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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
OK, so its been 10 years since I've ridden. (bad crash, set me out a while, never got back into it till this april (04). Moved to Colorado Springs from Cincinnati, broke out the old rigid, 27lb steel EVERYTHING Univega (uni-WHO??--tells you how old I am!), and started riding my local trails. WOW! Either I've changed, the terrain has changed or the bike is an ancient POS. (all three I'm sure...)
Anyway...so I'm looking for my first FS rig. Been shopping seriously for about 3 weeks, reading all the mtbr reviews, test riding bikes, determining my new riding style, tearing MTB Action apart for info, and here's where I'm at:
38 yrs old, still strong, still love to ride hard (was pretty agressive back then, have been pretty aggressive lately, albeit my hands and wrists are killing me) and I am an experienced dirt biker (started age 12, raced hare scrambles and enduros, still crazy on my current bike, an '01 XR650. Check in at about 185 lbs. Stand 6' tall. Current terrain: anyone from colorado will know, for those who aren't: rocky, sandy, loamy, dropoffs, steep climbs, long descents, and perfect weather! (have yet to encounter mud, unlike Cincinnati and Northern Ky). Price point, $2k give or take.

Sorry, I'm rambling...

First, after talking with several LBS's, I thought I'd like a beefed up XC bike with more travel, a tougher bike, etc. Test rode the Enduro Expert, the Jackal 800, the Dakar 2.0 XLT, etc., etc., etc. Nice bikes, seemed to do OK. (wish there were a way to test ride on the actual trails). Then a shop guy said, here try this: a Giant AC1. took it out, launched it off a few ledges and drops in the shop's neighborhood and WOW, what a difference!! Went home and thought about this beefier setup. Hmmmm...
So, got back on mtbr and searched out the "freeride" category, perused my March issue of MTB action (buyers guide) and then back to the shops to ride some more: a Gemini 900, a Yeti ASX, an RM switch, etc.

OH!

MY!

GOSH!

I've never ridden bikes like these before, they feel like my Honda XR but at 300 lbs less!!!!
Now the frist set of bikes I rode feel like tin cans and I'm afraid I'll crumple them if I get one. But here's the delimma: I love to go crazy, I love to jump (dirt biker, remember), I love to go fast. but.... I also want to be able to cruise the trails, climb the hills (long ones if you'll recall) and be able to move my legs after getting to the top! I'm not looking to win any XC races, but don't wanna kill my self just riding along either. I guess I'm afraid of the weight issue.
So, (sorry this is so long) here's where I stand: The Yeti and Switch (both ~41lb) felt great on the hits/jumps/landings, and seemed OK to pedal (Yeti seems really laid back geometry wise, pedals with 99% quads, 1% glutes--remember my existing XC is all that I'm used to right now). The Gemini 900 (~36lbs), felt nice to pedal and seemed like a good hitter/lander. Etc, etc, etc...
What I need from you all is any and all information you can give me. This is a major purchase as you all know, and I'm not planning on upgrading any components right away, so would like something that is ready to go out of the box. My big fear is I'll crumple the trail bikes, or kill myself (pedaling) on the freeriders (or kill myself just riding the FR's!!). I really see myself on a freeride bike, but need the input to selece the right one for my riding style.
Lastly, do any of you know any other good places to post a message of this type, and also, where I might find good local connections for riding buddies/clubs (probably on mtbr, but haven't been all around this site yet)?
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this; if you live in the Springs, it would be great if I could test ride some of your bikes. Shoot me an email, I'd be glad to change your oil or something for taking the time to read and reply to this.

