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I've been riding a 2010 EX5 since November and I love it. Great bike with pretty decent specs. Fox shock in the rear is pretty nice to have on an entry level FS bike. I got mine for just over $1250 but I negotiated and had a Specialized FSR XC as a back up if I didnt get the price I wanted. The frame on the EX5 is the same as 2009's EX 7 or 8 I believe so it's of pretty good quality. The juicy 3's have good stoppign power, but they tend to make noise after some hard riding adn stopping. The only negetive thing I can think of is the front fork. It's a Tora, but its the heavier coil version. But its really not that bad at all. This is a great bike for the money. I would say go for it... but i think you may be able to get it a little cheaper than 1300... What are your other options?
 

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I must admit that the x-cal has some pretty nice specs for the price. The x.9 in the front and the x.7 in the rear is much nicer than whats on the ex5. I'm not sure how much travel you want on your bike, but the 80mm seems a little short. not sure if its becasue its a 29er or what... the brakes are the same, also kinda nice that the wheels and tires ore tubless ready. the EX5 is not... I was loking in to going tubless adn its gonna cost around 200+...Still a great HT bike tho. Not a fan of the color, but it's quite solid.
 
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