Specialized Stumpjumper 2021 Review | Hello lightweight carbon frame, goodbye FSR pivot!

The not-so-minor details


2021 Specialized Stumpjumper Pro





$12,700 AUD




- Beautifully engineered chassis
- The vivacious handling and poppy attitude
- Well-tuned suspension with trail tweak-ability
- Fox 34 GRIP2 is absolutely sublime
- Once you've gone SWAT, you don't go back
- So quiet!
- Impressively low weight for the capability


- Flip chip could be more user friendly
- 35mm carbon bars are on the stiff side
- Premium performance, premium price-tag

Wil reviews the 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper

It tends to be big news anytime Specialized releases a new mountain bike, but it’s a particularly big deal when that bike has Stumpjumper written on the frame. Indeed with just shy of 40 years of history behind it, that name is almost as old as the sport itself. The latest iteration of the Stumpjumper comes off the back of the new Stumpjumper EVO launched only a week ago, completing the picture for Specialized’s two-prong trail bike attack. Alongside the EVO, I’ve also been riding this sub-13kg Stumpjumper Pro over the past couple of weeks, and it has been an absolute treat. Before we get onto the review though, let’s take a look at exactly what’s changed on Specialized’s iconic trail bike.

Watch our video review of the 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper here!

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
Specialized has unveiled an all-new Stumpjumper for 2021.
2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
We’ve been testing out the Stumpjumper Pro for the last couple of weeks on home trails – yieeeww!

The New Stumpy – what’s changed?

Well, pretty much everything! It looks similar, but there’s an entirely new frame, new geometry, a new suspension design, and a whole new approach to the lineup.

For a start, there’s been a big consolidation of the Stumpjumper range. The previous platform was available in short travel and long travel versions, plus the EVO model, and they were all available in two wheelsize options. Certainly a lot of choice, but it was a bit of a hot mess, especially for riders who weren’t entirely sure what they needed.

For 2021 though, 27.5in wheels are now out of the picture, and the range simply splits in two. There’s the bigger travel and rowdier Stumpjumper EVO, and there’s the regular Stumpjumper we have here.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
It might look kinda similar, but it’s all new from tip-to-tail.

It actually has less travel

This might be the only new bike released over the past year that hasn’t bumped up a category and swollen with more suspension. In fact, the Stumpjumper actually downsizes travel by 10mm at both ends – there’s a 140mm travel fork, 130mm of rear travel, and it’s rolling on 29in wheels exclusively.

With the change in travel, there’s now a clear delineation through the Specialized trail bike range. You have the Epic EVO (120/110mm) the Stumpjumper (140/130mm) and the Stumpjumper EVO (160/140mm).

This separation really helps the Stumpjumper to identify as a pure trail bike. Actually, Specialized actually calls it an ‘aggressive short travel trail bike‘, which I’d is pretty apt. Whatever label you decide to give it, we’re talking about bikes like the Trek Fuel EX, Giant Trance X and Norco Optic.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
Big move – there’s no more FSR pivot on the Stumpjumper’s carbon frame.

Goodbye FSR pivot, hello flex stay!

Perhaps the biggest headline change of the new Stumpjumper though is the fact that it no longer has an FSR pivot. Yes ma’am, that chainstay pivot has gone entirely. Ciao, adios, auf wiedersehn, sayonara – good riddance!

With no rear pivot on the one-piece carbon swingarm, the Stumpjumper instead relies on in-built flex through the carbon fibre seatstays. This sees it effectively morphing into a single-pivot suspension layout, with a rocker link connecting the top of the seatstays to the mainframe, while an extension link drives the rear shock.

So why the change? Specialized says it wanted to improve the climbing and pedalling performance of the new Stumpjumper, and it also wanted to reduce weight.

This is a pretty bold move, given that FSR is Specialized’s legacy suspension design that has long been a key ingredient of the Stumpjumper recipe. Of course we’ve already seen the Epic move to a single-pivot flex stay design, though it’s a bigger deal here given there’s more travel. In fact, this is the longest travel bike we’ve ridden with a flex-stay arrangement.

