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!”
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.
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.