With a name that has been around as long as the Stumpjumper (that's 36 years, for you young whippersnappers), analogies about Father Time are unavoidable. In the case of our top-of-the-line test bike, in spite of an elegant carbon-fiber chassis, state-of-the-art componentry, highly evolved SWAT storage and tool options and the populist ability to run either 29-inch or 27.5+ wheels, the specter of time haunts the Stumpjumper's geometry. The industry has swung heavily toward longer wheelbases, slacker head angles, steeper seat angles, rangy toptubes and stubby stems. Against that current trend, the Stumpjumper posts up almost-modest geometry figures: A 67-degree head angle, 74-degree seat angle, wheelbase at a sensible 1,179 millimeters, reach on our size-large test bike at 431 millimeters, with a correspondingly long 60-millimeter stem.
The FSR suspension holds its own in terms of tractability and climbing behavior, maybe not quite as snappy as some of the competition, but the Stumpjumper scoots uphill with ease. The feathery Roval Traverse SL carbon wheels help in that endeavor, as do the titanium-railed saddle and carbon SRAM cranks. The SWAT storage compartment is unique and functional, the SWAT tools are cleverly stored and unobtrusive and the whole bike feels cohesively put together, with the exception of the Command Post dropper, which felt unsophisticated compared to the competition. The XX1/X01 Eagle drivetrain and Guide RS carbon brakes mate well with the Specialized-branded saddle, bars and grips. It earns its $8,200 price tag.
The Stumpy presents a solid case for geometry conservatism. This bike flat-out rails turns, whether they be tight switchbacks or fast berms, and is a joy to ride through no-flow technical terrain. The compact front center and longer stem offer precise handling and a balanced feel, and this latest Stumpjumper rewards riders with an agile and fun ride. Edging up into warp-speed descending territory, the bike begins to lose ground to the new-school barges. Part of this can be chalked up to being shorter and steeper, and this is a natural compromise between technical fun and high-speed stability, but some testers also felt the rear Ohlins shock was a little overdamped and handicapped high-speed behavior.
Overall, the evolution of the Stumpjumper has been fruitful. For riders who prefer technique and finesse over gravity-induced top speed, this latest S-Works offering is a polished and classy choice well worth consideration.
Q&A with Steve Saletnik, Stumpjumper product manager
It seems the industry is currently in a race to see who can be the slackest and the longest, and the Stumpjumper now seems almost conservative alongside the current crop of long and slack trail bikes. Is there a good argument for geometry conservatism in the current climate?
Things are changing quickly across the board in trail bikes these days, and certainly since the Stumpjumper chassis was developed. While the long and slack bikes have benefits, there is a point of diminishing returns for a go-everywhere, do-everything bike like the Stumpjumper. Riders appreciate the nimble nature of the bike and the ability to adapt body position to terrain (something you can't always do on a mega-long bike). As has been the case with many mountain bike industry trends, we can tend to go a bit overboard and then pull back for the long-term direction. We'll see where the long bike trend ends up but I think it's safe to say things aren't going to get much longer and if anything might come back down a bit.
We are barely two years into the time of Plus size wheels, and our test bike is capable of running either 27.5+ or 29-inch hoops. Due to timing and terrain, we tested it entirely in the 29-inch guise—can you share with readers what you are seeing in terms of consumer preference when given the choice of running Plus or 29-inch hoops?
We see a pretty even split across the 27.5, 27.5+ and 29 variants of the Stumpjumper. Plus made a big splash initially, but like most new trends we see the pendulum swing back a bit in terms of preference. Plus is still selling well, it just seems to be settling as one of the three common sizes rather than displacing other sizes. We like to give riders the option to choose the setup they prefer for their type of trails and riding style, which is why we offer Stumpjumper in all three build options.
There were some testers who felt that the rear suspension was more heavily damped than they considered ideal, primarily in terms of getting the front-to-rear balance spot on. Care to either dispute or explain how the suspension spec and tune on this bike was determined?
All of our shocks are 'Rx Tuned' with custom valving for the intended experience of the bike they come on. Rx Tune is designed to be the best all-round tune for most riders, although there will always be some riders who desire a different tune, which can easily be accommodated via custom tuning from the shock manufacturer.
How long before a tiny motor and battery will be able to fit cleanly in the downtube SWAT compartment?
There's plenty of room in the SWAT for a motor right now! A person with the right know-how could rig something up pretty easily. As a company though, we aren't only looking at motors and batteries these days—first and foremost, we want to build bikes for mountain bike riders. Some of those bikes will have motors and some will not, but we are still dedicated to the pedal-bike riders out there.