Specialized hasn’t changed the Stumpjumper frame this year, but a new fork and tyres radically reinvent this user-friendly all-rounder.
The carbon-mainframed Stumpy may only be 200g lighter than the alloy version (which costs £1,000 less) but the fibre brings other advantages. Most importantly, it’s seriously stiff and well damped, which gives the bike an unshakeable feel on the trail.
You also get a ‘SWAT’ storage trapdoor under the bottle cage (which has an integrated multi-tool). There’s plenty of tyre room too.
Specialized’s unique and very useful ‘SWAT’ trapdoor storage system lets you stuff the down tube with inner tubes, spares, Haribo, etc Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
Tyres have been switched to the excellent and new 2.6in Specialized Butchers, from 2.3in last year, and the RockShox Revelation fork has upsized 35mm stanchions for 2018.
The 11-speed SRAM GX transmission has proven tough, and there’s a steel 30t ring on the Race Face cranks to increase lifespan.
SRAM’s Guide brakes get upsized rotors and sit on a 780mm bar. Spesh’s Command Post IRcc dropper is dangerously fast-returning but utterly reliable, and the size-specific contact points are particularly comfy.
The 60mm stem offsets the short reach of the frame, though I’d rather have 20mm more top tube and 20mm less stem.
Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Carbon 650b ride impressions
‘Safe’ was the word practically every tester defaulted to when trying to sum up the Stumpjumper, but that risks selling this super-capable, easy to set up and ride all-rounder very short.
Once you’ve used Specialized’s ‘AutoSag’ system to tune the rear shock for your weight, it settles easily into the already glued-down feel of the 2.6in tyres. While it may not be what you’re looking for in a carbon bike, the over-14kg weight sits it onto any surface with extra purpose.
Even with a big hatch in the down tube, the mainframe is seriously stiff, with a damped but not dull feel. It’s more than stout enough to make the most of the fork stiffness, the big front tyre footprint and the 780mm bar too. That meant I was happy to chuck the Stumpy into seriously techy, toothy ‘enduro’ terrain straight away.
The 2018 RockShox Revelation is a completely new beast, feeling much more like the Pike, with which it now shares its 35mm stanchion diameter Mick Kirkman / Immediate Media
Once you’re into the thick of it, the gently-progressive shock character and neutral kinematics of the ‘FSR’ suspension make it easy to pop up and shape with body weight shifts.
When jumping off the other bikes that could make it feel a bit soft and over-mobile under power at first. Flicking the low-speed compression damping lever on the shock firms it up enough to pedal with purpose though, and it still takes the edges off square hits, letting you carry speed through chunky sections.
The 2.6in Butchers have impressed before, and they float over chattery sections while letting the Stumpy roll well on tarmac too. High wheel weight and overall mass mean you have to get it up to speed in the first place though, which takes extra effort. But on ‘proper’ off-road terrain, the way it sticks down and keeps utterly consistent traction, with no pedal kickback, makes it feel like an e-bike in eco mode as it surges along.
If you really want to maximise the rollover effect, there are ‘6Fattie’ (3.0in tyres) and 29er versions of the Stumpjumper too — though, having ridden those last year, I reckon this 2.6in version is a real sweet-spot ride.
As much as I loved the Stumpy, there are some aspects that limit its flat-out potential. The flexy 24-spoke front wheel means tracking isn’t as tight as it could be, and the fork’s ‘Motion Control’ damper spikes and creates more arm pump on hard-and-fast descents than Fox’s ‘Performance FIT’ unit.
I’d be tempted to swap the rear tyre for a semi-slick 2.6in Specialized Slaughter to really get it going too.
While the handling balance works well for general trail riding, it’s short on reach, long in stem and relatively steep by progressive standards. The tall seatmast makes it awkward to size up too, so I found myself having to push back more than I would on a longer, slacker bike when things got steep and punchy.