Not another gear blog again…Stumpy evo so far and compared to the venerable Five

Etiketter

, , , ,

As you might nor might not know, I dented the poor orange and had to get a last minute replacement. Thanks to good friends and a bit of luck a Stumpy evo frame fell into my hands. As I have said, the geometry is very similar to the Five, and almost all components are the same.

Orange Five, newly built in the beginning of 2013

Orange Five, newly built in the beginning of 2013

I rode the Five for two more or less full seasons, in everything from Wyoming and Colorado to Norway and France. I feel quite confident that I got to know the bike really well, and even if I for obvious reasons can’t ride the Five and the Evo back to back, I still should be able to pick out various differences.

I have now ridden the Evo more or less every day since I came to Spain, and many days I have put in 2000m of descending or more. In other words, I have descended thousands of meters and climbed thousands of meters on the Evo and think that I know it well enough to be able to give a first impression at least.

Stumpy Evo, save for the front wheel mostly covered in dust

Stumpy Evo, mostly covered in dust save for the front wheel

Starting off, the Evo is about 8mm shorter in the reach than the Five. This does not sound that much, but it makes a difference. It feels more agile at low speeds and when playing around, but when pushing it at higher speed and in corners it is not as easy to find the sweet spot for weight distribution as it was on the Five. Probably contributing to this feeling is the 5mm shorter chain stays on the Evo, further reducing the wheel base. Don’t get me wrong, the evo is still plenty stable, but the Five was even more so.

However, the upside of the short chainstays (I think, it might be more to it than that) is the uncanny ability of the Evo to be steered by heels and hips, sort of riding the back wheel. The only other bike I have ridden that gave the same sensation was a Spec Demo, making me think that this is something Specialized look for specifically when they tune in the handling of their bikes. I like it, a lot. Maybe not the fastest way to ride, but it sure is fun.

Then there are a couple of practicalities with the Evo that are annoying:

1: Headset. Why o why campy style internal instead of a proper head tube that I could put a Hope or Cane Creek headset in. It is just unnecessary and creaky and stupid.

2: Kinked seat tube. Limits my maximum seat post insertion, which is annoying. Right now I have my KS Lev 150mm inserted as far down as it goes, and I could do with a couple more centimeters lower. I lucked out, but could just as easily have ended up with a lot of seat post travel I could not use.

3: Press fit bottom bracket. I just cant see the point. Remind me again what was wrong with my xtr970 cranks? Light, stiff and cheap (used). Pick all three.

4: Swoopy down tube. Makes the bike harder to carry for long bike carries. Yes, I know that most people don’t carry their bikes up mountains, but I do. And a straight down tube gives better weight distribution when the bike is on my back, it is as simple as that.

5: The Evo is lighter. It does not make much of a difference to me as soon as I am actually riding instead of lifting the bike in the parking lot, but nevertheless it is lighter.

6: Stiffness. I think that the rear end of the Evo is a bit stiffer, it just has a tad more solid feel to it. But it might just be my imagination, back to back testing is needed to confirm.

Then there is the suspension design, probably the biggest difference between the two frames. The Five is a high single pivot with a lot of antisquat designed in, the Evo a horst link with very little. Specialized themselves usually talk about ”active suspension” and such, and the blunt way to say it is that by construction the Evo is not a very pedal efficient design. Of course, it can be remedied with tons of low speed compression in the shock, but that is besides the point, and negatively affect small bump compliance. So why do they do it then?

As I see it from trying both these bikes, there is an obvious downside to a design with lots of antisquat. Essentially, antisquat is obtained by making the chain tension counteract pedaling induced weight shift. This all sounds fine, but that also means that when the suspension goes through its travel, it will pull on the pedals. The Evo has a very ”quiet” feel in the pedals when descending rough terrain compared to the Five. This makes probably an even bigger impact for riders on flat pedals, like me. The quiet feel makes it easier to keep control of the bike and ride it actively instead of just holding on for dear life. So even if the Five is more efficient, I actually prefer the slightly ”mushy” Evo. And actually, when pedaling over rough ground, the Evo tracks the ground better and does not hang up as much on roots and rocks, since the rear suspension is more decouples from pedal input.

