Seems like the ML if you're blind, the ASR-5 if you're not.
The ASR-5 is no looker mate!
My Durance may be aesthetically challenging to some, but I actually quite like the way it looks, it's not pretty but it is form follows fucntion and the function is absolutely spot on.
Is it me or do we keep coming to the conclusion the answer is ASR-5?
I've not ridden one, though on paper the design at least looks like it should climb well, the main pivot point (the most important thing really on what is essentially a single pivot bike) is in about the best position it can be IMO. Cannondales normally have their main pivot in the same place too, and Cannondales always climb well for a single pivot bike. But I'd say anything with a Maestro (ie. the Giant Anthem X or Trance X at 120mm) or a DW link (like the current Turners) will climb a little bit better, just through my own personal experience.
All this talk of bigging up of mavericks traction and frame weight is making me think I bought the wrong frame.
Mavericks aren't for everyone. I love mine, but many who've ridden them complain about how "inert" they feel. That is to say, you never really notice the suspension working away underneath you. IMO that's the sign of a good suspension bike, the suspension moves when it's supposed to (if you attached a Go-Pro pointed at the shock, you'd see the suspension is actually very active), but the rear axle path (parallel to the front axle path uniquely) does make it feel like its not doing much to some people.
Personally, I only have one criticism of my Durance. It's long... Very long for a 5" travel trail bike in fact. But then part of why it's so good at just about everything is for this reason. It climbs better than anything else (which nobody else is disputing), descends like a bike with much more travel, it's light, the shock is very simple and is easily user serviced, it's stiff laterally etc etc. It's just it's 3" longer in the wheelbase than my hardtail (though its probably still shorter than an Orange 5), so it's not the best bike for mega tight switchbacks.