My 06 Stumpy is in the shop. Truvativ had a manufacturing defect on the BB cup bearing that caused it to seize to the crank shaft. LBS contacted Truvativ and they are sending a new crankset. While my bike is out of commission, I was given a Large SJ Expert with a Brain to ride. The weather was just too perfect and I needed to take full advantage of it.
I typically ride a XL with a shortened stem and seat moved up, but all they had was a L, more on this later.
Shimano is dead
Shimano has had little competition in the derailleur market for years until SRAM came along. Let me be the first to say that SRAM not only is better, it is driving a backhoe to dump dirt on Shimano's grave. The X0 derailleur and X9 shifters on the Expert was amazing. I have always thought there there could be minor improvements in the XT rear derailleur on my Stumpy but I never imagined just how good it could be. Click the shifter, new gear. Seems simple until you add lever throw, 1:1 ratio, solid defined shifts, and smoothness unmatched. The X9/X0 combination excelled in every way. My XT now feels sloppy and unrefined. The shifts seem slow and hesitant. When I spot the first sign of problems, I am dumping the XT/Deore shifters and flipping to SRAM.
What about Bob?
You never know how bad the Triad is until you ride a real shock with real Propedal. Today when I felt Propedal working on the Brain when traveling DOWNHILL, I knew I had to get rid of the Triad ASAP. The Spec Brain was absolutely impressive. Each pedal stroke was so smooth and I was much less tired and the end of the climb. Even on the smallest log crossings, the efficiency of the Brain became evident. The Brain rode like the Triad in Open mode but without the clown-car bob I am so used to. This was not just a bike anymore, it became a weapon for blasting up and down hills with ultimate speed. But, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Reaching the Brain control involved getting off the bike. I adjusted it three times to match upcoming terrain and each time I felt like I had to disconnect myself from the riding experience to make the change. Slow speed performance was easily much better than the Triad, but high speed over rough stuff was actually worse. The Brain tried to follow the terrain a little too much while the Triad can't keep up and skips along. BTW, I will have a Fox RP23 on order shortly and I think it will actually eclipse the Spec Brain in performance and yet it will have the compact Triad profile without the need to dismount for adjustments.
It's a bird, it's a plane....
No, it just me and the damn Avid Juicy's announcing my arrival to everyone. My first upgrade to my Stumpy was Hayes HFX-9 brakes. Today, I had Juicy's with 200mm front and 185mm in the rear (my Hayes are 160mm front and back). I don't see what the hype is with these brakes and if I had these on my bike, I would have taken them off and sold them immediately. I felt like I had no control. Modulation was very sporadic, one time I would get smooth deceleration while other times I thought I was going to fly over the bars and hit a tree. The Juicy's feel lighter in pull and lever action but that's about the only nice thing I can say. Combined with the poor control was squealing. Attempting to modulate the brakes caused more squealing. Hard braking made the sound go away but also gave you a sense of urgency in finding a soft spot of land in preparation for your high speed endo.
For the small stuff, I will just label this list as items of interest:
XT crankset - Super stiff, noticably stiffer than the Truvativ's but the q-factor (width of the pedals from centerline) was an issue. I prefer the narrorwer Truvativ's but if you can deal with a wide crankset, the XT's can't be beat.
Specialized seat - The seat on my 06 was given away. It felt like a brick wrapped in black vinyl. The seat on the Expert is vastly improved and quite comfortable. I noticed some soreness at the end of the ride but nothing to complain about. I typically ride with a WTB Rocket V (ummm... heaven )
Fox Talas - Yeah it's nice and it might be a little stiffer than my Float RL fork, but it was not that big of a deal and I wouldn't consider it a major upgrade. I liked the 140mm setting and left it there. I saw very little value in changing to another height for climbing.
Spec Resolution tire in the rear - Wow this felt dangerous. I sensed loss of traction several times from the rear tires when hitting turns at speed. My 06 has a Cinder in the rear with much more grip and on these same turns it bites into the trail. BTW, the Spec Resolution in the front is awesome.
Stumpy paint - I am really sorry for the guys that bought 07's. The paint is bad, real bad. The test bike had several large chips on it already and the surface was covered in fine scratches. I am sure it looked beautiful brand new but a year from now it will look like it had gone to hell and back.
With the Large test bike I just could not get comfortable enough for any jumps, no matter how small they were. I could climb and descend, blast through flat sections, but there was no way I could get airborne. I prefer a higher front end and the Talas at 140mm on the Large did not seem as tall as my Float RL 130mm on my XL. Other factors at play are my 90mm stem, 45mm wider handlebar, and thick ODI Lock-On grips on my XL 06.
For those of you still not convinced that the Triad is junk, go rent a Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Test Bike. After less than a mile on ANY trail, it will truly open your eyes on what you have been missing.
Test Bike (yes, it is purple)
Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups
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