So why the change? Specialized says it wanted to improve the climbing and pedalling performance of the new Stumpjumper, and it also wanted to reduce weight. By eliminating that FSR pivot, the engineers were able to reduce moving parts, improve lateral rigidity, and chisel away some grams.

And on that note…

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
With the bolt-up axle and the post-mount brake calliper tucked inside the swingarm, the back end is beautifully clean.

Yep, it’s lighter

By 100 of your finest Earth grams lighter to be precise. While that might not sound like a big weight drop, Specialized claims it’s a much bigger deal because the new frame is actually stiffer and stronger than the old frame. Furthermore, it’s considerably longer, making any weight reduction quite the feat.

According to Specialized, a carbon Stumpjumper frame is claimed to weigh just 2,280g – that’s for an S4 frame size with the rear shock, axle, hardware and armour. All the carbon frames are exactly the same, though the S-Works model drops a further 40g thanks to a carbon shock yoke. That really is quite light, and it’s knocking on the door of many XC bikes – my personal Santa Cruz Blur CC frame weighs that, and that’s a 100mm XC race bike.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
All carbon models are built around the same FACT 11m carbon chassis.

The new frame carries over the Sidearm profile, SWAT storage and moulded frame protection, so aesthetically it looks very similar. The entire manufacturing process has changed though, thanks to the scrutiny of carbon fibre wizard Peter Denk, and Specialized’s Frieburg-based composites team.

Having created and destroyed over 130 prototype frames during the 2-year development process, Denk and his team spent considerable resources refining the carbon fibre layup to create gentler curves throughout, removing excess buildup where it wasn’t needed. Most of the weight loss is attributed to the one-piece carbon swingarm, though further weight was stripped out of the upper shock mount. Whereas the previous frame had a pinched top tube that was almost solid in this region, the tube now maintains a smoother, hollow tubular structure. The shock also sits slightly off-centre, mounting to the side of the top tube where it’s naturally stronger and requires less reinforcement to begin with.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
The upper shock mount is hollowed out to remove weight, and the shock is offset to one side.

The SWAT door has also been strengthened, as Denk’s team had found that it was influencing the performance of the old frame more than they first realised. While the SWAT door does add around 60-80g of extra carbon per frame, Denk points out that your average bum bag weighs about 300g, so you’re already well ahead. And rather than having that mass high up on your body, it’s placed lower down on the bike itself, which is good news from both a handling and suspension perspective.

S-Sizing & geometry updates

Gone are the traditional Small, Medium and Large size labels. Instead, the new Stumpjumper follows in the footsteps of the Stumpjumper EVO, Enduro and Demo by moving to the ‘Style-Specific Sizing’ concept. Starting at S1 (XS) and going up to S6 (XXL), there are now six frame sizes, up from five on the old bike.

Seat tubes are kept super short, both to accommodate long-stroke dropper posts, but also to allow riders more flexibility to choose the right size depending on their riding style. I’ve been riding an S3, which is the equivalent of a Medium. However, it would be possible for me to upsize to an S4 if I wanted more high-speed stability from a longer reach and wheelbase. Or I could downsize to an S2 if I wanted a sharper and more nimble ride for throwing the bike around on the trail.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
Specialized continues to roll out its ‘Style-Specific’ sizing concept.

It’s a neat concept for sure, but I do feel it’s going to be confusing for consumers to begin with. I suspect dealers will be spending a considerable amount of time explaining the sizing concept to new riders.

Despite the new Stumpjumper having more travel and 29in wheels, the top tube is slung lower, improving standover clearance. In fact, the S1 actually has a lower standover height than the previous XS size in the 27.5in Stumpjumper. Specialized has used a few tricks here with the S1 – since the cranks are shorter, the bottom bracket height can be lower, bringing the whole bike closer to the ground. That’s good news for shorter riders who may have previously been concerned about fit on a 29er trail bike.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
Seat tubes are short across the board.

New-school angles & longer top tubes

It was only two years ago when the last generation Stumpjumper was released, but in that time there’s been a significant shift in our collective expectations of what a trail bike should be capable of. The new Stumpjumper reflects that shift – the head angle has been slackened out considerably to 65°, the seat tube angle steepens by over two degrees to 76°, and compared to the old Medium, the reach on our S3 test bike has grown from 425mm to 450mm.

