I rode the gnarly rocks and switchbacks on the Stiles Ranch Trail in Santa Clara County’s Santa Teresa Park in south San Jose at Trailhead Cyclery’s Dirt Demo on November 8, 2015. This trail is upper intermediate technical difficulty and one of the best test tracks I’ve found outside of Moab. I hit every large rock I could target and avoided the best lines. Some rocks were 6″ or so in height and presented a vertical face to me. The rocks are spaced close to each other in many places so you hit them one after another will little time to prepare for the next. I never popped up my front wheel to climb them.
The bike photo shows one of Trailhead Cyclery’s demo bikes, the bike I rode. If you buy it they’ll take their decals off. If I didn’t have a new Yeti trail bike this bike would be mine by the time you read this post.
Frame geometry: There are a lot of angles and lengths in a mountain bike frame and this can get confusing. I’m disclosing the specs for a large frame and I’m focused on only those specs that I think matters for us intermediates.
- Frame material: Carbon.
- Wheel size: 29″. Also available in a 650B / 27.5″.
- Headtube angle: 67.5 degrees, the sweet spot for trail bikes.
- Bottom bracket height: 336 mm / 13.2″. Right where we want it to clear intermediate level rocks and logs.
- Wheel base length: 1172 mm / 46″. Right in there with competitive trail bikes.
Component package: This bike was setup with a Rockshox Pike 140 mm fork, Sram 1-11 gears, 135 mm of rear travel, 29″ wheels, XT hydraulic brakes, and Specialized Command Post dropper seat post with a dozen positions. We really didn’t like the older version with only 3 positions. We fell in love with micro-adjusting the seat height for conditions. This new version works as well as an infinity dropper post.
Safety, stability, and control: The issue for intermediates is “if I loose my line and hit something big will I still be on the bike, riding, and in control?”. YES! This bike exceeded my expectations. I rode crap I’ve avoided before and it didn’t care. It climbed rock faces like a goat when I was clipped into my XT Trail pedals. It is one of the top bikes for intermediates that I have ever rode.
Comfort for longer rides: Only I rode this bike a few miles but on full squish mode for the fork and rear travel it had a nice comfortable ride over the gnar. I would ride Downieville or Porcupine Rim, epic rides for intermediates, and I’m sure it would be one of the best bikes for those rides. I’m itching to ride Porky with it!
Design: The 2016 Stumpie has a geometric design that looks aggressive and determined to get you there. It has excellent design coherence. Nothing Frankenbike about it. A cool new feature is the storage compartment in the down tube. Brilliant! Specialized advocates filling it with a spare tire tube and tools.
Conclusion: Can you safely ride at a higher skill level with this bike? Yes. This bike is one of the very best trail bikes I’ve rode and an outstanding choice for an intermediate who wants to get more adventurous, explore beautiful and more technically challenging terrain and trails, but doesn’t want too much bike.