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  • Back to Blog  

    How far can you push a trail bike?

       Words by Kathryn Dickinson

       on 24/09/2018 14:44:40

    CoverArticle written by #TeamRutland ambassador and avid mountain biker Archie Davies. Archie has his own blog A Gravity Man. Find out more about Archie >

    Having ridden the Specialized Stumpjumper, a.k.a Stumpy, for a few months Archie has taken this bike on all sorts of adventures, really pushing the bike to its limits. The ultimate test for this bike was taking it to Antur Stiniog in North West Wales to see how it fared against the rugged, downhill terrain.

    Stumpjumper vs. Antur Stiniog

    Its all well and good having a playful trail bike that encourages you to push it more and more. It lures you into this sense of invincibility to huck and hustle every trail centre you visit. So rather than head to a typical trail bike destination to see its true potential, I called the new Stumpy’s bluff, and took it straight to Antur Stiniog. Where you ask? It’s a downhill mountain bike park, in the Snowdonia national park, on the side of a slate quarry. What this results in, is super aggressive, hard core, no joking about trails, that frequently break 200mm downhill rigs. It’s the only place I’ve been too where you regular hear “Oh yeah last time I was here, I punctured by kidney”. Its that kind of trail centre. So come on then Stumpy, if I am to believe the hype, you should just about manage this by the skin of your inner tubes.

    Stumpjumper-anutr

    Will the Stumpjumper survive?

    My old school mate Gareth joined me for the trip. Having bought a Stumpy recently and been singing its praises, he was the ideal riding buddy to go thoroughly test the Stumpy with. Though concerns were already being raised over the lack of travel and thick casing tyres before we had even left home! We had a 4-hour drive ahead of us to Antur. As ever with Snowdonia, we left the blue skies of Cambridgeshire and arrived in the foggy, misty, and rainy conditions of Antur. It doesn’t matter what time of year you go, this place always feels like the Lord of the Rings! Gareth’s concerns were soon backed up as soon as we started getting the bikes out the car and building them up; we were looking seriously out biked. As if by magic our aggressive full suspension trail bikes looked like thin, delicate steeds compared to their burley car park stable mates. However fear not, with our lift passes in hand and full face helmets on, we made our way over to the uplift and up the mountain.

    The first run

    We arrived on top of the mountain, wind and rain in our eyes with two options: Red or Black? Knowing we only had trail bikes and with it being the start of the day, we opted for Red. Before barely getting started we found ourselves in two wheel drifts down the mountain as the Specialized Tyres weren't fans of the wet slate! Feeling tired, we took off down one of the many knarly red trails to find that the Stumpy’s were already up for the fight. After one run down we were just about clued in, with the brakes now developing a decent level of bite, we opted for the same route down with a little more pace this time. Again, the Stumpy’s took it within their stride and our confidence grew.

    Stumpjumper

    Hitting the black trails

    The 1pm shut down for lunch came quickly with both Gareth and I chuckling at how no one all morning had come close to catching us, let alone overtaking us on their downhill rigs. Perhaps the Stumpy is the ultimate trail bike? It certainly feels like one of the best bikes we have ridden. Having finished lunch, we headed up for the afternoon. With the now drying trails and growing confidence we decided to hit the blacks, trails that I remember back in 2015 felt harsh on my then 210mm downhill rig. First thoughts on the Stumpy on black runs? Mechanical sympathy!! The trails build on the already ridiculously rough reds that will happily shake your bike to bits, but now with essentially a permanent jagged rock garden from top to bottom. Unlike a typical trail centre rock garden you’re doing 20mph+ and landing from height on these triangular rocks.

    Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon Comp 29 2019 Mountain Bike White

    Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon Comp 29 2019 Mountain Bike White

    Specialized created the all new Stumpjumper Carbon Comp 29 2019 to not only shred hard and fast but to offer the holy grail of mountain biking, fun. Crafted to have unrivalled handling and stiffness, sublime suspension kinematics, and a complete lack of any proprietary nonsense to make it ride like a dream, so you can swap out components where and whenever you want.

