My late 80’s Stumpjumper it really not too far removed from my early/original Stumpjumper. The frame geometry feels the same, maybe with a bit more room due to a longer stem, but essentially the same feel. However, the 8 years of maturing did yield a big difference in rideabilty, and that difference comes in two major areas; gearing and brakes. The 1989 model has indexed gearing, as opposed to the now forgotten friction shifting, for ease of shifting and 21 vs. 15 speeds which makes it a bit easier on the legs. The ’89 also has what could be considered almost real brakes, instead of things that look like brakes, but don’t really stop you. The ’89’s upgraded cantilevers make it mostly safe on the trails and entirely safe on roads.
Roads, rather that trails, is where this atrociously painted Stumpjumper is living with me as my commuter and foul weather recreational ride. In this role it really does excel because it’s older geometry is more akin to a comfortable touring bike, but it’s robust like a mountain bike for the times when a car or two may run you off the road, as well as curbs, potholes, etc. And the gearing for me has been spot on, lot’s of low gears for hauling my fat rear end up hills and some tall gears for the long downhill grades.
Also, the mountain bike mechanisms don’t seem to be as finicky with dirt and grime as those on my strictly road bike, which is great because when you commit to commuting, even infrequently, you will eventually be riding in some yucky weather and through a lot of stuff that has been kicked to the shoulder by auto traffic. Not an environment for delicate sport/road bike stuff.
In my humble opinion, there are way too many of these wonderful bikes gathering dust in garages. And I’m not just talking about old Stumpjumpers. There were many models and brands from that era that would do well with a tune up and new set of tires. It’s part of our culture to want something new, but most people don’t need a brand new bike with a couple a dozen gears, suspension and disc brakes to thoroughly enjoy cycling. What they really just need/want is a rigid steel bike with a few indexed gears, brakes that’ll stop them and to save a few hundred dollars. Pick any name brand used bike from the late ’80’s onward that has been somewhat taken care of and you will have yourself a fun reliable ride without spending megabucks. Maybe you’ll even find one with a pretty paint job like this Stumpjumper.
Updated 1/25/18 – This wonderfully colored Stumpjumper has moved on. One of the rarest of times that bikes travel away from my collection rather than into it. My garage is just too full, period, too full. And with the addition of Whitey, colorful Jumper would just not be ridden. Now Colorful has a new home in Bellingham, with a new owner and I am sure many new adventures . So Long, and thanks for all the fun.