Stumpy Rider faces up to that shocking truth: you don’t have to care about what the other boys and girls think
Specialized Stumpjumper FSR120 Comp; the 2005 model. MBR tends to like Specialized bikes and, as a result, those who frequent the likes of Singletrackworld tend to hate them. Ford Mondeo of the bike world, common as muck, boring and unimaginative. Apparently. Anyway, I can count on the one hand the number of times I’ve seen another Stumpy FSR on the trails. But I digress.
It boasts 120mm of suspension travel, front and rear. The rear shock even has 7 settings, although I’m buggered if I can spot the difference between any of them. It has Shimano discs, Mavic wheels and an XTR rear mech. Anyway, it’s all good stuff. But according to MBR, and in spite of their apparent love of all things from Morgan Hill, CA, my bike has one killer flaw: it has a low bottom bracket. (It’s bars may be a few mm too wide/narrow too, but that’s an aside.)
And then there’s the tyres. Let’s be honest, I don’t consider myself to be skilled in the ways of the bike testing ninja. You can adjust my shock pressure all you like and I’ll probably never notice. Stem length? Que? Chainstay length? No habla. However, in a brief moment of supreme bike awareness on a grassy slog up the Pentland Hills, I once made the flippant remark that the Specialized Adrenalines which adorn my wheels should be renamed Lactic Acid, such was their dragginess. (This was the ride, at the end of which I would break my collar bone but on hindsight, that was probably the bottom bracket’s fault. Or the front wheel coming off.) Oh how we laughed. A subsequent visit to mtbr.com, tho’, suggested that I was not alone in finding rolling resistance an issue when things got moist – and this was coming from American riders, where traction in the wet is a concept is unheard of! And then at least 2 (count ‘em – TWO!) people on STW – that doyen of informed debate – said something similar. It had to be true.
Yesterday, however, my faith in my trusty steed was restored. The heavens may radiated gorgeous sunshine but 18 previous hours of pashing rain had reduced much of the local trails to mush. This could be nasty but I needn’t have worried. My useless tyres propelled me up Dechmont Hill with relative ease, despite large chunks of the trail having literally been washed away, forming deep ruts which were crying out for an unsuspecting crank arm or 2. My legs span happily enough and my backside remained plonked on the saddle. In the muddy sections of Deans Wood, the rear end slid but in a controlled way and there was traction to be had even when the muddy-anyway bits would not have seemed out of place in Shrek’s swamp. On the return, using North Wood, my pedals were not ground to aluminium shavings on the rocky singletrack but my shockingly-low BB meant a low centre of gravity, in turn meaning that traction through the gloop was great. At one point I saw a couple, also with bikes, apparently admiring stunning vistas over, er, the M8 who seemed every bit as bemused at my muddiness as I was at their cleanness. Did a helicopter drop them onto this trail? Or were they from Rentaghost; you know, hold your nose and blow to reappear somewhere else?
By the time I got home, I was full of praise for old Stumpy. Hosing the mire from her flanks (and then discovering I’d run out of GT85), I decided that despite What The Papers Say or what the forums think, there’s probably not a lot I really need to change about her. Until, of course, Singletrack does another brakes grouptest…