I picked these 6 Downcountry bikes because they have the most progressive geo with 74.5-76 degree seattube angles and 67.5-66 headtube angles. No bikes with XC geo! They have 100-120mm rear travel and 100-130mm front travel. All these bikes have gotten good reviews.
Specialized Epic. 100f/100r travel. 67.5 HTA. 75.5 STA. This bike has the shortest travel of all 6 bikes. Technically, the Epic is an XC bike but it has very progressive geo for an XC bike so I think it would make a fine Downcountry bike. Cheapest build $5900. Ouch!
Transiton Spur. 120f/120r travel. 66 HTA. 76 STA. This bike has the most progressive geo of all 6 bikes. Cheapest build $5000. Ouch again!
Ibis Ripley. 130f/120r travel. 66.5 HTA. 76 STA. This bike has the most travel of all 6 bikes and the 2nd most progresive geo. This bike is made for 2.6 tires. Cheapest build $4200.
Giant Trance 29. 130f/115r travel. 66.5 HTA. 74.5 STA. Cheapest carbon fiber build $3350. Cheapest aluminum build $2150. Finally, some affordable bikes! The aluminum $2150 build has very good spec for the price and I would put it on the short list for best budget Downcountry bike. However, it is probably not very light.
Kona Hei Hei. 120f/120r travel. 67.5 HTA. 75 STA. Cheapest carbon fiber build $4500. Cheapest aluminum build $2600. Also has an afordable aluminum build.
The Spur, Ripley, and Trance come with Trail tires. The Epic, Epic Evo,and Hei Hei come with XC tires and would likely benefit by switching to wider Trail tires.
I’m hoping that the Spur and Epic come out with more affordable builds soon. Maybe in the Spring?