It is with great pleasure that I formally introduce to you all my new super bike, Stumpy.
Or to give my beauty its formal title – Stumpjumper fsr expert carbon evo 650b.
Personally I blame my brother, Scott for the sudden giant hole in my savings. This would never (well, maybe not until summer anyway) have happened if I hadn’t been forced to accompany him bike shopping! Saying that I am undeniably delighted that I seem to have got him so hooked on mountain biking that he has decided to upgrade to a full suspension bike. His basic model Whyte hardtail was, strangely enough, looking a little out of its depth at Gawton! He is now the proud owner of a Specialized Enduro Elite 29r.
Scotts’ bike – Eddie
The terribly unfortunate side effect of all this bike research and test riding was the glaring inadequacies of my own bike it showed up. As an entry level full suspension bike my Cube Sting WLS 120 pro 27.5 has been great. After a few upgrades such as a dropper post and stronger wheels (the basic ones fell out with Cwmcarn) it has competently taken me on many an adventure. From big xcountry days out in the Peak District and the Chilterns, jump days at Chicksands, a week in the Alps, to more recently exploring all of Devon. Despite only acquiring Cubey last spring it will be a sad sale, almost like saying goodbye to an old, faithful friend.
With the recent change of direction my life has taken, mountain biking has gained more importance to me, not just as a hobby but as something I strive to make part of my working life. Now that I regularly spend more time on a bike, I find that as my confidence and skill improve my ambition as a rider expands. After only 1 lap of the carpark on my first test rides, a Giant Reign then a Trek Remedy 29r, the difference a better bike could make was obvious. My Cube is fundamentally a XC bike, whereas the more I do, the more I favour the DH tracks, particularly the natural Enduro style stuff.
After trying 8 different bikes I eventually narrowed it down to the Giant Reign 2 or the Stumpy. Bike Shed in Exeter had the Stumpy and Scott’s final choice the enduro in as barely used ex demo bikes at a fantastically reduced price. The salesperson we dealt with – Adam was extremely helpful getting numerous bikes out, looked over and set up to our individual weights for a test ride. Sceptics out there, I hear you thinking “Oh well obviously he’s just looking for a sale” but Adam really did go far more out of his way than any other salesperson we met in other stores. He was also clearly a keen, experienced and knowledgeable biker himself which showed. When he heard from Scott that I was undecided on the two he actually got the Giant Reign brought over from another store so I could test the 2 together.
Hours of review trawling later, all knowledgeable friends thoroughly quizzed on their opinion, lots of stress on my part as a I had a panic at spending so much money, a decision was made. The Stumpy won for its higher specification components, the carbon frame making it so light and the fact it’s a bike that is made to do everything so I can still enjoy long xc rides if I want to. A big deciding factor for me was the feel of the bike on a test ride which I found to be a really individual thing. Several of the industry highly rated bikes I, personally found too big and heavy, almost excessively planted and burly. The Stumpy however is very light and easy to get in the air, it has an almost playful feel that I just found so much fun it made me grin instantly. The experience really showed me the importance of picking a bike that suits your individual riding style.
Despite the warnings of Adam in the shop I have still found the process of readjusting to a new bike a challenge. The differences I have found are;
- The steering. Stumpy has wider bars, a shorter stem and is longer in front. This makes the steering more accurate but it has taken a while for my brain to readjust and judge this correctly. I also kept clipping the handlebars on trees – not clever!
- The bike is longer and the geometry of it naturally sits you in a better stable position so I don’t need to lean as far back as on my much more upright Cube.
- Despite what magazines may say 1 x 11 gearing IS harder to pedal uphills!
- It is so quick! Lighter bike, more travel = gain speed twice as fast, at first I felt like the bike was running away from me!
Most of all I have had to learn to trust in the capabilities of the bike. Believe it will grip in the corner, bounce over roots and rocks, land comfortably and where I want it to off that jump or drop. When I stop being a chicken and pulling the brakes or illogically thinking sticking a foot out will help it has been amazing. Already I am having more fun riding than ever before as I find myself laughing when I mess up and smiling the whole way down, rather than just death grip hanging on and laughing just because I’m stunned to have made it to the bottom in one piece.
I have big hopes for my future with this bike. I have entered my first 2 races, the Welsh Gravity Enduro mash up at Cwmcarn in March and the Triscombe round of the UK Enduro series! This has given me an excellent reason to book a sneaky few days in Wales getting some intensive practice in! I’m also planning to try and join a training day of some kind as I now REALLY need to become a better rider ASAP. At some point I plan to bully myself into taking a simple bike mechanics course so I can actually understand how this fancy machine works. Oh and then there’s this niggling itchy feeling developing in my feet every time I see a picture of a mountain …………….. Oh No………………the Alps are calling!!!