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how much you lookin to spend?
I didn't really read much of this thread... but I agree with skiierman, Giant is the way to go.
If your boyfriend is going to be Downhilling, buy him a Giant Glory. I'm currently riding the 08 model frame, but I've ridden the 2010 and it's deffinetely one of the better bikes out there right now. I've ridden Banshee, Morewood, and Santa Cruz, but I enjoy the feel of the Glory.
If your boyfriend is going to be riding XC, buy him a Giant Reign. I've ridden them before and I loved them and I'm planning on buying one for my next XC bike.
If you have any questions about these PM me.
How old are you? and where do you live? That's the cat I race in.