PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Words by Mike Levy, photography by Tom Richards
While forty years separate the very first Stumpjumper and the fancy new one you're looking at here, its all-around intentions remain the same. What has changed is the recipe, however, with this Stumpy being a 130mm-travel 29er (with a 140mm fork) based on an all-new frame employing a completely different suspension layout. That's right, Horst has been replaced and it means big changes on the trail.
Specialized has slimmed the Stumpjumper range down to only six bikes and a frameset, all of which are designed around 29" wheels. The least expensive is the $2,199 Stumpjumper Alloy, along with the $3,199 Stumpjumper Comp Alloy; both aluminum frames get the same geo as the carbon bikes but similar Horst Link rear-suspension to the previous Stumpjumper that makes it a bit confusing. We'll review one of those soon, too.
• Travel: 130mm rear / 140mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 65-degrees
• Seat tube angle: 76-degrees
• Reach: 475mm (S4)
• Chainstay length: 432mm (S4)
• Sizes: S1, S2, S3, S4 (tested), S5, S6
• Weight: 27.3 lb / 12.3 kg (as pictured)
• Price: $9,499 USD
Carbon fiber models start at $3,999 USD for the Comp, but it's the top of the range, $9,499 USD S-Works version that's reviewed here.
What do you get for that money? Even more carbon in the form of Roval's (Specialized's house brand) carbon wheels, factory-level suspension from Fox (including a 34 with the GRIP2 damper), as well as a wireless AXS drivetrain and dropper post. All that added up to 27.3 lb on my scale, including the Maxxis Minion DHF and Dissector EXO+ control tires that were installed without inserts. Want to build your own dream Stumpy? The frame/shock combo will cost you $2,799 USD.
The side-arm frame design is back and it may look similar, but every tube is new and Specialized say they spent a ton of time making this the lightest version yet. The claimed frame weight is 2,240-grams with the shock and all the small bits, making it 100-grams lighter than its predecessor and 510-grams less than the also-new Stumpy EVO frame. The press material says that much of the savings came from taking out the "lazy carbon,'' which is the stuff that was just adding grams without adding strength, but don't forget that ditching the sealed bearings and hardware down at the axle pivot also helped.
Onto some of the details. Things on my trail bike must-have list include ISCG tabs, a threaded bottom bracket, room for the biggest of big bottles inside the front triangle, and loads of effective frame protection. I'd absolutely insist that the only way internal cable routing is acceptable is if it's pass-through, which it is on the Stumpy. Actually, the previous Stumpy had some of the best cable routing I've seen, and that's been carried over on this version. SWAT is back, of course, and this version is said to be the lightest yet, with an internal carbon 'skeleton' of sorts that helps retain tube rigidity.
We should probably talk about the suspension now. Specialized has used a Horst Link layout since forever, including every full-suspension Stumpjumper model... Until now. Look at the back of the new Stumpy and, well, there isn't even a pivot at the axle! Or is there? Much like the new Epic, there’s still a “pivot” there, only it’s up on the seatstays and it's a flex zone rather than a couple sealed bearings and a bunch of hardware. Specialized says this saves 55-grams, and I bet it helps side-to-side rigidity to boot.
The new Stumpy uses Specialized's 'S-sizing' where all the frames get a ton of standover clearance that's combined with long-stroke dropper posts. The idea is that you can choose a reach and wheelbase that work for you instead of saying, "The medium's seat tube is too short, so I have to go to the large." Sizing runs from S1 with a 410mm reach to S6 and its 530mm reach (my S4 is 475mm), and Specialized says that if you were on a medium previously, you might like the Stumpy in S3. But you don't have to - you could go to the shorter S2 if you want a bike that's easier to toss around, or up to S4 if your trails call for a bit more stability. In the low setting, you get a 65-degree head angle and 76-degree seat angle, as well as 42mm of bottom bracket drop that puts it at 333mm high. If you want the bike a bit higher and quicker steering, the flip-chip at the clevis shock mount can be used to add half a degree to the head angle and 7mm of bottom bracket height.Climbing
Every trail bike on the market will get you to the top of the mountain in some fashion or other, but so will a 35lb enduro bike sitting on coils and 1,400-gram tires. There's more to it than just getting to the top,
, and I'd argue that a 130mm-travel 29er meant to be pedaled anywhere and everywhere surely has to be a bit more special than that. I want my carbon fiber trail bike to feel like it's helping me up the mountain, especially when it costs this much and I'm in a hurry, which is precisely what the latest Stumpy does.
