Stiff, responsive, neutral
With the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Carbon the bike that started a revolution has been transformed into a modern trail heavyweight.
Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Carbon need to know
- Carbon front triangle 150mm trail bike constructed from the brand’s second-tier 9M carbon fibres
- Wide, new-school 2.6in Butcher tyres using Spesh’s latest Gripton rubber front and rear
- Command Post dropper post has below average 125mm drop and excessively rapid action
- Roval wheels use lower front spoke count to save weight, but, with wider rims, still aren’t that light
The skinny-tubed Stumpjumper was the first mass-produced mountain bike. The latest range has changed beyond all recognition from the original, and includes this beautifully painted full suspension model with carbon front end paired with chunky alloy stays with 148mm Boost dropouts.
The oversized frame packs the innovations Specialized are known for (like the useful SWAT tool and storage door) and looks slick with shock shrouded under top tube, a sculpted headtube and massive PF30 BB junction. More traditional though is the way the chassis reflects Spesh’s take on geometry and handling, with a shorter reach and wheelbase and reduced standover compared to equivalent trail bikes.
The 150mm travel design cradles the shock in a proprietary fixing to rotate on sealed bearings for extra sensitivity. The rocker link (and seat stays knuckles holding it) are properly chunky, and, together with the chain stay pivot using stacked bearings, all factor in the frame feeling totally rock solid. The custom-tuned Monarch RT uses the deflate-and-ride AUTOSAG feature to set air pressure, but the resulting spring feel is quite soft, so I ended up adding around 25psi.
The new Revelation suspension fork up front shares its chassis with the 2018 Pike, but uses an older, less sophisticated damper. Nonetheless, it still rides supportively and composed on the trail and is plenty stiff. The Boost fork’s spacious arch enables one of the Stumpjumper’s defining features too – massive 2.6in tyres. The knobbly Butcher rear tyre is quite slow to accelerate though, and it’s a little surprising the 2.6in semi-slick Slaughter wasn’t chosen to match the ‘trail bike’ focus.
After about a decade, Spesh’s 780mm wide handlebar finally has a good shape, but is clamped by a 60mm stem that feels (a cm or so) too long. This extra length pulls the rider further over the front and makes the steering more relaxed; I swapped it for a 40mm stem and preferred the sharper handling, even with the not-that-slack 67-degree head angle.
This Stumpy isn’t light for a carbon bike, and the supple suspension and laggy freehub had me questioning its trail bike credentials on the first climb. Tipping into a rough descent, however, it didn’t take long to figure out its preferred direction. The über-stiff frame immediately feels tough to deflect and the rear end maintains pace so well, those planted, grippy tyres are as eager to truck on as the best 160mm enduro rigs.
Being shorter, it’s really playful and flicky too, to the extent the first manual almost accidental flipped me over the back of the super short chainstays. Once adjusted, it’s easy to chuck the Spesh through interlinking turns quickly, and it feels superb on jumps. Even pumped up harder, the rear suspension races through the travel, but there’s no harsh end stroke bottom out, and the speed and composure the bike repeatedly maintained over smashed up roots into one tricky corner locally was impressive.
This latest Stumpjumper is a blast, provided there’s the tailwind effect of gravity. It’s a bit of a monster-truck with the wider tyres, and, aside from low-speed climbing traction, will better suit riders craving capability downhill, rather than heading back up.
Spotlight on 2.6in tyres
Part of the trend for wider tyres to match broader rims, the 2.6in Butcher has a big impact on the Stumpy’s ride quality. With tractor-like grip when climbing and braking, the tyres feel safer everywhere, and there’s an overall effect of improved rollover and floatation making this 27.5in model ride more like a 29-er in terms of speed, confidence and comfort. The tyres have proper edge blocks (so don’t float too badly in mud like Plus tyres can), use a reinforced GRID casing, a softer Gripton rubber and weigh over a kilo each, but the extra rolling pace arguably offsets the extra weight, especially once up to speed.