Pete has been putting the Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon through its paces for a year to see if the Big S have got the ingredients right.
The Stumpjumper is arguably the original trail/all-mountain trail slayer, and Pete has been putting the one-from-top Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon model through its paces since September to see if they’ve have got it right.
- 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.
- £5,150.00 RRP
Since I last checked in, the only thing that’s changed on the Stumpjumper is a set of Black Diamond Butchers. A firmer casing promised far less punctures than the Grid casing versions that came on the bike as standard.
Between then and now, the Stumpy has seen plenty of action. Countless new Munros, several dawn raids, Norwegian mountain missions, and countless laps of the finest Scottish off-piste action going. In that time, the performance of the bike hasn’t waned at all.
The firmer carcass of the Black Diamond Butchers required a rethink on the damping front as there was considerably less give in them than the outgoing rubber. With the Rx tune being set dead centre in the adjustment range, that didn’t take long at all.
Some serious rear wheel impacts haven’t seen any wind lost from the tubes, testament to the casing’s and the Roval Traverse rim’s ability to shrug these off. Still the only thing holding back the Stumpjumper was the squidgy organic bit holding onto the bars for dear life.
With the DT wheels dropping rotational weight, the Stumpy was only slowed by my ability to keep putting power into it. It’s impressively light for a bike of this amount of travel and there’s no bob or wallow from the dampers.
Simply put, as long as you’ve gas in your legs, the Stumpy will keep making meals out of some seriously stiff climbs. Despite some knocks, the SRAM GX Eagle drive train didn’t seem to mind and kept shifting smoothly.
When you’ve reached the top and the ground tilts the other way, the Stumpjumper has a remarkably composed ride to it that really allows you to attack sections, knowing the bike will deal with any shortcomings in talent.
A supple opening stroke combined with solid progression means you get traction and small bump absorption where you need it and big hit munching ability too. There’s very much the sense that you can do all you can do on the trail and the bike will take care of the rest.
Being so light, it’s very easy to pick the bike up over trail obstacles and take off things that you might not on other bikes. The SRAM Guide brakes are probably my favourite brakes of recent times, with a solid amount of power and modulation regardless of how much I’ve dragged them.
Compared to longer travel bikes and 29ers, you feel a real sense of engagement with the trail that kept me going back to the Stumpjumper even when more capable bikes were available.
While it might not be one of the modern, raked-out super sleds, that need a very good rider or alpine speeds to make sense of, the Stumpjumper will keep you flying on pretty much any trail.
While the forward momentum has never been lacking, reliability issues have reared their heads. Despite regularly greasing the rear axle threads, there seems to be no end to the rear axle’s ability to work its way loose. The top shock mount bolt had a nasty habit of coming loose too, despite liberal grease.
The multi-tool housed in the bottle cage managed to get itself jammed it its holder and hasn’t been used since. No amount of elbow grease was going to get that shifted.
The rear hub and headset bearings reduced themselves to mush all too quickly, and the bottom bracket bearings have a now familiar creak to them. Thankfully, the former can be sorted by the arrival of some DT Swiss EX1501 alloy wheels that come in lighter than the Specialized carbon wheels fitted. DT’s hubs are legendary for their ability to survive the harshest conditions.
The issues with the bearings and axle only detract slightly from what is otherwise a fantastic bike. I opted for a medium to get the 425mm reach, and while that might seem a little odd at 5′ 3″, it’s good news for smaller people who might get the chance to ride a bike as good as this that actually fits them.
What do we think?
A fantastic-riding bike that urges you to take the less obvious line and leave the braking a touch later than you normally would. Happy ploughing through the rough or helping you find that cheeky gap, the Stumpjumper loves to go fast.
It’s a shame that the bearings didn’t survive the winter though…
- Composed, confidence-inspiring ride.
- Dialled suspension.
- Solid spec.
- Low weight.
Could do better:
- Higher quality bearings.
- Tyres need to be up to the job.