There's so many great "complete" hardtails sold that sacrifice too much in the fork department for this part of the world, IMO. I get why they do it -- it's a volume bike that had to be positioned globally and hit a price point -- but for us here in the PNW the resulting experience is defined by fear and buyer's remorse.. HT is one of the few categories left in bikes where buying a frame and building it up is probably the way to go.
I do think this is a big part of understanding the "value" of a higher-end build like the Knolly, Chromag, etc. You don't have to immediately start replacing parts. First ride impressions matter!
Let's go ride in Bend, Pete!