I'm not sure how much of it is the new suspension layout and how much is the digressive piston hidden inside the Fox shock, but the red and black Stumpjumper is an entirely new animal compared to its predecessor. There's much more life and energy to it that makes those smooth, long climbs seem a bit shorter, and how the bike responded to my uneven stabs at the pedals meant that I never once felt like I'd be quicker with the pedal-assist switch activated. Its three different assist settings seem near-useless to me, and I mean that as a compliment.
It's all praise on the efficiency front, but this isn't a sporty race bike that rolls fast but offers less traction than your old dirt jumper with Hookworms inflated to 60 psi. Instead, you can stay seated and ride the bike into off-angle roots and ledges that might see you using some extra body English if you were aboard a less-forgiving package. That'll help your cause when you get off the boring gravel roads and into the fun technical uphills, of course, with the Stumpy being a better dance partner than the softer Blackthorn or P-Train "trail bikes" in those moments.
If you opened up my mud-speckled post-ride notepad, you'd find phrases like, ''Sporty but not race-y,'' ''Loads of grip,'' and ''This was my 93rd time up this climb this week,'' all of which nicely sums up the latest Stumpy. Descending
If you read the comments under the Stumpy's debut video
, you might be under the impression that the new single-pivot layout is inferior to the previous version’s Horst Link suspension, with some citing Horst's better performance under braking and the fact that Specialized just needed something different, even if it’s worse. Wait, worse?
Sure, certain suspension layouts have inherent traits to them, but it’s crazy what a few millimeter difference here or there in pivot location can make, let alone way more than that. Not to mention different shock tunes... And is your shock setup even in the right ballpark? I hope so. Point being, the change in layout doesn’t have to mean a step backward in performance, especially if that’s subjective. Keep in mind, this is a 130mm-travel trail rig meant to be many riders’ do-all-the-things kinda bike, not something with more travel and a more defined purpose like an enduro machine that's supposed to level all the bumps.
After countless back-to-back laps on the Stumpy and the other four contenders, it's clear how well-rounded they've managed to make its 130mm of travel. No, it isn't near-coil-slippery like the Blackthorn, but it does manage to deal with all the little stuff quite well, and without feeling too active and gooshy in a way that might steal some of the bike's all-important zest.
In other words, the support is there as well, as it should be with 130mm of travel. The Fox shock's air spring comes in the middle of the volume range, too, giving riders plenty of room if they're looking for more progression, not that I ever needed it. I'm eating more donuts and promise to bulk up for the next Field Test.
In case you can't tell, I'm impressed with the back of the Stumpjumper, missing Horst Link be dammed. bUt iTs SinGle PiVot, LeVy! Yeah, I don't doubt that this Stumpy is a nip less active than the Horst Link version when you're pulling levers to the handlebar and praying, but it didn't feel that way when I pointed it down all the wet, steep stuff. Traction was great, and I didn’t sense the back-end was sliding around any more than usual. Maybe those Horst Link devotees just need to get comfy skidding more? Only joking...
The Stumpy is a bit 'small' next to some of these so-called trail bikes that have 160mm-travel forks, but that never stopped me from feeling just as comfortable on it as I did on the softer machines. In fact, I had my second-quickest descent time on it, beating the Salsa by a single second and coming 11-seconds behind the enduro bike in disguise that is the P-Train. It's fair to say that the Stumpjumper suits my riding style more than the bigger, slacker bikes - it lets you do more with the trail, at least how I approach it. There also wasn't anything I didn't ride on the Specialized that I did do on the other bikes, but there were plenty of big rides where I'd much rather be on the lighter, sportier, more well-rounded Stumpy.