The chainstays are shorter by 5mm, but only on the S1-S4 frame sizes. Specialized has actually given the bigger S5 & S6 sizes a 10mm longer chainstay length, in order to better maintain weight distribution on those longer frames.

With the slacker head angle and more generous reach, the wheelbase has gotten quite a bit longer too. And the BB also sits a full 9mm lower than before, placing the rider further down between the wheels. As with the old Stumpjumper, the new frame comes with a geometry flip chip. The bike is set from the factory in the Low position, but switching into the High position will bring the BB back up 7mm and steepen the head and seat angles by 0.5°.

2021 specialized stumpjumper geometry
Specialized now offers the Stumpy in six frame sizes, covering a huge range of rider heights.

Specialized Stumpjumper price & specs

There are six different Stumpjumper models coming into Australia for 2021, with prices starting at $3,200 AUD. The two cheapest models utilise alloy frames, which retain the FSR pivot on the chainstay. The alloy frame is purportedly heavier by over a kilo (3,490g claimed weight), which is a considerable difference.

Regardless of price point, all Stumpjumper models feature a trail-oriented build kit that includes a 35-50mm long stem and 780mm wide riser bars. You get GRID casing tyres with a Butcher on the front and Purgatory on the rear, and a dropper post with 100-190mm of travel depending on the frame size.

Read on for an overview of the specs and pricing for each model, followed by our ride impressions of testing the Specialized Stumpjumper Pro.

2021 specialized stumpjumper alloy
For a bit over three grand, the Stumpjumper Alloy gets a 1×12 drivetrain, dropper post, proper tyres and a beefy 35mm chassis RockShox fork. That’s mad value for Specialized.

2021 Specialized Stumpjumper Alloy

2021 specialized stumpjumper comp alloy
Built around the same alloy frame, the Comp steps up to a Fox suspension package and NX Eagle running gear.

2021 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Alloy

 com2021 specialized stumpjumperp carbon
The cheapest carbon model, the Comp gets the same FACT 11m chassis as the S-Works model. It’s also the only Shimano model, with an SLX 1×12 drivetrain and 4-piston brakes.

2021 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp

2021 specialized stumpjumper expert
The Stumpjumper Expert steps things up with a GRIP2 fork, higher-end wheels and a mix of SRAM GX & X01 drivetrain components.

2021 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
A more sensible alternative to the S-Works model, the Stumpjumper Pro gets Fox Factory Series suspension, along with carbon wheels, cranks and handlebar.

2021 Specialized Stumpjumper Pro

2021 specialized s-works stumpjumper
How’s that for high-zoot! The S-Works Stumpy comes with electronic shifting and a Reverb dropper post, along with a custom wheelset featuring Control SL rims and DT Swiss 240 hubs.

2021 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro wil harcourt
Finding flow on the new Stumpjumper is no chore.
2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
KER-SPLASH! Sorry about the puddle Justin, but really, what kind of place was that to be sitting with a camera?

Specialized Stumpjumper sizing & fit

Alongside the STEVO (check out our review of the Stumpjumper EVO Expert here), Specialized also sent us a Stumpjumper Pro, which I’ve been riding for the past couple of weeks. As well as getting a good feel for their individual performance attributes, I’ve also had the opportunity to compare both bikes directly, in order to knuckle down on the finer differences between them.

At 175cm tall, I’ve been riding an S3 size in both bikes. The reach is generous and quite similar between the two, though the stack is a touch shorter on the Stumpjumper Pro and the bars are 20mm narrower, giving it a more trail bike feel. The steerer tube is quite long from the factory though, so along with a myriad of spacers and the optional conical headset top caps that come in the box, there’s plenty of scope for getting the bar set to your preferred height.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
Narrower bars and a shorter stack height give the Stumpjumper a slightly more trail-oriented cockpit compared to the bigger EVO.

In terms of bike setup, I trimmed the bars down to 760mm, slid the saddle all the way forwards on the rails, and setup the rear shock with 30% sag. For my 68kg riding weight, that worked out to 175psi, and I set the rebound damping one click faster than halfway. I also added a Tyreinvader inside the rear wheel for some extra rim protection, and setup the tyres with 22psi in the front and 25psi in the rear.

