17 Apr 2018

Late last month, media from all over the world descended on 500-year-old walking trails in Ainsa, Spain to test out the new Specialized Stumpjumper range before it hit stores today. The sprawling, organic-feeling Zona Zero trails, recently revitalised by the mountain bike community, threw the region into the MTB spotlight by their recent inclusion in the Enduro World Series.

The not-so-minor details

Product

Specialized Stumpjumper

Contact

Specialized

https://www.specialized.com

Positives

Bikes that reflect the ways women ride, rather than telling women how to ride.
The best out-of-the-box women’s suspension tune we’ve ridden.
Balanced, instinctive, customisable.

Negatives

Having to leave the bikes behind in Spain. Sob!

With almost as many models to choose from as trails to ride them on – long travel, short travel, big wheels, medium wheels, evo (more gravity focussed), women’s-specced, non-women’s-specced, vegetarian, gluten free… – I took a closer look at what the range offers female riders. Head here to read about the new Stumpjumper more broadly, including a closer look at the tech behind it.

Woah, before the tech stuff…You rode these bikes on trails in Aínsa. How were they?

Surprisingly different in character and huge amounts of fun – the bikes and the trails! In terms of the ride experience, there were three stand-out features across the short and long travel Stumpies: how well-balanced they felt on the tech stuff and at speed (partly due to the geometry, but also because of how well matched the trail feedback was through the front and rear of the bike), how effortlessly they climbed even with 150mm of travel and how *silent* they were (have a closer look at that 3D chainstay protector).

While the 150mm 29er monstered over everything, the 150mm 27.5er encouraged a looser, wilder riding style. The 29” 130mm ‘short travel’ was a stand out too. It’s less bike than the others making it easy to manoeuvre while still offering the superior traction of bigger wheels We were obviously there to learn about the marketing behind the updated design, but it was a pleasure to get on the bikes and feel the way they met our raised expectations and often exceeded them.

Is it true that new Stumpjumper uses the same frame design for ladies and dudes?  What’s the scoop?

Market research revealed that ladies buying more expensive trail bikes didn’t want a ‘women’s bike’ they wanted the same bike as everyone else. As we see a lot on the trails, in the case of brands using a shared or gender neutral frame, most women prefer to modify the seat and bar width to their choosing. They want the increased spec and colour options available through the unisex range and are concerned about the lower resale value of the women’s model later on. “It’s what women were asking for,” said Specialized staff at the launch.

“If they were asking for a specific frame we would have done that.” That said, the research, data, computer simulation and testing that has gone into each sized Stumpjumper frame make them better matched to riders of different sizes than unisex frames of the past.

Why does the Stumpjumper come in a women’s spec at the lower end of the range, but not the higher end?

A women’s spec at the more entry-level price points makes sense. This makes it easier for these women to jump on a trail bike for the first time and experience the benefit of gender-specific contact points without having to know (or try to imagine) what to change. These changes continue to drive research and development and provide insights into what women purchasing the higher end bikes might want to modify, like the suspension tune.

So what’s different about the women’s spec compared to the man spec?

The bars are narrower (750mm compared to 800mm) but are still generous enough in width that riders can cut them down further. They also come specced with Specialized’s women’s Myth saddle. The 27.5” models run from XS-L frame sizes, while the 29” models are available specced for women in S-L. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, the fork and shock come with a women’s trail tune.

Tell me more about the suspension tune.

We thought you’d say that, so we sat down with Suspension Development Technician, Chance Ferro, to chat about the women’s suspension tune in more detail. The short version? Given most women are lighter than your average guy and put less force through the suspension when landing a jump or riding the rough stuff, the women’s trail tune is designed to work more effectively at lower pressures.

Click here for the full story behind the women’s suspension tune, with Chance Ferro.

It’s easier to bottom out and feels more responsive in the mid-zone. All changes are reversible and can be done in store. In fact, the difference between the men’s and women’s tune in the fork is the difference of one volume spacer token. Swapping this out would likely suit some lightweight male riders too.

How hard is it to ‘women’s’ a man-spec?

Swap out the saddle, cut down the bars, and ask shop staff to tweak the tune. But to get the sweet looking green and copper paint job featured here, you’ll have to purchase the Women’s Short Travel Carbon Comp 29 (AUD $5,600).

Which models are available decked out for lady-riders from the get-go?

The lady-spec is available on the 27.5” and 29” short travel (ST) Stumpjumpers. These have 130mm travel front and rear on the smaller wheels, and 130mm front and 120mm rear with 29” wheels. These models replace the Camber (or going back a couple more years, the women’s Rumor). The 27.5” long travel (150mm front and rear) Stumpjumper is available with a women’s spec, but the 29” long travel Stumpjumper (150mm front, 140mm rear) is only available with a unisex build.

In Australia, we’ll see the 27.5” ST Comp model available in alloy only (AUD $2,700 and $4,000), the 29” ST up to the Carbon Comp model, and the 27.5” Comp (alloy, long travel, $4,000). If you want to ride a higher spec or different frame colour, you’ll need to look at the unisex range and custom it up.

Why isn’t the 29” long travel Stumpy available pimped out for lady-shredders? We like big wheels too!

I’m with you on that one. In fact, given the opportunity to ride any bike I wanted from the range at the launch in Aínsa, the 29”, man-specced, long travel was the bike I chose for our longest (seven hours) day on the trails. It hungrily devoured everything I threw it at, and I threw it at everything I could – including a slidey, gnarly, mud-covered trail used in the Enduro World Series that even had some of the guys walking.

That said, women who thrive on this kind of riding are still in the minority and have fairly specific ideas regarding set up. Some prefer 800mm bars for instance. Some prefer a different saddle, such as the Power.

Given how customisable the new Stumpjumpers are, and the need to spec each model with sales in mind, I left the launch feeling the Specialized have made the right choice leaving this model one for individual users t customise as they see fit.

Any final thoughts?

Fit and set up issues for women and smaller-than-average guy riders often get missed from bike reviews or condensed into a sentence or two, so I’ve written this article to specifically address some of these issues in a space of their own. However, there’s a heap of other well-integrated, customisable tech in these bikes that gives each model a different character out on the trails. With that in mind, make sure to read up on the performance of the bikes as a whole.

For more on the new Stumpjumper click here.

We have the opportunity to spend more time on one of these bikes later in the year. Which would you like to know more about?


Words: Kath Bicknell.

Photos: Harookz, Specialized.