Pete has taken delivery of a 2019 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 650b and after a month throwing it down some Alps, gives his opening thoughts.
The 2019 Stumpjumper is the latest iteration of a model that has has its origins all the way back in the early 1980s.
2019 sees the flagship Specialized full bouncer gets the longer, lower, slacker treatment and the Expert Carbon sports a full SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed groupset and Guide R brakes, Rockshox dampers and carbon Roval Traverse wheels.
- Full FACT 11mm carbon frame.
- 27.5″ (650b) wheels.
- 150mm travel.
- SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain.
- Rockshox Pike RC Debonair fork.
- Rockshox Deluxe RT3 shock.
- Specializied Roval Traverse Carbon wheels.
- SWAT Door.
- £5,000.00 RRP
Last year, I tested Specialized Enduro Pro 29 and while it promised a lot, the numbers and spec didn’t add up on paper and was hampered by underwhelming dampers.
A newly tweaked Stumpjumper gets 150mm travel, longer reach (435mm on the medium tested here), slacker angles (66.5 degree HA), a lower BB for 2019 by use of a flip chip, drops 100 grams from the rear triangle, and dampers get a custom Rx tune depending on size.
The Expert Carbon model comes in a £5,000.00 and sits one step below the top-of-the-line S-Works model at £8,000.00. The range starts with the Comp Alloy at £2,600.00.
From the get-go, the Stumpjumper had a comfortable urgency about it that the Enduro Pro 29 lacked. The bike felt light and flickable without being skittish and the damping has remaind consistently excellent since. Normally, it will take more than a few rides to feel at home on a new bike, but the Stumpy had me charging hard from the off.
To the test.
My standard issue new test bike loop is local woods. It allows me to narrow the variables and focus on dialling in the bike as the speed increases. Not this time though. The Stumpy arrived just in time for me to put it in a smaller box and jet out to the Alps for a week of big mountain adventures.
Our initial sortie into Switzerland involved some fast traverses across some loose, dusty, root-infested singletrack. The composed nature of the Stumpjumper from the off had me picking the less obvious line almost immediately, almost catching me off guard at how reckless I was willing to be so early on.
Finding the balance point on the back wheel took no time at all, and the rear’s progressive ramp up meant that manualling through sections or simply getting the front wheel clear of obstacles was a dream.
What did become apparent as speed through the rough and tumble of Swiss singletrack, was that the tyres fitted weren’t up to the task at hand. The rear Purgatory tyre seemed to roll fast but offer nothing in the way of traction when pushed hard or under braking. While the Butchers are tried and tested, the front one fitted was too hard a compound to be of much use.
Specialized sent a pair of the new BLK DMND Butchers and the bike now has rubber worthy of the rest of the bike in both compound and casing. Watch this space.
A minor issue but one worth noting is that both axles as well as the top shock bolt have, on occasion, rattled themselves loose. Nothing a bit of grease on the threads won’t sort but a little alarming on a brand new bike.
The SWAT box has managed to rattle itself loose as well, but tightening the screws there to do just that solve that problem.
You will, as ever, have to get used to the ballistic nature of the Specialized Command Post’s extension. Recently the seat post has been sinking an inch on occasion without warning.
With the tyres swapped, axle threads greased and the SWAT box no longer wobbling, there is a fantastically familiar urgency about the Stumpjumper that makes it a real blast to ride.
So far the spec has been flawless despite the Alpine attention it has received.
I am a a big fan of the SRAM Guide brakes as able and adequate stoppers, preferring constant, gentle braking to a method more binary. The Guides fitted have enough power to keep me and the bike under control without fading away as they heat up.
The Rx tune has been designed around the middle ground of each bike and as a result, finding the sweet spot is easy. Minor adjustments need to be made now that the more capable rubber with a thicker carcass are on, but I am sure that won’t take too much puzzling.
The Stumpjumper’s integrated frame protection is a neat touch too. No chain slap from the rear as the moulded chainstay protectors do their bit and the carbon downtube ahead of the cranks has a hefty boot to keep the fibre out of harm’s way.
Compared to the Enduro I tested last year, the multi-tool being located on the bottle cage mount which also serves as the SWAT door, is far easier to access and less fiddly to keep in working order.
I’m definitely looking forward to putting more miles in on the Stumpjumper through the winter.
What do we think?
Honestly, after struggling to get to grips with the Enduro last year, I was ready to be disappointed by the Stumpjumper. I’m glad to say that it’s very much been a pleasant surprise riding the Stumpjumper as it is clearly a very capable beast straight out of the box.
With some minor issues out of the way early, and they really are minor, there’s potential in the Stumpjumper that I know I can bring out. I will be putting the Specialized against the clock later in the month, so we’ll see how well it does under pressure.
- Confidence-inspiring ride.
- Excellent damping.
- Fantastic brakes.
- SWAT storage is great for sweets.
Could do better:
- Multi-tool closure is fiddly to get out with gloves or cold hands.
- Stock tyres could be softer compound.