I've always been a huge fan of the Stooge MK series of bikes. There was the plum crazy purple MK1, the redberry MK2, and probably my favorite, the plum crazier purple MK3. The MK1 was specifically designed around a 29×3 front/29×2.3 rear combo, whereas the MK2 received enough clearance on the rear to run 27.5x3" tires. Otherwise, the geometry remained unaltered. A lot of changes were made to the MK3. It had a 44 mm head tube, a tapered steel fork, and a shorter rear triangle. The MK3 was designed around B+ and was up to that point the most agile of the Stooges. With the MK4 Andy Stevenson pushed the boundaries and came up with a pretty radical geometry. It had a slack and low geometry and was designed around an 80 mm offset rigid bi-plane fork. It lost the 44 mm headtube and went back to a straight steerer tube. The frame was designed around a 29x3"/2.6" combo but kept room for 27.5x3" in the back. Whether you wanted a single-speed, an all-mountain trail bike, or a bike-packing rig – it did it all.
I would have been stoked to own either an MK3 or an MK4, but they were produced at a time when I didn't actually need such a bike. That has changed in 2021. Last summer I sold my 44 Big Boy fat-bike, which had become my geared trail bike. It was just as a fun bike on dirt as it had been on snow, but after we moved eastwards along the "Jurasüdfuss", it became clear that it wasn't the ideal bike for the trails to the north of our new home. Hence the decision to sell it. It found a new owner in the country it was built and is now roaming across trails in the great state of Wisconsin. I kept following what Andy made with Stooge and was excited to read that an MK5 was in the pipeline.
The MK5 is a different beast from the MK4. Although Andy has never been a huge fan of boost axles, the market has sort of forced him to adopt the de facto axle standard. The MK5 now has boost spacing front and back. It lost the huge fork offset of the MK4 and now shares the same 57 mm offset bi-plane fork as the previously released Scrambler. Just like the Scrambler, it's equipped with tons of rack and bottle mounting options, so that you can bike-pack this purebred trail-ripper. While you can set it up with 29×3 front/29×2.5-2.6 rear, the MK5 is designed for 27.5x3.0 front and rear, which is exactly the wheel and tire size I wanted to use. Yeah, I know, the trend in mountain biking is currently 29" and tires have come back to sizes in the 2.4 to 2.6 range. 2.8 and 3.0 still exist while 3.25 is almost extinct. Well, I can care less what the current trend is. If I were, I wouldn't be buying a rigid steel bike, now, would I?
I'm also stoked that the MK5 will come in brown, Pantone 147C to be precise. I've been wanting to own a brown bike forever. If there aren't any unforeseen manufacturing or shipping delays, the ETA should be August 2021. I've got a pretty good idea of how I want to equip the bike, so time has come to place orders to get all the necessary components by the time the frameset arrives. The plan is to strike a good balance between quality and affordability - good parts but within a budget. I have a few bits and pieces already, I've ordered two pairs of 27.5x3.0 tires and need to get hubs and rims next. So, stay tuned for the build progress. Pandemic and all, I'm not setting a timeline on it. It'll be done when it'll be done. I'm lucky to have plenty of other bikes to ride in the meantime.
All image credits: Stooge Cycles.