Out of the box weighed without pedals or the SWAT accessories, our test bike came in at 12.84kg.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro wil harcourt
A sub-13kg trail bike with 140/130mm of travel and chunky tyres? Yes please, and thanks!

The GRIP2 fork is unreal

Before I get onto the rest of the bike, I need to gush a little about the fork. The Stumpjumper Pro provided my first opportunity to test out the new GRIP2 version of the Fox 34 fork, and I have to say, it is absolutely sublime.

While it’s currently quite trendy to fit the bigger Fox 36 on the front of 29er trail bikes – both the Trek Fuel EX and Giant Trance X elect for the beefier option – Specialized decided to fit the lighter 34. And it is quite a bit lighter – there’s a 200g weight reduction over the Fox 36 GRIP2 (1,860g vs 2,080g, confirmed weights).

This 34 also feels a hair smoother. The smaller 34mm diameter stanchions require smaller seals and bushings, which helps to reduce stiction between all those moving parts. In combination with the highly controllable GRIP2 damper, this fork is stupendously plush. It’s vastly more sensitive than the FIT4 version of the Fox 34, while offering greater support at high-speeds. No, it doesn’t get a lockout switch, but that’s an easy price to pay.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
After riding this, you won’t want to go back to the FIT4 version.

On the trail, it’s more lively than the bigger 36, which suits the Stumpjumper well. No, it doesn’t have the same rigidity as its bigger brother, which was apparent during back-to-back testing when I was ploughing the front wheel through repeated off-camber impacts. In these situations there’s more twang, and it doesn’t track quite as securely. But these were also situations that were heading beyond the Stumpjumper’s intended field of expertise. Within its preferred domain though, the fork is superb.

So many knobs, but help is available!

It can be intimidating to setup though. Indeed with adjustable high and low-speed compression and rebound damping, plus air spring pressure and volume, there is a tonne of tuning potential on offer. If all those knobs make you a bit dizzy, I can highly recommend checking out Specialized’s suspension setup calculator. Plug in your bike model and riding weight, and recommended pressures and damper settings spit out the other end. These tend to be a little lighter than Fox’s own recommendations – I ended up with less air pressure (70psi vs 78psi) and with both the high-speed rebound and compression dials settings wound off to the lightest settings. I found this setup to work well on the front of the Stumpjumper, keeping things nice and lively on the trail.

Lots of adjustments on the GRIP2 fork damper – check out the Specialized suspension calculator for a good starting point for baseline tuning.

The only fly in the ointment so far is a small amount of play that’s developed after the first 100km of riding. The play can be detected when rocking the wheel back and fourth with the front brake on, and it’s also noticeable when skimming over rocks on the trail, where it feels like the headset is slightly loose. Although this movement between the stanchion tubes and lowers has the telltale signs of bushing knock, I’ve not yet been able to strip the forks down to confirm that’s the case. We’ll be sending the forks to Sola Sport for a warranty assessment ASAP, and I’ll update the review once we get to the bottom of the issue.

Flex stay suspension performance

That aside, I must say that Specialized has done well to match up the rear suspension’s performance, giving the Stumpjumper excellent front-to-back balance.

Despite missing the FSR pivot, the rear suspension is inherently active on the trail. In fact, I can’t really say I noticed its departure. Initial sensitivity is terrific, and it’s actually aided by the carbon flex stays, which are slightly preloaded when the swingarm is initially bolted onto the mainframe at the factory. This initial tension relaxes around the sag point, and that actually helps the suspension to get moving in the first place – a bit like the negative spring inside the shock itself. Combined with the high starting leverage rate, there is very little restriction on initial movement, with the suspension settling comfortably into the sag point.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro wil harcourt
We had concerns about the flex stay suspension design. We needn’t have worried.

The back end isn’t as mind-meltingly plush as the EVO. It doesn’t disconnect you from the trail to the same degree, and there’s more feedback through the contact points. But then the Stumpjumper does have less travel, and it is quite clearly a different bike with different intentions to its naughtier sibling.

