In order of influence.
Geometry - suspension - wheelsize - rim material - frame material - rear axle width (said no-one ever).
Concur. I've always been a RM guy from WAY back in the day of the bumble-bee Element Race, right through to the RM6 and RM8, Flatline, SXC90, etc. Their geometry has always worked for me. I've made this mention to a number of retailers and they've all - seriously - said nowadays it's not as great a concern due to the fact that geometries can be altered on almost all bikes now. This was news to me.
Suspension, yep - get the best ya can if ya can for what you can. No concerns there.
Wheelsize/Wheelset have always been a major focus (as have hubs) - I'm a 27.5" guy - loved Mavic for many years; Easton, and a couple others.
Frame material has really only become a question "now" for me - CF versus alloy/aluminum.
Aside from rear axle width; gruppo - the component spec is big for me. I'd prefer to pay for longevity rather than sub-par only to be met within a months' worth of riding having to buy anew. Makes better sense to get the "package" if possible and be happy from the get go.
So - I see your train of though - completely concur - however at this stage of the game, I'm nimble and wirey enough to meld into practically any new geometry (within reason) and just want a bike. Surfing and skateboarding have really made me into a flexible twisty kinda nutjob. I'm cool with a bike that goes up and down and pedals nice.
And one that can take a decent shitkicking now and then :mullet:
"I'm addicted to surfing."