The not-so-minor details
Converted tyres to tubeless
Remarkably versatile in all kinds of situations. Efficient and hassle-free suspension. Great handling and grip. No corners cut in spec or finish.
'Dangler' chain guide not needed with Type 2 derailleur. Jagwire cable housing is mushy when shifting.
Can a 29er out-perform a 26er when it comes to technical trail/all-mountain riding?
Specialized certainly think so; they’ve been espousing the virtues of a bigger wheel for many years and have been incredibly active in pushing 29ers into longer travel applications. In fact, Specialized are so convinced the big wheel is the right tool for the job, that in Australia they only offer one 26″ bike with less than 160mm travel. You can read more about the range here.
When we set out to test the beautiful carbon Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29, we had a head full of questions we wanted answered. Would a 29er with 130mm travel feel like ‘too much’ bike? Could this bike be manhandled in techy terrain? How would a 130mm-travel 29er compare the 150mm-travel 26ers we’d usually opt for?
This beautiful machine ended up bring full of surprises and possesses a versatility that few bikes can ever hope to match. Could this one be a quiver killer?
Gorgeous lines, and none of that ran-into-the-back-of-a-bus kind of pug nosed look that many 29er have. It’s even sexier in the flesh. Plus you can fit in a full size water bottle.
The finish is just sensational. So glossy, so sleek! Clean cable routing adds to the appeal.
Specialized have incorporated a range of practical and unique features into the Stumpy’s rear suspension. The Brain Fade rear shock allows you to tune the bike’s pedalling efficiency / suspension feel, meaning you can have bob-free pedalling without needing to play with lockouts and the like. The firmer you make it, the firmer the suspension will be on smooth terrain; we only ran it on one click of six and still found the pedalling performance and small bump response to be excellent. The rear shock also features Auto Sag, meaning you’ll always have the perfect rear suspension sag in seconds – simply pump the shock up to 300psi, sit on the bike in your riding gear and depress the red valve! The use of a block mount does away with the rear DU bush too, so that’s one less thing to worry about!
Specialized’s own Command Post is a welcome addition. It has three positions: full extension, one-inch drop and a fully compresses five-inch drop. The lever is nice and small too, but still easy to operate.
The Fox 32 TALAS fork features travel adjustment from 130-105mm, and the CTD damper lets you firm things up for the climbs. In all honesty, we didn’t feel the need to use either the travel or compression damping adjustments.
We’re seeing a lot more Formula lately, particularly on Specialized bikes. These T1 brakes didn’t overwhelm use with their power, but the lever feel is very nice and there is good modulation on offer. They also mate with the shifter clamps neatly to declutter the handlebar.
The attention to detail is exemplary. Check out the neat cable management with the adjustable post and brake lines/gear cables. Specialized’s cool Dangler chain guide keeps the chain under control, though we didn’t feel it was necessary with the new SRAM Type 2 derailleurs and so we removed it.