Compared to other 130mm travel trail bikes however, the suspension is plenty supple. And it’s vastly more sensitive compared to other flex-stay suspension designs we’ve ridden. Far from compromising suspension performance, Specialized has actually utilised the inherent spring force of those flex stays to its advantage.

Custom-tuned magic

Whereas some flex-stay designs can get a bit skittish on bigger impacts, the Stumpjumper manages to maintain excellent composure at speed, with the rear wheel getting out of the way quickly when required. Part of this comes down to the digressive piston inside the shock. While there’s strong low-speed support at lower shaft speeds to provide a stable pedalling platform, the compression damping deliberately drops off at higher speeds, so that it doesn’t choke up when you’re hammering into square-edge hits.

Separate Frames, Separate Suspension Worth pointing out is that the Stumpjumper and Stumpjumper EVO get their own unique chassis. There are no shared frame components here, and Specialized hasn't simply changed travel by down-stroking the 210x55mm shock on the EVO. Instead, the Stumpjumper gets a considerably smaller 190x45mm shock. The leverage rate has been tuned to be more progressive than the old Stumpy, reducing the need to load the shock's air can full of volume spacers. Deeper inside the Fox Float DPS, there's some custom trickery going on to achieve the ride quality that Specialized's Ride Dynamics team cooked up during the development. More on that in a bit.
Custom valving trickery within.

Where things get a little more custom inside the shock, is the fact that Specialized chose to re-valve the rebound element of the digressive main piston. Instead of being digressive, the rebound tune is actually progressive. It’s the opposite of the compression tune. This means at lower speeds, the shock’s rebound is light, fast and responsive. At higher shaft speeds, the rebound damping force builds to better control the shock on bigger impacts. This is partly necessary due to the carbon flex stays, which do build spring force towards the end of the travel. Specialized’s solution to this was the progressive rebound tune, which increases deep-stroke support, preventing the rear end from springing back too quickly.

That might all sound quite marketing-heavy, but I can say the custom shock tune plays out beautifully on the trail. There’s plenty of usable travel here, and while the overall leverage rate is progressive, it’s consistent throughout the travel. Combined with the big EVOL air can, the suspension remains active deeper into its travel, and it never feels too rampy. Bigger drops to flat resulted in full compression, but that only occurred once or maybe twice during a ride for me. If you did want more progression, it’s possible to fit a bigger volume spacer than the stock 0.6³ spacer. Likewise, you can go more linear by downsizing to a smaller spacer.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro wil harcourt
The suspension is more progressive than the old Stumpjumper, but Specialized has made sure things don’t get too rampy.

Climbing efficiency

While improved efficiency was part of the Stumpjumper’s selling features, I initially found the suspension to be a little too active on the climbs when the shock was set wide-open. The main pivot sits in-line with the chainring, so while there is some anti-squat present, that anti-squat isn’t as obvious as it is with a dw-link or Maestro bike. The Stumpjumper will still stand to attention when pedalling hard during short sprinting efforts, but interaction between the suspension and chain torque has deliberately been kept on the more neutral side. Instead of relying on heaps of anti-squat to make it pedal well, the Stumpjumper is designed to work a little more closely with the shock’s compression damping.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro wil harcourt
The lightweight Stumpjumper is a comfortable climber, though care with suspension setup is key to efficient performance.

The Float DPS shock features a three-position compression lever, which gives you Open, Medium & Firm modes. Compression damping increases in the Medium and Firm modes, both of which are usable for off-road riding. While the Firm position isn’t a full lockout, it does lift the shock a bit more, providing a stronger pedalling platform in the process. I made full use of that during the road commute to and from the trails, and on longer fireroad climbs. If you don’t mind flicking levers, and your rides have a greater separation between climbing and descending, this is a great way to provide you with the pedal platform when you need it, but still have access to the buttery smooth Open mode for uninterrupted performance on rougher descents, where you want maximum comfort and traction.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
There’s enough anti-squat here to be useful, but not so much to cause drama between the chain and suspension action further into the travel.

A lot of my rides are much more undulating though. With less mountains on my back doorstep, the local trails traverse along and over ridgelines, with sections of rough ‘n’ rowdy descents rudely interrupted by punishing staccato climbs. As well as giving your dropper post thumb a workout, these surprise pinches don’t always give you time to manually switch suspension settings.

