Specialized’s super-light carbon bikes may be the limelight huggers, but for most riders this highly efﬁcient and enjoyable lightweight alloy version will be more than enough bike for any situation.
Light, fast, efﬁcient, and with a sweetly detailed and quality kit collection, the Elite delivers an outstandingly drama- and stress-free day ride experience. It’s exactly that complete safety that can make it feel dull alongside more characterful competitors though.
Ride & handling: Light, efﬁcient and very neutral – perhaps too neutral
A polished, well thought-out and easy vibe extends right through the ride of the Stumpjumper. The longer fork leans the head angle back to a reassuringly stable extent and it lifts the bottom bracket for pedal clearance as well. A relatively short top tube and steep seat angle still keep your weight forward to avoid any front tyre slips though.
The rear suspension is equally neutral, with minimal reaction to either pedal or braking inputs to upset its smooth poise. This does mean you need to ﬂick on the Pro-Pedal platform damping to stop it feeling squelchy and soft under full power.
The low weight, plus fast tyres and a full shock lockout option front and rear, make it vanish up ﬁreroad or tarmac climbs like the proverbial rat up a drainpipe.
However, the fact that it stands out most on tarmac is something of a giveaway to the Stumpy's tame rather than tear-it-up character off-road.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the way it sucks up drops and boulders, and it holds its lines ﬁne most of the time too, but the slightly soggy pedal feel and lack of trail reference in fully open mode combines with slight frame twang to rob it of a real carving edge or predatory character.
The narrow bar and forward weighting make you less inclined to throw it into turns hard enough to grind the end caps off, or launch the big stuff too.
It’s not that it can’t do it if you make it, but it terms of ride character, it’ll deﬁnitely be safe and steady rather than incite a riot.
Frame: Good looking and remarkably stiff for its weight
All-white bikes are something of a rarity for Specialized, but the pure colour picks out the clean frame design nicely. Specialized originated the stress-spreading curved down tube that nearly everyone else has adopted. The Stumpy also runs a direct force line from head tube to swingarm tip via gracefully curved top tube and seatstays.
The stays are extended right up to the seat tube, with short, triangular rockers, forked clevis joints on the pivots and a hollow bridge piece and armpit gusset all keeping the back end remarkably tight for its weight.
Kinked seat tube and direct mount front mech keep tyre clearance good, and there’s room for a conventionally placed bottle too. A sheaf of sealed cabling running under the down tube keeps gears sweet and you get a snug-ﬁtting rubber chainstay guard too. Typically for Specialized, subtly colour-coded trim and equipment adds a high-class touch.
Equipment: Quality kit selection and attention to detail
There’s plenty of quality equipment aboard the Stumpy. Fox TALAS RL forks aren’t quite as smooth as the company's ﬁxed-travel Floats, but the 100 and 120mm settings give useful handling tweak options, even though we spent 90 percent of the time running them at the full 140mm stroke.
The Specialized-speciﬁc Triad shock adds complete lockout to the normal fully open and ProPedal options of the Fox RP2 shock.
Avid’s Elixir brakes stand out in control terms and get a few grams of ‘SL’ weight-saving via alloy pad backers and a custom colour.
A Shimano XTR rear mech window-dresses the otherwise SLX/Deore-level transmission, while just 28 spokes on the front helps build a fast reacting wheelset. The lightweight S-Works tyres are light and fast too, with reasonable dual compound grip in most conditions.
We’d go for wider handlebars for increased leverage in technical situations, and the single-bolt seatpost needs ﬁrm tightening, but otherwise the angle-adjustable stem and reinforced saddle set up excellent contact points.
Specialized’s enviable attention to detail also extends to a broad range of size-speciﬁc kit, with shorter cranks on the small size, plus thinner saddle and grips and smaller disc rotors on the small and medium.