Starey Stumpie

Iconic MTB, to­tal makeover: the 2019 Spe­cial­ized Stumpjumper.

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Contents - By Myles Kelsey

THERE IS NO STRONGER HER­ITAGE IN MOUN­TAIN BIK­ING THAN THAT OF THE SPE­CIAL­IZED STUMPJUMPER.

Born in 1981, it was the first mass-pro­duced MTB; but with no sus­pen­sion and a rudi­men­tary spec, it’s barely recog­nis­able as the an­ces­tor of the lat­est in­car­na­tion of the Stumpjumper brand. The 2019 Stumpjumper is a full re­build – not just a facelift of pre­vi­ous edi­tions.

The new model comes in one of three vari­ants: a short-travel ST marathon bike, the stan­dard trail­fo­cused Stumpjumper, and then a grav­ity-in­spired EVO, though the EVO will not be avail­able here.

Es­sen­tially, the Stumpjumper ST to­gether with the Spe­cial­ized Epic EVO will re­place the nowdis­con­tin­ued Spe­cial­ized Cam­ber. The ST has a 130mm fork with a 120mm rear; snappy and nim­ble, it lines up against com­peti­tors such as the Trek →uel EX, the new Gi­ant Trance, and the Scott Spark Ul­ti­mate.

The stan­dard Stumpjumper, how­ever, com­bines a 150mm fork with a 140mm rear; and while the dif­fer­ence in weight be­tween the two is neg­li­gi­ble, the ge­om­e­try tweaks are the big en­abler.

Hav­ing spent a lot of time on the pre­vi­ous Stumpjumper, I opted to test the 2019 stan­dard model, plac­ing me in the best po­si­tion to make an in­formed com­par­i­son.

THE BIKE

The most sig­nif­i­cant vis­ual change is the new sidearm frame de­sign, which con­nects all three mount­ing points of the rear end and shock to the frame – tech­nol­ogy that’s trick­led down from the Spe­cial­ized Demo down­hill bike. The idea was to cre­ate a light frame that would still yield the op­ti­mal dose of frame stiff­ness, strength and sus­pen­sion dy­nam­ics for im­proved ride qual­ity.

Not so vis­ual – but oh so im­pact­ful on the ride dy­nam­ics – is a re­vi­sion of the FSR sus­pen­sion kine­mat­ics, which al­lows Spe­cial­ized to rely less on the shock dam­per for the de­sired ride, and more on the science of pivot place­ment. As a re­sult, with your sag set at 30% the be­gin­ning of travel is sup­ple, and there’s im­proved mid-travel sup­port – and less re­sis­tance to bot­tom­ing out at the end of the travel, which was an is­sue with the pre­vi­ous model.

Ev­ery shock and fork in the Stumpjumper range gets a cus­tom tune via the shim stack. This means the bike you buy will be sup­plied with the cor­rect range of ad­just­ments to suit you, in­clud­ing a fe­male-spe­cific tune.

Other changes in­clude mov­ing to a non-pro­pri­etary met­ric shock, a threaded BB, a ge­om­e­try-ad­just flip chip, im­proved ca­ble rout­ing, a larger SWAT down-tube stor­age unit, and a qui­eter driv­e­train. Nat­u­rally, given the com­plete frame re­design, all the ge­om­e­try num­bers have changed; the bike is longer, lower and slacker than the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Stumpie.

THE RIDE

At 1.75m tall I opted for a size Large, which gave a fair amount of reach and stack to cre­ate a spa­cious and ag­gres­sive ride po­si­tion.

De­serv­ing of spe­cial men­tion is that when you buy the bike, it’s specced with an ap­pro­pri­ately-sized stem and bar, which makes a sig­nif­i­cantly pos­i­tive im­pact on han­dling (if a trail bike of this na­ture isn’t specced with a 50mm stem and at least 780mm-wide bars, you should ask your dealer some se­ri­ous ques­tions!).

One of the first things I no­ticed on the trail is how well the bike car­ries speed – ev­ery­where! On smoother climbs it’s easy to firm up the damp­ing to cre­ate an al­most fully rigid ex­pe­ri­ence and help you climb like a trail boss.

On to the sin­gle­track, and with the sus­pen­sion opened up, the free-flow­ing na­ture of the bike is ev­i­dent – it’s eas­ier to hold speed than on many other bikes I’ve rid­den. As the trail gets gnarlier the but­tery Fox damp­ing smooths things out sig­nif­i­cantly, with­out ex­cess wal­low.

Af­ter a few rides I started to push things a lit­tle, and the bike re­sponded well. With an al­ready low bot­tom bracket, I ran the bike in the higher set­ting. This gave a lit­tle more clear­ance from rock strikes, yet still yielded an in­cred­i­bly low dy­namic ride height, which helped me to cor­ner like a beast.

With the re­design has come re­siz­ing, and the big­ger-reach num­bers of the Stumpie mean that steep climbs are not a prob­lem. The SRAM XX1 Ea­gle 12-speed driver­train is flaw­less; and while we did run out of gears on one of the faster de­scents, that only hap­pens at the sort of speed where it’s more ef­fi­cient to tuck any­way.

SRAM Guide RSC brakes (with a 200mm front ro­tor and 180mm rear) are the busi­ness, pro­vid­ing am­ple power and mod­u­la­tion.

THE ADD-ONS

This bike has an amaz­ing spec and is loaded with fea­tures, but there are a few add-ons which could fur­ther im­prove your ride ex­pe­ri­ence.

The SWAT downtube stor­age com­part­ment is huge, and su­per-con­ve­nient. Ev­ery­thing you need to carry in a hy­dra­tion pack or pock­ets for a three-hour ride can eas­ily fit into the SWAT box; it’s a ma­jor fea­ture, worth con­sid­er­ing.

There is also a handy mul­ti­tool stor­age com­part­ment in the steerer tube, which is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and al­lows for su­perquick set-up tweaks on the trail.

The chain­stay pro­tec­tor has raised knobs added which help elim­i­nate chain slap and re­duce bike noise.

REG­U­LAR OR ST?

So: do you buy the faster ST, or the reg­u­lar? The sim­ple an­swer is that it de­pends on where you live, what kind of trails you spend the bulk of your time on, and what sort of rid­ing your bud­dies are do­ing.

Per­son­ally I would go for the stan­dard Stumpjumper; but I’d in­clude in my pur­chase a lighter set of rub­ber, to en­able me to do events such as the Ori­gin of Trails or Sani2c. That would re­duce ro­ta­tional weight; and while the stan­dard Stumpjumper isn’t as quick as the ST in a marathon race, it’s a bike I can play with all day.

Ev­ery shock and fork in the Stumpjumper range gets a cus­tom tune via the shim stack.

THE LOW-DOWN

Right now, a low, slack, well­damped 130-to-140mm 29er is the ex­act weapon you need to cover ev­ery­thing a trail might of­fer you. And if ever there was a bike that epit­o­mises what moun­tain bik­ing is re­ally all about, it’s the new Stumpjumper. The ride is com­fort­able, sprightly and ac­cu­rate on the sin­gle­track, and firm, re­spon­sive and ef­fi­cient un­der power.

Whether it’s a solo five­hour sin­gle­track ad­ven­ture for clear­ing your head and see­ing the world, a shut­tle ses­sion with your bud­dies, or an en­duro race or mid­pack marathon race – the Stumpjumper will not dis­ap­point.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.