Welp it might interest ya'll to know it has been almost 9 months and 15k since something has broke on my STI and the motor has been seasoned nicely. It will be getting another cobb access port next month for some map tunes and after I park it for this winter, hopefully next year it will be running on e85 with a twin scroll turbo. As far as the clutch and shifting goes, that new aftermarket clutch that was put in it was just stiff as all hell, it ended up getting easier as the tension in the new springs mellowed out. However, to those still wondering, I have continued with a combination of clutch and clutchless shifting. Now that the motor has broken in some and isn't as snappy on it's response, the clutchless downshifting is pretty easy too. Once I got a hang of the car it shifts perfectly fine without the clutch, though I still use the clutch on some hills because the gap between some of the gears is pretty big. Mostly I came back to this site because it has come time for brakes and instead of paying $700 for just pads at the dealer I wanted to see if anyone had some recommendations for aftermarket brakes... though with the amount of sarcasm and general trolling on here I already know I wont get a response worth a damn, and will end up shooting my shot with some random amazon brake kit.