I think it is safe to say every mountain biker has been overwhelmed with the abundance of change that the industry has thrown in our faces.. this is a marketing departments dream come true. Wheel sizes, frame materials, geometry, boost, non boost and so on. For that reason, buying a bike has become a lot more difficult, in my opinion. it use to be, what kind of riding do I do? Downhill? Trail? XC? and you would go test ride a few 29ers or a few full suspensions and pick one and go out and ride.
Now, with the direction of bikes and the prices that are demanded, I feel my thought process has changed a little bit. That is not to say the bikes are not worth the price manufacturers are asking, but, I have to think twice before buying a new bike now a days. I think we are a little more thoughtful in the bike buying process because when investing that much money, we want to make sure we get the bike that fulfills our needs and riding style and ultimately, makes us happy.
A phrase I come across a lot in reading bike reviews is " this bike that can do it all " or "dominate your local trail race while winning enduro on the weekends". You get the gist.....There are a lot of catch phrases to make you think this bike is going to fulfill all of your needs when in reality, it probably isn't.
I write this for a few reasons.
1) Don't fall into the industry's marketing schemes. With the constant advancements they bike industry is making, you will feel obsolete of outdated whether you like it or not. Today's wheel size and tomorrow tire width will make you question the bike you bought yesterday. Ignore it.... until they don't sell any wheels that will fit your frame - RIP 26"
2) Buy the bike that makes YOU want. Not your friends, not what the shop is pushing on you. I don't care if you buy a 180mm travel bike and race XC, if it is going to get you out on your bike, that is the purpose, right? And to add to that, guys on 160mm travel bikes are winning our local XC races...
3) Do you research and be realistic with yourself. Do you really need carbon? Does your wallet allow you to buy the XTR or will you be just fine with SLX / NX? Components can always be replaced and upgraded. Can you do that upgrade now or will it be progressive and over time?
4) Don't compare yourself to others. If you want to buy a $10,000 S-works, then do it. Will your friends give you shit? probably.