    • Frame - FACT 11m Carbon
    • Fork - Fox Shox Float Rhythm 34 150mm
    • Shock - Fox Shox DPS Performance 140mm
    • Drivetrain - Shimano SLX 11 Speed
    • Brakes - Shimano SLX Hydraulic Disc
    Shop Now > See the full range >

    Welcome to downhill country!

    With the morning gone the fear of punctures left us and was quickly replaced with excitement. We put hammer to tong, pointed the bikes down and let go of those brakes. It’s here where the Stumpy feels like its having a proper face off, bottoming out front & rear on occasions with rims going ping. The challenge with Downhill is ensuring you ride the hill and the hill doesn’t ride you. You’d think with 25% less travel, smaller less aggressive tyres and a steeper head angles we might be getting schooled by Antur. In reality, the Stumpy had us covered. The harder we rode, the better, more impressive the Stumpy became. Where previously you didn’t bother pedalling your DH bike due to its inefficiency, this time when you pedal you gain more speed, and ride obstacles how you wanted. Even with just 150mm travel, both bikes are light and providing you know how to ride, give you enough travel.

    Stumpjumper-antur-jump

    All in all, the Stumpy left both Gareth and I with the conclusion; what can’t a trail bike do?

    27.5" or 29"?

    Though I did end the day with a puncture... Which Stumpy faired best? 29" vs 27.5" is becoming an age old argument/discussion now between mountain bikers. Putting aside all the XC rubbish around 29ers, Antur illustrated quite obviously the difference.

    In short, the 27.5 has a smaller rolling radius and therefore when hitting a hole falls deeper within it, knocking momentum and unsettling the rider. With the 29er, this effect is somewhat reduced. Across the slate ridden rock gardens of Antur Stiniog, the bigger wheeled Stumpy skated across the rocks better than the 27.5" and remained more stable at speed. Granted when it came to the super techy and tight switchbacks the 29er wasn’t as nimble and agile, so choose your wheel size according to your trails you ride on and how you want to ride.

    For us, the 29er Stumpy came out on top at Antur.

    Specialized-Stumpjumper

    How did it ride?

    There are three things you need to know about how the Stumpy feels to ride:

    1. Well balanced between axels
    2. Super plush and predictable with its Fox sus and finally
    3. Capable with a capital C! To come away from Antur Stiniog and not end up in an ambulance when really trying to go as fast as possible downhill underlines the Stumpy’s credentials

    If you could only get just the one bike, you really can’t go wrong with the 2019 Specialized Stumpjumper. Let me leave those three points with you.

    Shop the full Specialized Stumpjumper Range

    For more details on Antur, see their website here. I guarantee you they’re some of the loveliest guys you’ll meet in North Wales and compel you to book your day.

    For more details on the Stumpy, see my previous stumpy article here

    archie-bio

    Archie Davies

    Instagram: agravityman

    Blog: A Gravity Man

    Riding a bike started out for me with racing my brother round the patio, to now evolving to regular trips to Wales for all day epics. Mountain biking has been with me for pretty much all my life and so has Rutland Cycling from an early age, fuelling my growing addiction for more bikes and gear.

    As the saying goes, all things that go up, must come down, with the down being important. From Downhill to Trail, it’s all about those descents. Keep your fingers off the brakes, pop those jumps and rail those berms. Let’s not kid about, climbing is a means to an end. So be it the sandy berms of Chicksands to the rocky outcrops of Anton Stiniog, it’s time to point the bike downhill and let that adrenaline flow! So, with fatherhood on the horizon I’ve got just enough time to see the sights, ride the bikes and get as much done as possible. Luckily Rutland Cycling are here to assist again in my final push. It’s time to clip in.

    Find your nearest Rutland Cycling Store

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