Thanks,

mike

www.automotivesurgeon.com
 

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wildman said:
OK, so its been 10 years since I've ridden. (bad crash, set me out a while, never got back into it till this april (04). Moved to Colorado Springs from Cincinnati, broke out the old rigid, 27lb steel EVERYTHING Univega (uni-WHO??--tells you how old I am!), and started riding my local trails. WOW! Either I've changed, the terrain has changed or the bike is an ancient POS. (all three I'm sure...)
Anyway...so I'm looking for my first FS rig. Been shopping seriously for about 3 weeks, reading all the mtbr reviews, test riding bikes, determining my new riding style, tearing MTB Action apart for info, and here's where I'm at:
38 yrs old, still strong, still love to ride hard (was pretty agressive back then, have been pretty aggressive lately, albeit my hands and wrists are killing me) and I am an experienced dirt biker (started age 12, raced hare scrambles and enduros, still crazy on my current bike, an '01 XR650. Check in at about 185 lbs. Stand 6' tall. Current terrain: anyone from colorado will know, for those who aren't: rocky, sandy, loamy, dropoffs, steep climbs, long descents, and perfect weather! (have yet to encounter mud, unlike Cincinnati and Northern Ky). Price point, $2k give or take.

Sorry, I'm rambling...

First, after talking with several LBS's, I thought I'd like a beefed up XC bike with more travel, a tougher bike, etc. Test rode the Enduro Expert, the Jackal 800, the Dakar 2.0 XLT, etc., etc., etc. Nice bikes, seemed to do OK. (wish there were a way to test ride on the actual trails). Then a shop guy said, here try this: a Giant AC1. took it out, launched it off a few ledges and drops in the shop's neighborhood and WOW, what a difference!! Went home and thought about this beefier setup. Hmmmm...
So, got back on mtbr and searched out the "freeride" category, perused my March issue of MTB action (buyers guide) and then back to the shops to ride some more: a Gemini 900, a Yeti ASX, an RM switch, etc.

OH!

MY!

GOSH!

I've never ridden bikes like these before, they feel like my Honda XR but at 300 lbs less!!!!
Now the frist set of bikes I rode feel like tin cans and I'm afraid I'll crumple them if I get one. But here's the delimma: I love to go crazy, I love to jump (dirt biker, remember), I love to go fast. but.... I also want to be able to cruise the trails, climb the hills (long ones if you'll recall) and be able to move my legs after getting to the top! I'm not looking to win any XC races, but don't wanna kill my self just riding along either. I guess I'm afraid of the weight issue.
So, (sorry this is so long) here's where I stand: The Yeti and Switch (both ~41lb) felt great on the hits/jumps/landings, and seemed OK to pedal (Yeti seems really laid back geometry wise, pedals with 99% quads, 1% glutes--remember my existing XC is all that I'm used to right now). The Gemini 900 (~36lbs), felt nice to pedal and seemed like a good hitter/lander. Etc, etc, etc...
What I need from you all is any and all information you can give me. This is a major purchase as you all know, and I'm not planning on upgrading any components right away, so would like something that is ready to go out of the box. My big fear is I'll crumple the trail bikes, or kill myself (pedaling) on the freeriders (or kill myself just riding the FR's!!). I really see myself on a freeride bike, but need the input to selece the right one for my riding style.
Lastly, do any of you know any other good places to post a message of this type, and also, where I might find good local connections for riding buddies/clubs (probably on mtbr, but haven't been all around this site yet)?
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this; if you live in the Springs, it would be great if I could test ride some of your bikes. Shoot me an email, I'd be glad to change your oil or something for taking the time to read and reply to this.

Thanks,

mike

automotivesurgeon
If you really want to still be able to climb the hills and ride on the trails, I seriously think 40lbs is wayy too much. In my opinion, I think a good bet for you is the Giant VT1. It is something like the AC, except with slightly less travel and much lighter frame. It is still beefy enough for freeride, but light enough for climbing hills and regular xc use. Try riding an AC1 up a hill and compare it to the VT, and then ride off a drop on the AC and then on the VT. The difference in the climbing and pedalling efficiency far outweighs the difference on the drops. Go to your lbs and give it a test run and tell me what you think. I'm sure you have a good match for what you are looking for right here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
VT1....too much $$$$

VT1....too much $$$$ ($3k according to my chart in March 04 MTBaction). The only reason I rode the AC1, was because it was an '03 leftover reduced from $3000 to $1600 at my LBS.

thanks
mike
 

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I read your comment about the VT1 having too steep a price and wanted to make a few comments. First, the prices listed in the magazines are typically MSRP. Shops don't always sell at this price -- they sell at "street price." I haven't looked at the Giants lately, but I know my local shop had the VT1 for around $2500 or $2600. I know it's still higher than your $2000 budget, so the point is really to look beyond the prices listed in the magazines.