I think we’re seeing those bigger trail bikes these days because everyone wants theirs to be the most capable. Hard to argue that, right? Well, if it was only about being the most capable on the descents, we’d all be on 200mm-travel ''trail bikes.''
Of course, the danger of not specializing is not being the best at anything, and so many of us want the best descending “trail bike.” I think it’s easy to lose the plot chasing that goal, though. The fact that Specialized also offer the Stumpjumper EVO, an entirely different frame made for more aggressive riding, lets them keep this Stumpy as a true trail bike. I had a blast on tame, flowing terrain while aboard the Stumpy, more so than the others, but it’s as capable as most of us will ever need.
Pinkbike, two massive reviews in a span of 30 minutes- "Bro, who are you kidding?"
I dont see any problem with putting smaller wheel in back instead of bigger one. Of course it change the geo (in negative way spec will say im sure) . But i dont think there is any real reason you will not be able to. Will it be better? Probably not, is it possible? Probably yes.
If you want to long-shock & mullet, just about any bike is capable of it. It's just which combinations work well.
Thanks for the quick review. Am I the only one that sees a piggyback rear shock and 150 fork up front as the ideal setup?
I think the stumpys are finally near the top of this category in design and performance, which they haven't been in a very long time in my opinion. The value is looking better with this release too.
Biggest factor in mulletconversion is you gotta start with a 29” bike to have stack height in right range, too big of height increase putting 29” fork on 27” frame. Second big factor is you need to have a high enough bb to have it drop like 15mm. Personally i like a bb betweeen 330 and 345mm on an enduro or dh bike so if the frame is at least 345mm to start it will be high enough with mullet. 3rd nice aspect is a frame that can raise the bb with shock mount, bushings, longer fork, longer shock or height adjust dropouts.
Several other factors came at play and I'm not buying Specialized anymore anytime soon (never perhaps).
On top of that, their stuff is way overpriced. With that being said, these are good bikes, if you wanna buy it definitely go for it.
(edit) PS: I still own the SJ and love it.
Not really what I want to deal with, I wanna ride without fear that every crash cost me $2000.
To be fair, it was the older 9M carbon,... seems like since they move to 11M carbon only. Maybe its stronger. But not worth my dollar.
If I go carbon again, I’ll just have to try different brand to go back to it
its the best company I know for dealing with warranty after working with bikes since '95
A person will spend 50k on a boat they use 4 times a year, or 100k on a 4x4 loaded pickup and never take it off road.
Mountain bikers seem to for the most part, actually use our bikes.
Like a lot.
If a person has the means and wants a cutting edge bike with the latest shit and it makes them happy, I just think that's awesome. I probably have 8k into my bike.
I'm not a pro and I have a friend I ride with that is. He could ride a old hardtail and still be faster than me most days. Weirdly enough, my expensive bike still makes me really happy and I ride it every single chance I can. It's an investment in myself and my health.
Isn't that the point ?
FYI the Expert build is probably one of the best values available right now. For $4700 you get XO1 shifter/RD, factory level dampers in both ends, one of the best droppers on the market at any price point and solid wheels that will keep you going for years. Not much to complain about there.
I will say this, the hardest rider I know rides a carbon Enduro that's probably 6 years old, and it's held up well. He has done double digit drops to transition on it.
I know it's all anecdotal, plus skill and luck, but the way he's abused that bike, and the way it's held up speaks volumes to me.
500km on hardtail so far and no single squick, weird noice or service needed. (The brand new Enduro had to be serviced 3 times in first 500kms , riding same trails) I think I made good choice for Covid times.
I haven't owned a Ti frame, so I haven't broken one of those either.
