I spent about two weeks researching the various offerings for 29'er frames and went on the advice of Mark McG, a fellow CT Mountain biker, blogger, and 29'er afficianado, to check out the Q Ball from Scott Quiring. Scott owns Quiring Cycles, LLC, a custom frame builder in Michigan. After reading about his design philosophy and checking out the reviews and threads on MTBR.com I decided this was the frame for me.
The only reservation I had was that there were no cantilever brake posts. In order to keep costs down, I wanted to start out with Cantiliver and then work my way up to disc at a later point but the Q Ball doesn't offer that feature. The other advantage to cantiliver is that it gives me the option to have to two different cogs on the rear tire. However, the frame has a built in bottle opener. So, you could say that I am trading cantilever brake posts for a bottle opener. I think I can live with that.
The next hurdle is the build up. I don't know much about parts, although I am learning about them. While it would be a great education to do the build up myself, with three kids running about the house, I just don't have the time, nor the patience. I hemmed and hawed about having my LBS do it but Mark suggested that I ask Scott to see whether he could do the build for me. After contacting him, he said he could do it and try to keep things within my budget as wells keeping within certain weight parameters.
So, right now I am waiting on his Spec list for the parts which I will include the final cost estimate. Once I have that and have everything figured out, I am pulling the trigger.
Since this bike is replacing my Trek, it also will become the bike that I ride with the kids, pull the kid cart and the trailer bike. What I am going to do for those events is get a second seatpost and seat (one of those comfort bike types with a shock built into the seatpost and mount the trailer bike hitch to that. That way, I just switch out seats when I want pull the trailer bike. I think this especially smart if I go with a carbon fiber seat post.