Ryan Palmer’s Stumpjumper 29

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It only took an hour of me rid­ing Spe­cial­ized’s all-new Stumpjumper 29 be­fore I knew ex­actly what I’d pick for my Dream Build this year. I had al­ready pretty much made up my mind but was holding off mak­ing my de­ci­sion un­til I got a leg over the highly an­tic­i­pated Stumpy up­date. And when I finally did, I was pos­i­tive—I’d build an Ibis Ripmo.

By the time I got to demo a new Stumpy, I’d spent a cou­ple months on the Ripmo and had fallen in love with it. The bike made me a more con­fi­dent, faster rider up and down, and I liked that. I liked it very much.

The Stumpy con­founded me. It rode re­ally well—bet­ter than it should have, con­sid­er­ing that the num­bers made it look de­cid­edly un­con­tem­po­rary. I loved the 140-mil­lime­ter rear, and 150 front travel num­bers, but the reach on a size large frame was an ag­gres­sively short 445 mil­lime­ters, while the seat tube, at 74.1 de­grees, sat far­ther back than it did in 2014. But weirdly, it didn’t feel par­tic­u­larly short, nor did I feel ter­ri­bly perched off the back of the thing when climb­ing. It ac­tu­ally ripped hard enough to put it up on the list of new bikes I’d highly rec­om­mend. But I had al­ready made my mind up.

What made me switch away from a bike I was sure of? The Ital­ian EXT STO­RIA LOK shock. EXT isn’t a house­hold name, but con­sid­er­ing the fact that EXT dam­pers have sus­pended eight world rally cham­pi­onship win­ners and the com­pany’s founder, Franco Frat­ton, has de­vel­oped count­less in­no­va­tive sus­pen­sion tech­nolo­gies since 1986, it’s likely only a mat­ter of time be­fore it is. I put a STO­RIA on an Evil Wreck­on­ing a few years ago, rode it for a few months be­fore tak­ing it off to test other shocks, and it’s been sit­ting in a box ever since— un­til this spring, when I went look­ing for a tem­po­rary shock for an­other bike, and that old STO­RIA was the right length.

That’s when I was re­minded just how mind-blow­ingly good it is.

It’s so good that hav­ing the new ver­sion, the STO­RIA LOK, on this year’s dream build be­came pri­or­ity No.1. The Ripmo has a re­gres­sive lever­age rate, which is re­ally de­signed around the pro­gres­sive na­ture of air shocks. I was told by Ibis that it’d work, but it’s tech­ni­cally not ideal. I was heart­bro­ken, and heav­ily wa­ver­ing.

Then I saw this gor­geous bass-boat-pur­ple Stumpy S-Works frame-only col­or­way, and my mind was made up— again. The bike’s Horst-link sus­pen­sion would be the per­fect plat­form for the SOTRIA LOK, and now that Spe­cial­ized finally dumped its pro­pri­etary shock mounts for reg­u­lar eye­lets and a stan­dard 210x50 shock length, fit­ment would be much eas­ier. Plus, that paint job—I mean, come on! Is that not one of the most dreamy frames you’ve ever laid eyes on‽

The only fork I’ve tried that can even come close to the sen­si­tiv­ity and con­trol of the EXT shock is the Fox 36 Grip2, and I opted for the the tiny-bit-slip­perier Kashima-coated Fac­tory-level. For the head­set, I wanted to run the new Chris King Dropset, but the com­pany some­how de­cided to only pro­duce one of the two com­mon IS up­per bear­ing sizes—the one Spe­cial­ized doesn’t use. Luck­ily, Cane Creek makes a 110-se­ries head­set that fits.

The gaudy-gold SRAM XX1 stuff had al­ways been too much for me, but I knew it’d look damn good on this frame. The new Shi­mano XTR was my first choice, but wasn’t avail­able in time. At least I man­aged to get a pair of the new ped­als. I have no idea if I’ll like the new XTR driv­e­train more than XX1, but I still wanted it, be­cause XTR and dreamy cus­tom builds went to­gether for decades be­fore SRAM an­ti­quated the front de­railleur. Then again, true in­no­va­tion made that hap­pen, and this bling-tas­tic XX1 Ea­gle group rep­re­sents SRAM’s hard-earned top spot on the moun­tain-bike-driv­e­train podium.

I went for the in­sane, $1,000 Cane Creek eeWings ti­ta­nium cranks be­cause I haven’t cov­eted a set of cranks this much since the orig­i­nal Sweet Wings came out in the 90s—and these new ones were de­signed by the same guy as the orig­i­nals. They’re claimed to be stronger and stiffer than any car­bon crank on the mar­ket, and the 400gram weight is within a few ziti noo­dles of high-end car­bon arms. And, they’re ti-fuck­ing-tanium! The crank uses the SRAM di­rect-mount in­ter­face, which is con­ve­nient, be­cause the X-Sync 2 Oval ring is my jam. It al­lows me to power up steep sec­tions eas­ier. I run the crank on a Chris King Thread­fit 30 bot­tom bracket, be­cause King makes the best bear­ings.

Also aid­ing in climb­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tion are the svelte ENVE M630 hoops, built to 28-hole White In­dus­tries XMR+ hubs with Sapim CX-Ray spokes in a 2-cross pat­tern. Proven Maxxis Min­ion DHF 2.5 WT tires pro­vide the trac­tion, and Or­ange Seal keeps the air in.

Stop­ping this beau­ti­ful beast is a pair of daz­zling Magura MT1893 brakes. These 125th-an­niver­sary stop­pers are a special ver­sion of the four-pis­ton MT7 (1893 is the year Magura was founded). Why Magura? Be­cause they’ve been mak­ing brakes for ev­ery­thing, prac­ti­cally for­ever. These are strong, but have tons of mod­u­la­tion— more than SRAM Codes, and with the HC3 lever blades, mod­u­la­tion is ac­tu­ally ad­justable. The MT1893 brakes even ship with a bunch of plas­tic color rings that snap into the calipers, and there was a set of pur­ple ones to match the frame.

If I’m go­ing to have fancy com­pos­ite brake levers, I might as well go with a bar from the fu­ture, too, which is why I chose the Syn­cros Hixon SL IC car­bon one-piece bar/stem. I also went with ESI Chunky grips, and Cane Creek eeBarKeep bar plugs.

I still haven’t found a bet­ter drop­per than the 9point8 Fall Line. The lever is a Cane Creek DROPT, be­cause I for­got to or­der the Magura mount kit for the 9point8 Digit re­mote. It’s nice enough, but I do pre­fer the shape of the Digit, so I’ll wind up or­der­ing the proper mount for it.

Round­ing out this re­mark­able build is our Bike mag 25th-an­niver­sary WTB Volt Team sad­dle and a ti­ta­nium King Cage. Oh, and I swapped all the steel bolts out for ti­ta­nium ones, just to carry the magic metal theme as far as I could. Finally, I strung the shift­ing and drop­per with Shi­mano SP41 hous­ing and Poly­mer Coated Ca­bles, be­cause that shit mat­ters.

How’s it ride, you ask? You’ll have to head to bikemag.com to find out.

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