The current Trailbike sweet spot has 130-150mm travel, 2.5-2.8 tires on (i=inner width) i30-35mm rims, 1×12 Sram Eagle drivetrains, and progessive but not extremely long and slack geometry. I wouldn’t buy a bike that didn’t have clearance for at least 2.6 tires and clearance for 2.8 tires would be better. Why not have the option to go Plus? I also wouldn’t buy any bike with very long and very slack geometry or travel longer than 150mm unless you ride lots of fast long steep technical descents—black diamond riding or enduro racing. Generally, I think an average or taller rider will be happier with a 29er, while a shorter rider will be happier with 27.5 wheels.
Here are some full-sus bikes I like because they check all these boxes. Specialized Stumpjumper, Scott Genius, Ibis Ripmo, Ibis Mojo, Trek Full Stache, Trek Fuel EX, Salsa Horsethief, Salsa Rustler. You really couldn’t go wrong with any of these bikes. Modern mountain bikes are mostly so good that if you find any brands bike that checks all these boxes it probably won’t be bad. In my opinion, the current Trailbike sweet spot defines some of the best Trailbikes ever made.
As another Northeast rider (New Hampshire and Vermont mainly) I’d recommend going on the shorter travel end of the spectrum (130mm is perfect). Because many of our trails are so tight and lack prolonged climbing and descending, trail bikes on the more mid-short travel end of the spectrum can handle the rolling terrain a bit better, but really don’t give up much on the descents once you learn how to ride them. And, as you’re still learning, the shorter travel will take the edge off bumps but still teach good line choice. Also, a few of my riding friends have fuel ex’s and love them!!
I’d agree with BZ202. I grew up in MA and was always perfectly happy with an xc bike. Modern short-travel trail bikes are more than sufficient, and are snappier on the rolling hills than a bike with more travel. There are some places in MA that have some technical stuff, like Vietnam, but i think with a modern geo and short travel you’re more than covered. I always rode 26in wheels, so i’m not sure what new size is better. One thing to keep in mind is that trails are generally quite rocky, so a 29er might help avoid excessive pedal strikes. That being said, if you want the stumpjumper, it’s still fine, just a lot of bike for the trails. My ’99 stumpy fsr xc which lives at my parents’ has 26in wheels and 80mm of travel front and back!
JGMTB thanks fro the reassurance as i was think that maybe buy the LT Stumpy and try to shorten the length on travel to suit the New England area but at the same time i would be able to bring the bike out west or anywhere with no worries on whether the bike can handle it. that was my thinking before now might get a stump st maybe swap out the drivetrain to eagle as the ST doesnt come with it until you get into the carbon.