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The important thing is the bike's fit and feel. Ride 'em and see which one works for you. Components can be changed. But if the frame doesn't fit you, there isn't much you can do other than buy a new frame.

I find that doing normal service myself instead of taking bikes into the shop saves me time. I don't have to schedule a trip to drop off and a trip to pick up the bike from the LBS, just go out into the garage and do it. But I already have the knowledge and tools to do everything except pressing in headsets.

If you are starting from no knowledge and no tools, you should at least learn how to chang tires/tubes and adjust brakes and derailleurs. Those are skills that you sometimes need on the road. The Park Tool web site has a great how-to section.
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