 27.5 Firebird and the Mach 6 at a resort. While riding at the resort I preferred riding the Firebird over the Mach 6 hands down. The Firebird was just calling me to go over drops, jumps, and overall push the bike.
While the Mach 6 was fun I could see some limitations, at least at a resort and more technical trails. Coming from a downhill bike the positioning on both of these bikes was very much upright, and knew I was on more of a cross country type bike. When I was done with the demo, I was glad to get back on my downhill bike. However, that shouldn't be much of a shock as that isn't the primary purpose.
I currently ride a Mach 5.7 and love this bike for cross country. Sometimes I think this bike has a motor on it when I am climbing as it just keeps going and going with little effort. I haven't had a chance to push the downhill part of the 5.7 as I have been fighting with my suspension and finally upgraded to a Pike at the end of last season. But I will soon find out once all this stupid snow melts.
With the Mach 6 out and the other options available I would have a hard time picking the 5.7 over anything else. If I were investing any money on a new bike I would be looking at either a 27.5 bike or a 29er. Every wheel size has its advantages and you will need to find which one is right for you. But I just see the industry and market going away from 26 inch bikes.
Bikes are cool. These new bikes are cool. Stihacka that Cove is very fun. Don't know how Cove tweaked that Horst Link but it settles in nicely when climbing yet when I want to when its descending I can stab the pedals and get it to rebound/pop into little rollers quite easily -- but I have to deliberately do that otherwise the suspension rolls along just fine. Reminds me of the well-executed linkage assisted single pivots eg Transition Bandit which are cheap-air machines.
Shar's Warden is insanely fun.
That Rockshox Pike really does live up to its hype.
Just have to decide which bikes fit with the skis colour scheme wise
650b tires are getting good selection thus resolving the old primary gripe
Is the Hustler still 150mm or did Cove lower it 140mm? Cove claimed they were going to change the leverage ratio, tube sets and rear travel, but even up until March "sneak peaks" were saying that it had 150mm travel.
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