Building A Bike During The Pandemic (Part II)
At the end of 2019, my wife and I moved eastwards. Switzerland being as small as it is, it was a move across borders into a different canton. With the move, my bike territory changed. While we're once again living at the foot of the Jura mountains, now slightly elevated at 550m (1800ft), the flanks north of our house are considerably steeper than they were in my old mountain bike playground. They're too steep for my 44 Marauder single-speed, and I quickly discovered that my 44 Big Boy fat-bike was also not the ideal machine for my new trails. So, I sold it in the summer of 2020 and started making plans for a bike that would feel more at home in steep terrain. In May of 2021, I pulled the trigger on a Stooge MK5 and used the following months to purchase components for it.
Mid-fat, 27.5x3.0" bike in the year 2021, when 29" wheels now have become the standard wheel size on everything, including downhill bikes? Well, this isn't the place for a great wheel debate, as I believe that every wheel and tire size has its merits. It's all about the rider, his or her skills, intended use, and the terrain the bike will see. I've been on 26" wheels since 1986, 29ers since 2006, and fat-bikes since 2013 (first 26, then 27.5). For a brief period around the turn of the century, I rode hardtails with front suspension, but before and after, I mountain-biked on rigid bikes. My trails generally offer little flow and little speed. They tend to be tight, tricky, and have to be ridden more slowly than fast. While I can maneuver a 29er on such trails just fine, an agile 27.5+ will probably be even more fun to navigate.
The steeper terrain heavily influenced the choice of brakes. XC brakes would be overwhelmed with the steep descents, so I opted for the same brakes as on my Snakedriver; a pair of 4 piston Formula Cura 4 brakes. And to give them yet more power, I matched them up with a 203mm front and a 180mm rear rotor. Most riders would equip their bikes with a dropper. I have one on my fat bike and wouldn't want to miss it on winter rides in the snow. But for every other bike I've owned, I have not used adjustable seat posts, and I'm fine with that pretty much everywhere I ride. So, to keep the Stooge MK5 simple and low maintenance, I'll push a dead gorgeous Thomson Masterpiece into the seat tube.
The wheels were built by local frame builder and lacing wizard Patrik Widmer of 47° Nord. Onyx Centerlock Boost hubs were mated to Light Bicycle AM740 rims using Sapim CX-Ray spokes. Rotors as always TRP TR-25. I bought various 3.0" tires and mounted Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires first. The drivetrain is a mix of GX and XX1 components. Chain and cassette come from the high-end XX1 Eagle groupset, while the derailleur is the more affordable GX Eagle AXS with an MPM Tech cage upgrade. Rotor Kapic cranks and an oval 30T QRing finish the drivetrain.
After swapping my Jones H-Bar Loop handlebar for a wider Ritchey Comp Kyote on my 44 Marauder, it was a no-brainer that the Stooge would get a Kyote as well. It is mated to a jaw-droppingly sweet Enve aluminum stem. Lastly, a new and untested Prologo Scratch M5 saddle towers on top of the seat post. After years riding various models of Fizik Antares saddles, I switched to Prologo for my Nordest Albarda. The short-nosed Dimension Nack on that bike feels great. In my humble opinion, an open saddle doesn't belong on a mountain bike nor any bike ridden in the mud. Hence the decision to try out Prologo's Scratch. If the Scratch and my derrière become friends, the Volagi Viaje and 44 Snakedriver will get one too.