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Stooge Cycles probably isn’t a name you’ll be familiar with but given the bikepacking worlds love of steel 29ers, I think that situation may soon change. Just like Mr King, Andrew Stevenson had a dream and that dream is about to become reality … his own bike company.

I fired 10 questions over to Andrew hoping for a little insight into his ideas and the Stooge ethos. He didn’t disappoint … Put the kettle on, break out the digestives and enjoy.

1/ Stooge, where did the name come from?

Coming up with a name for my bikes was probably the hardest part of the whole process. I’ve been dreaming of this for many years, but it was only after I’d designed the bike that I actually started thinking about potential names, none of which I’ll embarrass myself with by mentioning here. One evening I was sitting in my lounge listening to the Stooges (the most kick-ass rock and roll band in the world ever), looking at a Stooges poster on my wall, and it slowly dawned on me that the answer had been staring at me for while. Stooge Cycles. Rolls of the tongue, looks great, and I now also love some of the definitions of the word – the straight guy in a comedy partnership, someone who feeds lines. I like the idea of my Stooge feeding me lines while I laugh out loud, seems like a perfect image.

2/ Tea, coffee or other?
Coffee, about 8 times a day.

3/ Any thoughts on 650b … the ideal wheel size or a gimmick?
Okay, first things first, I’ve worked in the bike trade for a long time and I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go.  Being cynical, MTBs had pretty much reached the end of the line as far as developments go, suspension was and is as good as its likely to get, and certainly in the shop I worked in we saw a levelling off as far as new high-end bike sales went. So what do you do if you want to give people a reason to buy again? You get together with all the other bike companies and agree to market a new wheel size. The magazines agree to go mad for it and the customers follow suit. Suddenly everyone needs a new bike! Job done, until the next time.
 
As an aside, I remember Haro were pushing 650 wheels back in about 2007. They were publicly ridiculed and pretty much opted out of the quality bike scene thereafter. Turns out they were merely ahead of the game … but here’s the big BUT. If I were designing a suspension bike today I’d no doubt use 650 wheels, they just look so right. As for hardtails, it’s 29er all the way. It really is the only size that works so well in all areas.  I work in a trail centre by day and it amazes me how media led the punters are. The myths surrounding 29ers are still alive and kicking and healthier than ever – the handling’s shit, they don’t go around tight corners, it’s cheating etc etc. None of these people will ever swing a leg over a 29er, let alone a bike like the Stooge, but they’ll allow themselves to be sold a 650 hook line and sinker. Interestingly, we couldn’t give away 26″ wheeled bikes right now. Incredibly sad when you stop and think about it, and a prime example of successful hype in action.

Man and machine – far away.


4/ What’s the main driving force behind your designs, do you simply design what you want to ride and hope others will too?
I used to race BMX back in the early eighties, and when that scene died, luckily the first MTBs made their way into the shops and filled the bike shaped hole in my life. My first mountain bike was a Muddy Fox, fully rigid with a 140mm stem and brakes that didn’t work. I rode that bike solidly for a year through the Welsh mountains, multi coloured headband stretched over my forehead. I loved it, but what I could never understand was why MTBs were so obviously based on road bikes, both in geometry and construction. I imagined a bike based more on BMX technology and then promptly went drinking for about ten years.
 
Years later I embraced the whole suspension bike scene. Lots of Specialized Enduros and Big Hits, an Ellsworth Joker, and then I traded that in for a Gary Fisher Ferrous 29er back in 2007. The geometry was awful, but I loved that bike. That was traded in for a Sawyer as the idea of riding a fully rigid bike was starting to appeal, however, the bike was so flawed for me, and this was when I started hatching my plans. For me it made sense that on a rigid bike the front end should be substantially higher to reduce the pain and improve control. The slacker head angle also really lightens the front end, makes it stable at speed, less twitchy, all of which you need when you’re arms are your springs. 
 
The end result was the Stooge. I’ve always loved twin top tubes from my bmx days, but dislike the fact they are only ever used in retro designs. My design is based more on a childhood BMX dream than anything. The Stooge has turned out to be incredibly comfortable, and I’m sure some of that has to be down to the twin tubes. Aesthetically they tick all the boxes for me. I always wanted the Stooge to stand out in a crowd and I think I’ve achieved that. I liken it to a Hot Rod in a car park full of Audis.

