Specialized managed a neat trick when it extended the travel of its Stumpjumper XC frame from 4 to 5 inches of travel without adding any weight. Add an impressive kit selection and the result is an efficient, calm and capable way of smoothing away your trail troubles.
Specialized always impress in terms of chassis design and the Stumpy FSR is no exception. The seam welded 'Trans Form' monocoque top tube and curved down tube handle stress and flex loads without the need for extra thick tube walls of reinforcing gussets.
The real build quality showcase is the seat tube though, formed from two hollow, cold forged halves, leaving a central hole for the shock to thread through. Other cold forged sections make up the combined bottom bracket shell and main pivot mount, the front bridge sections of chainstays and seatstays and a particularly elegant hollow, clamshell linkage. This all keeps frame weight impressively low, but there's still plenty of mud room around the tyres. All suspension pivots - including the patented Horst Link on the chainstay just ahead of the dropout - use replaceable sealed cartridge bearings for smooth running, too.
The only problem is the short seat tube stub. Even if you cut down the seat post as short as possible, you can't drop the seat enough to make a real difference on steep technical descents. It does come in three 'D4W' female fit sizes, though.
The Stumpy's character is every bit as polished as the construction, and it's a superb 'just get on and go' bike. The suspension can feel a bit soft and wallowy under power at first, unless you flick the Triad shock into either of its stiffer ProPedal settings. After a few minutes though, you'll just be oblivious to everything apart from the impressive grip and uninterrupted pedal rhythm as you thunder down rutted tracks or surge up rocky, steppy climbs.
it still hooks up and carves into the tightest turns where you're
sure it will slip
The custom shortened 120mm travel Fox Float fork also removes all the vagueness of 2005's bike, with the 5in stroke only obvious when you want it to be - such as slamming the bike into big ditches, through rockeries or off drops. The handling feels smooth and relaxed rather than razor sharp, but it still hooks up and carves into the tightest turns where you're sure it will slip. If it does slide, it's nearly always tail first, making it a blast to push really hard through corners. Super wide bars and a mid-length stem are also perfect for slip-slide surfing control. We're happy to trade occasional toe taps for increased cornering stability too, and while it pops the front end up easily, unplanned wheelies are never a problem on climbs. Despite the extra travel, it's also one of the lightest bikes of its class, so all-round agility and acceleration are impressively eager.
Kit is super capable and great value, too. The Fox Float fork is perhaps a little flexy in corners, but it sucks up hits very reliably from new and, compared to RockShox's Reba and Recon, it really shines on long descents. Specialized also spec 'old' XTR mechs for traditional, multiple downshift friendly gearing. Truvativ's Firex GXP cranks are firm underfoot and smooth shifting. Avid's sharp but communicative Juicy 5 brakes get a 180mm front rotor power upgrade on L and XL bikes and the Mavic/Specialized/Shimano wheels are totally solid. The alleged 2in Specialized Adrenaline tyres are actually monsters with great float, reasonable straight line stick without excess drag and excellent cornering grip. Cockpit and seating kit is all spot on for dimensions and feel, too.
It's hard to know where to start with summarising the FSR, because it's all so effortlessly excellent. Fantastic build quality and design; suspension that melts the ground smooth underneath you, even over properly gnarly stuff; weight and traction control that's good enough to race on; impeccably relaxed, but still ready for anything handling and totally complaint-free kit list, and all for £1,500. Bargain.