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I'm generally on the same page as drop32table up there in that I tend to think about where my money is going. In my case I ride a Rocky with Raceface kit. Most of it may be made overseas but at least the companies are local and I know people who are employed by them.
As far as * I am more likely to blame suspension. My background on this, is that I worked in engineering at Syncros for most of the 90's. When I started there was no front suspension much less rear suspension. Back then the material and tuning of your handle bar, stem and seatpost really mattered. The same could be said for the ride quality of the frame. Then came front suspension and then rear and these things were dominated by suspension related math as well as the advancement in geometry that was then allowed. The feel of the frame or components is much less important than the spring and damping rates once you introduce them into the overall system. Now we all get nostalgic for hardtails and again the frame feel and quality gets important. I'd say the same about wheels. You are going to notice a real nice set of wheel way more on a hard tail than a bike with 5" of suspension.
My two cents.
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