It’s that time of year again. The darkness has just arrived.
Fortunately it’s that time of year too, and so today at Beics Brenin the darkness came in the form of a new bike – 2013 Stumpjumper Comp Carbon HT in super slinky Testbike colours.
The last time I rode a bike this stealthy was in 1991. Oddly, that too was a Stumpjumper. Technologically, that bike from 21 years ago couldn’t be more different from this new version. Back then the Stumpy (Team) was a chromoly, fully-rigid, small-wheeled (26″!) all out race bike, decked with the finest Suntour XC Pro jewellery that money could buy, including lightweight canti-brakes, delicate thumbshifters, and grease-port bottom bracket (Back then Suntour were the bollocks). It was the most beautiful colour – black from a distance but deep, deep purple up close, laquered with zesty orange graphics. All in all, it was one sweet-lookin’, fast ridin’ bike. (It was stolen. I never got over it)
The new Stumpy is built from carbon fibre, it’s a 29er, it has front suspension, disc brakes, and press-fit everything. It has some beautiful attention to detail – the brake hose clamp on the fork and the boltless cable guides I particularly like, as well as the bolt-through axle at the front where it’s needed. Of course there’s no Suntour on there – it’s all Shimano XT (solid), SRAM X-Whatever (a necessary evil for 2×10), and Magura (hydraulic brakes – at least some things don’t change over time).
Despite the technological differences though, I think the two bikes are almost identical in a spiritual way. They’re both flat-out race bikes using the best available technology, with everything aimed at forward momentum; there’s not an extraneous item on either of them. Oh, and of course, in their own eras they’re the stealthiest looking things on the trail! I wonder of course whether there’ll be any of these original carbon Stumpys running in 21 years.