Long story short, I'm coming back to MTB this summer, after a 15 years hiatus due to work, moving to another country, college and lots of other reasons. I used to ride pretty fast when I was a team but never compete, was more of an after school/weekend thing. Never MTB here in the US, used to ride when I was living in Brazil which used to be long climbs on wide dirty road followed by long descents, with some more technical trail riding in between (which I'd call single track). I used to ride a hardtail al bike 3x7 at the time.
I will be riding in Boise, most of the people I talked to including an avid mountain biker friend from Colorado said I only need a hardtail and I should not worry about full suspension since it's more work to maintain and more expensive for an equivalent bike.
I've done some research, seems like nowadays 26" are gone? I can only find good bikes in 29" but I'm thinking I'm too short at 5'5" / 30 inseam to ride a 29" so looked for 650 bikes... I'm willing to drop big bucks for a bike considering I'm not a pro, so thinking anything from 2K to 4K is up for grabs...
So of the bikes I'm trying to find and demo early this season and considering:
Scott Scale 710 and 720
Giant XTC Advanced 27.5 2 and 3
Jamis Nemesis 650 Pro
I'd prefer to buy a 2x10 instead of 3x10... less thing to worry about I guess, and other than being too expensive I'm probably not ready to ride a 1x11 bike... Is it a noticeable difference between the the two more expensive scot/giant bikes compared to the less expensive ones? Any real advantage/disadvantage from any of the 3 least expensive compared to each other?
I'm over thinking this and should just do some demo and buy? Well probably yes... I can answer myself on this :-)
The other thing is, should I be expending too much on my first post-hiatus bike? I'm not afraid to commit to the sport since I'm sure I will since I've been on mountain bikes every single day for years in the past! But I'm thinking more into the go ride an inexpensive bike first and go do some research and invest more money once I know exactly what I'm looking for since I will probably won't notice any difference between SLX / XT / XTR / X7 / X9 / XX a fox vs rock shox and so on... or I should be fine investing more upfront and just be happy with it!
Another thing, Am I missing any good 27.5 in this price range? Any 26" carbon hard tail out there these days?