Reportage

Golden Saddle Rides: My Twilight Yellow Stinner Tunnel 27.5+ Hardtail

Hello, my name is John and I’m a hardtail addict. I’m not sure when or where it began, but when framebuilders send me bikes to review, specifically hardtail mountain bikes, I tend to want to buy the framesets from them. Most recently, this Stinner Frameworks Tunnel 27.5+ bike, which I reviewed a little while back when it was built with Box Components and Magura products.

Coming from my stout and solid Retrotec, the Stinner offered a much lighter, zippier feel. It wasn’t necessarily a better ride, just a different one. One that I liked a lot, save for one major – to me at least – flaw: it only had one water bottle mount on the inside triangle.

I offered to buy the bike from Stinner and requested that they’d add another bottle cage mount. In order to do so, they’d have to strip the whole thing and repaint it. Rather than going with their stock paint design, I picked a Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser color, “Twilight Yellow,” and sent that along in my email. James, the painter at Stinner, painted the bike and added a matte clear coat, before sending it back down to LA for me to ride.

Along with the frame, I bought the White Industries headset, cranks and the Fox 34 140mm fork. A spare XO drivetrain made it onto the bike, along with SRAM’s Roam 60 wheels, which I might add, are incredibly resilient to the kinds of abuse you’d expect on such a rowdy bike. The most notable component choice, however, is the PAUL short pull Klampers and Canti levers. Why not Hydraulic? Well, truthfully, I had such a pleasant experience riding this brake setup during my time in Chico with the Paul team that I wanted to give them a try, so I mounted them to ENVE’s 800mm DH bars.

Mechanical brakes like the Klamper feel damn good. I’ve got them on my touring bike and after some time using them, I fell in love with their predictable, no-nonsense feel. For the most part, they installed easily on the bike, save for the rear chainstay cable stop, which is optimized for hydraulic lines, not so much for mechanicals. It’s not a fault of the builder, and I didn’t know I wanted to try out Klampers until the bike was already re-painted. For now, a zip tie holds the cable in place, and Aaron recommended trying a V-Brake noodle to ease the angle of the cable and allowing the use of the cable stop if I want to have the cable tied to the cable stop.

So, the bike was built and ready to rumble. I took it up to Northern California to have at Saddle Drive, as an option to ride if and when my size wasn’t available to demo, which, turns out, was a lot of the time. Myself, along with a whole group of people were harassed by the park bros who worked there, saying “hardtails don’t belong on this mountain,” yet the bike and I held our own. Later, I rode it in Downieville, on trails I had only previously ridden full suspension bikes on. Not a bad way to break in a new ride, huh?

A detail that I have to give the SRAM mechanics Michah and Troy a high-five for is the chainstay protector they made from 3M Mastic tape. I had some chainslap paint chips and the Mastic tape covered it, sealing out water and prevented further damage. Thanks, guys!

I’ll be using this bike for more rugged singletrack bikepacking, where the option for a suspension fork will be preferred, much like my Tahoe Rim Trail trip in September. For now, I just have to figure out which bike I want to ride when I load up the truck for a mountain bike ride.

Thanks to the boys at Golden Saddle Cyclery for the build, Paul for making kick-ass brakes and components and the team at Stinner Frameworks for their dedication to making a rowdy and trail-ready bike geometry, which I posted in the comments below. ;-)

You can check out more information on the Tunnel MTB frames at Stinner Frameworks.

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If you want a custom build like this and live in Los Angeles, hit up Golden Saddle Cyclery.