Bike Check: Matt Lakin's Fully Rigid Stooge Cycles Dirtbomb Enduro Race Bike

May 2, 2021
by Nick Bentley  




Last year I caught up with hardtail-riding mad man Matt Lakin to check out his fully rigid steel Stooge Cycles MK4 Enduro race bike. Well, 2021 is a new year and Matt is back racing but this time onboard a new Stooge Cycles creation. I couldn't resist the chromoly beauty of the Stooge Cycles Dirtbomb Matt is now riding so we managed to get hold of him for another bike check. If you're into carbon fibre, full suspension enduro machines look away now this is a fully rigid steel brawler of a bike.

Matt isn't the kind of person just to pick a bike off the shelf and go ride it. He's one of the most knowledgeable people I've spoken to about their bike and here's what he had to say about the thought process behind his latest creation:

"This build is all about function… I wanted to be able to ride it to and from races – a bit like the ‘reliability runs’ motor clubs do… So I had an eye on durability and robustness (short cage 10 speed) while still being relatively easy-going on the roads and lanes (28 hole rims). Essentially, I wanted to be able to rack-it and pack it then strip it and rip-it!”

Matt Lakin onboard the fully rigid Stooge once again we will be checking in with Matt for another bike check on his new Stooge he s riding this year.
Matt Lakin // Stooge Cycles / Steel is Real
Age: 42
Hometown: North Yorkshire lad now living in Stroud, Gloucestershire
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 67kg
Instagram: @tamarin08



Mr. Stooge, Andrew Stephenson says this about the purple people eater… “There have been loads of retro Klunkers from various brands over the years, but they’ve all been novelty bikes with coaster brakes, like an off-road version of cheap fixies, great for a bit of fun, but kinda limiting if it’s your only bike. So I wanted to create a Klunker that was a genuine weapon, that can be used for full days in the mountains, at the trail centre, bike packing, and maybe, just maybe racing Enduro! So yeah – a Klunker but with modern geometry and standards for people who want to be more rad.”
Stooge Cycles Dirtbomb
Frame: Stooge Cycles Dirtbomb
Fork: Stooge Cycles Stooge Klunkpacker biplane fork
Wheels: Sunn Duroc 50 Wheelset – 28h / i46
Tires: Rear: Vittoria Cannoli 29x3” (2.8” really) // Front: Bontrager XR4 Team Issue 29x3”
Crankset: Shimano Deore crankset 175mm // 30t
Rear Mech: Shimano Zee 10 speed shifter and short cage mech stopped-down to 7 speed
Cassette: Sunrace cassette 28-11t
Brakes:Magura Trail Sport brakes with 180mm rotors
Cockpit: Stooge Moto bars cut to 790mm with a 35mm Uno stem finished off with Ergon GD1 Lock on grips.
Seatpost: KS Lev Integra 150mm dropper
Saddle: Fabric Scoop Saddle
Weight: 32lbs
More info:Stooge Cycles

bigquotes"Essentially, I wanted to be able to rack-it and pack it then strip it and rip-it!”. Matt Lakin

Just before we get into the details of Matt's bike, I just wanted to take a moment to talk about how he got to round 1 of the Southern Enduro series at Milland. I know it's not normally the kind of thing you read in a bike check but bear with me ok.


Unlike everyone else at the race, Matt chose to jump on his bike, fully loaded up bike packing style, to the train station. Then took the train from Stroud to Reading, after arriving at Reading there was just a small matter of a 60km ride to Milland on Saturday, bivvied overnight (off the race venue site), raced and came third in class then 60km back to Reading for the train back to Stroud. This guy just loves riding his bike!

