Pete went for a lap of some Tweed Valley classics to see how the changes made to the Specialized Stumpjumper translated onto the trail.
The Stumpjumper splits its personalities between the updated Stumpjumper and Stumpjumper EVO, to give to very clear options. After hammering the EVO on an uplift day, it was time for Pete to turn a few more pedals to see what the shorter travel machine had to offer.
While it may have the lines of a Stumpjumper, the classic Specialized offering has gone under the microscope to eek yet out more performance on trail. Lower frame weight, a pivot-less rear triangle, stiffness and compliance redistributed, a change to kinematics and even more SWAT storage means there’s not much that hasn’t been tweaked.
With the Stumpy EVO getting more aggressive, the Stumpjumper goes the other way. Travel shortens to 130mm on the rear, combined with a 140mm fork. Head angle is 65.5 degrees, but with some, but not all, of the EVO’s options. You don’t get the headset cup option, but you can lose half a degree in the low setting to drop things to 65 degrees.
The EVO’s pedigree comes very much from the Enduro, while the Stumpjumper brings in more DNA for the Epic line to offer a very different ride to its bigger brother. Like its bigger brother, it’s now only available in 29″.
You still get the six sizes on offer, ranging from the smallest S1 all the way up to S6. The bike I’d ride was the S3, which, in the Low setting, had a 450mm reach and a 405mm seat tube, 65 degree head angle with a suitably steep 76 degree seat tube. Chain stay is fixed at 432mm through S1-4, growing to 442 on the S5 and 6 sizes.
A full FACT 11mm carbon frame on the bike tested, comes with the Sidearm front triangle design, aimed at building stiffness and compliance where needed. At 2240g for the S4 frame, in a ‘ready to build’ state, the Stumpjumper comes in half a kilo lighter than the EVO, and 100g lighter than the old Stumpjumper frame.
I had a good chance to test out the Stumpjumper on a variety of different climbs on our adventure around Gypsy Glen and Cademuir. Noticeably lighter than it’s bigger brother, and shod with a Purgatory rear tyre, the Stumpjumper was keen to get any power through the pedals moving you forward.
Under power, the rear would delve into that progressive linkage and provide a very solid platform for forward motion, without any wallowing, while remaining supple enough to track the ground. The steep seat tube angle and roomy cockpit helped apply weight where it was needed.
On the more technical climbs, or where the grip was low, the racey back tyre was certainly sturggling, much like the rear tyre on the EVO, but again, with speed being preferred over outright traction, it was certainly on the money.
I found my groove very early on with the Stumpjumer. Partly due to the fact that I spent slightly longer dialling it in before we left, and partly due to the fact that the bike just wanted to go. The suspension felt easy to understand with a very consistent progression that mean it was dealing with everything I could throw at it.
With less geometry options, I was also able to just crack on with the bike in the Low setting, enjoying the fact that the bike was putting in a good turn on all the Cademuir options we could go at. The roomy cockpit meant that I’d plenty of space to move about, and as the trees weren’t the super oppressive Innerleithen variety, the 780mm bars didn’t seem quite so oversized.
Into the steeper, more technical offerings, the Stumpjumper had a cool composure that I struggled to fluster and after a few sighting laps was really getting comfy, the SRAM G2 RSC anchors keeping things in check, while the Performance Elite Fox 34 and DPS shock worked well above their pay grade, meaning I could keep trying to find the limits.
At the bottom of every lap, the Stumpy would simply winch me back to the top with limited fuss. Again, the low weight and fast rear tyre making light work of the climbs, giving me more puff to crack on down the next trail.
Later in the day and pushing on, the Purgatory as a choice of rear tyre started to show signs of approaching its limits and left me wondering would I have been better off with a Butcher out the back, suffering more on the climbs and enjoying the descents more. As descents are clearly what riding bikes is all about, the answer was an unequivocal yes.
I’d been suitably impressed by the Stumpjumper Expert mind. Easy to get on with early on, fast on the climbs and a hoot on the descents, while giving that fabled confidence-inspiring feel that you get when a bike reacts the same no matter how fast you go. The Expert is even a solid offering for the asking price.
What do we think?
The 2021 Stumpjumper offers a lively, engaging ride without being unpredictable. Low weight and good climbing characteristics means you’ll usually have the puff left to bang out another lap.
Down hills it gives a confidence-inspiring ride that means you can push on, knowing it’s not going to do anything silly, unless you suddenly think “oh, I’m sure the back tyre will hook up”.
Rat up a drain pipe climbing
Could do better:
Rear tyre limits downhill capability
You can check out the full 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper range on their website here.
Read Pete’s first ride of the 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper EVO here.