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I have been debating back and forth for about 1-1/2 weeks now :confused: , so I decided to get other opinions. I have been out of biking for a number of years now, and have tried hard to get as current as possible on good equipment (through this site mostly). I have narrowed my choices down to 3 options.

1. Jamis Exile (2003 model)--$499
2. Kona Blaster (2004 model)--$599
3. Raleigh M80 (2004 model)--$509

I mostly do gravel trails, but am looking to really get into some single track. I rarely ride on paved roads. Stability will be an issue when I get to single tracks. Minor parts like tires are not as much of a factor. Mainly frame, shock, braking ability & upgradabilty.

The Jamis looks like a really good deal, since normal retail is between $599-$659. It also seemed to have better components than the Raleigh. I've considered the Raleigh due the fact that it has disc brakes and I can upgrade later to the Avid discs.
I feel it is really between the Kona and Jamis, but I haven't really heard a lot about Jamis unitl recently. Anybody else have experience with any of these or all of these bikes? Your opinions will be much appreciated. Thank you.
 

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I have the 2004 Kona Blast and I really like it. I ride mainly singletrack and gravel paths.

The drivetrain is solid and I've never had a problem shifting or with noises, etc. The tektro brakes are alright, I always seem to be tweaking them by the tension screws though, I would upgrade if disks or other V's elimate this, but they are solid on steep decents. The rims are double wall and haven't went out of shape much at all. Front fork is good value for the money (when compared to Judy TT, Manitou Six, etc.). I can really climb with this bike, I think the rear geometry helps here.

Bike felt really solid when I compared it to similiar priced brikes!
 
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