Ok, so I caved and ordered the Superwinch Tiger Shark 9500 SR. I say caved, because I wasn't even sure I was going to order a winch at all. I went with the Superwinch over the Warn because it was almost $200 less expensive. I went with it over cheaper alternatives because they specifically say that the synthetic rope version has a different brake, designed specially to work with synthetic ropes (others at best mention a heat wrap to help protect the rope from the heat of the brake). It is also supposedly one of the easiest free-spooling winches out there, has mostly positive reviews, and most reports of customer service are positive.
But here's the thing. The Viper Midnight 8500 lb winch from MotoAlliance is only $350 with a synthetic rope, and $250 with a steel cable. That is quite a bit less than even the Smittybilt's and Rugged Ridge's of the world. It's even a bit less expensive than the Badland winch from Harbor Freight. If they are any good they could represent a pretty killer value.
So here's what I'm thinking. If people are interested I'll order one for testing and review. Don't know how I'll determine if people are interested, but who knows. If I do order one I'll do my best to do a thorough testing. As "real world" of use as possible, plus I'll see if I can rig something up to test the actual pulling power. And of course I'll just go over it and give my impressions of the overall quality, build, fit and finish.
So, I guess if people think that would be useful to the community, let me know. Not that I doubt it would be useful to someone, but I don't see a lot of winch talk on here, and maybe most people figure go Warn or don't go home. But hey, maybe there's plenty of interest in an inexpensive winch. I just don't want to drop the cash and put in the effort and time if nobody would really be interested. So, who would be interested in testing and review of the Viper winch from a random guy on the internet with no loyalties, allegiances or whatever to any company?