For this type of technical trail riding, where the elevation profile looks more like shark teeth than a big M, I found the best setup was to leave the shock in the Open mode, but to make use of the additional low-speed compression damping. This can be tuned via the black cam on top of the blue compression lever, which gives you three more settings to fine-tune the compression damping of the Open mode. I was surprised to feel a considerable difference between all three settings, with a noticeable and usable increase in support in position two. As well as improving pedalling efficiency and stability on the climbs, it also gave my feet more platform to push off of while pumping the bike through rolling terrain, improving overall response and agility.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
Use the low-speed compression dial to get the platform you need, so you can leave the shock wide-open more of the time.

This ended up being my preferred setting, as it allows you to leave the shock in the Open mode while riding off-road, with less need to toggle the blue compression switch. Once dialled in with a little more compression control, the Stumpjumper delivers a really nice balance between efficient pedalling and active suspension performance. Traction is excellent, and combined with the low gearing and roomy cockpit, the lightweight Stumpjumper is a marvellous technical climber.

Smashing pedals? There’s a flip chip for that

Although the new Stumpjumper is considerably more stable than its predecessor, the lower bottom bracket is noticeable in other ways too. In general, I’ve found Specialized to prioritise a lower centre of gravity across its mountain bike range, which generally results in excellent descending stability and more steadfast cornering. The tradeoff with the lower BB is the greater chance of clipping your pedals on rocky, ledgy climbs.

What I noticed more was the slightly steeper seat tube angle on the climbs and the extra 7mm of ground clearance – there were far fewer pedal strikes as a result.

It is possible to get more ground clearance by flipping the geometry flip chip into the High position. Compared to something like Trek’s Mino Link system, Specialized’s version isn’t the most user-friendly solution, as you do need to remove the shock entirely from the frame to get access to the stainless steel inserts inside the lower shock mount. It’s also not immediately clear which setting you’re in.

I did try the High position during a ride to quantify the effect. It’s a reasonably subtle change – particularly compared to the geometry adjustment on the new Giant Trance X. On the Stumpjumper, the angles only kick back half a degree, and that means the head angle remains pretty slack at 65.5°. The steering does speed up a touch, and the bike isn’t quite as planted while descending, but it’s a small change. What I noticed more was the slightly steeper seat tube angle on the climbs and the extra 7mm of ground clearance – there were far fewer pedal strikes as a result.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
It isn’t immediately apparent which setting you’re in, and you’ll need to remove the shock entirely to flip the inserts.

While I suspect the vast majority of riders will leave this chip in the stock Low position, those who are riding more rugged and natural terrain with a lot tech-heavy climbing, really owe it to themselves to try out the High position.

Specialized Stumpjumper vs Stumpjumper EVO

So having ridden both bikes back to back on the same trails, how do the two compare?

2021 specialized stumpjumper vs stumpjumper evo wil
Two new bikes, both with the same first name. Confused? You shouldn’t be – there’s a clear line in the sand now.

Certainly alongside the last generation models, there is now a more obvious separation between the two platforms. As well as having an extra 20mm of travel at both ends and the angle-adjustable headset, the Stumpjumper EVO also has a much burlier build kit – you get a piggyback shock, the bigger 36 fork, Code brakes, 200mm rotors, wider bars and stickier rubber. All up, it’s about a kilo heavier than the regular Stumpjumper, with half of that being in the frame alone.

The result is that the Stumpjumper is a much better climber, with better efficiency and outright rolling speed. It’s more lively on the trail too, with sharper cornering manners and more pop thanks to the springier back end. On awkward tech climbs, it’s considerably more responsive to weight shifts and power moves when you need to thrust the bike up and over obstacles. It really is an impressive climber.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro wil harcourt
The Stumpjumper loves to earn its turns and find flow on undulating singletrack. This is one efficient and whippy trail bike.
2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
The EVO craves steeper and rougher riding. It’s a brawnier and more aggressive bike that oozes high-speed confidence.

