Oh, that's a tough one. But in the end sponsorship arrangements made the decision for me...the team is sponsored by Trek & Gary Fisher. Trek doesn't yet make 29ers, and GF 29ers, although super fun really are better for trail riding, not so much racing. The Sugar 292 is currently the only FS option, and at near 30 lbs stock that's a lot of extra KJ over the course of a 24.
On the flip side, the Trek Fuel has been an awesome bike for me for 3 years now. It feels harsh compared to the Reba equiped 29ers I've ridden - but I think that is a result of the SID forks. They are designed for minimum weight, not maximum performance. As such, that's what you get - the lightest production fork. It feels like a jack hammer in your hands after awhile though...that's one of the biggest take home lessons of my foray into 29ers. Been riding SIDs for years - didn't know any better - but now I've seen the light. It was not lost on me that Eatough was riding a Fuel with a Reba fork rather than the stock SID when he won worlds 24 this year. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
It'll be interesting to see how more travel affects the handling of the bike. If it's too slow, I may end up shortening the travel a bit, for for now I think it's set at 115mm. Free-ride front end, baby!
I've come to really prefer the XO gripshift. Fast, precise shifting. The Dos was setup with XO and has worked flawlessly ever since. Still have XTR on the older Fuel - that option will be good for rain events.
The bike you see here will likely be the bike of choice for Trans Rockies. I've been considering the 29 option, but because of sponsors and a probable scarcity of 29er specific parts in Canada, the Fuel is going to be the machine. She weighs in at 24 lbs even with the Reba.
Test rides all weekend!