I will FOR SURE see if I can ride them both a few times before I buy, does anyone know if there are places in Vancouver that do this? Where I live currently (and have lived before) there aren't any options to test ride those particular bikes (even if they were readily available). I'm not a huge fan of santa cruz personally but if they are available to ride I might as well check them out too.
Thanks for the help so far, I gotta say that I'm leaning towards the Specialized though; the parts spec/price is much more appealing PLUS its carbon so it is lighter and climbs better. Even if they release a carbon version of the Spartan I imagine it will be more expensive than the top model that they currently have which is already about $500 more than the Enduro Expert. Seems like the big S made a tactical move to release the 650 enduro so late.......after they saw what the competition offered and then undercut them to capitalize on the market, gotta love big business lol.
Specialized certainly does do a good spec on bikes. That said, I really have to reiterate: I've ridden a few 650b bikes at this point, and the amount of BB drop has made more difference than HT angle as to whether I liked them or not, believe it or not. One of the big advantages of 650b is that it adds just enough ground clearance to make a bike with 1 - 1.5cm of BB drop not have excessive pedal strikes, why buy a 650b and not get one of the main advantages?
The other point I'm starting to consider: I'm at 0 on liking 650b bikes from brands that weren't enthusiastic about making them, like SC & Specialized. Seems like going with a brand that really wants to make a 650b bike is the way to go at this point.
I'm curious what you mean about the whole BB drop part? I know that Specialized has super low BB height as one of the defining characteristics but I don't know much about BB drop, could you explain it to me and how it relates to 650B Bikes?
BB drop is the measurement of where the BB is vertically in relationship to the axles. Take a piece of string, and attach it to the front & rear axles of a bike(bike straight & level, of course.) the center of BB will either be above that string(BB rise) level(neutral BB ) or below it(BB drop.) on most 26" bikes, the BB will be neutral, or have BB rise, because you have to get the BB below about 13.5" to get BB drop on a 26" bike. The problem being, getting much lower than that(depending on rear suspension travel & sag point, of course) will start to cause excessive pedal strikes, because you've moved pedals too close to the ground.
Now if you think about where your weight transfers to the bike, it's at the seat, pedals, & bars. you can throw out seat during aggressive riding(cause you get off it,) & it's immediately obvious that more of your weight transfers through the pedals than the bars, no matter how over the front you ride. so BB drop is important because it affects the main point that your weight transfers to the bike, & the farther that weight transfers from below the axles, the more if feels like you ride "in" the bike, not "on" the bike.
Now take a 650b tire & wheel. because it's slightly taller, you can achieve a small amount (about half an inch seems to be popular)of BB drop, & keep overall BB height still at about that 13.5" number.
This conversation can get really complicated from here. obviously, you can make the argument that where the BB rests at sag is a more important number, which is true, but harder to measure (in that BB height, and increasingly, BB drop numbers are published, but BB height at sag isn't.) but regardless, for a given BB height, the higher the axles are, the more the weight is tranfering "through" the axles vs "over" the axles.
Everything is subjective, but it's been a big factor to me for whether a bike feels comfortable or not.