Ok guys and gals, here's some questions for all you mountain bikers out there. Background: 34 yrs, haven't been out for 3/5 yrs, 6 ft, 185 lbs. Current bike is a 1995/1996 MARIN Pine Mountain, medium size, grip shift, steel frame, xt rear, front lx, Mavic (I think) rims, Manitou front susp... I (did) am looking to ride XC, trails, some street to get from trail to trail, not overly agressive, prefer a HT, looking around $1500 Cdn price range. Travelled to a couple of bike stores in the area, and they say that aluminum frames have improved signifcantly in the last 10 yrs. So, Is aluminum now comparable to steel for strength and durablilty I looked at an alum:Rocky Mountain Vertex, Devinci Cameleon, Trek ?, and a steel Jamis, all around the $1500 Cdn price range. Now some decision is based on personal preference, but are there any bike companies to stay away from for a quality, and a service p.o.v.?(point of view) Tried the SRAM (sp) 'rapid fire' type shifters, and I must say, I did not the action on them at all. Shifting down didn't seem natural and fluid, so I will stick with Shimano, but go from Grip Shift back to true rapid fire. So any input from riders out there would be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind I have been out of the field for a while so please be kind and use layman language when refering to parts/specs until I can back up to speed.