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I think the most compelling of these is the Hardtail and mid-travel
combination. Take a do-everything FS bike and put beefy wheels and tires on
it, and the all-mountain side of the spectrum is covered. Get a little spendy
on some nice light wheels and fast rolling tires and keeping up with XC
buddies on climbs will only be limited by your own legs/lungs.
The default combination is of course beefy wheels on the more capable dual
suspension bike, but the inverted option is increasingly appealing to me, as I
find that spritely wheels and less abusable tires are actually a better recipe
for maximizing enjoyment on short rides or after-work excursions where in less
likely to be on my A-game through rock gardens our at the traction limit
The Hardtail with beefy tires is still the ultimate winter bike, and a hard
hitting hardtail is already the best/worst kept secret in mountain biking for
turning miserable weather into indelible grins.
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