specialized stumpjumper lt

Review: The Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29 rides well beyond its spec sheet

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Earlier this year Wil had the pleasure of heading out to Spain for the launch of the new Specialized Stumpjumpers. We’ve now had the Stumpjumper ST Comp Carbon 29 (130/120mm) and Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29 (150/140mm) back on test to see how they perform on more familiar trails. Here we have Rachel reviewing the longer travel Stumpjumper. Over to Rachel!


The headline news from Specialized is that for 2019 there are three different Stumpjumper platforms in the range:

  • Stumpjumper ST (short travel; 130mm front, 130/120mm rear)
  • Stumpjumper (150mm front, 150/140mm rear)
  • Stumpjumper EVO (150mm front, 130/140mm rear)
specialized stumpjumper lt
The regular Stumpjumper can be had in with 27.5in wheels (150/150) or with 29in wheels (150/140).

Each platform is available with 29in or 27.5in wheels (the rear travel of each is 10mm less on the 29ers) and in a variety of build options including a “women’s” (same frame but smaller components, shock tuned for lower weights). To make things a bit easier to keep track of, the women’s specific bikes like the Rhyme and the shorter travel Camber have been subsumed into the Stumpy range.


The Expert Carbon is one of four models in the Stumpjumper 29er platform, and there’s an S-Works frame-only option too. Prices start at £2,500 for the Comp Alloy and top out at £8,000 for the full S-Works bike. Our Expert Carbon sits one below the S-Works and retails for £5,000. Sizes are Small to X-Large. There’s an X-Small available in the Stumpjumper range, but only with 27.5in wheels.

Sitting between the Stumpjumper ST and the Enduro in terms of travel and intent, the Stumpjumper 29 is probably best described as a do-it-all trail bike. I’m used to riding bikes with 150mm travel but mostly with 27.5in wheels so I was keen to see what kind of impact the bigger wheels were going to make on familiar trails and on some bigger, more adventurous rides.

specialized stumpjumper lt
The Sidearm frame design offers structural improvements for the suspension.

The Bike

Wil has gone into lots of detail about the development of the new Stumpjumper range and specifically the Stumpjumper 140/150mm platform in his first ride review so I’ll keep it brief here.

Now before going any further, I will admit that my experience of the old Stumpjumper wasn’t a great one – like many others I found it short and high and as a consequence didn’t feel I could ride it with any conviction. In comparison to its predecessor the new Stumpjumper is – as one would suspect – longer, lower and slacker. But, compared to many other modern trail bikes the geometry is still pretty modest.

For the medium size tested here the reach is short at 425mm, and the stack is high at 614mm. Other key numbers include a BB drop of 33mm, a 66.5head angle with a 51mm fork offset, and a seat tube angle of 74.5o. Nothing radical by today’s standards. Just like the Stumpjumper ST, there’s a Flip Chip at the lower shock mount that allows you to steepen the head angle by 0.5o and raise the BB by 6mm.

specialized stumpjumper lt
There’s a flip chip in the lower shock mount that allows for BB and head angle adjustment.

The generous standover height allows for decent length droppers across all sizes (130mm on the Small, and 160mm on M-XL sizes). This longer post comes at a cost though, as to retain the stiffness of the short seat tube and long dropper post Specialized has increased the seat tube diameter to 34.9mm. This does limit your aftermarket choices of droppers, though as of right now there are options from BikeYoke, RockShox and X-Fusion. The Expert comes with Spesh’s own excellent Command IRcc post, which even with a slower top-out than before, still remains eye-wateringly fast.

Aside from the alloy suspension linkage, the Stumpjumper Expert Carbon is made entirely with FACT 11m carbon fibre from the headtube to rear dropout. A surprisingly effective addition to the carbon frame is a thick contoured chainstay protector that has been designed to mitigate chain slap. This may seem like an unnecessary addition when you’re clattering down a rocky hillside but I was actually quite surprised at what a difference it made to noise reduction.

specialized stumpjumper lt
Knobbly chainstay guard is mighty effective.

Suspension is handled by RockShox, with a capable 150mm travel Pike RC up front, and a Deluxe RT3 shock out back. In a welcome move from Specialized, the rear shock is now a standard eye-to-eye metric shock, which means you can easily swap it out for a different shock (previous Stumpys have used a proprietary shock mount). You can even fit a coil shock if you like, since the frame will take it and the linkage rate is progressive enough.

Drivetrain on the Expert Carbon is courtesy of SRAM’s GX Eagle groupset. The crank length is a sensible 170mm given the propensity for pedal strikes on a modern trail bike. Gearing is pretty generous even for a larger bike with big wheels, the 30t chainring and 10-50t cassette give you plenty of crawler gears. A 30t chainring is specced on all models of the Stumpjumper 29 platform as well as the ST and EVO so you get the same gearing whatever type of riding the bike is designed for (the 27.5in wheeled models have a 32t ring). It’s worth noting that if you go for the 11 speed Shimano build with a 46t cassette you will lose a gear at the spinny end of the spectrum which, depending on your climbing prowess, you may not want to do.

specialized stumpjumper lt gx eagle sram
Full carbon back end adorned with 12-speed SRAM.

