Stooge Cycles Review

by Brian Mullin on February 5, 2015

The company picks up its name from the illustrious band The Stooges (Iggy Pop and the Stooges), whose incendiary music certainly fits in with this unique bike. Stooge Cycles owner Andrew Stevenson designed the bike in Oswestry England, and it utilizes double butted 4130 Chromoly tubing for construction.

The Stooge is an interesting rigid bike since it’s a hybrid 29+. It uses a 29+ sized wheel up front and a normal 29-inch in the rear, though you can go pure 29-inch sizing if desired. In addition, the bike is only made in one size, so you alter the fit by varying the stem length and headset stack height. Due to the frame geometry, the bike wasn’t designed to work with front suspension, so you’ll have to deal with the plushness provided by the fat 29+ tire.


It has a progressive geometry with a 23.5″ top tube, 69° head angle, 17″ chain stays, 55mm fork offset, and an eccentric bottom bracket. The frame can accommodate 2.4 inch tires in the rear triangle, and the front fork can fit 3 inches wide 29+ tires. The test bikes cockpit came equipped with a Thomson stem, seatpost and a flat titanium handlebar and the superb Magura MT5 brakes. The drivetrain was an SRAM X0 1×10 setup using a Rotor cranks. The rear utilized the Velocity Blunt SS Comp wheel with Panaracer 2.2″ DriverPro tires, and the front was a Velocity Dually with Surly Knard 3″ tires.

It comes in two colors, Aqua Blue and Deep Purple, and the frameset retails for $799 from Colorado Speciality Velo, their US distributor. It also comes in two mini-kits. A $1235 setup with Magura MT5 brakes, and a $1935 version with MT5 brakes, a Thomson stem, seatpost and bars, Race Face cranks and Velocity SS Comp wheels.

Impressions

This 29+ in the front and 29er in rear arrangement does make sense once you have ridden the bike. By having the rear set up with a normal width tire it accelerates and rolls nicely and doesn’t have that ponderous feel like most fully designed 29+ bikes tend to have. Having the fatter and wider tire up front gives you better control and traction while maneuvering along the trails. I mostly rode the Stooge in the snow and it provided better steering and floated in adverse conditions, including mud, sand, gravel, and snow.

The rear tire spun a bit when grinding in sloppier areas, but it was easy to get it pushed back down by rolling the front up the sides of the trail. It was incredibly fun to rock back and forth on the trail, and stuffing it up into berms was a hoot. Having that big tire up front for steering with a quick rear end made for an engaging and fun ride. I felt like it steered more like a boat, sort of like it was pitching from the rear, so it helped to use the saddle as a rudder. On steep rocky terrain, you needed to let the back end roll down things and let some momentum build up, else it could be a harsh ride.

The positioning is much more upright than many bikes, and the short chain stay and angles give a rearward feel. It’s easy to move yourself around on the bike, and you control things with weighting, skill and accuracy instead of just a point, pedal, and shoot technique. The design philosophy behind the bike is simplicity and a return to basics, making for a rigid bike with a less technological bent. The geometry is slack and low, making for a fast and stable bike that feels like a big BMX beast.

The Panaracer DriverPro 2.2″ tire rolled and spun well and had a great feel on packed trails, but their low tread height and volume just didn’t bite into the looser terrain that I frequent. I ended up going for a slightly wider and meatier tire in the rear since the deep snow, and loose gravel on my local trails made traction difficult. I tried a Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5″ and had good results, though the Maxxis was too wide for the chain stays and scraped on them when I picked up sand and mud. I would have liked to try the Panaracer FirePro 2.35″ tire, which has excellent traction and braking in adverse conditions, but time constraints didn’t allow that test. The 30mm wide Blunt SS rims in the rear helped widen out the skinny DriverPro 2.2 for an increased footprint. Even though the freehub didn’t have a high POE, it was robust and dependable, and always engaged when you needed it. I’d like to see some additional spacing in the rear triangle so you could run fatter 29 inch tires and maybe even a 27.5+ ones. The wider tires would provide some increased traction and braking that would be beneficial in loose conditions and snow.

The 45mm wide Velocity Dually rims with the Surly Knard 3 inch tires provided excellent traction and float, and they rolled decently for such a big aggressive tire. They didn’t turn on a dime and were slow to react, but they could be pushed around when needed and rolled in and out of obstacles and terrain. It felt like I was steering my big Tundra truck, and you just gave it more room to do a maneuver. They shined in the crud, snow, mud, sand and gravel and did decently in rock gardens though the lack of front suspension gave a somewhat harsh ride. They excelled on small debris and trail obstructions, and anything short of curb height obstacles gave a decently plush ride. I played with the Knard’s pressure and found that 12psi was about perfect for my weight (165 lbs) and riding style and anything lower and the tires got squirmy.

The frame gave a nicely damped ride and, even though, the double top tube bracing was massive; it still gave the wonderful ‘steel feel’ during a ride. The Thomson titanium handlebars added a nice damping and softening effect to the front end, making for a more pleasurable ride and feel. I ended up swapping out the Thomson aluminum seatpost for an Erikson titanium seatpost and a softer saddle, which added a tad of silkiness and plushness to the rear end. The Magura MT5 four-piston brakes provided excellent power, superb modulation, and lever feel and offered precise braking and control, with highlights to its feathering capabilities and lever feel.

The single sized frame should be able to fit anyone from 5’6″ to 6’2″ by simply altering the stem length (50-100mm), and headset stem height and using an offset seatpost for the tallest riders. I am 5’9″ and the frame felt just fine with a 70mm stem and an offset seatpost.

The bike has some nice lines, from the seatstays sweeping down to the axles and the twin-tube top with the short brace that flares to the seat tube, which all conspire for an esthetically pleasing frameset. The frame has lots of standover clearance that keeps the center of gravity low for increased stability and better cornering. I liked the Aqua Blue color scheme though the pictures of the Deep Purple paint job look pretty sweet.

Conclusions

The Stooge Cycles is a rigid hybrid 29+ bike, which uses a 29+ wheel in front and a normal 29-inch in the rear, though it can nominally use two 29-inch tires and wheels. The bike only comes in one size, so you alter the fit by varying the stem length and headset stack height. This hybrid design provides a snappy quick and fast rolling rear end along with a fat tire front that has great float, traction and control in multiple trail conditions. The bike uses a back to basics design philosophy that utilizes a progressive geometry for a fun, entertaining and engaging ride. Just roll and steer the big front end around on the trail and maneuver up and over obstacles and use a slight rudder effect from the rear end, just like piloting a boat.

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