Bizarrely, I first heard about Stooge Cycles, who are based in Oswestry in the UK, when I interviewed USA MTB legend, Charlie Kelly. Even though I’d lived within a 30 minute drive from Stooge HQ, I’d missed it somehow. Charlie had visited Stooge Cycles on a previous UK visit because Andy Stevenson, the Stooge founder and owner, had built a bike called the CK Flyer in recognition of Charlie’s downhill exploits. After talking to Charlie, I checked out the Stooge website and then got in touch with Andy in early 2021. This was during the ‘you-know-what’ period, and I fancied one of his bikes. Andy didn’t have anything in stock, but did have some new designs that he was going to get made. However, Stooge Cycles are a small boutique business and to get quality frame sets built in Asia during the pandemic, he ended up at the back of the looooooooong manufacturing queue.
Fast forward a few months and Andy announces a new frameset called The Speedbomb, and opened up the order book for a limited number of pre-orders and deposits. I dived in and got my name on the list, and then waited, waited and…….etc. Whilst I’m not the most patient person in the world, I do know that not everything in the world is click’n’recieve within 24 hours, so I waited until my excitement was re-ignited, which was a couple of months ago. Andy posted a progress update with pictures of the Speedbomb frame showing it in the three colour choices. This meant that it was time for me to start thinking about the build and the parts, and as Andy had already given me the parts spec’ that the bike requires, it was time to start shopping. The parts spec’ information was really helpful as the complexity of just the latest wheel hub widths and dimensions, chain alignment measurements etc can be a bit confusing.
I had two ways of getting the full parts kit for the bike; The first one is the most common way of doing things, which is to come up with a rough budget, do lots of internet review reading, get opinions from friends, find the cheapest e-commerce source, get everything shipped, and then just hope I got it right. The second way is a little less traditional in today’s world, which involves taking the specification down to my local bike shop (LBS), have a chat with them to get advice on what would work in their experience, and then ask them to order the full kit. My LBS in the UK is Big Bear Bikes (BBB), and they have carried out major services on my ebikes and have a great selection of big brand bikes, kit and parts, so I know the capability of the staff and the shop. Today, people tend to go to their LBS to buy a bike, get it fixed or to buy a specific part. Full bike part kits are not the norm for LBS shoppers anymore. The other key considerations are, can Big Bear Bikes be price competitive and do they really want this type of work as opposed to just shifting large volumes of bikes and riding gear. The answer is apparently, ‘yes’ to both of these two considerations.
I went and had a chat with Mike at BBB and he looked at the Stooge website and my parts spec’, then started to offer up suggestions on what would work and suit the bike, and based on how I want to use it. It’s at this point that I should explain what I want this bike for. If you look at the Stooge website, you’ll see that the Speedbomb is a rigid frame, 29er, and which is a bit ‘Klunker-meets-21st-century’. If you look at the feature image, you’ll see what I mean. I live very close to the North Yorkshire Moors area, which is beautiful and has some amazing riding trails. The trails are either easy single track or very open and ancient gravel tracks. Whilst the terrain isn’t Alpine climbing and descending, the ride profiles are ‘lumpy’, with short and steep climbs mixed in with the more gradual up and down hill work. All of this means that a full suspension bike isn’t really needed, but big wheels, good tyres, brakes and gears are absolutely required.
At the risk of sounding like ‘an old bloke’, this bike also reminds me of the miles of fun I had on a Kona Cindercone back in the early 1990s, and that was a rigid bike too. Anyway, I get the call from Mike at BBB to say everything is in stock and ready for collection. It felt like a Birthday with lots of presents such was the pile of boxes of parts that I was presented with.
I’ve listed the parts that Mike recommended and ordered for me below:
Wheels – Hope Fortus 35 29” with inner tubes.
Brakes, IS post adapters & discs – Hope Tech 4 X2 – 160mm rear & 180mm front rotors.
