I love bikes. There, I've said it (and not only mountain bikes, though, they're the two-wheeler I prefer to ride).
Maybe you're like me – rubbernecking at other bikes on the trails or in the Waipa car park, checking them out.
Or doing the same when you pull up behind a car with a fully laden bike rack at the lights. There are plenty of opportunities to do that these days. Sometimes, it feels as though every second car rolling into town has bikes on board.
I've owned a few over the years. Most were or are excellent. Even the
occasional…well, mistake seemed the right decision at the time.
That included my first full suspension bike back in the late 1990s. It shall remain nameless.
It was heavy, lumbering and a very simple single-pivot design with limited travel. Back then it was a revelation.
In early 2000, I bought the bike that introduced me to dual suspension, as it should be.
A Specialized Stumpjumper in yellow and blue with Horst link, four-bar active suspension. The ride was plush and the reduction in feedback when braking was very noticeable.
I've sampled a range of suspension solutions since, but the Horst link is still one of my favourites.
When Specialized released the Stumpjumper in 1981, it was the first mass-produced mountain bike. It is so significant, historically, that an original model is in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
The bike was fully rigid and based on a design by Tom Ritchey, Gary Fisher and Charles Kelly, godfathers of a sport and industry that would grow at an exponential rate over the next four decades.
My first MTB was a mid-1980s Healing 10-speed, inspired by the design principles of that first Stumpjumper. After a serious road crash in England, those fat tyres reinvigorated my love of and confidence in bikes.
While bikes come and go, the Stumpjumper is one name that spans the history of our sport. Which brings me to the launch of the 2019 version, an event that lit up the internet a month or so, ago.
Specialized is one of the world's premium bike brands, so this was always going to be a very big deal and the bike does not disappoint.
It's a looker with a fully redesigned front triangle and the added intrigue of an asymmetrical frame. On the right hand side the top tube curves round the rear shock. The reason? To add additional stiffness without compromising the shock position or layout of the suspension.
Technology has certainly come a very long way in 38 years. What will they do for the 40th anniversary version?
While the launch of this new bike is a global phenomenon, it has local ripples.
We're very lucky to have bike shops in our region that offer a wide range of bikes.
That includes Cyclezone, the local Specialized dealer, on Fenton St in Rotorua,
Something you can't do on the internet is test ride a bike or get guaranteed, personal service.
Go and have a chat to Bryce Shapley and his team and check out the new Stumpjumper.