After nearly 3 years without a mountain bike, it was finally time to put something together. My previous mountain bike was a hardtail 29er. However, since I ride a small frame, the geometry between the large wheel size and small frame wasn’t exactly what I wanted. This issue helped guide my purchase and I ultimately decided on my first 650B.
Once I had my wheel size selected, I needed to determine which genre of mountain biking I wanted my new bike to fall into. Previous to this new bike, I had always ridden hardtail cross-country bikes. Without exception. And for no reason other than wanting to experience a new mountain bike sensation, I decided to build up a trail bike. “Trail bikes” take on different meanings to different people. Personally I feel it’s a bike that offers a rider efficient enough climbing while providing comfortable and confidence-inspiring descents.
With a general idea as to what type of frame I wanted, I decided to go with the 2016 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon 650b frame. A couple of years ago, the Stumpjumer FSR geometry went through somewhat of an overhaul. Now with a spacey top tube, slacker head tube (67 degrees), and a shorter chainstay/wheelbase, the Stumpjumper FSR is snappy and fun to descend on. The frame comes equipped with a custom Fox rear shock with Specialized’s proprietary Autosag system. With Autosag, the shock is inflated to 300 psi through the black valve. Then, with the rider sitting on the bike, air is released from the red valve until air no longer escapes the valve. This procedure automatically sets the sag. After setting my Autosag a couple of different times between six rides, I use about 90% of my rear travel on average.
The shock also comes with Kashima Coating. In essence, Kashima Coating provides better lubrication and reduces wear on the shock. For a more detailed explanation of Kashima Coating, click here.
To match the rear shock, I chose the 2017 (yes we are heading into the future) Fox 34 150mm Fork.
The choice came down to the Fox 34 and the RockShox Pike. And since I’ve never owned a Fox Fork in the past (always RockShox), I decided to give it a go.
The fork has performed very well so far. The basics are as follows: Air chamber, rebound adjustment, and compression platform adjustment. I followed Fox’s recommended air settings for my weight and it felt fine during the six rides I’ve been on. The rebound, which is the rate in which the suspension releases energy after compression, is set somewhere near the middle. And as far as the compression goes, there are a handful of different settings to play with. The blue 3-posistion lever seen in the picture above has three settings: Open, Medium, and Firm. The Firm setting is not a complete lockout. However, it’s a great compression mode for climbing. I haven’t played with the Medium setting yet. The medium setting is recommended for undulating terrain. When in Open mode, the black dial gives the rider even more options. With 22 micro compression adjustments, the Open Mode Adjust is sure to give the rider whichever specific compression they desire. If after all of these adjustments the rider still doesn’t have the exact tuning they seek, there are always Cip-On Volume Spacers. The spacers rest internally on the air (left) side of the fork. If the sag is properly set, and the rider is still bottoming out the suspension, spacers can be added. And vice versa, if the sag is properly set and the rider isn’t using nearly all of their suspension, spacers can be removed. I found a really cool Youtube channel that explains this process clearly, click here to view the video.
I had originally planned on using Sram’s new Eagle 1×12 drivetrain. However, patience is a virtue that I do not possess. I decided to run Shimano’s 1×11 XT drivetrain. I’m a big fan of Shimano products and this drivetrain is no exception. The cassette is an 11 speed with a 11-42 range. Combined with a Wolf Tooth 28 tooth chainring up front, there is plenty of low end climbing gear on this bike. I have noticed a couple of times that I can easily run out of high end gear with this drivetrain. However, that is a much smaller concern in my eyes than my climbing gear so I’ll stick with this setup for now.
I decided to go with Shimano XT brakes. As far as hydraulic systems go, these have the most natural feel in my opinion. Maintenance is about as friendly as I have found with a hydraulic system. A lot of that has to do with the fact the Shimano brakes use mineral oil.
I went with Race Face Next carbon handlebars as well as a Race Face Next SL G4 crankset. Both components are lightweight and aesthetically pleasing.
My only complaint is the name “Next.” It reminds me too much of the Next department store bike. It makes me wonder when Race Face will release their new handlebar series, the Huffy.
This is the first time I’ve ever used a dropper post. Overall I like it a lot. I do find, however, that dropping the post all the way down bothers me. The terrain I ride changes constantly and I find it to be a hassle going from bottomed out to fully extended. I seem to drop it halfway for descents more often than not. It allows me to pedal out of situations if I miss my opportunity to extend the dropper back to climbing position.
There are a couple of components that I am going to divide up into separate posts. One is my wheelset: Hope Pro 4 hubs with DT Swiss M 442 rims. I’ll also go into a detailed post about a tubeless setup.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any questions/comments, feel free to post them below 🙂