Speaking about single pivot vs Horst/FSR, some people claim that the Horst remains active when the rear brake is on. That might be true, but to be honest I can’t tell the difference. Maybe I am just not sensitive enough, or maybe it has to do with riding style as well.

Another big difference is the rear shocks. The Five had a Bos Vipr, the Evo has a Fox ctd kashibling blahblahblah (with specific mounting as well, unfortunately). As you might guess, I prefer the Bos. It has a completely different feel to it, it does not wallow or lie deep in the travel, it just gives me as much as I need. Not more, and not less. Big part of this I think has to do with rebound damping. The Fox always seem to have to much or too little. Either it packs up, or it lacks control and wants to send me over the bars, and often I get the feeling that it is doing both at the same time. Especially after big hits there is a lot of pogo-stick feeling at the rear end. The Bos gives the impression to have super fast rebound, but is still controlled after big hits. I think it just has to do with superior hydraulics, the Bos has a lot more speed sensitivity in the rebound. It might be a matter of personal preference as well, but I always felt happier with the style of rebound the Bos offers. The compression damping is also more controlled on the Bos, but the difference is not as discernible to me.

So there it is, a bit of a comparison between two very similar and different bikes. If I got to design my dream bike from these experiences, it would be an Evo with a 10-15mm longer reach (but not higher seat tube, it is already high enough!) and possibility to mount a Bos shock. That sounds an awful lot like a Kona Process, if they could just make the chainstays a wee bit shorter. The low single pivot might in theory behave like the Horst of the Evo, and then I would see if the brake characteristics actually affect my riding style.

An ode to climbing.

Etiketter

, , , , , , , , , ,

I know, as a mountain biker or snowboarder I am probably supposed to hate climbing, but hard as I might try, I just don’t.

You know how it goes, as the road start heading upwards everyone goes on at a good clip, talk cheerfully to each other and pretend that it is not hard. This usually lasts from everything between one and fifteen minutes depending on the group and gradient. As the road or track gains elevation, gears are dropped one by one and all of a sudden everyone shuts the hell up and just try to settle into their rhythm, spinning along and trying to minimise damage to legs and lungs. Some are still pretending that it doesn’t hurt, but the majority of the group have dropped the charade.

The Spanish sun beating down on us as Pedro spins along

The Spanish sun beating down on us as Pedro spins along

Give it twenty more minutes and my mind has usually began drifting off in various directions, partly due to the monotony and partly due to the will to escape from the suffering. If the gradient is manageable, I will then just sit there and occasionally return from wherever my mind is drifting to look at the view change gears.

Glaciers coming and going behind the clouds keep us entertained as we climb the Stelvio

Glaciers coming and going behind the clouds keep us entertained as we climb the Stelvio

On snow, it’s a different story. Some climbs are pure monotony and are dealt with by just spacing out, but more often there is constant terrain management involved. When setting a skin track, line choices are infinite. Finding the path of least exposure to hazards and wind is a constant puzzle, and at the same time trying to optimise efficiency is something that keeps my mind focused full time.

Andrea and me minimising exposure on Albright, Grand Teton National Park

Andrea and me minimising exposure on Albright, Grand Teton National Park

Then there is always the anticipation. On the other side of the climb, there will be a descent. It might be an old favourite, happiness guaranteed, or something new, untried and exciting. The potential to find the best ever line or trail is always there, enticing me to keep going.

Discovering new playgrounds in Norway

Discovering new playgrounds in Norway

Both on dirt, tarmac and snow, there is always the thrill of discovering what is behind the next turn, col or summit. A new view, new terrain opening up and new playgrounds to be discovered. Add in the chemical happiness created by the body itself, a powerful drug in endless supply that can only be bought for sweat and pain, that elevates the senses and deepens new impressions, and I can’t see how you could not love climbing.

