I didn't immediately order my new bike after I sold my last one because I was impressed with every bike I rode, so I didn't know what to buy. I have ridden lots of great mountain bikes and the trail I was riding determined which bike was best. However, well before I sold my last bike I was trying to decide which bike I wanted to replace it with.
The way I finally decided which bike was best for me was by thinking about why I liked each bike. Whether it was the way it climbed, how easily it rolled over obstacles, how it felt in the corners, how it pedaled coming out of the corner, or how well it could wheelie. Once I determined what I liked about one bike, I did the same on the next bike and then compared the bikes. I took advantage of opportunities to ride bikes at demo events so I didn't base my opinions on the same few bikes. I rode hardtails, short travel and long travel full-suspension in both the 26" and 29" bikes and a 5.5" travel 27.5". The things that I liked about each bike helped me determine which bikes I didn't like because they didn't do the things I decided I liked. As stated, I rode lots of great bikes and really enjoyed each one.
The reason I chose the SB-66 is because it had everything I liked about each bike I rode. I felt confident on it immediately and only became more comfortable. People always try to convince others that they have the correct opinion. However, some bikes play to some riders strengths and help mute their weaknesses. Your friend's bike may be perfect for him/her but not even close for you. If you buy a bike based on someone else's opinion and you don't have the same strengths you'll end up trying to convince yourself that your $3000 purchase was good rather than enjoying the ride. But if you take the time to demo some bikes before you make your purchase, and make sure they are set up for you, you will end up with a bike that may make you faster but will definitely help you enjoy biking more.
I also took this same philosophy and applied it to road biking. Admittedly I rode fewer road bikes, but the concept is the same. Try different bikes and pay attention to what you like about them. Make sure each bike is set up for you. As mentioned in a previous blog post, I was set on getting a Trek Domane until I rode a Madone. It was still comfortable, but I felt more confident on it at high speeds. If I hadn't taken the Madone on a demo ride, I would have purchased a Domane and liked it well enough. As it is, I have a Madone that has helped me find a renewed interest in sticking to the pavement.
So if you want to figure out what bike is "The Bike" for you, ride a lot of different ones. On June 8 you can ride a Yeti or on June 22 ride a Niner. Both companies will have demo trucks set up at the Rainbow Gardens trail head. Or ask The Bike Shoppe or your friend if you can ride one of their bikes. Also, here's a video that is rad, you know, just for fun.