2023 MADE Bike Show Hype: Three Custom-Finished Stinner Tunnel Hardtail 29ers

On the cusp of this year’s MADE Bike show, we’re getting the hype train rolling early with a note from Aaron Stinner on the recent updates made to Stinner Frameworks’ mainstay hardtail, the Tunnel. Then we’ll take a look at three custom-finished Tunnels for three takes on this classic mid-travel 29er. 

John’s Twilight Yellow Stinner 27.5+ Hardtail from 2017

Tunnel Origins

Our flagship steel mountain bike, the Tunnel, has stayed relatively unchanged for the last ten years. When I started building in 2012, 29 x 2.4” tire clearance was prerequisite, and 420mm chainstays were all the rage. Luckily, the hardtail expectations of the era lent themselves well to the type of riding we have close by here in Santa Barbara: steep, rocky climbs right out the gate with chunky, twisty descents on the way back down. Fine-tuning our hardtail became a bit of an obsession. Stinner was still mostly known as a road brand, probably because of my road “racing” background, and most of the connections I had at a “professional” level were connected with the road scene. But, much of my personal riding happens on dirt in the foothills of Santa Barbara, and the original Tunnel was a reflection of those surroundings.

Hardtails have taken many forms in the last ten years. Along with shifting geometries, most of those iterations have revolved around tire sizes and chain line being all over the place. You name it, the industry has tried it; our original 29 x 2.4″ might seem quaint by some of today’s plus-tired peers. Customers frequently ask for the latest-and-greatest and want what they believe to be the next hot thing. As a small builder, it can be easy to get caught up in trends but I never bit on any of those requests. I always felt a 29 x 2.4 or 2.5 with 140mm of front travel rode best for our trails, so why change? Well, a decade after the Tunnel was first introduced and we thought it might be time after all for a design update to this enduring hardtail. As it turns out, what was old can be new again.

Tunnel Updates Put to the Test

Since we had already changed the Tunnel’s rear spacing to boost spec we were able to bump up our tire size to 29 x 2.6″ and take the chainstays out to 430mm without any issues. With these subtle but impactful changes implemented, we feel like we have settled on what we think, geometry-wise, is the best hardtail.

People often ask how we can thrive and grow in an environment where only the wealthiest survive. Well, the answer is our community. There is a saying in Santa Barbara: Trust in the bubble, and the bubble provides. The three dudes below exemplify how our community keeps us going along with the versatility of the Tunnel. Each has a different riding background but was looking for the same thing: a fun, playful hardtail to shred around Santa Barbara.

Each of these dudes plays an important role in the little bicycle ecosystem we live in. Tosh has been a huge part of where Stinner is today! Long drives, long rides, photos, and a billion cups of coffee. He has been there for us through the best of times and the worst of times. Last year, when the tenant we were sharing shop space with bailed at the last minute, Brian walked into our shop through a mutual friend. Within a few minutes, we both knew the fit was right. Thirty days later, Brian was sharing a shop with us. Now, we can’t imagine sharing a shop with anyone else.

As for Jim Bob, he needs little introduction. Jim grew up with Tosh and was good friends with Brian, so it was only natural that our paths would cross. Jim has become a great ambassador for riding in and around Santa Barbara. His drive to build a better community is why the Santa Barbara riding scene exists in the first place. He is one of those guys that makes sure the bubble provides, and for that, we are thankful. All three of these bikes have wild paint jobs (don’t ask us to repeat them) and each bike serves a moment in time for each Brian, Tosh, and Jim Bob because we felt they deserved something truly unique. Each bike represents them and what they are giving back to our community.

Brian’s Stinner Tunnel

“It’s like riding a unicorn through a field of rainbows. Every time I’m on it, an angel pops onto my shoulder and guides me heavenly through the rock gardens. I was once chased by a bear, but when it saw I was on a Stinner, it cowered in fear and offered me its firstborn. For real, though, this is the sickest hardtail I’ve ever thrown a leg over, and the paint job is out of this world!”

