2019 SPECIALIZED STUMPJUMPERS
first ride: 2019 specialized stumpjumpers
A TRAIL BIKE TRIPLE THREAT
april 16, 2018 by ryan cleek photos by ryan cleek
When I was a teenager I received my first mountain bike—a hand-me-down, mid-’90s Specialized Stumpjumper hardtail. Coincidentally, since 2000 I've owned every generation of the full-suspension Stumpjumper variety. And over the last couple of seasons, a 2017 Stumpjumper Pro 29er has been my test sled. Knowing most brands amortize their new high-end mountain bike R&D and development expenses for over three model years, I figured a new Stumpjumper was on the horizon, and I wondered what the latest iteration would entail. My musing was curtailed in Spain’s Pyrenees during Specialized’s product launch of three new frames. That's right, there are three purpose-built Stumpjumper platforms to satisfy rider demand: Stumpjumper ST (short travel), Stumpjumper (standard), and the return of the trendsetting Stumpjumper Evo.
The new Stumpy is available in both 29 and 27.5-inch wheel sizes and there's more to the story than an updated spec or revised geometry. Most noticeably, all three versions share the new, single-sided frame concept initially seen on the Specialized Demo downhill bike. At the heart of the new design is the goal of shaving weight across both carbon and alloy offerings, while also boosting the front-end stiffness of the carbon frames to mirror that of the alloy version. Whether carbon fiber or alloy construction, Specialized says the new frames' increased strength is partially attributed to how the front triangle's sidearm directly connects all three mounting points of the rear-end and shock to the frame which significantly increases stiffness under torque from hard cornering and improves handling predictability in rough terrain. All carbon frames also receive an updated version of the super-handy SWAT internal frame storage with more usable storage space.
To compliment the new frame design, the shocks receive Specialized's in-house custom RX Tune, which pairs the shock specifically to the kinematics of the frame. Women's Stumpjumper models also receive the RX Tune. Female riders are typically lighter weight than male riders, and the women's Stumpy shocks are designed to perform like the men's variety, yet internally configured to operate with lower air pressures. Additionally, all shocks use standard eye-to-eye metric shock sizing allowing choosy riders to easily swap brands if desired.
Specialized has also ditched the Stumpy's PF30 bottom bracket in favor of the less creaky and more reliable threaded variety. To fine further, Stumpjumpers feature a ‘flip chip’ allowing the frame geometry to be tweaked to meet specific riding style or terrain demands. The two settings (High and Low) effectively change the bottom bracket height by 6 millimeters and alter the head angle by half of a degree. As for tire clearance, both the 29er and 27.5-inch frames can accept tires up to 3.0 inches in width.
I'm confident there's a layer of Hell reserved for frame designers who've routed hydraulic brake lines internally through the kinks and crevices encountered inside a frame's gopher-tunnel-like cable-routing maze. Anyone who has recently built a bike up from scratch or swapped internally routed hydraulic brakes understands where I'm coming from. Specialized addresses this issue with simple cable routing. Insert the brake hose or shifter housing into the head-tube port, push it through the frame and voila! It slithers out of the other end of the chainstay. Carl Spackler approves.
Three Flavors of Stumpy
There are a lot of ingredients to digest among the three models, so I'll boil down the frame details into a few defining factors of each one. Number crunchers wishing to dive into the details can refer to the geo charts farther down the page.
‘ST’ stands for short travel, and Stumpjumper STs will replace Cambers in Specialized's trail-bike line. The 29er version has 130 millimeters up front paired with 120 millimeters out back, while the 27.5-inch wheeled variety sees 130 millimeters of travel at both ends. The size Large ST 29 I rode has a 67.5-degree head-tube angle, 437-millimeter-long chainstays, a 455-millimeter reach, and 1,192-millimeter wheel base. Comparatively, the Large 2018 Camber 29 it replaces has 120 millimeters of front and rear travel, a 68.5-degree head tube angle, 445 millimeters of reach, and a 1,160-millimeter wheelbase. STs are slightly longer and slightly slacker than the Cambers we’re familiar with and pack an extra 10 millimeters of travel in the fork. Furthering this nod toward a hint more aggressive usage over Cambers, new STs sport in-line shocks and 2.3-inch-wide Grid casing tires.
Ride impression: It's easy to quickly be spoiled by the S-Works 29 Stumpjumper ST’s playful handling and premium spec. Although this is technically the short-travel version, it still has over five inches of squish to smooth challenging terrain and componentry suitable for absolutely shredding everything from meandering terrain to technical singletrack.
