This is the Stoemper Darrell, a handbuilt aluminium frame from the same Oregon-based builder that produced the steel Taylor that I reviewed last year. This one has been built up with Shimano's latest Ultegra Di2 groupset with hydraulic disc brakes.
The Darrell, like all Stoemper frames in the range (and that includes one steel road bike and two cyclo-cross bikes) are hand built to order, and one of the latest options they're offering on the aluminum Darrell are disc brakes. Because disc brakes are all the rage right now, and as we saw at Bespoked recently it's many of the smaller framebuilders that are really leading the disc brake charge. I’ll be riding the Darrell disc version in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege sportive, but before I do here’s a first look at the bike I'll be on.
The frame is handbuilt by framebuilder Todd Gardner in his Oregon workshop. It's made with triple butted 7005 aluminium main tubes with S-bend seatstays and chainstays, providing plenty of tyre and heel clearance. The wiring for the Di2 groupset is very cleanly routed inside the frame, so well done that you really have to look closely to see the entry and exit ports.
Likewise with the rear hydraulic hose, it's routed inside the top tube and runs along the top of the non-driveside seatstay. The disc caliper is mounted to the outside of the chainstay.
There is the customary Godzilla head badge - the giant lizard being famous for stomping around and ripping things up. Up front is an Enve Road Disc carbon fibre fork with a tapered steerer tube. There's still a limited range of road disc forks at present and the Enve is the current carbon disc fork of choice for custom frame builders.
This test bike has been built up with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset with hydraulic disc brakes, with 160mm rotors on both wheels. Shimano actually recommend 140s as being the ideal set up for all but the heaviest rider, so not sure what the thinking is here. That said the Orbea Avant we've currently got in on test has 160s on the front with 140s on the back, the same mix as on the BMC Dave rode at the Shimano hydraulic brake press camp - the reason there was the lack of bikes with a 140mm post mount. The wheels are Zipp’s latest disc-specific 303 Firecrest Clinchers, fitted with 23mm Schwalbe One tyres. Demonstrating the extra attention to detail Stoemper can provide, the FSA stem and seatpost are painted to match the frame. A PRO handlebar and Fizik saddle complete the bike.
On the scales without pedals it weighs 8.30kg. That compares well to the Colnago CX-Zero at 8.8kg and Orbea Avant at 8.55kg. Admittedly the Zipp 303 wheels are lighter than the stock wheels on both those bikes. So not bad for an aluminium frame at all really. Weight for the frame is a claimed 1,400g.
Price for a frameset is £2,200 and that includes the Enve fork. Delivery time is about 8 weeks.
So I’m about to give this bike a good thrashing in the LBL sportive, with plenty of hills and descents to test the handling and performance. Everyone thinks they know how aluminium rides, light but oh-so stiff. Well, we’ve seen some very nice aluminium bikes released in the past couple of years, making use of the latest tube manipulation techniques, to create aluminium road bikes that are stiff, light and comfortable. There’s the Cannondale CAAD10 for starters, the excellent Giant TCR SL I reviewed last year, and the Kinesis Aithein as well. The benchmark for aluminium road bikes is set high. I’ll let you know how the Darrel performs.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.