Second, it's almost September and the new bikes are starting to come out. When the 05 models hit the shop floor, there's incentive for them to sell the remaining 04 models. How do they do this? Well they reduce the prices, just like you pointed out with the AC model you rode. If you can wait a little while, you might get a screaming deal on a "left-over." This is how I've bought my last two new bikes and it saved me a ton of money (which I turned around and spent on other bike stuff, but I digress).

Finally Giant makes three VT models -- the VT1, the VT2, and the VT3. The VT1 is the "high-end" model, the VT2 is the middle model and the VT3 is the "low-end" model, if you can call it that. The frames stay the same and the parts change from one model to the next. I know my local shop had the VT2 for something like $1600 or $1700 (MSRP is $2000), so that would definitely fit your budget better. For the price, these bikes have a nice set-up and can be taken both up the hills and back down. The weight is in the low 30 pound range, so going up hill shouldn't kill you, at least not in comparison to a 40-something pound bike. It's definitely worth looking at one of these if you can find a local dealer. Also, check out the reviews on this site -- there are quite a few reviews on all three models and they all have extremely high ratings.
 

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Marin Wolf Ridge, 4 - 6 inch travel quick release trail side adjustable with 3 - 5 inch Talas Fork, 27 lbs. Efficient no-bob climbing, plush no-pedal-kickback bump travel, a wide range of handling geometry adjustability, Hayes discs, quality build throughout. There's only one light weight XC/freeride bike that I'd want more, the Titus Switchblade Talas/Talas, with about the same weight and adjustment range and slightly better rear-braking-traction suspension geometry and similar top quality pedaling efficency, but about 2 times the price with the same build.

Try to get a test ride on the Marin Wolf Ridge, it's amazing.

- ray
 

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Kona Dawg

well take alook at the Kona Dawg seems like the type of bike that suits your needs.

just make sure u take this on a test ride.

HTH
 

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If you are tempted by drops... well if you are going to be doing long descents or bigger drops (I would call anything over your head bigger), you want a freeride bike. But, your wishes may be hard to grant, because you really need two bikes. With "freeride" bikes you will find that as soon as you start to "wet your whistle" you will find out that you want to go bigger. A bike like the VT1 or any "trail/all-mountain" bike will not suffice. The differences in suspension performance and purpose are still too large. A trail purpose bike will be painful ful to ride and may cause problems.

On the other hand, freeride bikes are painful to pedal around trails (at best). I would get a slightly lighter freeride bike. Although I like them, stay away from the Bighits and Haro x series as they are too heavy to really cruise with. The switch might be your best bet. With your monetary concerns it will be hard to get something light, but the bikes I would consider first would be the Switch SL (the air one, I believe) or a Kona Coiler (we don't have any kona dealers in town anymore... since Grand West shut down). The Cannondale may be ok, but they have a little bit of a dubious repuatation among some crowds (for freeriding and DHing).

It will still be heavy... the nice thing about the Switch SL (if I remember) is that it has the Z-150 with ETA. It's a six inch travel fork that you can shorten for climbs. Knowing the area and the terrain you will "discover", you need as much travel as you can get.
 

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Try the Yeti 575 if you can...

wildman said:
OK, so its been 10 years since I've ridden. (bad crash, set me out a while, never got back into it till this april (04). Moved to Colorado Springs from Cincinnati, broke out the old rigid, 27lb steel EVERYTHING Univega (uni-WHO??--tells you how old I am!), and started riding my local trails. WOW! Either I've changed, the terrain has changed or the bike is an ancient POS. (all three I'm sure...)
Anyway...so I'm looking for my first FS rig. Been shopping seriously for about 3 weeks, reading all the mtbr reviews, test riding bikes, determining my new riding style, tearing MTB Action apart for info, and here's where I'm at:
38 yrs old, still strong, still love to ride hard (was pretty agressive back then, have been pretty aggressive lately, albeit my hands and wrists are killing me) and I am an experienced dirt biker (started age 12, raced hare scrambles and enduros, still crazy on my current bike, an '01 XR650. Check in at about 185 lbs. Stand 6' tall. Current terrain: anyone from colorado will know, for those who aren't: rocky, sandy, loamy, dropoffs, steep climbs, long descents, and perfect weather! (have yet to encounter mud, unlike Cincinnati and Northern Ky). Price point, $2k give or take.

