With all of the improvements to the suspension, frame stiffness and geometry, the latest Stumpjumper is the best to date
Long travel, short travel and Evo models, both wheel sizes and a raft of updates bring the Specialized Stumpjumper right back into the game for 2019.
Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29 review
In terms of frame storage, Specialized hands down wins plaudits – its second generation Swat Door making it so much easier to stuff all of your trail essentials into the downtube and, more importantly, get them out again when you need them. That’s because the hole in the down tube of the Stumpy is 30mm longer and 7mm wider than the Trek Fuel EX. The latch on the door feels more secure too. Also we love that the Stumpy ships with a multi-tool attached to the bottle cage, as it’s super handy for removing the wheels or adjusting the components.
Launched at the beginning of 2018, the latest generation Stumpjumper underwent a raft of revisions to the frame that are still current today.
It got a little longer, a little slacker and changes to the suspension layout added more mid-stoke support while making it easier to fit off-the-shelf shocks.
The big change however was the move to the asymmetric “sidearm” frame design. Not only is the design easy on the eye, it’s practical too. By bracing the front triangle along the side of the shock, Specialized is better able to control frame stiffness across all four frame sizes.
And Specialized isn’t simply a big engineering concepts brand, it sweats the finer points too. Like the tube in tube cable routing that lets you thread cable outer in at the headtube and watch it pop out of the chain stay right by the derailleur. This, combined with a funky new chain stay protector, makes the Stumpy Expert Carbon 29 one of cleanest looking and quietest bikes we’ve tested.
The updates also ushered in the second generation SWAT Door, eliminating the bulky frame while making the hole in the down tube 20% bigger. In fact, when doing the set-up rides for this test, we were able to fit a full size digital shock pump into the Stumpy frame. Impressive, given that we couldn’t even get our mini-pump into the Trek Fuel EX.
Claimed travel on the latest Stumpy 29 is 140mm, but when we measured it in our workshop it came up 5mm shy. Not that you’d notice out on the trail. With no sag gradients on the Fox Float DPX2 shock we used Specialized’s neat sag gauge supplied with the bike to get a ball park setting. The bike ships in the low/slack geometry setting, but if you want to raise the BB height to increase pedal clearance, the sidearm frame design make it super easy to access to the flip chip in the shock eyelet.
Up front, the Stumpy is a rocking a 150mm Fox 36 Float Performance series suspension fork. It’s the same fork as on Trek but with 10mm more travel. Combined with the taller headtube, higher rise bar and angled stem the riding position on the Stumpy is noticeably more upright than the Trek, even with the stem slammed.
The contact points on the Stumpy feel great; comfy Deity grips and a supportive Body Geometry Myth saddle. Specialized has dropped its own dropper post program for 2020, so the Stumpy gets a 150mm X-Fusion post. The action is smooth and reliable, but our size L frame had enough seat post exposed that we could easily have accommodated a 170mm post like on the Trek. Also, because the seat tube angle is pretty slack on the Stumpy, we had to push the saddle all of the way forward on the head of the post, just so we weren’t sitting too far behind the BB when climbing. Unfortunately this makes the cockpit feel cramped with the relatively short 445mm reach measurement on the size L bike.
With the high front end, chunky tyres, soft grips and plush suspension the Stumpy feels more monster trunk than nimble trail bike. And in a straight line over rough terrain nothing gets in its way or slows it down.
Get the Stumpy into tighter, more delicate situations however and it stomps around with less swagger. The shorter wheelbase and high front end, make it harder to get the optimum weight distribution between the contact patches of tyres for optimum traction even though the tyres have inherently more grip than those on the Trek.
Stand up to pedal and the rear shock has more support to push against that on the Trek, but on the very steepest climbs, where you need to remain seated to maintain traction, we found the shorter rear end and slacker seat tube angle caused the suspension to compress more which in turn reduces the anti-squat causing the Stumpy to feels less efficient that those short sprints initially suggest.
With all of the improvements to the suspension, frame stiffness and geometry, the latest Stumpjumper is the best to date. Sizing has moved forward a lot in the past two years though, and the 445mm reach on the size L Stumpy feels short compared to other bikes in this category. Upsizing to an XL would be one option, but a better solution would be to get the S3 Stumpy EVO, which has a 475mm reach. It was launched in tandem with the regular Stumpy so what looked like progressive sizing two years ago now seems perfectly normal.