These days I seem to be changing a lot more on my bikes, and my frequency of purchase has dropped from a bike every 18 months to three in the past 18 months. First it was the Salsa El Mariachi, and then a Rocky Mountain fat bike, and finally a Stooge.
I think the mistake I made with the Salsa was buying it as a full bike as the ability to build from frame up gives you exactly the bike you need.
The Stooge is advertised as a progressive trail hard tail, which in practice means it’s slack, short back end and high front end. Ridden rigid, big tyre up front, it’s meant to be comfy to ride and will get through a lot more than you’d expect on a rigid bike.
I bought the Stooge to replace one of my El Mars (I had one rigid and one SS), I wanted a rigid singlespeed just for knocking around on.
Around this time, I cracked the rim on another bike so picked up a pair of white Flows – this is the work in progress build, awaiting the rear wheel. Up front I’m running a dynamo hub, hoping to donate the wheel into my bikepacking El Mariachi at some stage.
However, it didn’t work like that. I stopped riding the Salsa completely, the Stooge really was that good. It feels nothing like the rigid Salsa, the slack and high front end in conjunction with the 3″ tyre means it just powered through anything, and the short back end keeps it really agile. It’s a bit like riding half a fat bike, you hit the mucky stuff with the front wheel, float it, and then the rear digs in and grips and you drive forward. It won’t replace a full fatty for the gloopy or snowy stuff but for general trail riding it’s great.
It does feel a bit heavier than my Salsa but it’s not noticeable when riding it. If anything the twin top tube makes it both easier to lift and shoulder so it’s a blessing in disguise.
Anyway, riding this bike as SS and my main bike was hard work, so I decided to gear it up with some old bits I had lying around. It became a 1×9 initially, just for mucking around and not as my bikepacking bike.
That was soon forgotten though, as the chance of a free weekend and an attempt on the Capital Trail loomed. The trail incidentally was pretty poor by comparison with both the Cairngorms Loop and the Highland Trail, but the bike was simply phenomenal. Comfy throughout even on rocky descents, good seating position and the high front end meant my hands weren’t destroyed.
The photo was taken at the Three Brethren between Selkirk and Innerleithen.
Wheels are Flows, dynamo hub and Salsa/Formula Rear, strongly built by my Local Bike Shop – Matt at Just Bike Repairs in Juniper Green, near Edinburgh. These wheels are bomb proof – I tore four spokes out with a stick to wheel interaction and despite the rim being oval the rest of the wheel held for my ride.
Surly Knard 29×3″ up front (the 127tpi one) and probably a Geax Saguaro out back. It was originally a Nobby Nic but when that exploded rather quickly on a descent I decided that other tyres might be more durable…
Drivetrain 1×10 SRAM XX (got it cheap) with Absoluteblack expander cog and oval narrow wide chainring giving me 32-40T lowest gear.
Hope stem, Race Face risers, Cane Creek bar ends, Thomson seat post and my favourite contact point, a Brooks Cambium C15. It’s heavier than a normal saddle but very comfy.
I think I feel a lot happier with this bike than last year’s, in part because I built it myself to my exact spec but also because it’s a really nice bike to ride. As comfy as steel can be, definitely making the most of the material.