As mentioned earlier, the Stumpjumper’s suspension doesn’t track the ground with the same marshmellow-plushness of the Stumpjumper EVO. Thanks to the STEVO’s buttery suspension, lower BB and stickier rubber, it has noticeably more grip on sketchy surfaces, allowing you to lean in harder through the turns. Cornering on that bike is an absolute grin-fest. And certainly on janky tech trails, it’s easier to feel comfortable and confident, with a wider margin for error. You can plough on the STEVO, whereas you have to be more considered with your line choice on the Stumpjumper, particularly with the lighter 34 fork up front.

It’s worth noting that you can beef up the regular Stumpjumper to close the gap a little. The frame is rated for a 150mm travel fork, and you could always fit stickier rubber – there’s even clearance for up to a 2.5in tyre in the back. Overall though, it’s focussed on being more of an all-round trail bike, whereas the STEVO is much more biased towards descending performance, giving it a stronger enduro vibe.

Stumpjumper vs Giant Trance X vs Trek Fuel EX?

I’ve spent a fair amount of time on both the Trek Fuel EX and the Giant Trance X – two direct competitors to the new Stumpjumper. Here’s a brief overview of how those bikes compare;

2020 trek fuel ex 9.8 wil harcourt
Trek’s Fuel EX shares the same wheelsize and travel as the Stumpjumper, but a beefier chassis, Fox 36 and 2.6in tyres give it a different approach.

The Trek Fuel EX is identical to the Stumpjumper in terms of travel, and it’s also offered in six frame sizes, covering a huge range of rider heights. The geometry isn’t quite as contemporary as the Stumpjumper though, with the Fuel EX getting a steeper head angle (66°), a shorter reach (440mm) and a shorter wheelbase as a result (1179mm). Where things get interesting though is the beefier chassis on the Fuel EX, which gives it a super solid and responsive feel on the trail, if a little less comfort overall. That’s mirrored by the robust build kit that includes a Fox 36 fork and 2.6in wide semi-chubby rubber. Rear suspension is also superb on the Fuel EX thanks to the slippery Thru-Shaft shock, and I’d say it’s a touch more supple than the Stumpjumper. That gives it a load of dynamic control and stability in the rough, though it’s not quite as lively on twisty singletrack, and it’s also not as zippy up the climbs as the Stumpjumper.

2021 giant trance x advanced pro 29 0 wil
Giant’s new Trance X sits in between the Stumpjumper and Stumpjumper EVO. That might make it the Goldilocks option for some riders.

The Giant Trance X is a more complicated comparison, as its travel (150/135mm) sees it straddling the gap between the Stumpjumper and Stumpjumper EVO. I’d say that’s also the case in terms of ride quality. It isn’t as sprightly as the Stumpjumper, though it does offer a bit more stability on the descents thanks to a slightly longer reach (456mm) and wheelbase (1205mm). The Fox 36 certainly helps out here, and so does the excellent Maxxis tyre combo. It’s a seriously comfortable climber though – the seat angle is steep (77.2°) and the Maestro platform pedals impressively well. While much of the geometry is contemporary, Giant only offers the Trance X in four frame sizes though, and the seat tubes are on the long side, so sizing choices are more limited. And unlike the Fuel EX and Stumpjumper, there’s no downtube storage – something to consider for those pursuing the pack-less dream.

Component highs & lows

As we should expect for a bike costing $12K, there are few holes to pick in the Stumpjumper Pro’s armour. Admittedly much of what you’re paying for is found in the chassis and suspension, which are finished to a very high level.

Once you go SWAT, you never go back. All the essentials on your bike, with less need for a pack.

This quality is evident in the Stumpjumper’s beautifully quiet performance on the trail – there was no cable rattle, no chain slap, no spoke pinging, and no creaks or groans from any of the main junction points. Everything has stayed tight and quiet so far, and I love the practicalities that Specialized has built into the frame, including the excellent SWAT storage, the included multi-tool, guided cable routing, and substantial frame protection.

