I didn't read the entire thread, because it got a little ridiculous but I did see something of interest on the 26' hardtail. Someone stated it seems as if the high end 26' hardtail is starting to be phased out. I honestly haven't noticed this and yes I'm sure there are plenty of manufacturers who still make them but I'd say this is starting to be the case. Not because one is better than the other but because the high end 26" hardtail isn't really selling anymore. I know of a couple of folks who still ride them but most have switched to 29. You can still find plenty of 26' hardtails in the lower end models and I doubt that will change anytime soon. Honestly if I ever went back to a 26" it would be an FS, I can't imagine ever riding a XC 26er hardtail again.
I've always liked being a little different, kinda going against the flow and while the Niner brand was popular when I bought mine not many people had them in our area. None of the LBS's carried Niner but once one of them had the opportunity to I jumped at the chance, I really don't like buying bike frames online. Now with a local dealer, Niner's popularity in my hood has really taken off and I'm no longer one of the few. It kinda sucks but I'm not about to sell my Niner's just to be different.
Speaking of different and cool things, I was looking for something like this but couldn't find it until now.
I was having trouble finding a bashguard for my 2x10 system and I ended up ordering an MRP taco but had this little jewel came out a couple week earlier I would have bought it instead. I will admit I'm a bit curious how well the duel sprocket chain guide works but it sure looks cool.