The 2011 Specialized Stumpjumper EVO is my bike of choice. This is the third mountain bike that I’ve purchased and I love it. When you first start riding you aren’t really sure what you are looking for in a bike. But, after 4 years of racing I felt like I had my needs dialed in. At the time I was considering a custom built bike with the exact components that I was looking for. However, I stumbled across this limited edition bike from Specialized and it fit the bill almost perfectly. I have switched a couple, but not too many, components on the bike.
Of course, my steed has 29 inch wheels because that is all the rage. I like it a lot, but admittedly I haven’t tried any 27.5 inch wheels to compare it to.
My Full-Suspension Rig: SOLD!
When I purchased my Stumpjumper I had two priorities: mechanical simplicity and durability. I don’t like to spend a lot of time maintaining and repairing my bike – I’d rather be spending my precious free time riding. At the time I was riding a Giant Trance X2 full-suspension mountain bike. It was a great bike, and the first mountain bike that I purchased after I started racing. Between the full-suspension, the 3 x 9 drivetrain and a lack of effort on my part (fixing and cleaning), I felt like my bike was always on the verge of a breakdown. I had several DNFs in 2009 & 2010 due to mechanical issues. On top that, I felt like my bike was always one of the noisiest bikes on the trail. Because of this I wanted a simplified 1 x 10 drivetrain and a hardtail – so many fewer parts to break and adjust. …and, the verdict is… I love it.
In my relatively flat area of Ohio, it is rare that I don’t have the gearing that I need to make it up a hill. Every once in a while, I yearn for a granny gear. Overall though, it is greatly offset by the fact that the drive train is more reliable, quiet and efficient.
My First Mountain Bike: SOLD!
On a side note, my first mountain bike was a Trek 4000 with rigid frame and fork. It had 3 x 8 gearing that I later changed to 1 x 8 gearing. I bought it when I first got out of college. To be honest, I only selected it because I liked the way it looked. Mountain bikes were very popular at the time, but I was not riding singletrack at the time of purchase. I used it for riding around town and on bike paths. It was a great bike for those purposes but made for a really jarring ride on my local trails which are famous for the amount of gnarly roots they throw at you. When I changed the bike to 1 x 8 I had dreams of tearing down the singletrack on this sweet maching, but it was too late, I had already been spoiled by the sweet, cushiony feel of suspension. I had to sell it. There was no more room in my garage.
One of my favorite parts of my bike is my Garmin Edge 800 GPS. I never leave home without it. When I bought it I was really excited about the GPS feature, but I almost never use that. If you want to save some cash, then the Garmin Edge 500 or 510 would probably do the trick. When I purchased it I was just excited to use it for heart rate monitoring, but I ended up buying a power meter and power-based training has completely changed the way I workout. This computer tracks just about every metric you could wish to see: speed, distance, heart rate, power, elevation, cadence, temperature… I could go on forever.
If you are interested in improving as a cyclist then I highly recommend a power meter. I use the PowerTap G3 MTB Disc Hub from Cycleops. It is paired with the Garmin Edge 800 and gives me tons of information that I can use to target my training to the needs of my races. Some of the stats that I use the most include power, normalized power, average power, training stress score (TSS) & intensity factor. If you combine these stats with heart rate, speed & distance you can learn a lot about your fitness level and progress throughout the season.
Power meters can also be used for pacing, race analysis, training load, tapering and targeting your training for different training levels.
I’m considering buying Garmin Vector Powermeter Pedals that I can use on my spin bike in the Winter and then transfer to my road bike in the Spring. If I purchase those, I’ll definitely let you know more about them here on the site.
I definitely hear tons of racers at my races that are concerned about getting faster that are talking about getting new bikes, but after only one season with a power meter I am convinced that most of these guys would benefit more from training with power than from a new bike.
I tend to lean towards SRAM products when it comes to my drivetrain. I don’t know if I have a good reason for this other than the fact that the guys at the bike shop said that they use SRAM. I figured if it was good enough for them that it was good enough for me. There does seem to be a price difference between SRAM and Shimano and that makes it easy for me, as a stay-at-home dad with no salary, to lean towards SRAM when I am making a purchasing decision. In my mind, there is not a huge quality difference so why not go with the cheaper option. I currently have a SRAM 10 speed chain and a SRAM XO derailluer with a short cage.
I am a huge fan of the 1 x 10 setup. It’s mechanically simpler – fewer breakdowns and much easier for me to fix and adjust on my own. I live in a relatively flat area and a “one-by” set-up might or might not be right for you if you live in a hilly/mountainous part of the world. I also feel like a one-by drivetrain is quieter and more efficient. It covers about 98 to 99 percent of my race needs and I feel like the moments that it is not good for are outweighed by the other advantages that I gain with it.
Once upon a time, my forearms and hands were sore from clenching the stock grips that came with my previous bike. I stumbled upon Ergon grips at my local bike shop and my body has been thanking me ever since. The contours of the grips seem to fit more naturally into the palm of my hand – which leads to more confident handling in technical terrain.
I started with the Ergon GP1 on my Giant Trance X2. They worked so well that when I purchased my new Specialized Stumpjumper Evo I replaced the grips immediately. I ended up going with the Ergon GS1 because they were slightly lighter and aimed at racers. Frankly, I think I would have been satisfied with buying either grip.
As you can see from the photo, my grip is looking fairly beat up. The rubber is cracking after three seasons of hard riding – nearly 10,000 miles. I have abused these grips and feel satisfied with the performance they’ve given me. I plan to ride them into the ground and buy another pair of the exact same grips when they finally fail.