Test Riding

The Sleepless in the Saddle entry form has been sent off. Jed and I are returning for another crack at the pairs race. And the Saab Salomon Mountain Mayhem is to be tackled again, the entry form was downloaded and sent off this morning. This time the original team is reforming under the rothar.com racing banner and for some of us it’ll be our third mayhem marathon. Now we’ve just got to wait to see if we’re accepted.

I took the Stumpjumper FSR test bike out on yesterday’s ride with Conrad. There has been a lot of hype about the new Specialized design and I wanted to test it out. The first thing that strikes you is that it’s a long bike for it’s size, no doubt a product of it’s race orientated hardtail namesake. The bike I rode was a medium (17″), but with an adjustment of the lengthy Thomson-a-like seat pin and a quick change to a 12cm rather than a 9cm stem and it was of similar setup to my FSR.

Very Yellow
disappointing

Differences stop there. This is a light bike with Fox air shocks front and back and can be fully locked out. It’s also has a low centre of gravity due to the swagged top tube, but this isn’t all good. The bottom bracket height is low due to the short overall length of the Fox shocks, which means it doesn’t take much to be grounding the pedals and cranks on even relatively flat surfaces. This annoying trait makes pedalling on bumpy downhills a rather off putting experience and riding in ruts near impossible.

Mud clearance isn’t fantastic either and isn’t helped by the Roll X tyres which although excellent all rounders, seem to like to cling onto mud. The lightweight design also doesn’t aid torsional rigidity. Powering on off camber surfaces, or out of ruts and the back of the bike seems to be pointing the wrong way. Conrad reckons there was a fair amount of this ‘crabbing’ going on, so tracking is a definite issue.

The fox forks were the usual excellent performers, whilst the new Triad rear shock was excellent in pro pedal mode, but seemed to blast through the travel too quickly when set at fully open, so might benefit from revised compression damping. The rest of the bike performed flawlessly and it certainly makes a good cross country day bike. I just can’t help thinking that an Enduro is better suited to northern England riding.

My overall verdict was one of disappointment. Either I just had a shocker of a ride with this bike, or magazines like Mountain Bike Action have got this bike completely wrong in their reviews. [Note: The comments expressed in this review seem to have been a bit controversial and haven’t been liked by some at Specialized for obvious reasons. Having spoken with many others that tested this bike or have ridden other Stumpjumper FSRs I am not alone in having experienced issues with this latest design].

Lots of snow
Dropping into Horseshoe Dale
Horseshoe Dale
Conrad keels over
The Dove Valley
Up along the tops of the quarries
The Dove Valley
The Dove Valley
The Dove Valley
Dropping down from Sheen to the River Dove
Dropping into Biggin Dale
Biggin Dale

The ride was the longest of Mike Pearce’s from his guide book to the Peaks and Derbyshire. Starting in Monyash, it takes in a large loop of the countryside, heading north to Chelmorton, through the stunning Horseshoe Dale, around the limestone quarries and through Longnor, before dropping down to Sheen and crossing the River Dove to Hartington. From there it was through another hidden limestone valley (Biggin Dale) and up onto the Tissington Trail and past Arbor Low back to the car.

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

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