I’m not a big fan of the Guide R brakes. I find that the direct action piston and lack of bite point adjustment means that you lose a lot of power with the levers wound in a bit, something I need to do so my little hands can cover the gargantuan levers. For £5,000 I’d have liked to see something with more punch and adjustability.

Other notable elements of the build are Roval Traverse Carbon boost wheels, which utilise DT Swiss hubs with the excellent Star Ratchet freehub. The hookless rims have a 30mm internal width. Tyres consist of a Butcher GRID up front and a Purgatory GRID out back in the new-school 2.6in width, but there’s room for a 2.8in tyre if you want to go chunkier.

specialized stumpjumper lt roval
Roval hoops feature hookless carbon rims and thru-axle hubs.

Pleasingly the press-fit BBs have gone and are replaced by a standard threaded version. Finishing kit is all from Specialized with an alloy stem (40mm on small and medium, 50mm on large and XL) and 780mm width alloy bars.

The Ride

Straight out the box I really liked the fit and feel of the Stumpjumper. It’s certainly not short, high and noodley as the previous version. Although on paper the Stumpy is still reasonably short compared to other modern trail bikes, it didn’t feel so in practice, which was something Wil also noted during the launch. It goes to show that as much as we may think otherwise, you can’t ride a bike on paper.

Part of the reasoning for this ‘it’s not as short as I thought‘ feel is the Stumpjumper’s taller-than-average stack height. This taller head tube has the effect of decreasing the listed reach measurement. Again, it pays to test ride first before making assumptions.

specialized stumpjumper lt
The Stumpy fits like a glove out of the box.

It did take me a bit of time to get the suspension well balanced. The rear was straightforward and only need a couple of little tweaks after setting the sag for my riding weight, I’ll take this as testament to Specialized’s own ‘Rx Trail Tune’ that it has for each model. The Pike took a bit more effort and I needed to remove some of the Bottomless Tokens and tweak the pressure much more to get the balance between small bump sensitivity and support further through the travel.

Probably the biggest thing to strike me was how easy it is to pedal the Stumpjumper, something that seems a bit at odds with its descending capabilities. It – or should that be I – coped well on some big schleppy climbs in Torridon and surprisingly on my local singletrack too where you don’t really need anything more than a 100mm hard tail. Even in trail mode the suspension was nicely supportive when putting down the power and the small bump sensitivity. Combined with the high volume tyres, this bike has good traction on technical climbs.

specialized stumpjumper lt
It’s a steady and easy pedalling climber.

It was only when riding it back-to-back with the Stumpjumer ST that the bigger Stumpjumper felt a bit slower on the ups. But given that’s in comparison to a 130/120mm travel bike, it’s not actually a criticism. Where the terrain and my power meant that pedalling up was no longer possible, the weight of the bike and smooth lines of the frame made it pretty comfortable to shoulder.

I found the overall handling of the Stumpjumper excellent. It certainly didn’t feel as big and burly as some other bikes with similar travel and I didn’t find myself having to heave it around as I expected for something this size with 29er wheels. Whether I was pedalling or out the saddle in corners or descents the bike felt well balanced and I was getting plenty of grip and feedback where I wanted it. I thought I would find the 29er wheels and longer wheel base rather unwieldy on tighter trails but it’s surprisingly nimble, stiff and responsive and I didn’t have any occasions where I struggled to get it round twists and turns.

specialized stumpjumper lt
You can make all the assumptions you like about the geometry, but on the trail it all clicks into place.

The feel of the Stumpy on steeper descents is brilliant. I never got to the point where I lost the planted feel or ability to move my weight around to get me and it over, around and down the trail. Overall it’s both confidence inspiring and capable, with the sticky 2.6in tyres definitely contributing to that feel. My only gripe was that the capabilities of the Guide R brakes couldn’t match those of the geometry and suspension, and I was held back by an inability to stop as assertively as I would have liked.

The larger wheels certainly helped smooth out some bigger terrain and nasty wheel trapper rocks – if trucking through as fast as you can go is your priority then the bigger wheel will suit you very well. Personally I like the challenge of picking a line and finding my way through stuff rather than ploughing straight over it so found the bigger wheels to take away some of the playfulness and challenge that I enjoy from riding that type of trail on a 27.5in wheeled bike. Horses for courses and all that.

specialized stumpjumper lt sram guide
Rachel struggled with lever setup and braking feel on the Guide R brakes.

Three Things That Could Be Improved

  1. The SRAM Guide R brakes aren’t up to the capabilities of the bike
  2. The 34.9mm seat post limits aftermarket dropper options unless you use a shim
  3. Maybe the reach for each frame size could be a little longer, but then it’s easy to upsize if needed. Specialized also offers a much longer/slacker EVO model for those chasing specific geometry numbers

Three Things We Loved

  1. The balanced feel of the bike and easy manoeuvrability
  2. High quality suspension that just works without you noticing it
  3. The chassis stiffness and responsiveness even on tighter terrain
specialized stumpjumper lt
As far as do-it-all bikes go, the Stumpy is right up there.