Sunset summit rewards on Kvalöja, Norway

Sunset summit rewards on Kvalöja, Norway

Just another dusty day…done and dusted

Etiketter

, ,

Just a few days until the guests arrive, I can’t wait. On the other hand, I have to learn a bunch of trails and get my act together. I also need to get my newly built bike properly sorted, so this morning was spent truing wheels among other things.

Straightening out a wheel and trying to learn a map

Straightening out a wheel and trying to learn a map

Yesterday we did my first proper ride since I came here, nice to finally put tires on dirt. Some of the trails needed a bit of work, but now they are in prime condition, fast, loose and very very dusty.

Clearing a trail from a bunch of thorny bushes

Clearing a trail from a bunch of thorny bushes

Most bushes here have thorns. Some of them small and hooked so they stick to everything, and some of them are long, straight and can go straight through a tire casing. All of them are very very sharp. One of these days I might make a thorn collage for you, how about that?

Anyways, one of the best parts of being in Spain is that there is tapas, to everything! Even coke.

Tapas, coke, rest, shade. Add hashtags at will

Tapas, coke, rest, shade. Add hashtags at will

Most climbs were tarmac or gravel, which is nice and efficient compared to what I’m used to. Just sit down and spin away, and before you know it you are up there.

Resting in the dust, taking in the view before the descent starts

Resting in the dust, taking in the view before the descent starts.

Now all I need to do is learn all the trails, get a new pair of shoes to replace my disintegrating freeriders, find spares for the silly straightpull spokes in my rear wheel, get rid of my cold that has been pestering me for days, learn Spanish and possibly change my now rather worn front tire (or maybe the side knobs are supposed to fall off?). Sounds all doable, right?

New bike, new adventures, same old airports

Etiketter

,

Ok, so here I am, sat in the shade on a balcony in Monachil, Spain, looking out over dry and dusty hillsides. I have had worse Wednesday mornings in my life, that’s for sure. Guiding season starts now, and I’m well excited about it. I will be at Ride Sierra Nevada, in case anyone is up for some (obviously) awesome guided riding.

Sloppy cell phone pic of my view this morning

Sloppy cell phone pic of my view this morning

The trip went well, but airports are as always tedious. If it wasn’t for the whole flying to good places thing, I would be a strong proponent for the idea to just replace all airports with BMX tracks. That would be sweet. At least they should have BMX tracks and loaner bikes at the airports…

Well..anyways. Returning to a bit of reality, I managed to get a hold of a replacement for the dented Five at the last minute, and thanks to good friends and a bit of luck I am now owner of a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Evo (puh, what a ridiculous name). Well, it’s got all the new press fit carbon mumbojumbo going on, but more importantly it has a sorted geometry, very similar to the Five in fact. Slightly shorter reach, slightly shorter chain stays, and with an offset bushing it is probably half a degree slacker in the steering department. Having built it up with all the same parts as on the Five, save for back wheel and cranks due to compatibility issues, and geometries being so similar, it is a perfect opportunity to geek out on the differences in suspension action. I will do that in due time, but for now let me just say that it rides great, and very differently from the Five, which also rode great.

Trying out the new frame, with one day to spare before departure. Picture by Andrea

Trying out the new frame, with one day to spare before departure. Picture by Andrea

Bye bye…pink bike

Etiketter

, , ,

Dented swing arms and shocks that need service. That is not the way to start a guiding season. Hence, new steed on the way in, and the lovely pink orange got what could well be its last ride today.

Last ride, I'm going to miss you buddy!

Last ride, I’m going to miss you buddy!

With a bit of mixed feelings I also bid the wet roots, rocks and deep green colours that our sudden and early autumn has brought farewell. And even if I do like the damp, slippery and colourful part of the year probably more than most people, I can’t deny that it feels good to have yet another ”summer” in front of me. On that note, for those of you who did not catch it in the title, bye bye my bird. You will be missed!

