PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
SPECIALIZED S-WORKS STUMPJUMPER 29
Jack of all trades, master of none?
Words by Mike Levy, photography by Trevor Lyden
If you got into the way-back machine and traveled to a forward-thinking bike shop in California in the early 1980s, you might find yourself looking at the first Stumpjumper. That steel hardtail was the first mass-produced mountain bike thirty-eight years ago, and while it looks like the carbon fiber green machine pictured here has nothing to do with that old rigid rig, it's actually a distant relative.
The new Stumpjumper platform might be just as important as that first Stumpy, too, simply because Specialized is using it in various forms for thirty-one different models. In that light, the new bike can’t just be good - it needs to kick ass.
S-Works Stumpjumper 29 Details
Intended use: trail / all-mountain / enduro
Wheel size: 29''
Frame construction: carbon fiber
Head angle: 66.5-degrees
Chainstay length: 437mm
Sizes: sm, med, lrg (tested), xl
Weight: 28.2 lb / 12.8 kg
Price: $9,520 USD
More info: www.specialized.com
With 29” wheels, 140mm travel out back, and 150mm travel in the front, our high-end $9,520 USD Stumpjumper test bike is going to be different things to different riders. It could be a trail bike if you frequent hairy terrain, and it certainly could be considered an all-mountain or enduro bike to some, especially with that Fox 36 fork up front.
There are a bunch of clever details on the new Stumpy, but my favorite has to be how Specialized has done the internally routed lines: You feed the housing in at the head tube and it pops out at the back of the chainstays without you having to scream at it or throw any tools. Neato. There’s also threaded bottom bracket, room for a 3’’ wide rear tire if you wanted to mess the bike up, and let’s not forget the SWAT box for carrying spares, tools, donuts, etc. Oh, and no more Autosag shock - we’re glad to see they’ve gone to a standard, easy to service or replace damper.
When it comes to the geometry, it's fair to call it conservative rather than old school. There's a 66.5° headtube angle up front, a 74.1° seat-tube angle, and a 445mm reach on the large-sized bike. It starts with the small at 405mm reach and goes up to the XL with 470mm of room. The stack is tall, too, with a 641mm number on our test rig that’s 30mm more than some other larges.
No surprises on suspension: It's the familiar Horst Link layout. Specialized has a rep for providing suppleness and traction rather than the crispest pedaling rear-ends, but they've upped the anti-squat number on the new bikes to improve this.
There are a load of different Stumpjumper models to choose from other than $9,520 USD S-Works model, including Stumpys with 27.5’’ wheels, less travel, and others with different geometry. There are alloy versions of the bike from $3,000 USD, and carbon versions from $4,200 USD. Options galore. Climbing
The Stumpy's pedaling manners have been improved compared to previous versions of the bike, with more anti-squat that adds some crispness to the suspension when you're on the gas. So yes, the bike has an acceptable amount of get-up-and-go to it, but it's still not in the same efficiency class as something like Ibis' Ripmo, one of the leaders on that front. Both Kazimer and myself think that we'd be reaching down for the shock's pedal-assist switch a bit too often, but we're also aware that most riders (including Kazimer) don't mind flipping the Lever of Lies when faced with a solid climb.
I also found the bike's slow-speed climbing handling to be a touch tippier than the other bikes for PB's Field Test, especially through those switchbacks and momentum-killing roots that call for near-trackstand speeds. That said, in a very Specialized-like fashion, this thing delivers loads of predictable driving traction, so while I didn't gel with it in the mega-tech, I can't blame any dabs on the rear tire spinning out.
While the Stumpy obviously isn't my favorite climber in recent memory, it actually might be ideal for a lot of riders because it is so forgiving. It's not sporty-feeling, but there's loads of grip from the rear-end, you can just sit and pedal through all the rough, technical climbs, and the switch on the Fox shock means you can easily firm it up enough to crush some fire road climbs, too.Descending
You know that active suspension that I moaned about when climbing? Yeah, it's f*cking awesome on a rough and rowdy descent, and especially when it's greasier than a bunch of slopestyle pros during Whistler Crankworx. It's all a give-and-take balance, after all, and the green Stumpy gives off the impression that it's got more than 140mm of squish out back, a rare trick these days. It's also a trait that's often associated with a bike that wallows into its travel needlessly, but that's not the case here. Not only has Specialized made this thing feel supple on top, it also feels deeper than bikes with a bit more travel, especially the 150mm-travel Kona Process that I also spent some time on. Good trick, Specialized.
The Stumpy's deep-feeling and active suspension will make the bike a great generalist for many riders who want something that works well everywhere instead of something that's the best in one setting and so-so in a bunch of others.
It's the same story in the handling department, too, with steering and poise that's more all-mountain than enduro. You'll be able to point the Stumpy down the steepest of lines and anything else that your courage lets you try, and there's no doubt that the tall stack makes this a bike that delivers confidence. Unlike the Kona
, it's happy to do your best rock-trundling impression through the roughest chunder; unlike the Bronson
, it's also just as content to jib its way down a fun trail.
When it comes to the build, the S-Works tag means that there's not much left to upgrade. One thing that I would change, though, is the stock Specialized dropper post that felt rough from the get-go. It's basically a mechanical post that, with a zillion indexed height settings, is trying to be like an infinitely adjustable hydro dropper. It eventually stopped returning to full height, too.
This bike might be the best all-around version of the Stumpjumper that Specialized has ever put together.