Headset and cap – Hope Pic’n’mix – 1 1/8” diameter
Stem – Hope AM 35mm reach
Pedals – Hope F22 or Shimano clipless (depending on the ride)
Chainset, bottom bracket, rear derailleur & Cassette – SRAM GX 12 speed boost – 175mm crank length
Tyres – Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 29” diameter & 280mm wide (I’ve used these on my Trek MTB and they’re brilliant).
Bars – Stooge Moto bars 800mm wide
Seatpost – Ritchey WCS 30.9mm día & 400mm long
Saddle Bontrager Arvada comp
Grips – Lizard Skins ‘Macaskill’
Bottle cages – Bontrager side entry (I have these on 3 bikes now and they’re ace!)
Special tools – SRAM bottom bracket and cassette tools
The big question is; Were BBB competitive on price? Yes they were as it turns out. I’d worked out a budget based on some internet costing and BBB came in at my budget, It obviously took longer for Mike to get the parts all together than it would’ve if I’d done it all via e-com, but I did plan it well in advance and Mike knew what timelines he had to hit. BBB we’re also happy to build the bike up for me if I wanted them to, but that is my exciting job!
It is a quality pile of parts that I have got for the bike and one which will recognise the work that Andy Stevenson has put into designing and making the Speedbomb frame. Getting the parts in advance of the frame meant that I could build up the wheels and do some YouTube research regarding fitting the SRAM kit. My experience is with Shimano, some Campagnolo and various different vintage brands, but not with SRAM. Anyway, the videos were clear and all of the parts were neatly stacked in my shed in readiness for the build day. I have to say at this point, that the thought of a whole day put aside for a new bike build in the shed with great components is nearly as good as actually riding the bike. One last point, I’ve decided to use tubes in the tyres and not go tubeless. For me, it’s less hassle carrying a tube and doing a quick change than it is with the whole tubeless process. Also, the seat post is not a dropper post. I’ll try it with the rigid Ritchey seat post as its super-light and if I need a dropper post, I’ll get one at a later date as I want this bike to be as simple as possible.
The week following the collection of my parts, I get a message from Andy that the frames have landed and he’s happy for me to do a ‘drive-through-collection’. Stooge HQ is in an idyllic location and very appropriate for the designs that are created there. I meet Andy in person for the first time since we’ve been emailing each other for the last 18 months, and he makes me a mug of tea and shows me around. We then have a photo in front of his shed wall with my frame, then it is packed up, put in the van and I hit the road again. We agreed that when the bike is built and he’s got some time after shipping out all his bikes, I’ll go back again for a ‘2 men on Stooges’ ride out in the Welsh Marches area, and Andy has agreed to be the next ‘Interesting Interview’👍.
The build day was the day after I had collected the frame from Andy, partly because I had been looking forward to it for a long time, and partly because the weather conditions were perfect. It was raining all day, but not in my shed. I needed to refer to YouTube for three things that I hadn’t used before during the build; The Hope headset cap, the Hope brake line shortening process and the SRAM derailleur set up. Apart from these, everything else went together perfectly on the frame with my level of bike build capability. The paint finish on the frame is great and all of the fittings were included such as cable clips, eccentric bottom bracket shell and rear axle mounts. There is a neat oval slot at the bottom of the seat tube for the internal dropper post cable and there are two rubber covers supplied. One is just a blank and the other fits neatly around the cable.
The build took me a leisurely 6 hours with a lunch break and two tea breaks. I am really, really pleased with the completed bike. It is simple, light and has latest cycling tech’ on it. Andy has only had 100 of these frames made, and in three colours. I don’t know how many were sold at pre-order stage, but I think the remaining lot will sell out quickly, so if you fancy one, you’d better be quick. The next post will be about the first ride on My Stooge Speedbomb, which will be followed by the ‘Interesting Interview’ with Andy.
Here are some photos of the final build, with the first pic as the finale with Mike from BigBear Bikes😍
Some useful links:
Stooge Cycles http://stoogecycles.co.uk
Big Bear Bikes https://www.bigbearbikes.co.uk