Sorry, I'm rambling...

First, after talking with several LBS's, I thought I'd like a beefed up XC bike with more travel, a tougher bike, etc. Test rode the Enduro Expert, the Jackal 800, the Dakar 2.0 XLT, etc., etc., etc. Nice bikes, seemed to do OK. (wish there were a way to test ride on the actual trails). Then a shop guy said, here try this: a Giant AC1. took it out, launched it off a few ledges and drops in the shop's neighborhood and WOW, what a difference!! Went home and thought about this beefier setup. Hmmmm...
So, got back on mtbr and searched out the "freeride" category, perused my March issue of MTB action (buyers guide) and then back to the shops to ride some more: a Gemini 900, a Yeti ASX, an RM switch, etc.

OH!

MY!

GOSH!

I've never ridden bikes like these before, they feel like my Honda XR but at 300 lbs less!!!!
Now the frist set of bikes I rode feel like tin cans and I'm afraid I'll crumple them if I get one. But here's the delimma: I love to go crazy, I love to jump (dirt biker, remember), I love to go fast. but.... I also want to be able to cruise the trails, climb the hills (long ones if you'll recall) and be able to move my legs after getting to the top! I'm not looking to win any XC races, but don't wanna kill my self just riding along either. I guess I'm afraid of the weight issue.
So, (sorry this is so long) here's where I stand: The Yeti and Switch (both ~41lb) felt great on the hits/jumps/landings, and seemed OK to pedal (Yeti seems really laid back geometry wise, pedals with 99% quads, 1% glutes--remember my existing XC is all that I'm used to right now). The Gemini 900 (~36lbs), felt nice to pedal and seemed like a good hitter/lander. Etc, etc, etc...
What I need from you all is any and all information you can give me. This is a major purchase as you all know, and I'm not planning on upgrading any components right away, so would like something that is ready to go out of the box. My big fear is I'll crumple the trail bikes, or kill myself (pedaling) on the freeriders (or kill myself just riding the FR's!!). I really see myself on a freeride bike, but need the input to selece the right one for my riding style.
Lastly, do any of you know any other good places to post a message of this type, and also, where I might find good local connections for riding buddies/clubs (probably on mtbr, but haven't been all around this site yet)?
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this; if you live in the Springs, it would be great if I could test ride some of your bikes. Shoot me an email, I'd be glad to change your oil or something for taking the time to read and reply to this.

Thanks,

mike

www.automotivesurgeon.com
Way lighter than the AS-X but still very capable of some heavy duty all mountain riding. With the disc kit can be had for $2200. Great deal on a top notch trail bike.
 

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It sounds like you want a compromise. As someone suggested take a look at the Yeti 575. You should also look at the 2005 Specialized Enduro which will have 6" of travel. Both bikes will be plush, be able to stand up to 4' drops, be about $2000 and weigh 30-32 pounds.
 

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For the cash..

wildman said:
OK, so its been 10 years since I've ridden. (bad crash, set me out a while, never got back into it till this april (04). Moved to Colorado Springs from Cincinnati, broke out the old rigid, 27lb steel EVERYTHING Univega (uni-WHO??--tells you how old I am!), and started riding my local trails. WOW! Either I've changed, the terrain has changed or the bike is an ancient POS. (all three I'm sure...)
Anyway...so I'm looking for my first FS rig. Been shopping seriously for about 3 weeks, reading all the mtbr reviews, test riding bikes, determining my new riding style, tearing MTB Action apart for info, and here's where I'm at:
38 yrs old, still strong, still love to ride hard (was pretty agressive back then, have been pretty aggressive lately, albeit my hands and wrists are killing me) and I am an experienced dirt biker (started age 12, raced hare scrambles and enduros, still crazy on my current bike, an '01 XR650. Check in at about 185 lbs. Stand 6' tall. Current terrain: anyone from colorado will know, for those who aren't: rocky, sandy, loamy, dropoffs, steep climbs, long descents, and perfect weather! (have yet to encounter mud, unlike Cincinnati and Northern Ky). Price point, $2k give or take.

