Let me just say...I have no idea why mountain biking is not more popular with young people in this city. I mean...come on! Nothing against the old schoolers out there still doing it, actually, much respect. A nice used hardtail can be had for a good price on CL. The greenbelt is amazing. There is way more out there than you would expect. Technicality is fun!!!
So now then.
My bike sensei was a big advocate of the 29r format. He got himself a fisher rig and really liked how it rode out there on the belt. He said it smoothed out the ride, gave great grip, and climbed well.
I ended up getting a Raleigh XXIX. Yup, one of the least expensive 29rs out there. It is a great frame. The dudes at twentynineinches.com were big fans of it. Double butted 4130 cro-mo, S bend stays, ovalized downtube, socket dropouts, eccentric BB.
Fork: Reba Race (has the remote lockout)
Wheels: American Classic 29 SS. Very light, and impressively strong.
Tires: Kenda John Tomac Small Block 8. Light and fast rolling, but not great grip in the greenbelt.
Cranks: Bontrager race lite SS. I like this guy because I paid a crazy low price on closeout, and it has an ISIS BB. Yea I know external is stiffer and what not, but the bearings are also much more exposed and torque-spec sensitive. ISIS has a nice big spindle, and keeps the bearing seals out of the elements.
Pedals: Xpedo M-Force. Lighter than XTR, cheaper, and shed mud perfectly.
Bars: Kore Elite. Kore makes great stuff, check them out. This guy is crazy light and stiff.
Stem: Thomson Elite X4. An engineering and fabrication masterpiece. There is much more expensive, but not better.
Grips: ODI Cush
Brakes: Magura BAT Louise Carbon. The best brakes I have had experience with. The 5 year leak-proof warranty is holding well into year three. The power and modulation is exactly what I like. I have never had to bleed for reasons other than housing cuts. The mineral oil does not absorb water like DOT fluid does, and it is not toxic. I have had some nice falls on the levers too, they are solid. These brakes are very impressive.
Headset: Cane Creek Solos. Their first attempt at challenging King. Im satisfied.
Post: Thomson Elite. An engineering and fabrication masterpiece. There is much more expensive, but not better.
Saddle: WTB knows whats up with off road saddles. Rocket V Team is my choice, but they have a ton of saddles and shops sometimes have test saddle kits.