Overall

It’s hard to fault the Stumperjumper 29er; it’s stable, well balanced and rides brilliantly on a wide range of terrain. Despite taking it onto some big terrain and riding with a healthy amount of abandon I’ve not been able to find its limits. For a bike that’s so capable on the downs it’s surprisingly easy to pedal too which for anyone who likes long days in the saddle this is a very worthy attribute.

From my point of view the only drawback is that the Stumpy 29er is a little too good at ploughing straight over the terrain, and depending on your riding style, that might take some of the fun out of picking your way down. Or it might just mean that you can ride faster on gnarlier terrain. Whatever way you look at it though, the Stumpjumper is brimming with capability, and rides well beyond any one number or component on the tech sheet. This one is a cracker of a bike.

specialized stumpjumper lt
One of the original names in mountain biking, and still one of the best.

2019 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29

  • Frame // FACT 11m Carbon Fibre, 140mm Travel
  • Fork // RockShox Pike RC, DebonAir, 150mm Travel, 51mm Offset
  • Shock // RockShox Deluxe RT3, RX Trail Tune, 210x50mm
  • Hubs // Roval Traverse Carbon, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
  • Rims // Roval Traverse Carbon, 30mm Internal Rim Width, Tubeless Ready
  • Tyres // Specialized Butcher GRID 2.6in Front & Purgatory GRID Rear
  • Crankset // Truvativ Descendent, 30t X-Sync 2 Chainring, 170mm Arm Length
  • Rear Mech // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
  • Shifters // SRAM GX Eagle, 12-Speed
  • Cassette // SRAM XG-1275 Eagle, 10-50t, 12-Speed
  • Brakes // SRAM Guide R, 200mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Stem // Specialized Trail, Forged Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 40mm Length
  • Bars // Specialized Trail, 7050 Alloy, 31.8mm Diameter, 27mm Rise, 780mm Wide
  • Grips // Specialized Sip Grip Half-Waffle Lock-On
  • Seatpost // Specialized Control IRcc, 34.9mm Diameter, 160mm Travel
  • Saddle // Specialized Body Geometry Phenom Comp, 143mm Width
  • Size Tested // Medium
  • Sizes Available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Actual Weight // 13.21kg (29.06 lbs)
  • RRP // £5,000

Review Info

Brand: Specialized
Product: Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29
From: Specialized, specialized.com
Price: £5,000
Tested: by Rachel Sokal for 2 months
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Comments (6)

    Ive gone and got me one of these.

    Its a nice bike.

    Just wondering if you know more about the Roval Traverse Carbon wheel hubs? From what I’ve read online about the hubs, some are saying ‘they’re not so good’. And, some even upgrade to the Roval Traverse Carbon SL wheels with better hubs etc…? In this review, you mention that they are ‘ DT Swiss hubs using the excellent Star Ratchet free hub’. Being new to understanding wheels and hubs, it would be great if you could provide more detail on these exact hubs they’re using on 2019 Stumpy expert, as I’m considering getting this bike. I’m just a little confused to whether if these are worth keeping or upgrading right away. Thank you!

    Hi @crazytimes
    Just to clarify, the Roval Traverse Carbon wheels make use of Roval’s own hub design, with the rear hub featuring the DT Swiss Star Ratchet system. In terms of the freehub itself, we’ve rarely had any issues with the Star Ratchet mechanism, which is not only used on DT’s own hubs, but across many other hub brands too. It’s simple, easy to service, and typically bulletproof.
    As for the bearings themselves, we experienced no issues with the wheelset on our test bike, though we only had the bike for several months through an unusually dry summer, so we can’t comment on longterm durability in wet weather.
    Given our positive experience, I personally wouldn’t be upgrading these wheels right away on this bike. However, if there’s a specific issue you’ve heard about with these wheels or hubs, your best bet will be to contact one or more Specialized dealers, who are likely to have more experience with this wheelset.
    Hope that helps
    Rachel

    Thank you, Rachel! Yes, that puts me at ease, and I’ve purchased this bike. Loving it so far:)

    I found out from Specialized that the Roval wheels on the 2019 Expert 29er uses a pawl system. Here are replacement parts information:

    S162100006: FHB FORMULA XD DRIVER FREEHUB 11 SPD (FH-535HA)

    S132100009: FHB MY13 CAMBER-ENDURO-EPIC-SJ FSR COMP FREEHUB WITH ALLOY 142 AXLE AND DS ENDCAP (SP-1342)(SP-1648)

    Thoughts on this type vs. DT Star Ratchet system ?

    Thanks,

    Mark

    Same bike – absolutely love it. But the weak point is the hubs (rear one more significantly) and spokes. The rims are fantastic and seen on many of the higher spec builds. One year of UK riding and the hub (NOT DT Swiss btw) bearings needed replacing. Ok-ish. But the spoke tensions had gone haywire and the wheel was way out of true. I’m having Strada (Sussex wheelbuilders) replace the hubs with DT Swiss 350s and the spokes they use will not lose tension in compression (which is the problem with the original, cheap, build). Can’t wait to feel the difference.

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