how about an Intense 951 Trail for$3..7k?This discussion probably happens more frequently than any other, but I'm sure the answer is always different depending on the location of the rider and style of riding, etc.
I started riding an NS Bikes Eccentric Alu Evo hardtail in March of this year. It's got 27.5+ wheels, 4 piston TRP Slate brakes, and GX Drive Train. It's got a 120mm RockShox fork that I bottom out fairly often with my style of riding. This fork wasn't made for this bike or the type of riding I'm doing with it. The frame is also a size M and I'm 6' tall, so I put a 60mm riser on it to make it fit, sort of.
I live in the St.Louis, MO area, and while most of the area around me is flat, I drive a bit to get to more steeper, technical terrain when I ride. I haven't had any issues going off of the biggest drops in the area, or over 20+ft gap jumps, but it feels like my bike is at the limit of what it can do. I'm not big on pedaling XC, so I'm not going out to pedal 20 mile days on flat ground, but I will pedal to the top of descents as that's needed in my area, so that's quite a bit of what I do. There's one shuttle park within an hour and a half, and they race BME there. I'd like to try that and ride there more often with something more capable. I very much enjoy going fast down technical terrain as well as riding flow track and sending big jumps and drops, and this is the majority of the riding I'm doing. I'm 27 and like to act stupid and do stupid things on the bike. If there's something on the trail, I'm going for it. However, I do want to test the waters in the near future and try an enduro race or two, to determine if it's something I'd like to really get into.
I need a bike that will handle all of this, but I still want it to be able to climb, and play on regular trails. Pop and flick, not plow. Based on this, I believe I'm looking more at the long-travel trail bikes, or 'All-Mountain' bikes, and not necessarily an enduro bike. Maybe I'm wrong here?
Also, the 27.5 vs 29 debate is one that I'm having. I ride the 27.5+ tires currently which are basically 29's, right? I really don't want to lose the playfulness and jumping ability of 27.5's if moving to 29's will have that effect. Although, the 29's may be better for if I do get into enduro racing. A few of these models come in both 27.5 and 29.
Here's a few models that I've been come across that I think might be suited for me. My price range is in the 2.5-4k range. If I really wanted I'd spend a little more...
Transition Patrol - Mullet setup has been what I've been leaning towards, although this is the only one I've found in my price range and it's a tank. 34 lbs.
Ibis Ripmo AF - Heard good things about this bike, but the brakes that come on it are G2 R.
Trek Slash 8 - Didn't this win best trail bike? Is it capable of big jumps and entry enduro racing?
Trek Remedy 8 - Saw this at the bike shop, beautiful looking bike, can it enduro? What's it better at vs the slash?
Norco Sight A3 - Supposedly not as fun as other bikes, planted.
Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Alloy - Available to test ride
Commencal Meta TR - One of my top choices.
YT Jeffsy - One of my top choices.
Giant Trance X 2 - Maybe too heavy? I jumped my friends Trance X 3 29 XL and it felt heavy and way too big for me.
Canyon Spectral - One of my top choices.
Giant Reign - Maybe too much bike?
32 lbs, 150 travel front, 140 rear, fox 36, carbon frame. SRAM nx eagle. I’ve been hammering on mine for a few hundred miles and it’s held up great. I’m 190 lbs too.
The 951 XC is 120mm travel, 28lbs and available at Costco now for 3,250. It’s a smoking deal.