I can't speak for the AL version but I have 10 months on a carbon version. For background I came off and Epiphany and ride Santos and Boyett most often. Though it is a race bike by design, I find it to be a great trail bike and ride an occasional 6 hour. It feels every bit as confident in the technical stuff as my 26er did at 140mm. Swap out the tires and your ready to go. Aside from very tight technical turns (think John Brown at Santos) it is faster and very agile, though there is an adjustment period. If your looking at the Rumblefish as well, you won't need it for anything in Florida, this 100mm goes a long way on big wheels. If your looking for a very efficient machine that is at home almost anywhere this is a good bet. For the price of the AL, you can pick up a lightly used 2011 carbon if you look around. If they bought Red Shield, it can be transfered giving you frame warranty. I'm 5'10" which is borderline between the 17.5 and the 19, I like riding the 19. Also look at a Jet 9 which is getting much more affordable in the aluminum version, I road one in Moab in the fall and had a blast.