The Stumpjumper was due for a geometry update. And, although the ST is more conservative in its angles, travel and intended use than the (regular) Stumpjumper and Evo versions, it's a well-balanced bike that can be ridden as aggressively as one wishes. It's snappy yet stable, pedals very well in the open setting and has the bones to be an incredibly versatile trail machine.
The updated shock tune feels as though it provides a more supple initial stroke followed by a firmer mid-stroke, which translates into more traction via the rear wheel's negative travel. The rear wheel travel ramps nicely to absorb harsh impacts. The standard Stumpy also adeptly ramped for bigger impacts.
The standard version of the new Stumpy—or simply the ‘Stumpjumper’—is an evolution of the 2018 offering. Like the ST, the Stumpjumper is available in 29- and 27.5-inch options. The travel for the 29er now boasts 150 millimeters up front and 140 millimeters out back, while the 27.5-inch-wheeled version sports 150 millimeters of travel at both ends. The new Stumpy 29-inch size Large has a two-degree-slacker headtube angle and 9-millimeter longer wheelbase (at 1,201 millimeters) than the ST previously mentioned. New version, old version—the new size Large Stumpjumper 29 has a half-degree slacker head-tube angle, a 14-millimeter longer reach and a welcomed 22-millimeter longer wheelbase than the 2018 size Large. Both the 29er and 27.5 versions of the Stumpjumper ship with 2.6-inch, Grid-reinforced tires.
Ride impression: When it comes to do-it-all trail versatility, this genre of modern, mid-to-longish-travel 29ers is tough to find fault with, and the Stumpjumper follows suit. The Stumpy takes the pedaling efficiency of the ST, yet slackens the front end and increases the travel and wheelbase for more high-speed stability and traction over rowdy terrain. The new Stumpjumper carried momentum through rough terrain and felt more stable at speed than the previous generation.
I very rarely fiddle with shock levers or externally adjustable pedaling platforms, I prefer to set the sag, dial in some low-speed compression (if applicable) and go. I find recent Specialized trail bikes to pedal extremely well, and the new Stumpy is no different. There was a noticeable improvement in rear suspension traction, particularly at speed on rough terrain. It rode light yet allowed me to focus, worry free, when things became serious—a combination of sprightly climbing mixed with stability. The 2.6-inch Butcher Grid and Purgatory Grid tires delivered excellent traction in varying conditions without a noticeable weight or rolling resistance penalty.
Some may remember, seemingly long ago, when Evo (short for Evolution) bikes injected descending prowess into standard Specialized models—which brings us to the 2019 reintroduction of ‘Evo’ to the Stumpjumper line.
As with the original 26-inch-wheeled Stumpjumper Evo debuting in 2010, the born-again Evo is currently only offered with an alloy frame. With SRAM Code brakes, 800-millimeter-wide handlebars, and non-traditional frame sizing a la the Demo downhill bike, this rendition of the Stumpjumper Evo isn't just a slightly tweaked trail bike, it's a gravity-focused one. The head angle and wheelbase numbers irrefutably reinforce this. The Evo 29er has a very slack (for a bike which goes uphill quite well) 63.5-degree head angle. Three full degrees slacker than the standard Stumpjumper head angle. Although the Evo is offered in two sizes (S2 and S3), Specialized says the S2 is comparable fit-wise to a standard Large frame. When comparing a standard Large Stumpjumper with the S2 Evo, the Evo has a 19-millimeter longer (1,220) wheelbase, and the S3 is even longer still at 1,252 millimeters.
Ride impression: The steeper the trail, the better the Stumpjumper Evo performs. Although agile like a traditional trail bike, the head angle and long reach keep the rider centered when pinned on a rough trail. The Evo shock tune felt more progressive in order to handle high-speed rear-wheel impacts, and when mated to a precise-handling Fox 36 fork, the Evo made easy work of very demanding terrain.
For a bike that stands out from the crowd by being long and slack, I found the Evo rode with impressive agility. At speed, the 29er version whipped through tight corners with surprising snappiness. Although designed and equipped to for the gravity-minded trail rider, despite the slack geo it's a more-than-capable climber and could easily be the go-to trail bike for riders who don't mind climbs to get the Evo to some technically challenging descents. The harder it was pushed, the better it performed.
For decades, the Stumpjumper has been on of the most versatile trail bikes in the game. And now, three new offerings have been developed to not only address the scope of mountain biking's inherently diverse terrain, but also the differing rider demands in an era of customization.