All-round versatility has also been bolstered by a well-considered parts selection. The Butcher/Purgatory tyre combo is a great setup for trail riding, with robust cornering control that is well suited to our mostly dry, loose and rocky conditions in Australia. The GRIPTON compound isn’t as sticky as the new T9 Butcher that comes on the STEVO, but the firmer rubber compound does roll with a lot less resistance. And while the faster-rolling Purgatory can get gunked-up on wet trails, it otherwise provides decent climbing and braking bite, and it can be pushed into drift sooner than the Butcher, helping you to square off rapid corners.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
Our test bike came with carbon Roval wheels and 2.3in Specialized tyres that are well suited to dry, loose and rocky conditions.

Specialized certainly could have gone lighter here if it wanted – both tyres weigh in a bit over a kilo each. If you wanted more rolling speed, lower-profile tyres with thinner casings would be an easy way to drop some rotational mass on smoother trails. You could also go lighter on the wheels, which came in at 1,860g on our scales. I had no issues with tubeless setup or durability though, and it’s good to see standard J-bend spokes and bulletproof DT Swiss 350 hubs with a Star Ratchet freehub mechanism.

As expected, the Stumpjumper’s contact points are spot-on. The in-house Bridge saddle is wonderfully comfortable, the Deity grips offer good vibration damping, and the Copperhead stem is a really nice touch. The carbon handlebar is quite stiff though – the profile is fine, but there’s a very direct connection between your palms and the trail surface. Hey bike industry – can we please go back to 31.8mm bars now?

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
The saddle and grips are comfy, but can we please go back to 31.8mm diameter bars now?

Your thumbs are in for a real treat via the smooth and adjustable X01 shift paddle, and the textured profile of the Fox 1X dropper lever. The dropper itself worked without drama, even with the alloy shim that steps the frame’s 34.9mm seat tube down to the 30.9mm post. The Transfer’s new saddle clamp system is much more user friendly, providing a broader range of adjustment along with easier access to the two retention bolts. It also doesn’t look too weird when you have the saddle slammed all the way forward.

SRAM’s G2 brakes are noticeably less powerful than the Codes, though what they miss in anchor-dropping power, they make up for with superb modulation and lever feel. And the tool-free reach and pad contact adjustment allow you to dial them in easily. Again, they’re a great match for the Stumpjumper’s intentions.

While the drivetrain isn’t a full X01 setup (Specialized short-changes you with a cheaper Descendent crankset), everything performed fine. And it’s nice to see a 30T chainring combined with the 52T cassette sprocket, which gives you access to a properly high-RPM climbing gear for making the most of the Stumpjumper’s enthusiastic climbing abilities.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
It’s a good looking bike, and thankfully the looks are backed up on the trail – the new Stumpjumper is improved in every way.

Flow’s Verdict

Specialized’s consolidation of its full suspension lineup hasn’t just made things a lot simpler for consumers – it’s also helped to draw a clear line in the sand between the Stumpjumper and Stumpjumper EVO. This reinvigoration has given new purpose to both bikes, and they’re all the better for it.

With its newly refined carbon frame, lower weight and improved pedalling performance, the Stumpjumper is more versatile than ever before. It’s a terrific technical climber, and the shortened travel and new carbon flex-stay suspension has pumped in a healthy amount of enthusiasm, giving it a load of pop and agility for darting through snakey singletrack. Even without the FSR pivot though, there’s still an impressive level of technical trail control here – it’s a supple, fully-active design. Add in the cleverly custom-tuned shock, up-to-date geometry, the practical build kit and GRIP2 fork, and the Stumpjumper Pro is more than ready for high-BPM ripping.

Aussie enduro racers and aggressive types who like to rack up air miles and bomb down the steepest of gnar will naturally gravitate towards the Stumpjumper EVO. If shuttles, goggles, knee pads and doubles are more your jam, then it’s the bigger and badder EVO that will sing the right tune for you.

But for riders after a more sprightly bike that they can pedal around all day long, while still placing an emphasis on finding flow and building speed on technical trails, then the Stumpjumper stands as one of the best and most versatile trail bikes currently on the market.

2021 specialized stumpjumper pro
No doubt about it, the Specialized Stumpjumper is one of the most versatile trail bikes currently on the market.
2021 specialized stumpjumper
Chasing the sunset after a massive day of riding on the Stumpjumper and Stumpy EVO. Good times!

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