Ok I have purchased and tested several items in the last year or so. Some of them new and some of them much discussed. Here are some hilights
Long Term (1 year +, 100's of km's, or 1000's of ft of decent)
1 - manitou slider - after much abuse and riding some other quality forks here is the nit a gritty. Solid, stiff and a great hucking, jumping and trail riding fork. This thing is fantastic for climbing and really turns any and all bikes into a climbing machine. I boguht it for this and really respect what Manitou has done to make a trail 7" dc fork. The downfall is simple. The SPV valving is too damn slow for dh. It just feels off. Packs up and doesn't feel smooth on REALLY rough technical dh sections. It is so slow it does the opposite of a jrT for example. It NEVER bottoms out. A dh fork should have negative and positive travel and constantly be working with the trail and not against it. This is not a dh fork and is ONLY freeride. As manitou advertises I might add, I just wanted to explain why. (I also have notes on the sc's, ride is the same but the seals blow like a baby that has to go to the bathroom)
2 - Marzocchi z150 - As usual marzocchi is the KING (no others in the scope sorry) of trail/fr forks. This fork overall, while my year is heavy, is solid stiff, QUALITY travel. This has everything I want in the slider. Plush and active but progressive when it needs to be and with the eta a decent climber. This fork also takes huge hits for a sc fork. It is heavy but with the 66rc using similar damping cartridges, lighter and rumours of eta next year. Marzocchi will still offer the best overall forks around. Don't even get me started on the 888. And now with fox out, no one can claim marz is expensive, fox did a good job SHATTERING that myth hahaha.
3 - Avid Juicy 5's - I wanted to leave a real review of this until I did some serious dh. I have said they were good but they go beyond that. The lever position is unreal, the modulation is on par with hopes and the power is there as well. What puts these over those is price and parts availability. I wanted hopes, I really did. But the 500$ / brake set + potential cost of repair (this is Whistler haha) I could begin to afford or budget for such a ridiculous part. The juicy's for 200$cdn for the set and parts all over the place and light...best value brake THAT WORKS on the market. Period.
4 - Hadley hubs - I am a masher, a bit of a hack and as smooth as a 280pound rider can be. This hub has been a godsend. Solid and keeps on CLICKING. Worth the money, thats another storey, I got it cheap, I wouldn't pay full price for it. But I would, if I could get it for 300cdn, but it again
Short Term Test (initial impressions)
1 - Trek Session 77 - Drooooooool....I wanted this bike when I saw them released last year and now want it even more. I rode this up and down a particularily rough trail. Now I assume it would be good at decending but am desperate for a long travel trail bike that pedals better than my bighit. This is my machine, climbed like a beast and when I release the brake RAILED the trail. This is a phenomonal bike. Quality build, solid and knows when to react. The adjustable bb height was excellent too. The thing that stuck out most is the saddle position. Maybe it is because I am getting better, but the bighit's saddle position is too far back. While great for a manual sucks for anything on trails. the session is slacker, more travel but the saddle position is identical to my Roast. In short climbs, rides and feels like my Kona roast, but when things get harry it handles like a dh bike.
Thats it. I did a tonne of riding this weekend and am aching pretty seriously. Several crashes and more scares than I care to recound, it was a great 2 days of trails, hike a biking (I would LOVE to find riders who could ride UP what I was going down, please come try I will buy you a beer) and a few hours of lift dhilling...Enjoy