Well, maybe it's a little soon to be professing love, but I sure do like it a lot.
After dragging everyone here through the months long process of deciding what kind of bike to buy and many changes of heart along the way, I am happy to report that I believe I ended up making the right choice. I had good reasons to consider other types of bike, but a full suspension MTB, and the 2008 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp in particular, is really going to work out for me.
I took the bike out for a 9 mile ride on the streets around town Thursday to make sure everything worked and to make sure it was set up right before taking it to the dirt. It felt good, needing only a few minor adjustments. Having never ridden a full suspension bike before, I was surprised at how little the rear end reacted to pedaling. I expected it to bob up and down, especially since I had it in open mode without the pro-pedal mode that is designed to control pedal bob. Naturally, potholes and railroad tracks were much less noticeable than on my road bikes.
Today I took it out for a real test. I met some friends at Dauset Trails near Jackson, GA to try the bike on my favorite singletrack trails. I have ridden these trails many times on a hardtail bike and on a fully rigid bike. It would be a good way to judge how the new bike felt and handled. The trails are mostly smooth and rolling but there are enough rocks, roots and fairly technical climbs and descents to keep things interesting and to test the bike. The trails were in great shape and the weather was perfect, sunny and mid 60s.
I felt at home on the bike right away. It fits me very well and it handled predictably, no big adjustments for me to make. I will need a few more rides before I feel confident enough to really stick the turns hard on this new machine, but it didn't do anything to scare me. The rear suspension really made the trail feel a lot smoother. I usually need to stop a couple of times to stretch my back during a ride at Dauset, but not today. I have never had my back feel so good after a 15 mile singletrack ride as it did today. That was one of the main reasons I decided to go full squishy and it seems like a direct hit on that mark.
Another main reason was to be able to go harder and faster through rough sections of trail and bumpy downhills. The bike certainly did not disappoint on that point. I was able to ride cleanly through sections that have always given me trouble before. Not having to fight the wheels bouncing out of control made riding rocks and roots much more pleasant. There is one really fast downhill section with a few rough parts and little rises and drops that I have always wanted to ride fast but kept holding back because my bikes were barely hanging on the edge of control. I was afraid to really let them go for fear of bouncing off the trail into a tree. Today on the Stumpy I let it rip and had a ball. The suspension kept it all in line. I went a few inches airborne a couple of times and the landings were very smooth and controlled.
Tomorrow I will take it to a different trail that I also have ridden many times. This one is not really singletrack, more like jeep trails (but no jeeps allowed). There are more long climbs and descents and the trails are not as smooth generally. It tends to be a bit faster and bumpier with some fun rolling twisty sections. Another good test of the suspension and handling. More to come tomorrow.
One of the best things about Dauset is the Fresh Air.