Specialized is calling its new Stumpjumper line "the ultimate trail bike", and this Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29 hits that mark pretty much dead center with 150/140mm front and rear travel, 29-inch wheels and the classic Specialized feel.
It's fun to ride, eager to jump and is more plush than responsive.
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Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29 highlights
- Frame: Fact 11m carbon, SWAT door, threaded bottom bracket, 140mm travel
- Fork: Fox Float 34 Rhythm, 150mm, Grip damper, 51mm offset
- Shock: Fox Float DPS Performance
- Wheels: Roval Traverse 29, 29mm internal width
- Tires: 29 x 2.6in Specialized Butcher Grid front / Purgatory Grid rear
- Drivetrain: Shimano SLX/XT, Race Face Aeffect cranks
- Brakes: Shimano SLX, 200/180mm rotors
Carbon goodness with a smart build
The carbon main frame and the rear end look modern with flowy, uninterrupted lines from tip to tail.
Shimano's on board with an XT rear derailleur, SLX shifter and disc brakes — all workhorse stuff that's totally functional and well suited for all but the pickiest riders.
Even with the 29mm inner width Roval Traverse rims, the 2.6in Butcher and Purgatory tires look a bit narrow. To satisfy my curiosity, I busted out the digital calipers to find both tires measured 2.45in. It's not a bad thing because 2.4in tires on 29erwheels are still quite huge and the Butcher and Purgatory treads work well for the dry, rocky terrain I ride.
X-Fusion's Manic dropper took me for a surprise as I was expecting the pre-set height adjustments of Specialized's own Command Post. The Manic was smooth, wobble-free and had a bit of restraint on its return, something the furiously fast Command Post lacks.
Specialized tied the X-Fusion party post to its own SRL under-bar lever. It mimics the size, shape and placement of a SRAM shift lever which is excellent.
The Zee bottle cage with integrated mini-tool is sweet. And underneath that is the door to the SWAT storage compartment (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) inside the down tube. Having storage inside a big tube is a great idea, very useful and smartly uncluttered.
Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29 first ride impressions
I completed a couple of rides on my home trails and the smoothness of the carbon frame was immediately noticeable. I've been spending a lot of time riding aluminum bikes recently and the difference was readily apparent. It's nice.
Frame stiffness, even with the curious-looking, one-sided asymmetric shock area, was good with no front-to-back wiggles.
Being familiar with previous Stumpjumpers, as well as Enduros, the ride quality was as expected: playful, eager to take to the air and happy on the rear wheel. Cornering was easy with zero learning curve. Its 51mm offset fork kept the steering neutral and predictable.
Specialized's FSR rear end was active with a smooth stroke throughout. Depending on the rebound setting of the rear shock, it could be set up as a ground-hugging ride or a poppy, frisky one.
With the 66.5-degree head angle, the ride feel was approaching the longer-travel Enduro territory. But it's not quite there yet, as the Enduro's 160mm travel rear-end lends a rowdier, more downhill-leaning ride quality.
Surprisingly, the rear of the bike felt a little squatty when on the gas. I double checked the rear shock air pressure, which for my 84kg weight was a high 242psi. Toggling the Float DPS shock's pedal lever to the middle setting helped responsiveness, but relying on extra compression inside the shock is something I'm rarely excited about.
Up front, the Fox 34 Rhythm fork actually felt a little loose when the compression was backed all the way off. The initial stroke right off the top felt unsupported even with the correct air pressure.
Fixing it was easy though. Sweeping the dial on the top of the fork's right leg added a bit of compression and settled the fork down predictably although, like the rear shock, restricting oil flow to gain proper support isn't ideal in my eyes.
Even with the decently low bottom bracket height of 309mm, crank and pedal strikes were not an issue. I was pleased to see Specialized put 170mm crankarms on the Stumpy.
Also, the front end seemed tall, which I don't necessarily mind, but I know is a pain for certain riders. I was on an X-Large and its head tube length of 140mm is 10mm or so higher than comparable 29ers.
Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29 early verdict
It felt a little bigger than other 150/140mm travel bikes, mostly due to the big 29in wheels encased in nearly 2.5in tires. The ride behaved with a smooth, bump-sucking rear suspension. If instant acceleration is what you're after, a 140mm travel FSR bike isn't the ticket.
In the carbon trail bike genre, for the $4,200 price, it slides in under Trek's Fuel EX 9.8 29 by $800, is a touch more spendy than Intense's $4,000 Carbine 29 Expert, but has a nicer fork, and splits the difference between Santa Cruz's Hightower LT R ($3.950) and S ($4,899) build kits.
Has Specialized created the ultimate trail bike? Superlatives, especially with bikes, are too dependent on personal style and terrain. I will say this latest Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29 is a very good trail bike, confident and fun to ride.