Tester: Eric McKeegan
Weight: 165 lbs.
Self, you need to go for a ride.” “Yeah, but I have to finish writing this review and box up a bike and do some laundry and think about dinner and, and, and, and.” “Shut up.” “Hey asshole, watch it, we’ve both got to live in this brain, you might as well not be a jerk about everything.” “Whatever, go for a goddamn bike ride; you know that is the only way I stop being a shithead.” “Fine, but road or mountain?” “Should I drive somewhere to ride?” “Do I have a clean pair of shorts?” “Is my Garmin charged?” “Seriously? Just get on that brown thing and go. You’ll figure it out once you actually start riding, you schmuck.” ~flips on basement lights, fills bottles, grumbles about Trump, unhooks Stuntman, rides away~
The Stuntman comes with what I decided was a simple set of instructions below the eagle logo on the seat tube: SKIDS WHEELIES JUMPS. I’ll admit they do seem a bit hooliganish for a drop bar bike, but this isn’t your mom’s Schwinn Varsity.
What you have here is Colt Seavers’ drop bar bike. Or maybe it is Seavers’ GMC pickup executed in steel, aluminum and flared drop bars. If you are lost at this point, go watch some episodes of “The Fall Guy” on YouTube; the rest of us can wait. Then follow that up with a viewing of Burt Reynolds’ 1978 stuntman film “Hooper.”
OK, now that you’ve caught up, we can assume everyone knows Colt Seavers was a stuntman that moonlighted as a bounty hunter and that he owned and attempted to destroy a brown and gold GMC pickup during almost every episode. I hear you asking “what does that have to do with bikes?” and I reply, “whoever told you that there are no stupid questions was lying.”
While the Stuntman was being developed, Raleigh was having great success with cyclocross and gravel bikes, including quite a few in steel, thus the Reynolds 631 frame. The paint and graphics sprang from the pencil and marker work of our own SWTPYITFB columnist, Stevil Kinevil. At some point, lots of things at Raleigh got shaken up, the gold paint got swapped out for tan and the original name, “Seaver,” got swapped out for the more marketable Stuntman.
But surprisingly, the other interesting bits stuck around. Stock tires are 29×2.1 Clement XC LXV, and that weird-looking lever next to the stem operates the cute 80 mm dropper post. The beefy aluminum fork has a mountain bike-ish 50 mm offset, and a Rival 1×11 drivetrain and hydraulic discs keep things ready to get down and dirty. And fender mounts, and rack mounts, and thru-axles!
There are plenty of similarly spec’ed bikes on the market, some marketed as rough-stuff touring bikes and some as monstercross bikes. Don’t ask me where the line is between these types of bikes; the distinctions are nebulous, at best. We can all agree, drop bars and clearance for big knobbies are the heart of the matter here.
What the Stuntman does very well, and in a way I can’t quite put my finger on, is remain a very “normal” looking bike, while being almost entirely outside the norm. How about I call it a monstercross bike for people who don’t like ugly bikes?
The geometry is more road than mountain, particularly compared to modern long-and- slack trail bikes. The top tube on my 58 cm is just slightly longer than the norm at 585 mm; the head angle is 71.3 degrees, which is far from slack, but slightly less than the 72 degrees that is common on most road and gravel bikes of this size. The 80 mm of bottom bracket drop is probably the most extreme number, putting the bottom bracket at 11.3 inches off the ground.
As stated in the opening paragraph of this review, this is a bike that is happy figuring it out as you go along. Those big tires aren’t terribly aggressive and roll quite quickly, particularly once converted to tubeless, something easily accomplished with a floor pump and some sealant. I’d even dare to call this bike sporty feeling on the road, a surprise considering the tire size.
The Rival brakes and drivetrain are hard to fault. A 40×42 low gear isn’t ideal for long, steep and rough ascents, but there is plenty of room on the 110 mm BCD crank to go smaller. The hydraulic discs make it hard to go back to the cable discs on my own bike, but maybe that has more to do with new hydros vs. two-year-old cables. The flared bar has a great bend that matched up well with the Rival hoods.
While SKIDS, WHEELIES and JUMPS are fun on the road, dropper posts and knobby tires unlock new worlds of fun on drop bars. Getting sick of the local trails? They become a challenge again on this bike. Or maybe you miss the dropper on your trail bike on road rides? Wanna get down and boogie on the local gravel descents? Have at it. Take chances, crash, dust yourself off, get back on, try it again. That’s what Seavers or Hooper would do.
But, just like the casual misogyny in “The Fall Guy,” there are a few problem areas with the Stuntman. The cable routing is best described as confusing. The rear derailleur is routed traditionally with a down tube adjuster mounted to a shifter braze-on and bare cable under the bottom bracket back to a loop leading into the derailleur. The rear brake housing is internal, but the dropper housing is external under the down tube until it loops behind and enters the seat tube. The front brake hose goes into the fork for about six inches then pops back out. On their own, any of these cable routing choices are OK, but it seems sloppy when mixed together.
The dropper post remote lever is mounted next to the stem, making it impossible to activate when braking with the left hand. Hopefully we’ll see better options for drop-bar dropper levers soon, but right now this is the best stock option for non-mtb bars.
I’d also prefer to see geometry that is more progressive than what we see here. A longer top tube and shorter stem would help on forays into steep and sketchy stuff, as would a slacker head angle. I’d started off thinking I’d complain more about the minimalist tread on the tires, but other than not dealing well with mud, they fit the personality of the bike just fine. A little sketchy, but fun sketchy, not hanging out with meth heads sketchy.
In the end, if you wanted to be literal about it, a full-suspension mountain bike might be a better representation of “The Fall Guy” pickup, but that is way too literal for the minds behind this bike. Just go with it, and the Stuntman will have your back.
Raleigh markets this bike for “weeklong bike-packing trips, testing your limits on the gnarliest of trails, or checking out into the wilderness for a few days,” and I guess that works in a middle-of-the-road sort of way. But this bike deserves better than that kind of namby-pamby marketing copy. More fitting would be something like: If your best ideas are bad ideas, the Stuntman is willing and able to take your worst and come back for more.
Sizes: 52, 54, 56, 58 (tested), 60, 62 cm