1. Spesh complete builds are a rip off. Buy the frame only (comparable to all other frame prices), and buy these same components for closer to $7k.
2. The only reason to think of it as a $5k, $7k, or $10k bike is if you keep for 10 years. Sell your bike and get a new one every 1-2 years, and it only costs you $1000. Kinda like a lease, you'll always have the latest and greatest bike for $1000 per year ($80 per month). When you're on your last bike... keep the proceeds from the final bike sale.
Don't spend money/time on shit you don't actually want to, so that you can spend it on the important shit (like more riding time and more Specializeds, apparently).
Doesn't stop me from dreaming of moving to Vermont or BC or whatever....
"That’s according to the latest housing price survey from real estate firm Royal LePage, which found aggregate home prices across the region [Greater Vancouver] dropped by 4.8 per cent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2019, to $1,107,719.
I was able to buy a house in 2002, but it's crazy expensive in this area. But we have access to an excellent cache of trails.
I've dropped about 4' on the epic and taken the medium lines at the jump park. Recovering from a torn labrum so the limiting factor probably isn't the bike rn. It's plenty fast too... doing ~50/10,000 or better on most of the local flowy strava descent segments that I regularly ride (front range). Not so fast on chunky trail, obviously.
This format needs a price cap, because this is getting ridiculous. Value usually starts deteriorating around 3500$ and plummits off a cliff once you reach 4500 - 5000 $. Thus I'm proposing a solid hardcap of 5000$ for the field test.
No need to test SRAM NX bikes, but there's also no need to test carbon wheels and XTR each time.
What is this, We Are the World? These are private companies that are primarily trying to make money. If their bikes don't sell, they rethink their pricing strategy. If their bikes are selling, stop complaining that they're too expensive, and support a lower-priced bike company or start up your own.
There's no conspiracy here, it's just people shopping (on cheap credit).
These are the bikes that people aspire to own and dream about. Everyone knows you can go buy an SJ Expert for $4700 and get 98% of the performance of the SWorks. Some portion of the readers here don't want to see anything reviewed above $3K, but most of us do like reading about dream bikes.
I do agree that for the field tests it makes more sense to put a price cap or review all bikes that are Equipped with GX/SLX so the comparison is not influenced by something like carbon wheels on one, but not another.
Having AXS and carbon wheels isn't going to make any significant difference to the overall performance of the bike. I couldn't care less if these are present but reviewing anything that doesn't have high end suspension and brakes on it would just be a waste of time
Where would Specialized be on the car spectrum?
I've mentioned it before here, but Specialized bikes in the past seven years have gone up in price by almost 100%, vs 30% in the US. So maybe they've moved into Mercedes territory!
By the way, I think it's great that you guys did a Field Test at all this year. I bet it was an organizational nightmare and you should be commended for doing it anyways.
Love to see more pressure on smart builds like better cassettes/chains vs derailleurs, wheels, and forks.
(it's just a bit boring)
Can you offer an opinion on how big the actual gap between these bikes is? I am drooling over the new Stumpy, seems they addressed the things I didn't like about the last gen and added a few more treats as well, but are the Epic Evo and Stumpy too close to own both?
Cheers and keep up the great work!
I know I'll get roasted for this and I'm certain people do it all the time, but I think if you jump, hammer steeps, and do a few drops even pretty small ones, you are likely reaching the limit of what the Spur was ever intended for.
The Spur speced correctly is a bike that my kid could be competitive at a NICA race against full race XC bikes whereas the SJ was 29 seconds behind the class leader of this particular shootout on a 12 minute climb. Meaning the SJ would get clobbered.
Yet, professional Enduro riders don't choose 120mm travel bikes to win Enduro races on for a reason.
So we shouldn't conflate Marco's talent and conditions at that particular event to mean that 'bikes larger than a Spur are not better suited for Enduro like terrain'.
