Race Ready Full Boinger for less than £1.5K?
Specialized have achieved something of a cult following with their heavily publicised and even more heavily guarded Horst Link suspension set up, copied by the likes of Extralite and Turner.
In previous incantations, heavy weight and lack of spares spoiled an otherwise excellent innovation, so how does the new, fashionably lightweight, full suspension Stumpy shape up?
There has been something of a turnaround in bike designs over the last few months after the ‘play biking’ foolishness of last year.
Riders have realised that a 30lb bike may be OK on the way down, but in our green and pleasant land most downhills are won with an uphill struggle!!
Obviously, this has slowly trickled into the industry and the solution from Specialized lies with their new FSR Stumpjumper range (what, a full suss Stumpy? – sacrilege!)
Out of the box, the FSR Stumpjumper Comp makes quite an impact in the imaginatively titled ‘Mirror Blue’ (posers ahoy!) and at 25.5lb’s it’s no heavyweight.
A quick scan over the kit sees quite a mixture – an XTR rear mech, XT shifters and front mech, Specialized Strongarm cranks, Manitou SX forks, Fox Air Vanilla Float shock and a Ritchey Seatpost.
Flat inhouse bars reveal the intended use of this lightweight, and the black Mavic 221 rims with black spokes add some class to the eye-popping frame colour.
The first surprise is the sizing – a 19inch(large) frame is just big enough for this
5foot 10inch rider, the 17″ (medium) is tiny, try before you buy.
Once on the trail, the pedigree of the Stumpjumper as a singletrack hacker is confirmed by the super-tight handling and quick, responsive acceleration.
Throwing the bike into tight corners allowed the kevlar Team Control and Team Master tyres to bite with no hesitation and give supreme confidence, run at 45 psi they match the suspension set up well.
Talking of the suspension, the Fox Vanilla Float unit allows adjustment of pre-load through the use of a shock pump (NOT included!) but has no rebound or compression damping.
It’s 3 inches of travel are sufficient for the XC design of this bike, however air bandits or downhill riders should look elsewhere.
The Float is a clever mechanism that basically stops any stiction that can be present in some air shocks and gives the rear a coil over feel and action, can’t be bad.
It feels relatively well matched with the excellent Manitou SX 3.5 inch travel forks, these felt best when set up with maximum pre-load and a couple of turns of rebound damping, however the forks do take a good 10 hours to wear in (helped by this year’s microlube ports – other manufacturers take note!).
Bottle mounts are plentiful (3) but the seatpost and under-downtube ones are cack collectors, and the one on top of the downtube is very tricky to locate, especially in a race - try a Camelbak.
Upon descending, the Comp tracks extremely well, but due to the limited travel front and rear you need to watch the line you take. This is no thrash and crash bouncer.
It is climbing where this beast comes into it’s own, climbing like a nanny goat.
The low front end and racey, flung forward position, allow you to push the power down hard with absolutely minimal bob at the rear (with the Fox shock running at 150 psi for a 11.5 stone rider) – it was outclimbing hardtails every time.
Speaking of our sore-arsed hardtail brothers, this bike is an excellent compromise for those who love the climbing benefits of a hardtail, but are looking for comfort and traction.
I would suggest that this bike lies somewhere between a full suss and a soft tail in terms of ‘feel’.
The Shimano mega-9 setup worked well in dry, hardpacked days but requires fine tuning after every ride and is very sensitive to cable quality.
What 27 speed does give you is a gear so low you could climb a wall!
The Avid SD 1.9 levers and calipers performed faultlessly (as always) and stopped the Comp on a dime.
As always, there are down sides to light weight components……after 2 rides the headset required replacing, one crankbolt had worked loose and the rebound adjuster on the SX forks broke off, however the after sales service provided by Specialized was truly excellent.
Only time will tell if these were teething troubles.
Oh, and you will want to replace the light weight inner tubes – I’m sure you can imagine why!
Overall, this bike is bound to be appearing at races all round the country and is recommended for those who enjoy fast singletrack, ‘technique’ riding and racing.
The initial component problems are worrying, but as said before, these were quickly fixed.
I would suggest that If your riding is 99 percent gravity assisted, think again.
If you want to race in comfort, for £1, 399 why look elsewhere?