I could waffle on but I think I'll leave the description of the bike to Matt. Here's more of what he's got to say about his Stooge Cycles Dirtbomb: I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out… I use Podsac cages and bags and a bar-roll for carrying gear and it tours very comfortably – the big tyres taking away any harsh hits from neglected lanes and bridleways while loaded up. Once stripped the Dirtbomb comes alive! It pops and hops easily avoiding major impediments to forward momentum and the high volume tyres with their increased diameter take care of most of the trail buzz. Backsides… It loves nothing more than a backside with every morsel of potential energy eaten-up spat out down the trail! The wide rims help to eliminate tyre squirm at lower pressures although they do stretch out some of the height… Something I may tinker with.
Matt's Dirtbomb runs 29"+ Wheels with the frame allowing for up to 3" wide tyres in this case a Vittoria Cannoli on the rear Bontrager XR4 Team Issue on the front. Couple that to the 46mm inner rim width on the Sun Ringle Duroc 50 Rim rims it gives you plenty of tyre to smooth out some of the hits.



This really is a Fat Tyre Flyer.

In the tight turns of Milland at the excellent first Southern Enduro of the season, it excelled flicking between the trees and flowing through the berms with all the poise of a 650b bike. Once up to speed it’s a question of who will blink first… So far it’s always been me!

A quick note on riding to the race – it merely extended the enjoyment of the weekend. Inspired by the Racing Collective on Strava I decided to try and get to my races via public transport and riding. Having the weekend bookended with a 60km ride was time well spent in anticipation and subsequent reflection. Although the Dirtbomb is an immense tool for such pastimes I have no doubt that any modern mountain bike will suffice – get on it folks!

Looking forward to spending nearly all my riding time on this as, after all, that’s what it’s for!


Bringing the Stooge to a stop is entrusted to a set of Magura Trail Sport brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear. The Magura brakes are a mixed set with a 4 piston brake on the front and 2 piston brake on the rear. The levers have Magura's single finger aluminum lever blade fitted. A setup that Matt described as lightyears better than the Shimano setup he had on his old Stooge.



The beautifully welded frame is constructed of Double butted 4130 chromoly steel, with a 148x12mm rear axle and clearance for 29x3” tyres. The frame accommodates internal dropper routing and 2 bottle mounts. The Dirtbomber comes in one size that is 18” seat tube / 625 ETT, 75mm BB drop, 450mm chainstays and a 66-degree head angle. Matt's is finished in an amazing Purple Pantone 259C


The Dirtbomb runs the Stooge EBB bottom bracket. This allows adjustments to be made to accommodate the running single speed set up and adjusting seat angle and BB height for different wheel sizes/configurations. Also, a quick turn of the EBB means you can run it with B+ for added chuck-ability.


Stooge Klunkpacker biplane chromoly fork sits up front, with a 110×15 thru-axle, triple cage mounts. The height from axle to crown is 455mm with a 57mm offset. Along with the No Shox fork decal.


Matt is once again running the 7050 Aluminium Stooge Moto bars with 38mm rise, 17-degree sweep cut to 790mm. finished off with Ergon GD1 Lock on grips and mounted to a 35mm Uno stem, along with all the headset spacers Matt could find by the look of it. The Stooge runs a 1 1/8th headset because to quote Stooge "44mm headsets are wrong on skinny steel bikes". The headset in question here is a very utilitarian Brand X headset.




Drivetrain wise, Matt is running a bombproof Shimano Zee 10 speed shifter and short cage mech stopped-down to 7 speed. Along with a Sunrace 28-11t cassette. This is complemented by a set of Deore cranks175mm long-running a 30t chainring. Interestingly, instead of running a traditional chainstay guard made of plastic or an old inner tube, Matt is using some 3M 2228 Rubber Mastic Tape to protect the Stooges paintwork from damage and to keep everything running quietly. Matt has added ridges to the tape by layering it up to give both more protection as well as to enhance the noise dampening effect.


The Dirtbomber is fitted with an internally routed KS Lev Integra 150mm dropper. On top of which is a Fabric Scoop Saddle.

Thanks again to Matt for his time to show me around his bike and for all the detail he gave me about his set up. Go and check out Stooge Cycles website if you want to get yourself a steel dream machine.