The Spur is rad, and I'll own one some day, as my light duty trail bike.
these stub reviews need more detail man. i'm not getting a picture of what the bike's character actually is other than what the specs show (130/140 bike pretty good all around, very light, good bike) OKAY COOL.
Noticed you had the e-thirteen Helix on the P-train - still holding up? do you prefer that over the SRAM 11-52 with the big jump to the bail out gear?
I have been on a process 134 for the past year which felt low at the time but this bike is about a cm lower. @mikelevy any trouble with pedal strikes?
It's actually not that great on the downtube. Those wide oval tubes stick out a good bit past that rubber chunk, and the rubber is very thin at the edges. Those combined with my mad shredding on the stock Butcher Grid 2.6 tires to kick up a rock and leave a nice little divot in the downtube. Not the only rock, BTW, just the only one that left a noticeable mark. Doesn't seem to have effected anything structurally, but it sure doesn't look friendly. Not sure if that's the kind of thing that could be warrantied, or if I'll have to with "crash replacement" if my frame ever starts unraveling, and haven't had a chance to get to my local Spesh shop for a check up, yet. So something to keep in mind if you're riding a Stumpy in an place with many loose rocks, maybe beef up that downtube pad.
How can that be a con?
"My Corolla sucks because it isn't a Corvette." Well, yeah, it's not meant to be.
Oh look, a copy & paste from the other Stumpy review.
And it still makes no sense. The seat tubes are shorter than ever, so how would that help fix a situation where someone had to size up to get a longer seat tube?
I know you commented about the 170mm Reverb on the Stumpjumper EVO you reviewed, and how you would have liked to have a longer drop, but 170 is the longest AXS Reverb you can get right now. But I don't think you could get much more drop than that anyway. I just got an S4 EVO, and the max seat tube insertion (because of the kink) is 260mm. The OneUp 210 dropper insert length is 297mm, so you would have almost 40mm of post sticking out of the seat tube when it is bottomed out. At that point, even if the post was shimmed down to 190 it might still be too tall for most riders on an S4.
I'm 6' with 32" inseam and the longest dropper I've found to work with the Stumpjumper S4 is the OneUp 180. It's insert length is 267mm, so you couldn't quite bottom it out either, but for me it will probably be sticking out 20-30mm above the seat tube so it's not a problem. But if you're talking about bikes with straight seat tubes, then it's a different story. I had a Ripmo 2 and I probably could have put a 210 dropper on that. Even if the post had to be slammed, the straight seat tube would have accepted the full 297mm insert length.
That's not my issue. It's that weird quote that was copied from the previous PB Stumpy review, about the seat tube on a medium being _too short_ and a rider needing to size up. That's the opposite of what everyone has been saying and makes no sense in the context of talking about shorter seat tubes.
True, but there are also certain kinematics that are impossible in certain layouts. A single-pivot can never have the same chainless feel that is possible with a horst-link. Neither of those can replicate exactly the same kind of acceleration-driven anti-squat that a short-link can be set up to provide. And of course, non of the above can recreate the axle path of a high-pivot.
So yes, a new layout doesn't mean bad, but it does mean that certain desirable attributes of the previous may be impossible to replicate.
First time I've heard this mentioned. Where is this info coming from?
Cons : "Did you see how much it cost ?"
also cycling industry "hey check out our line up of bikes that starts at $3000! get yours soon, peasants"
and sure you can buy a used bike, but you forgo any warranties guaranteed by the manufacturer and you also incur the risk of inheriting any structural/mechanical issues with the bike.
All that being said, my only point is that the cycling industry is constantly pushing for more inclusivity, without acknowledging that most riders, especially riders with full suspension bikes with newer tech, are in the mid to upper economic brackets. They don't want to acknowledge the financial exclusivity of the sport because that wouldn't help their marketing strategy or image, since they want to be "for everyone". Instead they push the topic as a social issue, rather than an economic one. But at least in my experience, as a rider and cycling industry insider, nobody has every said to me "I would get into cycling but there isn't enough [insert demographic] riders, so I don't feel welcome". 99.99% of people tell me the reason they don't get into mountain biking is the cost of entry.
