Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon 29
A classic that can rip on any modern trail
The Specialized Stumpjumper is a time-defying classic in the minds and garages of trail riders everywhere. My test of this legendary bike was long overdue for me. My expectations could not have been higher, which makes things tougher than riding some fresh new bike without the pedigree that the Stumpjumper has maintained for so long. Sitting between the cross country race-oriented Epics and the bruiser Enduro lineup, the Stumpy seems to harness abilities from both lineages.
At first, certain trails in my usual testing grounds in Squamish, B.C., had me wanting one of Specialized’s Enduro models under me, which is a very popular choice from Vancouver’s North Shore to Whistler. But the more I rode, I found that the 2017 Stumpjumper could keep up, most of the time, no matter how tough the terrain. It has a Rockshox Pike fork with 150 mm of travel and stiff Roval wheels shod with the house-brand Butcher (on the front) and Slaughter (on the rear) tubeless tires. With my confidence gaining and choice of terrain getting more aggro, I feel I found the limits of the rear end of the bike. With the Rockshox Monarch shock, featuring Autosag, set to the recommended 25 per cent sag, the rear felt too stiff compared with the Pike fork. Running the shock at a little more than 30 per cent sag helped balance the bike but did have me reaching for the compression adjust on extended climbs. After many various trial runs, I decided the final test would be on a four-hour alpine outing on the new Into the Mystic/lord of the Squirrels loop in Whistler. This trail will give any bike a thorough thrashing once you have paid your dues on the climb section. No shuttles on this one. Sitting mid-group on the more than two-hour climb, I bided my time until the descent where I could let the bike do what it does best: carve the corners and pick up tremendous amounts of speed with little effort. It was astonishing to ride this trail for the first time at a fairly reckless pace but still feel in complete control.
Having the Swat door storage system came in handy for a ride like this. It allowed me to tuck away snacks in the down tube. The Stumpjumper is 6Fattie compatible and can be purchased in that configuration. Putting on 27.5" wheels with tires around 3.0" wide does lower the bottom bracket marginally; chunky terrain will grab your pedals more often. For 2018, Specialized has taken this behaviour into account and is spec’ing 170-mm crankarms across all sizes. The company has also listened to critics regarding 750-mm wide handlebars and has upped it to 780 mm, which should quiet the angry mob for now.
Many noteworthy changes are coming for 2018: a price drop of around $500 bucks, the Rockshox Pike being swapped for a more refined Fox 34 fork as well as a wide-range GX Eagle 12-speed transmission. On top of all that, watch for a carbon rim upgrade, laced with J-bend spokes, not to mention the new Gripton technology coming out of Specialized’s own tire line. I am very curious to try this synthetic rubber the company has been using in its road-tire line, which is said to achieve immense grip with low rolling resistance. With all these updates as well as an Ohlins coilsuspension option, I am hoping to revisit the Stumpjumper in the near future.
One of the only things not changing is geometry. If you liked the fit of the bikes in the past, you need not worry. With seemingly every other brand out there singing the slack-and-long song for mountain bike geometry, the big S is holding out with a 74-degree seattube angle and 67-degree head-tube angle. With the reach on the large at 431 mm it comes in almost 30 mm shorter than what I am used to on my personal bike. With the spec changes coming and competitive pricing for the 2018 model year, many riders will have the Stumpjumper in their sights.
“It was astonishing to ride this trail for the first time at a fairly reckless pace but still feel in complete control.”