122 Comments

  • 111 2
 Not my cup of tea, but still rad all the same. Thanks for showing this unique machine. Extra props for riding to and from the races
  • 54 1
 I ride a rigid mtb too, but the gearing on that bike blew me away.....a 30 -28 low gear? Holy cow that dude must be strong.....ive got a 30-42 and that seems about right
  • 30 0
 Most rigid guys ride single speed usually 32/18. Stand and smash works better than sit and spin on the low tech bikes in my opinion.
  • 9 0
 @bulletbassman: for efficiency, I'm sure it's within a couple percent one way or the other. For fatigue, I have to believe your muscles would ache much earlier, but I could be missing something there. I'm no scientist.
Must be hell on the knees though.
  • 4 2
 @atestisthis: if you are riding a rigid on anything rough you typically need to stand and use your body as suspension to maintain traction or get up or over features. You also need to maintain a slightly higher speed to climb and may need to hop up what others just roll over. On the flip side you are going slower downhill and in flats as the bike shakes like crazy. So the tiny bit of gained efficiency of ss outweighs a gear range that is considerably less effective than on a bike with front or especially full suspension.

I’ve ridden my rigid without a seat before after breaking a post for weeks and i only real noticed it missing when trying to rest on less technical parts of the downhills.
  • 6 0
 @bulletbassman: hope you didn't leave that seat post there after loosing the seat
  • 1 0
 I'm with you on that.
  • 7 0
 @bulletbassman: Only a ridgid rider would ride without a seat and not notice it.
  • 3 0
 @bulletbassman: You know what they say, Single Speeders get off more.
  • 1 0
 @bulletbassman: I'm purely weighing the potential cons of single speed for Enduro vs a geared rigid bike.
Suspended vs rigid is a no brainer.
  • 47 1
 Rack it pack it, strip it and rip it.. what a guy top marks
  • 6 1
 We’re still talking about mtn biking right
  • 29 1
 Personally, this is one of the most legitimately desirable bikes I've seen on PB in ages. I love carbon, fancy dampers, big cassettes, etc as much as the next guy, but I also enjoy a simple blaster type bike. That's what my Krampus is set up for right now, SS, rigid, dropper... But it doesn't have nearly the style this thing does.
  • 26 2
 Paint it army green and with that fender - it gives it a WW2 look.
  • 25 1
 Gotta have respect for anybody who rides to the race.
  • 12 2
 Once arrived at the enduro race, how does he get to the top with 30-28 gearing? no steep climbs in UK?
  • 30 4
 Ride SS and then you will answer your own question Wink
  • 7 0
 I would be curious what the vertical is in an average U.K. enduro? My impression is that the climbing grades are not too bad. (Assumption based on topography and not at all diminishing the fun factor of trails.)
  • 11 3
 @JDFF: You would be very much mistaken. Short steep punchy climbs in the South and a bit of everything here in Scotland. 30km local blast here for me sees around 600m up to 900m vertical. Bottom to top is never that large in elevation gain but hills are frequent and the meters rack up. Forest roads are engineered to take Euro 40 tonne Heavy Good Vehicles (HGV) so gradients on forest roads average out at 10%, everything away from these civil engineered gravel roads like quad track (for re-stocking forest sites), ancient byways, and bridleways will have some very steep gradients. As for the single-track stuff that riders have created, the Scottish EWS a few years back had some of the steepest tracks that the series has seen.
  • 10 0
 @JDFF: Depends on where you are, but my riding back in the South West could rack up a fair bit of elevation over a ride, but the crucial thing is that it came in a lot of short bursts which were generally possible to push a big gear up and then recover before the next one. That made single speeding on a 32:16 (back in the days of 26") totally viable. Out here in BC it's a whole different game: I definitely do more elevation over a ride, but the main difference is that all that elevation happens in one go, where pushing such a big gear would probably mean blowing up before I got anywhere.
