I am an advanced beginner looking for a XC bike. I thought I would stick with a hard tail, but I have found a few good deals on full-sus in the last week. I am hoping you could give me some input on these bikes. I ride XC and a lot of climbing, but that also means a lot of down hill. I also do a fair amount of semi-technical rocky climbs mixed in with step fire roads.
Specialized FSR XC 2008 (new): feels goods when I rode it, looks like a good climber, the forks suck (rockshox Tora) and I would upgrade the brakes before it leaves the shop to hydraulic brakes (Avid Juicy 3). It is $1150 with a $150 in store credit. With the new brakes it would come out to $1250.
Gary Fisher Caliber 2007 (new): I have not taken for a test spin yet. Although I will upgrade most likely in the future, stock parts seem okay. The MSRP is $1870 and with a sale it is marked down to $1150. I will take it for a spin tomorrow if it is not raining. I test rode the GF Tassajara HT and I loved it, fit perfect. However, it was $979 and I figured if I was spending that much I should just take the leap into full-suspension.