- Good update to geometry
- Pedals well
- Snappy and precise downhill
- Suspension is still a little linear
- Flimsy tyres are a weak point
The 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert is a completely refreshed model with updated geometry and – on the carbon models – a new suspension platform with flex stays instead of a lower pivot. In this spec it's an incredible all rounder, though the price is undeniably steep. I guess you do get SWAT, though...
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The carbon Stumpjumper Expert ditches the familiar FSR Horst link for seat stays engineered with a small amount of flex.
This bike I had in on test is the S3, which equates to a Medium. S sizing, in conjunction with shorter seat tubes, allows riders to choose between three sizes for preference. Technically I could ride and S2, S3 or an S4, but I settled on the middle of those three.
This style of sizing does mean riders need to be aware of what geometry figures might suit them, but that’s nothing a quick sit on a demo bike – or a study of the charts – won't sort out.
In this Expert spec, the Stumpjumper costs £4,750.
It gets a Fox Float 34 Performance Elite fork, a Float DPS Performance Elite shock, SRAM G2 RSC 4-pot brakes, SRAM X01 Eagle, an X-Fusion Manic dropper post and a smattering of Specialized parts elsewhere.
The new Stumpjumpers are 29er only, and all have 130mm of rear travel, paired with a 140mm fork. Wheels and tyres are all Specialized branded: you get Roval wheels with a 29mm internal diameter, wearing 2.3" Grid tyres – a Butcher front and a Purgatory at the rear.
The Grid casing is the thinnest Specialized make and it's flimsy, though – the heavier carcass of the 2.6" Grid Trail tyres would be a better match. After a while I swapped to the excellent WTB Verdict 2.5 up front, taking the weight penalty in return for the traction benefits.
Get out on the trails and it's immediately apparent the bike pedals well. I spent a fair bit of time aboard the last generation Stumpjumper, and this version is worlds apart in terms of pedalling efficiency.
A lot of that's thanks to improved geometry, including that 76 degree effective seat angle, putting the rider in a more efficient position. I'd personally like to see it even steeper, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
The cockpit is short and wide, with a 35mm-diameter bar and stem combo that's 780mm wide and (in this size) 50mm long.
The suspension still bobs a little when pedalling hard, but flipping the compression to Trail or Closed (to lock the shock) accommodates for this. It's a trade-off for an active and engaging suspension platform, providing grip both uphill and downhill.
I rode the bike with the flip-chip in high and low, opting to keep it in low most of the time. My local riding is still quite a bit of winch and plummet, up and down forest singletrack and – as the bike pedals so well – I chose the slackest head angle and lowest bottom bracket.
In the low position on this S3 the Stumpjumper gets a reach of 450mm, a head angle of 65 degrees, an effective seat tube angle of 76 degrees and an effective top tube of 605mm. This all adds up to a quietly confident bike that is more stable than its 30lb weight (with pedals and a tyre change) implies.
The wheelbase comes out at 1200mm and, with 432mm chainstays, it's relatively stable while avoiding a monster truck feel. The short rear end and flex stay design helps create that snappy, punch-out-of-corners feel, whilst the slack head angle helps you point and shoot down the rough stuff with confidence.
The suspension action is classic Stumpjumper; a little too linear, meaning you can easily find the bottom of the travel on big hits. This can be improved slightly by filling the shock with volume reducers to increase progression.
Given the short seat tube, the bike could also be adorned with a longer dropper post. I reckon I could fit the 170mm post of the S4/S5 sizes in here, but it won’t be the same for all riders so it looks as if Specialized erred on the safe side with a 150mm drop.
It's surprising how much better the Performance Elite 34 fork, with its GRIP 2 damper, is than the Rhythm fork found on the Comp models. It offers bags more support mid-travel and is a worthy upgrade if you can afford this pricier bike.
If you like to feel connected to the trail, like a bit of steep tech but also enjoy some cross country blasts, the 2021 Stumpjumper Expert could be the all-rounder you're looking for. It’s a neat, light, well-designed bike that gives its rider a hell of a good time downhill, then pedals back up without complaint.