Vacation randoms no. 2: Dinged aluminium and podium positions

Etiketter

, ,

Last weekend me and Andrea did a small tour of the Norrbotten inland and coastland. Starting off with a very nice 30+30 year party for Aron and Emmy in a tiny village outside of Älvsbyn. Summer heat was peaking with temperatures above 30 degrees, no wind and even warm water in the river. Crazy stuff. Mosquitoes and other blood sucking insects where also booming unfortunately, making it a bit hard to sleep.

After a great evening and morning we left for Piteå to meet up with Micke and Carro, hang out on the beach and ride a bit in the night when temperatures were a bit more mellow. Just below 30C that is, instead of above. We rode a Piteå classic called Råberget that I have done twice before and still enjoy coming back to. It is a small mountain with lots of rock slabs and a few tricky rock gardens, both on the way up and on the way down.

Me and Micke flowing down Råberget slickrock. Photo by Andrea

Me and Micke flowing down Råberget slickrock. Photo by Andrea

It was when trying to ride through one of those flattish rock sections that I stalled out and fell on the side. No biggie for me, but the clanging sound of aluminium against rock gave me shivers. Upon closer inspection it turned out as I found a big ding in the swing arm that those shivers were well motivated.

My poor dinged up Five

My poor dinged up Five

Fortunately the Five is a sturdy beast, and it was still in shape to finish the ride. However, a more in depth damage assessment shows that the ding actually has affected the alignment of the dropouts, since the Maxle now needs a bit of persuasion to screw or unscrew. Bummer, I really liked that frame.

Anyway, on our way home on Sunday we stopped by in Skellefteå where Stojje was arranging a Bike rally, which is like a mini-enduro format. There were three stages, the first and third of which were downhill with pedally sections and around 2 minutes in length. The second stage was more or less flat on a twisty lumpy trail, about 5 minutes of pain, suffering and swearing.

Pedalling my hardest on the start of ss1. Photo by Andrea

Pedalling my hardest on the start of ss1. Photo by Andrea

These kind of races are always really fun to participate in, the atmosphere is very friendly and everyone is just there to have a good time, but when the clock starts it is all forgotten and everyone is pushing themselves to the ragged edge.

I felt like my riding was O.K, but not more. I think everyone struggled with flow on the second stage, it was just too lumpy and twisty to get any sort of speed going. On the first and last stages I felt like I was not pushing hard enough, and since my derallieur was bent I only had my lowest five or six gears, not ideal. Therefore I was a bit surprised to come home with a shared third spot in a pretty competent field, not bad.

 

A quick swim to cool our overheated bodies and off we were. Back home to mend the bikes and recharge the batteries for new adventures.

Vacation randoms no. 1, Mefjell

Etiketter

, , , , , , ,

This one is for those of you who only look at the pictures. Less words, more pictures, hopefully less boring.

The background: I filled a VW van with camping gear, bikes, maps and Martin, and headed south along the Norwegian border, towards where the mountains are higher and the fjords bluer, the weather more changing and the trails are steeper.

We are going sort of there...ish

We are going sort of there…ish.

Just trying to grasp the scale of the landscape. Turns out a grey day in Norway can put a big smile on my face

Just trying to grasp the scale of the landscape. Turns out a grey day in Norway can put a big smile on my face.

Sort of there turned out to be pretty cool

”Sort of there” turned out to be a pretty cool spot.

Ride out of the car park, at sea level and heading towards Fjörå

Ride out of the car park, at sea level and heading towards Fjörå.

The climb is steep but not overly so. The first few hundred meters of elevation are easily gained

The climb is steep but not overly so. The first few hundred meters of elevation are easily gained.

Road turns to gravel, got to love the view

Road turns to gravel, got to love the view.

Gravel turns to trail, keep on pushing

Gravel turns to trail, keep on pushing.

Push turns to carry

Push turns to carry.

Hey presto, a pink Five 1100m above the fjord

Hey presto, a pink Five 1100m above the fjord.

Time to pad up, have a snack and try to spot trails down in Valldalen

Time to pad up, have a snack and try to spot trails down in Valldalen.

It's wetter and more muddy then it looks, proper two wheel slide paradise

It’s wetter and more muddy then it looks, proper two wheel slide paradise.

