Spesh 06 FSR pro tested

Last weekend I got the chance to test the new 06 FSR Stumpjumper. This is the third incarnation of the current FSR, and it has ‘brain fade’ (WTF?). Anyways, first thing is that there’s no knob on the shock to twiddle when you’re riding. In 04 we had a three position triad shock, with lockout, pro-pedal, or fully active to choose from. In 05 Spesh spoiled us with the Septune seven position shock, then, having hooked us on knob twiddlin’ on the fly they take it away! Having set the right pressure for my weight, I set the brain to a middlin’ setting, and left it at that.

The forks 130mm travel, I wound them all the way up, then back a bit, and headed out for a spin. Within no time at all I’d worked up a good sweat, and was thinkin it was a warm day. Carla, riding her trusty old Stumpy HT informed me that I was making it look like hard work, and that I had the look of one of them fat overbiked dudes that we sometimes see, just needed a half-goatee, some knee guards, and daft baggies to complete the look. Wha? I thought I’d show her when we got to some downhill swoopy off-road type stuff, and I did, but not that much. We did our usual rolling side by side test on the way home, and the FSR was seriously slow innit.

Next day I removed the ‘Adrenaline’ tyres, and replaced them with some fave fast tyres. I fitted a ‘rockster’ on the front, and a ‘roll-x’, on the rear. What a difference! The bike came to life, and whooshing like a really whooshy thing I whooshed all around Hopton Woods. Fast on the flat? check. Climbs well? check. Descends well? check. The bike was a treat to ride uphill, downhill, technical, easy, comfy standing and sitting. I couldn’t decide if the front end felt a little light, giving a tendancy to oversteer, but it never did, and I forgot about it anyway, even going fast over frozen technical rooty ‘i think I’m gonna bin it type stuff’.

The XT brakes were great, I’ve always liked them. The SRAM shifters gave light precise shifting, although it did take a while to get used to the push-push lever action, and I did make a couple of shifts by mistake when I caught my thumb on the forward shifter. I normally like to move my shifters a long way in on the bars. Don’t know why I didn’t do that.

As I rode back into the car park, with two and a half hours riding done, I remembered the rear shock thingy, hadn’t thought about it all ride, hadn’t messed with it, adusted it, nothing. I think that’s just how a shock should be.

So is it better than last year’s FSR? Well, no, not radically, but the fact that the rear shock and brain were so good I forgot about them says that it is. It meant that I didn’t have to think ahead, didn’t have to firm the shock up for this climb, or soften it for this rooty section, and so on, I just rode the bike, and had fun.

Spesh 06 Enduro Tested

I waited all last year to have a go on Pearce Cycles Enduro test bike, but it never happened, it must have been the most popular test bike ever. In fact, the only time I saw it back in the shop was when it came in for repair, and even then it was already booked out again. So when I had the chance of being the very first person to test the 06 bike, I took it.

The look of the 05 Enduro was radically different from previous years, and aimed at a different rider group. The 05 Enduro was now more of a freeride bike, and cross-country fans of the old style enduro were pointed toward the new Stumpjumper FSR. Travel front and rear had been incresed to 6 inches. The fox forks had a bolt through axle, while the beefier frame had the shock mounted much lower in the frame. It looked closer to a downhill bike than a cross-country machine. The main differences between the 05 and 06 models are the shock, which now has a ‘pro-pedal’ setting, the brakes, which are now Avid Juicys, and the gears, which are now Sram. As far as I know the chasis stays the same. Oh, and where the 05 test bike was a lovely bright yellow colour the 06 test bike is the most disgusting shitty brown colour imagineable.

Jumping onboard for a quick test of sag/suspension settings the bike felt good, it doesn’t show its 35lb weight. The Sram shifters worked pretty much like Shimano (apart from the levers being in different), and the Avids felt in need of bedding in. So, all set, riding gear on, and away.

I rode around Kinver, and the Million. After two hours of mixed singletrack, bridleway, lanes, and cheeky trails, my impression was…..
This is a great bike once the trail points downhill, even only slightly downhill, you pick up speed really fast, and the bike comes to life. It’s so easy to ride fast, and so well behaved. Places I normally have to ride with care, I just floated through. Even although the head angle is a lot slacker than my cross-country bike the Enduro was still accurate. But but but but but. I could go so fast so easily downhill that riding on the falt, or uphill felt rather dull. Try to hustle this bike along, and it’s hard work. Not to say that this bike can’t climb, it can, in fact riding up hill was very easy, and you could ride stuff sat down without thinking that you would have to ‘finesse’ on an XC HT. It’s just that you’d be going slower. Like wise on the flat, you float and flow along, but not in a hurry.

If you’re a downhiller, or extreme freeriding nutter, who can’t always get to uplift sessions, or who doesn’t want to ride where the uplift is, then this is the bike for you. It’s easy enough to ride to the top, and a blast to ride back down (which is why you’ll be doing it right?). Trouble is, you’ll end up going faster and faster, searching out even more radical terrain to satisfy your adrenalin addiction. Yeah, you’ll probably end up going to the Alps, or Spain where you’ll be able to ride downhill for an hour or more over incredibly technical terrain, and who wants to do that eh?

11th Hour of 11th day – Rememberance Day

This year rememberance day has been a bit special as it’s the 60th anniversary of the end of WW2. There’s been some great stuff of TV showing some of the old soldiers alive today. Some of the tales they tell are just incredible.

Here’s my favourite war poem…

If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Rupert Brooke. 1887–1915

I’ve married a dirty woman!

Yep, it’s true, I’ve married a dirty woman who has a lot to learn. It’s gonna be a rocky road for her, but she enjoys it. From never having ridden a motorbike before, to riding 70miles off-road in a day in the space of four rides. From shaking with fear to thinking about entering her first enduro, she’s got an entry form for the ‘Fast Eddie Winter Series’. Now hold on there wife. I know you like nothin better than gettin’ dirty with the boys, but there’s a lot to learn.