If you missed the build post I did of this bike, then never mind, because you can read it after this one through the link at the bottom.
SCENE SETTER: The Stooge Speedbomb emerges from its shed and into a bright July morning. This is the first, post-build ride, and I’m lucky enough to have nice rolling trails, Bridleways and tracks straight from the house. I lift the Speedbomb out of the way of the shed door as I close it. This bike really is f@@@ing light! It looks like a long bike, and is nearly as long as my motocrosser, but actually, it’s the same length as a 29er enduro MTB. Playing on it in the yard at the back of the house shows that it has a steering lock and turning as good as my trials bike. It looks really magnificent in the morning light, and before it gets dirty for the first, but not last time.
I’ll not post a Strava summary of the route and save you the absolute boredom. There’s nothing worse than being force fed other people’s Strava or Garmin ‘achievement analytics’ (in my view obviously). The route I’m riding is about 20 miles, 90% off road and takes about 3 hours blah, blah, blah. There are a couple of short, but wicked little climbs and some flowing descents, as well as having to negotiate a ford. This is not the car company Ford, but an ancient river crossing ford that we appear to have a lot of around here in North Yorkshire (U.K.).
Leaving our village, everything feels right from the way I set it up, and this first bit of the ride is a 1 mile tarmac strole. The bike feels a bit cruiser-ish riding down the narrow, hedge-lined road, but this changes immediately as I dash down into a small and wooded single track. I tilted the Stooge Moto bars forward a bit when I set it up and now I’m standing on the pedals descending and picking my way through the long, twisty grass, it feels more moto than cruiser. I’ve kept the bars at the standard 800mm width and so far, whilst I thought they might be too wide for me, I’m liking how they quickly turn the front wheel, which seems a loooooooong way out front in comparison to my normal MTB.
One of the other things I was interested to see, is any ground clearance limitation. With the SRAM GX chainset, the lowest point of the chainring is 250mm above level ground. This is actually similar to my full suspension MTB when I’m sitting on it and with the suspension sag factored in. I attempt to get over a couple of logs in a trials stylee. A quick semi-wheelie sees everything way out front clear the log until the back wheel arrives, and with my weight moved well forward, the Bontrager XR4 Team Issue tyre grips and follows me over without too much wheel-spin. Riding a rigid bike like this obviously requires a bit more thinking in terms of where my weight needs to be to get maximium grip, drive and efficient power.
After 5 miles of varied off road terrain, I’m not missing the dropper post. On all of my bikes, I have the same ‘pedal-axle-centre to top-of-saddle’ measurement of 90cms (exactly!). The frame dimensions give me room to move around, and the rigid Ritchey seat post set at this height is fine. I’m sure that if/when I tackle some more challenging rocky drops, I’d probably pop in a dropper post, but for this ride, which the bike is well suited to, I’m happy. Alternatively, I’ll use the full-susser for drops and not ride this for something it’s not designed for. Captain Sensible approach? I think so.
Even though we’ve had rain recently, I haven’t used any mudguards on this first ride. I have got a CRUD XL front mudguard coming in the post for it for the wetter rides. I put one of these CRUD XL mudguards on my full suspension MTB when it was new 4 years ago and I’ve never taken it off. For the back, I just clip one on the seat post when I need it, which is easier on a rigid seat post than a dropper seat post😉.
The Hope brakes both look ace from where I’m sitting on the bike and work impeccably. I shortened both hoses following the Hope YouTube tutorial correctly and that meant that I haven’t got any sponginess in the feel. I’m also very pleased with the 12 speed SRAM Eagle GX shifting that Mike from Big Bear Bikes recommended. Shifting up or down under load is no issue and confidence inspiring.
I started the ride with the tyres a tad too hard as I thought it might slow me down on the road, but the bigger 29” lightweight Hope wheels enable me to ride any terrain with lower pressures, so I stopped on two occasions to hiss out a bit more air. Mud clearance of the frame isn’t an issue with my 2.8 width tyres either, and I did get through some boggy bits on the ride. I could’ve ridden with either the Shimano SPD pedals or the Hope flats on this ride, but went with the playful latter that I fitted and they were fine.
The riding position is different to any other bike I have, and quite soon into the ride, I actually approached it as though I was riding an eMTB, which is to stay planted on the saddle and not stand up on the pedals and push. That appears to just completely waste energy with the riding position on this bike, and I didn’t go any flippin’ faster either! This makes it a very relaxing bike to ride. Unhurried. No stress. Shut up. Just pedal.
I did (obviously🙄) stop at a cafe/local bakery for a cappuccino and cake mid-ride, only to find out that it’s closed on Tuesdays. Doh! A couple of men on big BMW adventure bikes, who had also got the wrong day to stop at the cafe, walk over to me and one of them greets me with “WTF! Where did you get that beauty?”. We spend the next 15 minutes talking all things Stooge, so I’m naturally in ‘smug’n’proud-mode’. I got them to take a picture of me and the bike before we parted. I must admit, the bike does look bloody well amazing🤩🤩😍
You might have noticed from the pictures or by looking at the spec’ on the Stooge website, that this bike comes with literally thousands (no exaggeration 🤣) of mounting bolts for racks and stuff. Apart from the two bottle cages, I’m unlikely to use any of the mounts, so I’ve put a greased bolt in every one to keep the water and the crap out. They also make it look a bit more ‘classy, riveted metal ship’ as well.
What would I change from my original build? Absolutely nothing. With some thought, help and advice, I can say that I got it right first time. Phew! 😅
I did start to ponder during the ride; ‘I wonder if His Royal Stoogeness will come out with branded riding gear, key rings, baseball caps, stickers/decals, umbrellas, tote bags, pens, bidons and other marketing shit’, then I got back to reality and recognised that this bike and the whole Stooge experience is to ‘just bloody well get on it, ride it, and quietly, FFS!’🤣
I definitely won’t apologise for thinking about what type of headwear I should’ve put on for this first Stooge ride. I had a choice of helmets for; downhill, eMTB, old-skool MTB, Giro roadie, ‘70s Moto or a vintage ‘90s Bell. I actually nearly settled for none of these. Instead, I thought that a cloth flat cap with an old ‘70s leather hairnet helmet under it might work, and which would’ve looked ‘very-Stooge-country-living’. However, I went with the old-skool MTB lid in the end, but I’m still not convinced I’ve found the ultimate Stooge headgear yet🤔.
Question 1: Was it comfortable over 20 miles? Yes. No unusual aches or pains and it’s a good position to ride in.
Question 2: Are the bars still too wide? No. I was thinking about cutting off 15mm of each end, which Andy Stevenson advised against. Because I’d used the Danny Macaskill grips, which are longer than normal by about 15mm, they’ve actually given me more space to move my hands around, so these Stooge Moto bars will stay at 800mm.
Question 3: Any negatives? No. You’ll only find negatives by comparing it to every other MTB on the market, and actually, I don’t think there is a similar bike to compare it with. I think it’s quite unique. I have an cunning plan to take this bike for some coast riding. This is riding on the beach, over rock slabs and through sandy pools when the tide is out (obviously), and then back along the cliff tops when the tide comes in. I hear the coast acalling. I know some people will cringe at the thought of riding this or any bike in salty, gritty sea water, but with some care, it’s not an issue.
I don’t know what the next post about this bike will be, but I’m damn sure there will be others, so keep tuned for more Stoogeness stories😉
Previous post https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/the-stooge-speedbomb/
Stooge website http://stoogecycles.co.uk
Big Bear Bikes https://www.bigbearbikes.co.uk