I turned up at Glentress today to enjoy a sprint around the red but I only managed to get about 400 yards up before my bloody annoying front-brake-locking problem returned and I couldn't get it to free off no matter what I tried (I think it's in the master cyl as all pistons move fine and have new seals etc, but that's not the point of the story). I popped back to the Alpine Bikes shop and was about to ask the chap if he had a spanner I could borrow to take the top off the master cyl to have a look when I glanced up at the hire prices and thought "sod it, the price of just about any repair on this annoying bike I can hire one for the day and enjoy myself" - we were a bit late already and I didn't want to keep folk waiting. So I took one of the Trek 6300s and off I went. Initial concern that the head tube felt really quite steep and twitchy went away as I gained a bit of trust in the front tyre which seemed to have endless grip (a bonty tyre IIRC) on the corners. So the climb still nearly killed me (I'm a bit unfit) but on the downs I don't think it slowed me at all in comparison with the NRS I normally ride. Could have had more travel up front to be more comfy but it felt pretty responsive and made the jumps much more fun - I finally got myself landing on the down ramps of the tabletops rather than back wheel on the edge.
So, out of a bit of an annoying maintenance problem I now have a bit of an annoying bike choice problem - do I drop full sus and return to hardtail? If so, what mid-range frame for a tall, heavy all-rounder on a build-from-scratch budget? I really enjoyed the ability to flick it round which just doesn't seem to be present with the NRS. I was just in the process of building up a long travel full sus and that's on hold too now!