Mandatory talking with sheep on the traverse, it's Norway after all

Mandatory talking with sheep on the traverse, it’s Norway after all.

Back to downhill, heading down to Syltefjell

Back to downhill, heading down to Syltefjell in view just next to Martin’s left shoulder.

A bit of rock slabs to spice things up

A bit of rock slabs to spice things up.

Slipping and sliding down through the woods. It's steep, wet and giggle-inducingly slick.

Slipping and sliding down through the woods. It’s steep, wet and giggle-inducingly slick.

Are we in France? Nope, look at the fjord. The locals call this part blowjob, no idea why

Are we in France? Nope, look at the fjord. The locals call this part blowjob, no idea why.

More blowjob, enjoying every last bit of it

More blowjob, enjoying every last bit of it.

Dinner time after an amazing day of riding

Dinner time after an amazing day of riding.

Smiles for miles

Smiles for miles.

Exciting news, skids and wheelies

Etiketter

, , , , ,

Least exciting news first. A couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to Flottsbro, and guided by local bike rally legend Martin I checked out the trails from the Canyon Enduro Series race they held there. Overall very impressive with some quite techy bits. Obviously more pedally then an Alps race, the hill is only 100m high but they made the most of it. After checking all the stages we took a couple of laps more to stop and take some pictures. Most of the ones I managed to snap were obviously crap, but here are the least crappy ones:

An attempt on the blurry backgound/sharpish rider thing

An attempt on the blurry backgound/sharpish rider thing.

"If you just double those rocks...", turns out the line is neither easy, nor fast.

”If you just double those rocks…”, turns out the line is neither easy, nor fast.

Straightening out corners in the Dh-track

Straightening out corners in the Dh track

Green and mossy, trying to find the BC vibe

Green and mossy, trying to find the BC vibe

All in all a great day out, even if we did the same climb at least four times. At least it was short.

In other news I am very very excited indeed to announce that I am officially a Malojan or Maloja Mountain Nomad, which means that I get to ride in sweet Maloja gear all summer long! Big thanks to Maloja Scandinavia and Utebutiken for this opportunity. I have already made blood stains on one set of gloves and slid on my ass on a gravelly french trail in a pair of shorts, all in the name of product testing.

Another equally exciting piece of news is that this fall I will ride bikes for cash. Yea, I start smiling just typing those words. Just to not get you all carried away here, it’s not a multimillion sponsorship deal with Santa Cruz or Red Bull. There will be no flat brimmed caps with monster logos or huge sunglasses, no team trucks or personal mechanics. But I will be a mountain bike guide at Ride Sierra Nevada. And that might possibly be the very best next best thing! I can’t wait to get my dirty tires on those fantastic rocky and dusty trails, hope to see you there!

Oh, and I got to make a photo shoot with Andreas Nilsson again. Portrait this time, not bad.

Malojan and future guide, trying to look the part. Andreas Nilsson fotograf doing his thing with the camera to make it happen.

Malojan and future guide, trying to look the part. Andreas Nilsson doing his thing with the camera to make it happen.

And just like that, I’m off to Järvsö to meet old friends, live in a van and celebrate Midsummers’ by doing skids and wheelies in the bike park.

More digging in fine dirt

I spent the afternoon helping Anders shaping a 180 degree berm in his own backyard dirt jumps. Why doesn’t everyone have backyard dirt jumps and pump tracks by the way, right now I cannot think of any possible way to make better use a backyard.

The dirt was great, and I think we did a pretty good job with the shovels. Cue test riding.

I try to look fast while Anders is behind the lens

I try to look fast (clinging on to those bars for dear life) while Anders is behind the lens

Me behind the lens, happy faces all around

Me behind the lens, happy faces all around

After two days of shoveling my poor arms and back, weakened by years of working in front of a computer, are pretty sore. It just goes to show that I probably need to do more shoveling. And more riding bikes. And most importantly eat more cookies. Obviously.

Följ

Få meddelanden om nya inlägg via e-post.