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I'm new to mountain biking. I've been competitively racing road A grade (and ride a Cervelo soloist team with Ultegra). I'd like to buy a new hard tail mountain bike which I can eventually start racing Cross Country.

I'm thinking of about no more than US 2500.

I'm looking at the Scott Scale 40 (running Shimano SLX), the Trek 8000 (running SLX), or a Giant XTC 1 (SLX too). Are these good choices?

How good exactly is the new SLX....what level is it? Below XT and above LX?

Perhaps i should go for Sram X-7 or X-9?

Which Sram and Shimano group sets would you recommend to race on?

Any help would be appreciated!
 

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I don't have any personal experience with the bikes you mentioned, so I'm not help there. I would however suggest you look at the Mt. Fuji Pro - it's just another option in the range you're looking at. I've had one for about 6 months, and I couldn't be happier, coming off of an Al hardtail.

SLX is a bit above the old LX and below the new XT. From the reviews I've read, it's functionally similar to XT but not quite as light.

I run a mix of LX and XT, and am very happy with it. Having said that, I will be looking very closely at SRAM X9 for my next build - it just works so well. It would be a toss up between X9 and XT - XTR and X0 are a lot like Dura-Ace: great groups, but just too rich for my blood.

As a rider that is looking to get into racing, I wouldn't recommend getting anything below SLX/X7, and if your pocketbook can take it, I would try to be sure and get at least an XT rear deraileur. An LX rear will work, but I just really love the way the XT seems to always want to shine for me. Other than that, LX or X7 is perfectly raceable, and I'd suggest spending the money you'd use to upgrade the entire drivetrain on some tire experimentation. You'll be racing a variety of courses, and having an extra set of tires (or two) for different conditions (light rain days, sandy trails, dry hardpack) will save you more time than a couple of ounces here and there. Best of luck, and enjoy your bike hunting!
 
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