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The Ideal Galbraith Mt. Bike?
2002 Specialized Stumpjumper

Specialized Stumpjumper FSR XC 120 DiscChris Hardin on Galbraith Mt.'s Ridge Trail on the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR XC

This is Mongo's personal FSR XC Disc, which he tricked out with a Specialized Body Geometry seat, Wellgo M-18 Ti spindled SPD pedals, Easton CT2 carbon fiber handle bars and seat post, FSA Ti ISIS bottom bracket, TruVatic Stylo Team cranks, Shimano chain rings, Chris King No-thread head set, Hayes disc rotars, Manitou Mars Elite fork, Titec carbon 100 bar ends, Kevlar-beaded Hutchinson Mosquito Airlight rear and Continental Explorer Pro front tire.

Model: Specialized FSR XC Disc
Category: XC Flier
Suspension: 3 inches front; 3.75 inches (or 3 inches) rear
Ideal for: The FSR XC is most at home on Galbraith's sweet single track and moderately technical trails, like the Ridge Trail, Purple Heart, Family Fun Center, Lost Giants, Intestine, etc. 
Over all performance: If you like to climb, and you like single track that flows like honey, combining tight rips and moderately technical tiptoes, you're looking at your dream bike. Some might say this bike would be more at home in less technical areas such as Eastern Washington or California -- this is NOT a Big Hit bike -- but actually there are large swaths of Galbraith where the FSR XC is totally in its element, and where that's true, there's nothing more delightful you can ride.

There are a lot of good bikes in the XC Flier category -- Gary Fisher Sugar, Giant NRS, Kona King Kikapu, Trek Fuel, and Specialized's new Epic to mention only a few -- but the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR XC is the still the best of the breed, a proven winner with cat-like quickness and a huge heart.

Mongo was on the yellow and blue FSR XC pictured above about a quarter of the time when he set the World Record for climbing described in Vert Quest.

Front end: The Rockshox Duke SL that comes stock with the FSR XC Disc is an OK, mid-range shock. However, serious riders may want to consider upgrading to a Rockshox SID or a Manitou Mars fork for either lighter weight or better performance. The FSR XC can also be turned into a very quick, very light trail bike by throwing a Rockshox SID 100 or Marzocchi Marathon on the front, as Mongo has done.
Rear end: Since the late '90s, Specialized's patented four-bar Horst-link design has been the reigning champion among rear suspensions from a performance standpoint. Efficient, comfortable, and utterly free of brake jack, it puts the power down -- whether you're seated or hammering out of the saddle -- better than any other design. Poetic riders say that the FSR's Horst link rear end is like "clear water flowing over a gravel stream bed," meaning that the rear end's shock absorption is totally transparent, and doesn't interfere with their riding at all. In fact, the FSR offers certain concrete performance advantages over both hard tails and most competing rear end designs, such as its ability to deliver fully suspended power without appreciable pedal resistance at the moment of maximum suspension compression, or traction bite. And now, thanks to Specialized's continuing refinement, it's even better -- almost as plush as the Cannondale Jekyll -- and more durable too, thanks to sealed bearings at all the pivot points.
Brakes:  The FSR XC Disc comes with the excellent Shimano 525, self-adjusting dual piston discs.
(The devil is in the) Details: The bull moose handlebars that the FSR comes with stock are not terribly well suited to Galbraith, nor are the stock Specialized semi-slick tires.
Durability: There was some chain stay breakage on early FSR XCs, especially when play developed in the bushings at the pivot points. Since Specialized modified and strengthened the chain stays, and added sealed bearings at all pivot points, this hasn't been a problem. 
Geometry and sizing: The FSR XC's geometry runs to the tight end of the XC scale, which has always been evident in its nimbleness and climbing ability, but over the years of refining its Horst-link flier, Specialized has relaxed the geometry just a hair to give it a lot more stability at speed. The FSR XC frame has also traditionally run small, with a tighter cockpit than some riders liked, but over the years as Specialized has lengthened the top tube a half inch and raised the bottom bracket .1 inches. 
Weight: 25 pounds as pictured.
Reviewed: March 2002; updated October 2005

Chris Hardin on Galbraith Mt.'s Ridge Trail on the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR XC

Chris Hardin on the Ridge Trail ridin' the old Blow Down Drop on the Specialized FSR XC.

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Vert Quest, excerpts from Mongo's World Record Journal by Bruce Brown "Mountain In The Clouds" by Bruce Brown