  • 4 0
 @mtbskills: thanks for the information and grades on roads. I was going to note grades in my initial question, but wasn't sure how many folks would grasp that. I do clearly do, appreciate the insight and recognize not all places in the UK would be the same. Where I am at in the PNW, a 30km ride would actually rack up 1800m vertical, easily. Our forestry roads are built to 18% (18% is the max grade a descending log truck can handle fully loaded. However, old school forestry roads were sometimes built to 20%.). So I guess it's all a matter of perspective.
  • 3 0
 @danprisk: yeah, totally get it. I have been fortunate enough to ride many locations in B.C. and where I live is basically the same. One big grind to the top!
  • 4 0
 Southern enduro is fairly relaxed, no cut off times or anything. Plenty of tubby biffers on enduro sleds walking up most of it.
I’ve got a vague idea of the off road route from reading to the venue, he would have faced tougher climbs on his trip to and from the race.
  • 2 0
 @JDFF: east coast mountains here, I ride a singlespeed with the equivalent of about 30:20 for xc races. Grades range up to 20% gravel and 36% singletrack. Most races have between 3 and 6 main climbs of 1200 to 2500 ft. My cutoff point for may as well walk is around 15% singletrack and 20% gravel. His gearing would totally work for that if he is simarly fit (or unfit)
  • 1 0
 @AccidentalDishing: thanks man. Real world info, appreciate that.
  • 1 0
 lowest gear on my rigid 29er is 40:34. I'm not into riding my bike slower than walking pace, whatever the gradient of the hill!
  • 8 0
 This is evidence in support of my contention that the dropper post is the most important innovation in mountain biking over the past 35 years.
  • 9 0
 Nice "No Shox" sticker on the fork!
  • 5 0
 Being beaten at an enduro race by a guy with no suspension and a 28-11t cassette would at the same time take a huge toll on my ego and inspire me so much respect. Anyway, that bike and that purple is why we love steel bikes that much !
  • 7 0
 This kinda stuff is the heart and soul of riding to me! Nicely done.
  • 1 0
 When you show up to an enduro and you're looking for the standout badass, look for the SS rigid bike rider. That MFr can ride!
  • 5 0
 Oh man, this sort of bike really resonates with me. It's like a fusion of my old rigid SS days with my current endurobro endeavours. Must....not.....buy....frame....
  • 2 0
 @Arierep: That's exactly the same thing I tell myself.... right before I buy a brand new frame Wink
  • 3 0
 That chant always ends up
“must…buy…frame…”
  • 2 0
 @DizzyNinja: and never put salt in your eyes
  • 3 0
 Too bad those bars are out of stock until 2022. I just checked... No one else makes 800mm bars in a 17° backsweep. SQ Lab comes close at 16° & 780, and I have 2, but I'd be love the extra width and additional degree of sweep! @stooge
  • 1 0
 Scrambler Bars are in stock I think. 75mm rise, lots of sweep and 820mm wide!
  • 1 0
 @tamarin08: oh snap. Steel, 23° and 820??? Too much for my carbon yeti, BUT those might be just the thing for my enduro tandem! Thanks for the tip.
  • 2 0
 Soma Dream Bar is about the same specs as the stooge bar. It's really helped with my rotator cuffs / hand arthritis.
  • 5 0
 I think the top tube should be higher for even less stand over clearance...and then call it THE UNIC!!
  • 3 0
 @mattlakin super sique bike. I recommend something like the surly sunrise bars...slam that stem and complete the klunker look. They transformed my rigid grinduro bike.
  • 1 0
 Thanks, I'll take a look. Got some Stooge Scrambler Bars with more rise to try out first though...
  • 2 0
 This rig would be a blast. All the trail feedback and skill required of riding rigid but without the OTB-inducing roadie geometry. Racing it though... I'll leave that to Mr Lakin!
  • 1 0
 Righteous, dude! I love that he rode to the race. I don't really care what he rode. The bike is cool, though it seems like it would be pretty rough as an race machine. But I guess if you're bikepacking, then racing mtb, then bikepacking, maybe it's just fine. Anyway, props for recreating (in a sense) the fun that of "off to the races".