Yea I never mountain biked before buying my first FS. Sorry but your post is a load of crap.
There was a guy trying to create a riding destination on his land in VT back in the 90's. Camping, food, beer etc.. Made all kinds of cools trails with neat features. Anyway, the point is he could outride any of us that showed up with nice high $ equipment on his extremely old crap that many people would have laughed at.
High end bikes are nice and I love mine, but not needed to enjoy the sport. I'd argue many of us have gotten to the point of chasing gear that we aren't enjoying as much as the person still riding his 90's mountain bike oblivious to all the new shit.
And ya most people don't go right for the full sus bike you're right, most people borrow a friends or ride some loaner until they're able to spring for the nicer ride. But nonetheless, most people aren't going to go right for the fully rigid steel frame 26 inch bike, despite the fact that some dude in Vermont can crush other Yeti riders on his.
And my point isn't that high end bikes are the only option, but rather that if someone goes to look at a bike that they'd need to do all the cool shit they've seen on redbull and pinkbike, they're not going to go buy a Trek Wahoo. You might be right that ignorance is bliss, that still doesn't change the fact that most people that dont get into cycling don't do it because of the cost to start, not because of social or demographic related issues.
Sorry, but your response was crap. You didn't seem to really understand my point so I hope you do now xox
Got one for me and one for my wife. As we progressed we slowly bought up to the next level bike.
Cost isn't keeping someone from mountain biking that wants to.
The beginners who go in looking for a bike they'd "need to do all the cool shit they've seen on redbull and pinkbike" are probably not mountain biking's long term growth market.
I didn't get into mountain biking until later in life than I wish I did, partially because bikes were more expensive than I thought was reasonable for me at the time. So that supports your point. On the other hand, I have multiple friends who were poorer than me growing up and were out shredding.
And some of the best riders I know grew up riding BMX, which is much cheaper for entry, then getting mountain bikes later.
But really what you're pointing to is a problem without a solution if we keep your conditions. You're just not going to ever have a "cheap" bike that's Redbull ready. Getting prices for good full suspension bikes down to $400-$800 just isn't really feasible. I do think that there is room for for a goodish, modern geo, cheap, mass produced hardtail in this market.
Most beginners don’t care about weight or spec when most buy their first bike but if they stick with it they realize they have to ditch that first bike vs upgrading a few things to match their growing skill set without going into debt or saving every nickel. Margins rules and bike mfg don’t want to hand the upgrade $$ to other parts manufacturers.
Why can I get a tasty Veggie burger in my neighborhood for basically the same price as sodium loaded crap from fast food restaurants? It is because the dumbed down quality can be pushed by the industry and the clientele don’t demand it. Can you say “socio-economic gaps?”
I can tell you from experience that the rising popularity of free riding and downhill media directly impacted bike purchases, and most people are smart enough to know that buying a $200 bike from walmart isn't going to cut it.
I agree that Marin's base model Rift Zones are great value for a very decent full suspension bike, but they're still 2x-4x the price range you tossed out.
Again, I don't think anyone necessarily disagrees that there would be more people trying mountain biking if high end mountain bikes cost $400. It's just not feasible. It's like saying that there'd be more people into sports car racing if race cars cost $2000. It's true, but there are just constraints that will prevent it from happening that go way beyond corporate greed.
My point is, if you want higher sales volumes, you need to either somehow increase your market share via marketing efforts or lower your price point to capitalize on more sales. Both are essentially a financial loss, but one of them (in my opinion) seems WAY more effective in driving sales. Even from an independent bike shops perspective, what would drive more people into the store; a sale or an article on female/minority riders. My money is on the former.
Does the suspension firm up under braking? That was my biggest issue with single pivot bikes from the past.
Name @Rigidjunkie does not check out.