Sorry, I'm rambling...

First, after talking with several LBS's, I thought I'd like a beefed up XC bike with more travel, a tougher bike, etc. Test rode the Enduro Expert, the Jackal 800, the Dakar 2.0 XLT, etc., etc., etc. Nice bikes, seemed to do OK. (wish there were a way to test ride on the actual trails). Then a shop guy said, here try this: a Giant AC1. took it out, launched it off a few ledges and drops in the shop's neighborhood and WOW, what a difference!! Went home and thought about this beefier setup. Hmmmm...
So, got back on mtbr and searched out the "freeride" category, perused my March issue of MTB action (buyers guide) and then back to the shops to ride some more: a Gemini 900, a Yeti ASX, an RM switch, etc.

OH!

MY!

GOSH!

I've never ridden bikes like these before, they feel like my Honda XR but at 300 lbs less!!!!
Now the frist set of bikes I rode feel like tin cans and I'm afraid I'll crumple them if I get one. But here's the delimma: I love to go crazy, I love to jump (dirt biker, remember), I love to go fast. but.... I also want to be able to cruise the trails, climb the hills (long ones if you'll recall) and be able to move my legs after getting to the top! I'm not looking to win any XC races, but don't wanna kill my self just riding along either. I guess I'm afraid of the weight issue.
So, (sorry this is so long) here's where I stand: The Yeti and Switch (both ~41lb) felt great on the hits/jumps/landings, and seemed OK to pedal (Yeti seems really laid back geometry wise, pedals with 99% quads, 1% glutes--remember my existing XC is all that I'm used to right now). The Gemini 900 (~36lbs), felt nice to pedal and seemed like a good hitter/lander. Etc, etc, etc...
What I need from you all is any and all information you can give me. This is a major purchase as you all know, and I'm not planning on upgrading any components right away, so would like something that is ready to go out of the box. My big fear is I'll crumple the trail bikes, or kill myself (pedaling) on the freeriders (or kill myself just riding the FR's!!). I really see myself on a freeride bike, but need the input to selece the right one for my riding style.
Lastly, do any of you know any other good places to post a message of this type, and also, where I might find good local connections for riding buddies/clubs (probably on mtbr, but haven't been all around this site yet)?
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this; if you live in the Springs, it would be great if I could test ride some of your bikes. Shoot me an email, I'd be glad to change your oil or something for taking the time to read and reply to this.

Thanks,

mike

www.automotivesurgeon.com
my $$$ is on the enduro expert. its a good value and the one i weighed was 30lbs.
 

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jrm said:
my $$$ is on the enduro expert. its a good value and the one i weighed was 30lbs.
Also, Trek's new 7-and-7 is gonna be sick. but i guess that doesn't solve your problems. I personally think the VT is a good choice for you cos it seems to be more solid than the other frames, but yet being pedal-efficient. For the enduro and other trailbikes, they seem to me to be xc bikes, but able to handle some drops and hits.
 

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I also came back to mountain biking after almost 15 years away. I first got a C'dale Jekyll, which I liked a lot, but the frame cracked on me after 6 months. I realized that I was progressing more and more towards freeriding & ended up replacing the Jekyll with an Azonic Saber (a 6" freeride/trail bike) built up pretty burly at about 37 lbs. I'm super happy with the compromise of the Saber, its burly enough that I don't worry about doing drops & jumps with it, but the riding position & suspension are efficient enough to go on long trail rides without dying. Tires make a huge difference, I had DH tires on for some resort riding a while back, and didn't bother to switch back when I got home, the next couple of rides with my normal crew, I was getting killed on the climbs. After I went back to my normal t

If you are looking for one bike to do it all, I'd look for something with 6-7" of travel and an adjustable travel fork for climbing. It looks like there will be a lot of bikes in this category for '05.

dooner
 

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i also have a saber, its an excellent bike. my bike checks in at over 40lbs, but i have a boxxer and 8" disks. i don't give a dam about going fast uphill(anymore). i've riden it on 4hr xc excursions with only minimal groaning. it all depends on what you want to do. all the bikes with rear suspension similar to the saber (kona, ellsworth, spec, raliegh...) seam to climb pretty well and have enough travel for freeride type activities. go to some shops and take some test rides. if you want some shop recomendations pm me. i worked in the bicycle industry for over ten years and live here in the springs.
 