  • 1 0
 Kudos. I had to have my suspension fork steerer tube replaced and went back to a rigid fork for a month. After one particularly rock encrusted epic downhill, I couldn't feel my hands for 2 days afterwards. I was having trouble modulatingthe brakes and felt like it was actually dangerous. Mind you, that was with 26x2.0" tires...
No rear suspension, no problem
No front suspension, no thanks!
Great story and love the bike packing kit.
  • 1 0
 Checked out some of Stooge Cycles frames/forks cause awesome. They look really Jones-inspired, there's even a Ti build with something that's basically a Truss Fork (jonesbikes.com/titanium-truss-fork-for-plus-lwb). Is there a collab between these shops or just a lot of inspiration? Has anyone ridden a Stooge? Does it ride like a Jones? I have a steel Jones Diamond frame, it's a thing of beauty to ride everywhere except through the constant softball sized rocks of Arizona. Where I ride, of course.
  • 4 0
 Rad, love it and the thinking behind it, good onya Matt.
  • 4 0
 It is like the DangerPubs bike done right.
  • 6 0
 The dangerpubes bike was perfection, you can’t do it righter than that
  • 3 0
 Love the tiny cassette, even if a single speed would have been even better !
  • 2 0
 Looking the bike over, I wonder if it is used as a single speed, but with different gears for different situations: higher gears for road sections, lower for racing, and minimal shifting in between.
  • 5 2
 He needs to get Steve from Hardtail Party on one of these! 29+ klunker with modern geo seems right up his alley
  • 1 0
 I'd be really interested to hear more about the vittoria cannoli, seems like a grippy fast tire and they're real cheap on ebay right now. Not a lot of reviews but my frame officially clears 29 x 2.8
  • 1 0
 Loose over hard summer conditions are its natural habitat. You'll get away with it on the rear in slightly wetter conditions but the compound is a bit hard really for front end use on wet roots/rocks.
  • 6 0
 @tamarin08: So you're advising to take the cannoli?
  • 1 0
 @tamarin08: Thanks for the feedback, I'm tempted to buy one just to have it. Just picked up an agarro which seems to suit my riding well and local riders seem to love it, but there's just something about plus tires that I like better than 2.6
  • 1 0
 @mchance: I just went from 2.6 mazza and aggarro down to 2.4 of same. Lighter, faster, just as much grip.
  • 5 0
 @MtbSince84: Leave the gun.
  • 1 0
 @MtbSince84: I'd say it depends on your usual local trail conditions.
  • 4 0
 @tamarin08: *whoosh*
  • 1 0
 @mtb-thetown: try Barzo front and Mezcal rear. It's like Agarros, but even faster rolling and more playful. Bit less grip, but more confidence inspiring so the net effect is faster and makes you feel like a hero.
  • 1 0
 @wguarino: I run Agarro front and Barzo rear on my hardtail and love it. I tried the mezcal on my gravel bike and liked it, but I like the grip of the Agarro over the Barzo on the front for the terrain I ride on the hardtail.
  • 1 0
 @mtb-thetown: interesting, I tried that combo, also on hardtail, and didn't like it. The Barzo seemed to dig into soft dirt quite a bit, which is great for a front tire, but unnerving for a rear. Seemed like the Agarro on the front generally gripped more, but when things got softer and that Barzo started biting the handling got funky. Still love that Barzo on the front though, and the Agarro both ends combo.
  • 5 1
 My joints hurt just reading this. Still a rad bike
  • 3 3
 I'm guessing the rider is conditioned for this bike, through strength and technique. I doubt it's uncomfortable for him.
  • 3 0
 @JDFF: yeah totally. That’s why I said MY joints
  • 1 2
 @brandaneisma: fyi- a lot of joint pain can be mitigated by proper muscle strengthening.
  • 1 0
 @JDFF: True, but having JRA doesn't help
  • 1 0
 @brandaneisma: agree.
  • 3 0
 Fully rigid bike with dropper post, crazy gear ratio; weird flex but impressive!
  • 1 0
 I have the worst time bleeding those Magura Trail/Sport brakes. When they are working they work great, but I feel like I have to bleed them too often and it’s always a pain (and a mess).
  • 2 0
 I fkn love this.

