What we’re excited about this month: Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Elite, Nukeproof Mega 297 frame, Downtime Podcast's Episode 1 Print Journal, Race Face Indy shorts, Five Ten Sleuth, Garmin CamperVan, Muc-Off Ludicrous AF oil, Specialized Altered Tee, Streadyrack, YT Bagarillo, Rimpact Mix Insert Set.
Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Elite, £4,500
Specialized reintroduced the Stumpjumper Evo last year, and naturally it built it from carbon- fibre. With an independently adjustable head angle and bottom bracket height, sidearm design and SWAT down tube storage for your gubbins, the black stuff was always going to be easier to work with to create the complex shapes and cups needed. And at the time of launch, back in October 2020, Specialized said it had no plans to bring out a more budget-friendly alloy version of the bike – a shame for those of us with less cash to spend, but we kinda understood where they were coming from.
Roll on 12 months, though, and here it is after all, an alloy Stumpjumper, in new Comp and Elite models at the lower price points of £3,250 and £4,500 respectively. This isn’t some stripped-down Evo though, missing half the tech advancements pioneered on the carbon bike. Nope, the new alloy build has it all – adjustable geometry, six sizes, and even the SWAT door, something we never believed possible in anything but carbon but now made from hydroformed aluminium.
Don’t look at the new Stumpjumper Evo Elite as a budget version of the carbon bike then, although it is a lot cheaper than the £9,500 S-Works model. With a full Fox Factory build and SRAM GX build, it’s more a premium bike for those who prefer metal.
Just like the carbon bike, the alloy Stumpy has 150mm travel and 160mm fork, and a similar leverage rate to the carbon bike – small-bump sensitivity, mid-stroke support and compliant but controlled full travel, Specialized says.
The head angle is adjustable from 63-65.5° and independently of that the BB can move up or down 7mm. The bike comes with 29in wheels but there is an option for an aftermarket shock link to swap out the rear wheel to 27.5in and get the mullet look. S-Sizing passes down from the carbon bike too; there are six options and they all share similar standover heights, the idea being you’re not tied into just one frame size – read our review of the Stumpjumper Evo Comp on p62. It’s a smart idea as a tall rider could opt for a short wheelbase for a more playful ride, and a shorter rider could upsize for great stability.
Nukeproof Mega 297 frame and shock, £2,500
One of modern mountain biking’s best hacks is the DIY mullet. Take a regular 29er, chop out the back wheel and replace it with a 27.5in, and suddenly you’re riding a bike that sits 10mm closer to the earth, with a slacker head angle too. The bike industry has picked up the scissors too, with most e-bikes and plenty of trail bikes running mixed wheels in 2021, all in the name of more dynamic handling.
The latest brand to join in is Nukeproof; its Dissent downhill bike had a mullet option last year and for 2022 you can get both the Mega and the Giga in the same. And just so you know, it’s not mullet anymore – the industry is now calling it MX in an effort to overthrow those 80’s vibes… they should have called it the fade.
Nukerpoof was determined to provide the same sizing and geo with its mullet frames (which share the same geometry as the 29er frame, incidentally) as on the regular bike, without compromising the geometry. It’s done this with new hardware to fit the 27.5in wheel in without dropping the BB or shortening the wheelbase of the bike.
Regular riders are not the only ones tinkering with mullet bikes, either, the pros have been at it too. EWS U21 world champion, Elliott Heap, helped pioneer the Mega MX in 2019, riding a 275 frame with a 29in fork and wheel bolted on the front. The tweak screwed up the geometry though, so Nukeproof made a custom rear end which eventually grew into the new Mega V4 297. Pretty much everyone knows about the Nukeproof Mega, it was invented to win its namesake race the MegaAvalanche and became one of the first modern enduro bikes, with aggressive geometry and sizing and 165mm travel.
The gnarlier 180mm-travel Giga is less well known though; launched earlier in 2021, it comes in 27.5in and 29er versions as complete bikes, and now frame-only as a mullet. Katy Winton has been racing on the bike this year, and Sam Hill has been experimenting on the MX frame too.
Both the Mega and Giga MX full-carbon frames come in yellow only, with black graphics and a Fox Factory X2 Shock. The only catch is the mullet versions are frame-only for now. The Mega 297 costs £2,500 and the Giga, £100 more.
Downtime Podcast Episode 1 Print Journal, £20+P&P (two episodes)
The Downtime Podcast has teamed up with yearbook publishers Misspent Summers to deliver a new Print Journal covering the whole gamut of mtb. Episode 1 is 164 pages, with images from the likes of Sven Martin.
Race Face Indy Women’s Short, £79.95
The Race Face Indy Women’s short uses slippy panels inside the knee to prevent kneepads snagging, and silicone grippers on the waist. Other details include laser venting on the inner thigh, external waistband adjustment, zippered pockets, and raised back panel.
Adidas Five Ten Sleuth, £70.00
Designed for hanging out at the pump track (or pub) rather than full-on enduro rides, the Five Ten Sleuth uses a lowcut design and a suede upper for comfort. You still get a dotty rubber sole for grip, with the brand’s harder-wearing Marathon rubber.
Garmin CamperVan, £249.99
The Garmin CamperVan bills itself as a sat nav with extras. Included in this colourful 6.95in-screen model is a Michelin Green Guide, Tripadvisor ratings, and something called Trendy Places pointing out where’s best to stop.
Muc-Off Ludicrous AF Oil, £49.99/50ml
What to get the rider that has it all this Christmas? How about Muc-Off’s new Ludicrous AF Oil, as used by Tour de France racers. It offers super- low friction, works down to -20°C, and costs the same as a bottle of 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild.
Specialized Altered Tee, £40.00
The long-sleeve Specialized Altered Tee is made from cotton, and something called Drirelease – it’s a blend of different materials, some hydrophobic and some hydrophilic, that helps push sweat away from your body. Comes in five sizes, and black only.
Steadyrack Mountain Bike Rack, £69.99
The Mountain Bike Rack from Steadyrack pivots your bike left or right up to 160°, allowing you to save hanging space. The arms fold away when not in use; this mtb version takes bikes up to 35kg and 2.8in tyres.
YT Bagarillo, £79.90
YT makes clothing and accessories as well as fab bikes, and the Bagarillo is its duffel bag that thinks it’s a backpack, thanks to shoulder straps that zip away. It’s water resistant, has internal compartments including a dry sack, and a 42-litre volume.
Rimpact Mix Insert Set, £59.99
Rimpact recommends riders use different tyre inserts front and rear: its tougher but heavier Pro version on the back and the Original up front, supplied in this Mix Insert Set. The inserts use impact-hardening foam, and come in both wheel sizes.