I picked up some new bike parts over the last couple of weeks that I was finally able to test out the trails this week.
The biggest thing was a new fork. I replaced a 2005 Marzocchi 66RC (perhaps the tallest, heaviest, single crown fork ever made) with a 2008 RockShox Totem Air. My old fork performed well, but was just really too tall and heavy for the bike (the redesigned that fork the year after I got it to make it lower and a little lighter) so I decided to get something new. I've been hearing great things about the new RockShox products and not so great things about the new Marzocchi line so I decided to try a Totem Air. With the Totem, I dropped 1.5lbs off the front of my bike, added 10mm travel, lowered the front end by over an inch, gained separate high and low speed adjustable damping, and got the added utility of a Maxle 20mm through-axle. I broke the fork in at Alafia on Saturday and it was awesome. I can really feel the lower weight up front and the lower front end made for better trail riding. The suspension stroke was very smooth, though it seems to use a bit more travel than my old fork. I can't wait to see how this fork will tackle some mountains out west. Here are some pictures:
I also picked up some new brakes...actually, I've had them for over 9 months, but just didn't get around to putting them on until recently. They are 4 piston Avid Codes with big 203mm rotors to help slow me down. The brakes felt pretty good out on the trails - good power (though not necessarily as strong as I thought they would be) and excellent modulation.
The last thing I got was a chain guide. I don't really need this here, but every time I've gone out west, I've had my chain pop off at usually the worst time possible. I picked up an E-13 LG1 guide and dropped my big and small ring along with my front derailleur in the process. It was a little weird not having that extra shifter on my bars, but it was oddly liberating at the same time.