So, I've got my new bike (yippeee). I've had it out for a few rides around the local trails (see pics below). The great news is that it already feels real sweet, a delight to ride, not only because the big 3" tires on 29+" wheels just roll over most everything, but also because the whole critical fit / alignment / positioning seems to be bang on. The long, curved-in Jones handlebar (an experiment), so far, feels real natural.
I put on some quality pedals, a Thomson seat post and Selle saddle, some Ergon grips and a lower ratio set of chain rings (to aid loaded climbing). I also put on a fairly low profile Topeak rear rack, departing from my usual near religious adherence to steel. Not sure if I'll keep the rack, but wanted it for colder season and longer trips - at least until I see if I can pare my packing down enough to manage without. I'm also experimenting with some water bottle mount options, given the inner frame will be filled up by the frame bag: currently, I've rigged some mounts off the front forks, along with the Salsa Anything cages.
The gnarly news is that I still haven't received my frame bag to properly try out the new packing set up. I've already got my handlebar, seat, top bar and fork bags, so the frame bag is the last piece. Oh well, the snows are still out there on this unusually snowy winter, so hopefully the bag will arrive in the next week or so and I can put all the new pieces through a full dress rehearsal.
Will provide another update after I get the bike out for a few fully loaded, multi-day rides.