FS is the way to go. Once, I was riding mine when I came across a long continous area of baby's head rocks. First I paused, then I thought, " What the heck." and rode out in to it. The FS took out all the bumps/stalles and I easily rode right across it. I was impressed.
I even like FS much better for the road. When those pencil thin roadbike tires hit broken pavement-BRRRRRRRRRR- and the hanblebars shake like crazy, that crap is for the birds, IMO.
I'm also of the opinion one should spend as much as you can afford on a keeper bike. Just seems that they ride/roll/ get down the trail better/have more fun factor,..... as a general rule. Seriously, spend the dough.
I had the opportunity earlier this week to meet and ride with the guy - Kevin - who laid out and maintains all of the mtb trails on the Kalabus-Perry parcel, the trails I’ve been riding all summer. Besides showing me more singletrack that I hadn’t found yet, now I feel comfortable about doing a little trail maintenance – I was hesitant earlier because I didn’t want to mess with someone else’s trails.
My bike is showing signs of its age, and I’m considering replacing it this fall. I’m considering a 29er, and know the advantages of the bigger wheels, but is there any disadvantage (besides cost) to a 29er? I think Matt pointed out the bigger wheels take a little more muscle to get moving. I’m esp curious to get feedback from guys like SBR and HPD who have recently bought new bikes and didn’t go with 29s. By the way, full susp is out, I’ll look for a hard-tail model in the well-under-$1000 range ($600 - $700?).