5/ Do you think riders have become a bit obsessed with ‘technology’ whether it be perceived or real?
Technology is the new religion! Our society is completely and utterly obsessed by it – the latest phones and tablets, social networking sites, STRAVA!  And of course, the march of technology is what keeps the world moving. Modern cars are better than old cars. Modern bikes are better than old bikes. Everything is better than it used to be. AS far as MTBing is concerned, it certainly drives the industry forward, but the thing is, I feel sorry for young kids wanting to get into the sport who don’t have rich parents. A reasonable suspension bike will set you back a minimum of 2K, for a very decent one you’re looking at 3.5K. This in itself is rubbish. Back in the day there was a level playing field, in that all the bikes were shit, no matter how much you paid for them. Mountain biking is fast on the way to becoming a wealthy mans’ sport, and with wealth comes an obsessive desire to own the best kit and, dare I say it, spend the most money. This is why I love the subcultures within mountain biking – the single speeders, the fat bikers. It’s not that they’re anti-technology, more that they’re in touch with the idea of simplicity being good, a simple bike built to take the knocks that requires genuine skill to master, that’s what it’s about. It’s the same with Adventure cycling – it’s more about the experience than the machine, and that to me is closer to the true heart of what mountain biking should be about, the ability to get one with the wilderness on a bike. Mountain biking now comes prepacked – buy expensive suspension bike and Thule bike rack, take expensive mountain bike to trail centre once or twice a week to ride safe, sanitized trail for 2 hours, drink coffee at the café after the ride, talk to similar like minded people, go home. No more long day rides discovering trails that are new to you, witnessing views that are new to you, embracing the solitude that such adventures can bring. 


Adorning 29ers near you soon.



6/ Where’s your ultimate riding destination?
This is simple, I’ve spent over twenty years riding the hills around Llangollen. I could spend every day of the rest of my life doing just that. This is where the Stooge was born, a mutant offspring that crawled from the rainy moors.
 

7/ Where would you like Stooge Cycles to be in 5 years?
Still going, hopefully. I have plans for a number of framesets (an adventure frame, a super hardknock frame, maybe a touring frame), but it all comes down to how my first model is received. I don’t want to set the world on fire, just want to be able to make a living selling bikes that stand out in a  crowd and ride like a dream. This a lifelong dream for me so I’d love for it to work out, but having said that, if I only ever sell a hundred frames at least I’ll have made a statement and left my mark. I’ll end my days pretending to be someone else and running the Stooge owners forum, a bizarre place that’ll be more like a religious cult for the dispossessed.

29+ fans rejoice.



8/ You’ve called in the pub after a long ride, what’s on the menu?
I can tell you this one from experience. A couple of years ago I’d not had a chance to ride much (new baby etc) so decided, on a hot August day, to head over to Bala, no great shakes in itself. a hundred miles later I found myself pushing my bike downhill in a state of delirium. I found a hotel, and although I was only ten miles away from home, I booked a room. Within an hour I’d drank four pints of ice cold lager, the best I’d ever tasted. I ate rump steak for dinner, followed by three more pints. At about half past eight I staggered to my room and passed out. There’s a moral to that story but I have no idea what it is. 

9/ Are green bikes unlucky?
No, they’re lucky. I had a green Salsa Fargo once, it was a fantastic bike. Having said that, I very nearly cracked my skull open when I failed to make a corner on it.

10/ Anything in the pipeline you think we might be interested in?
My first batch of frames is due to arrive some time in April, so at the moment I have a list as long as my arm of things that need to be done. Then it’s all systems go, heading to events, riding as much as I can in as many different places o get my bike out there. I’m pretty keen to get Adventure Stooge up and rolling asap, it’ll be much like the original but with lots of mounts and a slightly taller headtube so you can run drop bars if you so wish. Put it this way, if this all works out, there’ll be a lot more heading into the world under the Stooge banner.

The stooge website is due to go live anytime but for the moment you can find out more here


Production frames land shortly.

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