Build Kit

Frame: Stinner Tunnel with custom paint job
Fork: Color Matched Rockshox Pike Ultimate with Push ACS3 Coil Conversion and HC97 Compression System
Brakes: Magura MT7 Raceline with HC3 levers
Wheels: Giant TRX Carbon
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF Exo+ Front and Rear
Drivetrain: XX1 Eagle Cassette and Chain, X01 Derailleur and Shifter
Cranks: Sram GX 170mm
Bottom Bracket: Enduro T47
Pedals: Shimano XT Clipless
Seatpost: OneUp Dropper 180mm with Wolf Tooth Lever
Handlebars: Truvativ Descendant Carbon
Headset: Cane Creek 40 Series
Stem: Truvativ Descendant
Grips: ODI Troy Lee

Tosh’s Stinner Tunnel

“Behold my Stinner, a sleek masterpiece of raw steel, bearing a solemn memorial drawing etched upon its downtube. It pays homage to my departed father, Pepperspray Pete, the catalyst who fueled my passion for cycling, ultimately leading me to cross paths with the enigmatic Aaron Stinner. The bike’s artistic details and lettering, inspired by my alter ego, the Gas Station Cowboy, weave a tale of unconventional aesthetics. This two-wheeled marvel embodies a narrative of profound connection, capturing the essence of love, loss, and the profound encounters that shape our restless souls. In my dream-like stupor, the details blur, leaving me uncertain which components adorn this thoroughbred.”

Frame: Stock Tunnel MTB – Steel M/L
Fork: 2023 RS Lyrik Ultimate 140mm, 44mm offset, Heavy Metal Green
Headset Cane Creek 40 ZS44/28.6 EC44/40
Brakes: Magura MT5 HC, 4 piston
Wheelset: Serpentine Alloy rim with Astral Approach hub by White Industries,
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF 29 x 2.5″ (front) / Maxxis Rekon 29 x 2.4″ (rear)
Drivetrain: SRAM GX AXS, GX 10-52t Cassette
Cranks: SRAM GX Alloy Boost DUB
Bottom Bracket: Wheels Manufacturing T47 DUB Outboard
Seatpost: One Up Components V2 Dropper, 30.9mm, 160-180mm drop (adjustable)
Dropper: Remote One Up Components V2 Dropper Remote, 22.2mm clamp
Seat Collar Stinner Select DKG, 34.9mm, black
Handlebars: Race Face Turbine R Alloy, 20mm rise, 35mm clamp, 800mm width
Stem: One Up Components Stem, 35mm clamp, 42mm length
Grips: ESI Chunky, black
Saddle Brooks C15, black


Jim Bob’s Stinner Tunnel

“Introducing my Stinner Tunnel, aka HELLHAMMER! The Hellhammer is just that. It smashes everything in its way while looking as badass as can be. Every single time I ride my Tunnel, I have a huge smile on my face. Not only is the paint job just insane, [but] the bike rips! With 140mm of travel, aggressive geo, and a steel frame, it really does ride well. I have such a blast on it. Although I must admit this is the only bike I’m worried about laying down because the paint job is so special to me. It’s like a work of art. James truly brought a dream into a reality. I sent him reference photos of speckled rattlesnakes, and he absolutely nailed the snake theme on the frame. Anyone who knows me knows that snakes are a huge part of my life, and to have something like this is really special.”

Build Kit

Frame: Stinner Tunnel with custom Snake Paint Job
Fork: Fox Factory 34 Kashima with 140mm of Travel
Brakes: SRAM Codes
Wheelset: Giant TRX Carbon Wheels
Tires: Specialized Soil Searching (2.6 Butcher up front, 2.4 Ground Control Rear)
Drivetrain: SRAM GX AXS, GX 10-50 Cassette
Cranks: Raceface Next SL 170mm
Bottom Bracket: Raceface T47
Seatpost: Fox Factory Transfer 150mm
Pedals: Shimano XT Clipless
Handlebars: Raceface Carbon 800mm
Stem: Raceface 40mm
Grips: Deity Knuckledusters

We’re overdue for a visit to Stinner’s new space—keep an eye out for an updated shop visit in the coming months! In the meantime, if you’re kicking it at MADE later this week, be sure to pay Stinner a visit.