My other bike is a rigid SS with 3” 29 wheels. It’s the perfect winter bike. But pick your lines carefully with it!!
  • 1 1
 I love that he is testing the limits of what we “know” about mountain biking. So many commenters questioning how this could possibly work on enduro trails, even though this guy actually rides the bike on them. There is something to be learned here, whether it is that we should question what we hold up as truths about bike tech or how we ride our bikes. This guy is making this work really well, and it would probably benefit all of us to find out why.
  • 5 3
 I’m a big fan of steel frame bikes with a 10 speed short cage zee derailleur. Just a nice unfussy tool to get the job done
  • 4 2
 Bike weight in "freedom" units, bike weight in inteligent units. Pinkbike ont being very consistent here.
  • 1 0
 I meant rider weight.
  • 2 0
 Cool bike, but that quote about klunkers is a bit cringe in consideration of folks like Curtis Inglis.
  • 1 0
 blimey, certainly not referring to the likes of Retrotec and Mone etc, they're serious bikes for serious bikers, thinking more about your cheapies that roll out every so often with the ergonomics of a bmx.
  • 1 0
 It would be a blast to have one, but I keep having to pour money into my enduro bike. A couple thousand dollars is a down payment for a new FS frame. Cool boje though.
  • 1 0
 Looks like a pig but beleive the ride feel is good, things dont have
to be complicated and gimmicky, another look for the Italians to
overhaul though : )
  • 4 1
 Very nice bike.
  • 3 0
 man of steel
  • 3 0
 Looks cool but no thanks
  • 1 0
 Is 3M 2228 really that rare? I thought it was the best stuff for chainstay protection, I have it on all my bikes.
  • 3 1
 Horses for courses??
  • 2 0
 Bikes for likes
  • 2 0
 This guy's riding a mule!
  • 5 0
 That bike is so cool that it smokes all the joints. If you know what I mean...
  • 1 0
 Nice riding as always Matt
  • 1 0
 Brilliant. Love Stooge bikes, and this one’s a blinder! Top effort.
  • 2 0
 Love it.
  • 1 1
 So rad!, I want one of those beauties. Almost as cool as my Fisher/Trek Sawyer. That at bi plane fork is amazing too.
  • 2 0
 This is amazing
  • 2 1
 My joints hurt reading this.
  • 1 0
 Pretty darn cool! It looks like a breezer!!!
  • 1 2
 It a beautiful thing....man. Wow...really surprised that Pinkbike is actually putting out some real content these days. Thanks or trying!
  • 4 0
 Thanks I’m really trying to pick out some unique bikes from events. To be honest the props should go to @tamarin08 he always has something special
  • 2 0
 Is it real content because he's on a fully rigid bro? Is it core bro?

Get off your damn high horse of "modest-ness", as all your comments just peg you as a self righteous prick.
  • 1 0
 Id like to test ride one of those. Is this possible?
  • 1 0
 matt is my hero. gorgeous bike
  • 1 0
 Seat angle is just horrible
  • 1 0
 This is like virtue signaling in bike form...
  • 1 0
 Nice work Andy \../
  • 1 0
 That purple though.
  • 1 3
 1000 nopes to those fenders especially when you're not even protecting a fancy squish fork. If it's that muddy, should you even be riding??
  • 1 0
 Beautiful.
  • 2 4
 sickest beach cruiser ever but...that's not enduro. is it?
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