Specialized have tuned their FACT carbon layup over a number of years to deliver a chassis that offers a near perfect blend of stiffness and comfort. Having some of the world’s top cross-country racers feeding data back helps…
Ride & handling: A pedigree ride in terms of comfort and control
The bike looks purposeful, fast, and this proves the case from the first time you get dirt under the tyres. The hype of the Fact 8m carbon chassis is one thing, but even a short ride reveals a subtlety that other frames find hard to match. It’s a Goldilocks blend of stiffness and comfort that’s just right.
The layout places you fairly squarely between the wheels, behind the de rigueur tapered head tube looking down at the edges of the generously proportioned down tube either side of the narrower, but equally heavily profiled top tube. The bottom bracket area is well supported against flex, and both sections combine to make power transfer a Stumpjumper signature dish.
The subtlety comes in the use of finer rear seatstays. They’re not pencil thin, but svelte, with enough give to help you stay seated when ordinarily you might have to butt-hover.
Everyone felt the Stumpjumper had a relatively short ‘learn time’, with no weird nuances to crack – it’s quick from a standing start to a full grin. And while Specialized are practically incapable of not infusing competitive DNA into their bikes after years of experience, this still shines as an everyday work and play bike.
Frame & equipment: Some quirks but lots of upgrade potential
Standard dropouts rather than screw-thru axles mean it’s not futuristic, which is a shame. The Reba fork, Shimano transmission (bar the SRAM crank) and in-house finishing kit all add up to a very desirable package.
We used to run thin grips – these very ones – on our bikes, but have migrated back to thicker ones. We think the same swap is a nod to comfort Specialized could afford.
We like the pure speed of the S-Works Fast Trak tyres, but would prefer a Purgatory or Ground Control up front. Setting up for unknown wet mud corners is a roulette experience that’s equal parts skill, blind faith and luck. Frankly, we’re glad the Reba fork is super supple, which helps eke out all available traction.
The Magura brakes provide reasonably precise speed control, although the hoses are poorly routed from the levers. Geometry wise, the bike’s good. Not steep or slack, not long or short… It allows you to decide how aggressively to ride, and happily entertains your ride moods as they swing.
This is a fast bike. It can ride over mountains with Swiss finishing school deportment and elegance. There are some spec quirks in the grips and bits that we’d eventually upgrade to reveal the race waif beneath – the cranks are a good example here – while some grippier rubber up front would definitely help UK riders.
It’s very hard not to like the Stumpjumper Comp, although Specialized’s graphic designer seems to have aimed at that objective. Yet it’s such an accomplished bike, even the colours have grown on us…