The Up Side

FSR is tried, FSR is true, FSR is proven. But it's not exciting for climbing, it's predictable. The Stumpy 27.5 climbs as a full suspension mountain bike should and does so well, but it doesn't reset any mind-bending expectations.

Down Time

The 27.5 Stumpy's 2.6-inch tires, lightly progressive suspension tuning and reasonable reach make for an excitable, invigorating ride encouraging of fun while waltzing down the trail. Until the trail gets mean. Then the bigger-than-trail bike's in over its head, but it's a blast all the way there.

Dollar for Dollar

The Stumpy 27.5 Comp Carbon touts a full-carbon frame, and very wisely spec'ed but monetarily considerate parts that give the feel of a bike far more expensive than its price tag leads one to expect. It's a good value and an excellent platform to upgrade over time.

One year ago, we wrote a Bible review about the Stumpjumper's relatively conservative geometry. This year, we can't. Or can we? In the last year, the Stumpy has splintered into several factions, each with its own spoonful of Progresso, the preferred soup of all trail bikes aspiring to wear the hachimaki of enduro-inspired geometric courage. Not really, but you get the point: There's now a 63.5-degreed Stumpy EVO, a 65.5 'regular' Stumpy and a 67.5 S/T (Short Travel) version as well. And we're only talking 27.5 bikes … Stumpys come in 29-inch flavors too.

See those weird lumpy thing? Those help dampen chain slap and keep noise to a minimum.

The Stumpjumper has been around a long time, 37 years now. In its more recent full-suspension years, it's been remarkably unremarkable at doing what it does: trail duties. It hasn't complained, has performed well and hasn't lashed out or posed any controversial ideas about what a trail bike should be. It's quietly behaved in a very sensible manner, only adopting trends after they're safely proven. It's borderline boring.

Until now. The 'regular' Stumpy 27.5's 65.5-degree head tube angle matches that of its radical sibling, the Enduro. And it's touting 150 millimeters of travel now, not 140. Big-kid undies.

Geometry: Specialized Stumpjumper 27.5

So when we took it on our short-travel loop, complete with reasonable ledges and sweeping turns, it was damn fun. The 2.6-inch tires combined with the softer, gently poppy FSR linkage made for a backslapping high-five party on greater-than-XC-but-less-than-all-mountain terrain. Very specific terrain. In this realm, it climbed great and again the wonders of 2.6-inch and trail-plus (niche officially coined by Bike, 10-18-18) usage are a harmonious pairing—traction and sprightly fun. It helps that the Stumpjumper 27.5's wheelbase isn't too long—1,212 millimeters (for a large)—because it gives the bike a light-handed touch, easy to whisk about.

What’s missing here? No, it’s not the left side of the frame, it’s Autosag.

At $4,520, it's refreshing to have a light feel to what today we'd call a reasonably priced bike. It feels like an expensive bike and, to many, it still is. But regardless of what is or isn't expensive to you, it rides nicer than its price tag and it totes a full SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain, no fancy-pants stuff here. The full-carbon frame is peppered with performance-minded, financially sensible parts—an X-Fusion Manic post may not elicit coos of delight from dreamers, but it works far better than a lot of off-the-shelf nameless droppers we see spec'd in the $3,500-to-$5,000 price range. The Guide R brakes were the one complaint. The 'S' of Guide RS or Guide RSC stands for SwingLink. Think of it as the Hamburger Helper of Guide brakes. Without it, there's so-so power. With it, blaow, a feast of power.

The missing 'S' from the big 'S' was only noticeable on our long-travel loop where we had an extended, stuttered, drawn-out cobble-clamor descent. Guide RS brakes would have been better. This is also where the Stumpjumper's suspension felt outgunned and couldn't squelch the bigger terrain's anger.

At $4,520, it's refreshing to have a light feel to what today we'd call a reasonably priced bike.

Where the Stumpjumper did shine on the upper playground with the big kids was in corners. It's low and with a very approachable 455 millimeters of reach (size large), it sinks into a perfect cornering pocket, no fore-aft body adjustment necessary. When set up with 30-percent sag, there's a soft enough feel that the Stumpy begs to be pushed, but the tighter wheelbase likes to be tossed between turns, an interesting mix of sleddish slight. The chassis doesn't have the muted, overbuilt indifferent dead feel that some burly enduro sleds have, there's a bit of give to it, but not a flexy or feeble feel. This complements the 2.6 tires and the shock's mild progressivity, augmenting its light-handed feel. Somehow, maybe because of the low bottom bracket, the fit doesn't feel cramped—until in bigger, successive-hit descents where wheelbase and reach measurements become irrefutable.

And that might just sum up the Stumpy: It rides bigger than a trail bike until in bigger-than-a-trail-bike terrain.

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Check out the rest of the Long-Travel 27.5 class

Q&A with Steve Saletnik, product manager for the Stumpjumper family

The Stumpjumper's updated geo checks the boxes of slack and low, but its reach was the shortest in the test. Was there something about this bike's intended use that kept you from stretching it another 10 or 15 millimeters?

Current trends are leaning toward long reach numbers, and we did increase reach a good bit over the previous Stumpjumper, but the way a bike rides is about so much more than just one geo figure. With the new Stumpjumper, we strived to create a balanced geo that would work really well for a wide range of modern trail riders. For those riders seeking super-long reach, we have that covered via the Stumpjumper Evo.

The geo adjust flip chip on the Stumpjumper isn't as convenient to use as the eccentric pivot hardware we see on other bikes. What's the advantage of the design this bike uses?

Our flip chip design is simple, durable and creak-free. While some other similar systems may be slightly easier to use, they can also be prone to other drawbacks that result from increased complexity, such as increased weight and compromised aesthetics and reliability. We don't foresee riders changing their head angle mid-ride so a one-bolt design was not a goal, but even if a rider did want to do that, we're still only talking about four bolts in total—not exactly a massive undertaking. We felt that the slight increase in effort was worth it in exchange for the other positives to our design.

There was a broad (and welcomed) switch this year in Specialized's suspension spec from –hlins to Fox and RockShox. What were the primary reasons for going back to more mainstream brands?

–hlins is one the world leaders in suspension and a respected partner to us. They've experienced some durability challenges within their MTB product line and that led us to making some spec changes in order to provide riders with both high-performance and reliability. We are actively working with –hlins to improve durability and will continue to evaluate spec decisions based on what's available each season.