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i would check out the rocky mountain slayer, they have 5 inches of travel, and they are very easily pedled up hills, and they are decently light.
 

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I think that the giant AC1 you were looking at could be a pretty good option. For a freeride bike, it is definitely on the lighter, more trail ready side. NSMB did a review of the AC-1 One of the nice things about the AC-1 is the uninterupted seat tube, so you can raise it XC high when you climb then slam it when you throw down...

Other bikes I would check out are the kona coiler series...they are plenty beefy, but not super heavy. The new specialized enduro sx trail would be awesome I think, and if you found a deal on a heckler or bullit those could work too. There are numerous people on this board that vouch for the all purpose-ness of both the heckler and the bullit.

I guess I just think that with the way you describe yourself, you are going to end up doing some bigger stuff. In that case, I think you will be better served with a lighter freeride bike than by a trail bike. The hills will hurt at first, but as you get used to it, you'll be fine. I have a bighit (45 pounds at least) and would agree that it is a b!tch to ride on trails, but I do it anyways...you really do get used to it. I deal with the pain of clmbing in 2 ways. One, I consider that I will have better fitness for having done it, and two, I figure I never liked climbing anyways, so if it sucks a little more to make the downhill and stunts more fun, then it's worth it.

Its also a bonus that you still have your univega...it may need some updating, but at least you'll have another lighter bike that you can satisfy any (strange) desire to climb quickly up hills...

Good luck and keep posting questions. You may Xpost into the DH/FR forum...people there will have additional insight and will help talk you into the idea of trailriding a big bike :D
 

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The Yeti and Switch (both ~41lb) felt great on the hits/jumps/landings, and seemed OK to pedal (Yeti seems really laid back geometry wise, pedals with 99% quads, 1% glutes--remember my existing XC is all that I'm used to right now). The Gemini 900 (~36lbs), felt nice to pedal and seemed like a good hitter/lander. Etc, etc, etc...
When comparing these various FS rigs, try to remember that the geometry doesn't really affect pedaling -- your body position, saddle height and suspension tuning have much more to do with that. If you think the Yeti is an "all quads" pedaling bike, you didn't set it up correctly. I can pedal all quads, all glutes, or any combi of the two on ANY of my bikes, mtb or road. It has nothing to do with the bike's geometry.

Also re pedaling, in a category of 5" - 6" rear travel bikes, once you get to a decent level of bicycle (i.e., minimum MSRP of $1700), you're not going to find the differences in pedaling to be significant. Most of what you feel is going to be suspension setup. Make sure that your test rides are preceded by the shop setting up the fork and rear shock to your weight and preferred compression/rebound speeds.

Also, try to remember that for every 5 replies you get on MTBR, 4 of them are poorly informed meathead answers to legitimately good questions. You have to know how to separate wheat from chaff in here. ;)
 

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I think that a Rocky Mountain Switch SL might be just what you're looking for, or for that matter, just about any bike in the switch series. The SL is on the lighter side, but still has a beefy frame and strong components.
 

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Hey Mike, welcome to the Springs. Check out the Front Range forum, there is a lot of great ride info. there, Cheyenne Canyon and Palmer Park are the best places to ride in town. Sounds like you need a good strong 5" travel trailbike, thats what I ride and your riding style sounds the same as mine. The heavier FR bikes are a b!tch on the steep climbs and since this will be your only rig, the 40lb. bikes you mention will probably not be what your looking for. I would stick with a 5" rig in the 30lb range with a platform shock on the rear for good pedaling/climbing. At 2K, here's some sugg.'s

Yeti 575, on the light side and components won't be great
SC Heckler, good strong frame and better components for the $
Kona, not sure which model
Specialized Enduro

I like the Heckler or Enduro for the $, I ride a Foes FXR and a few of my buddies ride 5 Spots which are more expensive but will ride similiar. Send me a PM if you want to hookup sometime, we ride all the time. -Rick
 
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