Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Make it new (again)

Crazy what a little "swapping things out" can do to a bike.  I have a 2012 Stumpjumper FSR from Specialized that I've really been lukewarm about lately.  I got the bike back in November, and rode it like crazy.  Loved it from first ride and didn't want to change a thing.  Fast forward a bit, and I got back on my Cannondale Jekyll that had seen off time and I remembered how much I loved THAT bike!  Then, after getting back on the Stumpy I found it to be squishy and slow, with crappy handling...or so I thought!

The other day I had the idea to build it up with much of the best components I have.  I had been on the fence about selling it, so I figured if I could build it up exactly like I wanted to, and it STILL wasn't what I wanted I would pack it up and ship it out to the highest bidder.  Thus began the "test".

Today I spent time working on it and getting things dialed the best I could.  I put on a shorter stem, wider bars, and a 150mm fork (as opposed to the 140mm that came stock).  My thought was that I'd slacken the head tube angle a bit, shorten the stem to grab some lighting quick handling, and widen the bars to add some stability.  Oh, and I also threw some new, faster rubber on the wheels.  I swapped out the stock Specialized tires for some less aggressive, but equally sticky, Schwalbe Rocket Ron's.  Unfortunately, just about every part came off the already "dialed" Jekyll, so I had to really commit to the project.

After the build, I went off to the local trails for a test run.  I brought some tools along as I knew I'd have some small changes to make as I rode.

The first impression wasn't much.  There's a lot of pedaling in the beginning of the trail and the bike felt almost no different than it had previously.  Ok, no biggie. The first hill came and the climbing was a bit better, but nothing life changing.  I'm chalking this up to the adjustable suspension the Jekyll has (90mm or 150mm).  It's not a totally fair comparison though, so I don't blame the bike.  A 5.5 inch bike is gonna pedal like a 5.5 inch bike, and a 90mm bike is gonna pedal like a 90mm bike.  Physics don't lie.

After a bit I got to the first extended and flawy downhill section... and now the grins began!  I was very pleased with the performance and the handling of the bike.  The shorter stem showed up right away, and the extra bit of suspension and slacker geo made a big impact.  The only difference I'd say is that the smaller top tube of the Jekyll gives it a slight advantage heading downhill, but not so much that it can't be overcome by good bike handling.

The more I rode the better the bike felt.  I had to play a bit with the compression adjustments on the fork, as well as the rebound, but once it was dialed the Stumpy was shredding.  It's truly like an entirely new bike.

Now, I'm not saying that the Stumpy will replace the Jekyll in my quiver, but they are very closely matched bikes.  I'm not disappointed that I dismantled one bike for the other, and in reality, it's not like I can't just do the same in reverse whenever I'd like.  It's nice to have options and it's nice to ride different bikes.

Bottom line: The Stumpy is going to stay as for as long as it keeps performing like it did today.

The only add-ons I'm looking to make to it in the future would be an adjustable seat post and a set of Crossmax SX wheels.  The wheels will most likely be some time off, but an adjustable seat post is almost an immediate need.  I never thought I'd be so hooked on them, but after using the one on my Enduro, I almost can't ride without one!  One of those things I guess...

Pics to come of the build soon...

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