Thanks for the clarification. There is some irony here for sure. If I were doing this I might do an upgrade path too- it would depend on the value of the titanium spikes to me because I don't think I would buy those separately.
That's no opinion on the relative merits, just that I've used Gitzo spikes, they do the job, and I watch my pennies as best I can while accumulating Gitzo tripods over time. So I have some personal irony here too .
I think the situation has become quite dynamic and it's thrown me off balance a bit...
The prices of Systematic vs Mountaineer are "wrong" but getting "righter".
Comparing the GT3541LS vs GT2541, the spec weight is so close that the Series 3 is very compelling. But Gitzo added a half pound to all the Systematics, making that comparison not quite as attractive.
Now the Markins hub becomes far more attractive in my mind.
Yet when I compare my own GT3541LS to my older G1228 (GT2541 But in the final analysis, even with a little added weight now, I think the Series 3 is a safer bet unless the difference in weight and bulk is a huge issue. That is usually only the case when air travel considerations come into play. And it helps to have a Series 2 and 3 side by side, and then go out and shoot them in the real world- tough to do without owning them.