All the gear, no idea. At least that's the starting point for a new venture in MTB'ing for me. In the end the will to resist a bike with more travel than a monster truck was too much, so here's what I will be mostly riding for the rest of this season (taking into account the fact that I have been riding nothing very much at all this season); a Kona Stinky. Matt–black with about 7" of travel and tough finishing kit this is my first foray into freeriding, which essentially means that I can no longer pull up at a 2ft step–down and blame the bike. In an attempt to extend my confidence just far enough I've also acquired a few bits of protective kit; some body armour courtesy of BrandX and a full–face helmet from Bell.
First impression of the bike; at first the front wheel feels like it's way out in front (which it is thanks to a slack head angle) and at first glance the large frame size (I tried a 16.5" but it felt too tight) means it looks like it'll be a handful, but once you're on and riding the Stinky feels just right. The cheapo forks (Marzocchi Drop–Off Triples) feel sticky and tight, and despite numerous adjustments of the preload and positive air they have an annoying click and a ton of stiction at the beginning of their travel, but I intend to replace these asap with something more becoming. Otherwise so far it's all good. I'm looking forward to some early–morning practice sessions at the local jump spot and Cannock's DH course :–)