Specialized Stumpjumper Pro FSR120 (US) review£2,492.00

Marvellous medium-travel mile-muncher

BikeRadar score4/5

Specialized’s Stumpjumper Pro FSR120 is a light, well thought out and efficient mile-eater that brings balanced handling and comfortable control to the trail-riding party. In very technical riding its passive suspension and frame feel dull and its Brain shock has a sketchy history, but this is still a well equipped, efficient, safe yet sprightly cross-country/trail bike with low weight and high value.

Ride & handling: balanced, versatile & controlled

Specialized was one of the first manufacturers to get 120mm all-rounder geometry really sorted, and this bike feels well balanced and rider-friendly straight away. The use of a travel-adjustable TALAS fork up front gives you the option of running 100mm to keep the nose down on climbs, matched 120mm travel at both ends for a fast cross-country feel, or 140mm for extra downhill and cornering stability.

The latter certainly kept the bike more controlled and reduced nerves on the dusty and rocky desert trails we rode on. As a result, we kept it ‘long’ on all but the most technical climbs.

Only the carbon-framed bikes in the UK range (£3399 Pro or £2699 Expert) feature the inertia valve-controlled ‘Brain’ rear shock. It peps up the ride of the bike, with the automatic lockout lifting speed immediately on smoother sections. Set the ‘Brain Fade’ threshold to near-minimum and the switch on and off is almost imperceptible. There’s just a gentle clicking sensation, rather than the tyre-threatening clang of early Brain shocks.

UK alloy-framed FSRs (£1899 Elite and £1599 Comp) rely on manual actuation of the three-position low-speed compression damping control of the Fox ‘Triad’ shock. However, as long as you remember to lick the lever at the right time, it’s a more consistent, controlled and historically more reliable shock than the Brain units.

The suspension action of both shocks on the FSR is passive and unobtrusive. There’s a bit of squat if you really stomp, but the payback is almost no interruption of rhythm from the chain when pedalling through rough stuff. Braking traction is excellent, too, giving the bike a calm and safe feel.

Flick the Triad lever or let the Brain kick in, though, and it rockets you forward or up climbs.

The 635mm bar and 105mm stem of our Large sample were short on leverage for wrenching the bike off-line or wrestling it round corners. A sense of flex and pliability reduces the Pro’s bite and alertness in high load situations, too.

However, its low weight and smooth feel are a boost for long-distance cruising and fast cross-country work. Stem length changes with bike size, too, so correct proportions are retained – a nice touch.

Frame: light & great value

The UK version of the Pro will come with the new FACT 9M carbon frame for a hefty £3399. However, the £1899.99 Elite model gets the same high-performance alloy chassis as this bike (but in white, with a Fox Triad rear shock).

Now in its second year, the M5 aluminium frame with new rocker linkage layout is cracking value considering its sub-5lb weight. The mainframe itself is based on a hydroformed S-bend downtube and gently curved top tube, which lines up with the seat stays for a really neat profile. Forged knuckles for the dropouts and tubular braces between the seat stays and seat tube/top tube junction keep it trail-tough without adding excess weight.

The short rocker link puts the shock inside the main triangle to shield it from dirt. The curved seat tube allows you to drop the seatpost a decent distance for steep descents. It would go further with a straight post, though, rather than the kinked Thomson supplied.

Equipment: great attention to detail

Kit detail differs depending which UK bike you get, but every FSR has an excellent Fox fork. The carbon Expert has the Fox 32 120RLC, while the alloy Elite gets the Fox 32 TALAS RL.

Specialized Captain tyres on DT Swiss wheels provide light but reasonable all-weather grip and rolling speed. Transmission is kept SRAM-punchy out back, Shimano-smooth up front across the range, albeit at different levels.

Avid brakes provide masses of power thanks to size-specific rotors (185mm/160mm on Small/ Medium, 203mm/185mm on Large/ X Large). Specialized’s impressive attention to detail even extends to different width saddles on different sizes, while colour-coded kit keeps every bike in the range looking slick.

Summary

UK riders will have to decide between the alloy-framed, Fox-shocked Elite or the carbon-framed, Brain-shocked bikes which bracket this US-only alloy Pro version. Either way, they’ll be getting a well balanced, smooth yet sprightly and immaculately thought-out rig that’s great value for money.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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