More bike than i needed… but the bike i wanted!

2019 Stumpjumper Comp Carbon
2019 Stumpjumper Comp Carbon

i picked up the 2019 Specialized Stumpjumer Comp Carbon 29er a few months back and have put 200 miles or so on it at the time i type this, so here are my thoughts:

It’s my first full-carbon mountain bike: She’s Carbon fiber from head tube to rear dropouts! Plus for 2019 Specialized only makes one carbon Stumpjumper frame. That means my Comp Carbon Stumpy has the same frame as the S-works stumpy… which is pretty amazing!

Back to full-squish: i’ve spent the last year riding a hard-tail mountain bike. My old bike was also a “sport” bike. A sport bike that i rode in non-sport conditions from time-to time. So getting by bum over a VERY capable full suspension bike has been amazing!

29er: Since one of my jobs is at a bike-shop i have access to demo bikes from time to time. Riding a decent spread of bikes has lead me to the conclusion that for me 29ers are faster, and more fun. i have nothing against 27.5″ bikes, they’re just not my preferred cup-of-tea right now.

 

Here’s what i love about my 2019 Stumpjumper: 

  1. it’s forgiving: Stray off-line, land a little crossed-up, get distracted & sloppy? Stumpy don’t care. Stumpy eats trail for breakfast. Stumpy eats trail however you throw it at the trail. Stumpy woke up hungry for trail… Stumpy ALWAYS hungry!
  2. Big Squish! i know, it’s considered a “trail bike” it’s not like i’m shredding downhill on an enduro bike but for me 150mm up front and 140mm in the back is a LOT of travel! i’ve grown accustomed to 120mm up front and chain stay flex and creaky knees in the back. Rocky and rooty trails that i had started to avoid are now a pleasure to ride.
  3. All that carbon fiber: My first carbon road bike made me a believer in carbon fiber bikes. rough choppy roads became buttery smooth, yet the bike felt like a rocket when i put the hammer down. Carbon fiber frames are engineered to be flexy where flexy is good and still where stiff is good. You just don’t get that sort of control from any other material currently.
  4. S.W.A.T.: i really like the S.W.A.T. box on the bike. on shorter rides i’m notorious for taking nothing but a water bottle out there with me (tools, tubes, etc are in a camelbak that i typically only wear on longer rides). The S.W.A.T. box means that i have a place to stuff all that stuff without an unsightly bike-scrotum dangling from my saddle. The Multi-tool integrated onto the bottom of the bottle cage is equally nice!
  5. Stability: My stumpy has proven to be maybe the most stable platform i’ve ever ridden (definitely the most stable platform i’ve ever ridden REGULARLY). Even when the trail gets loosey-goosey and the tires start sliding around  the bike stays under me and goes where i point it. It actually makes those previously terrifying sections of trail super fun.
  6. Position on the bike: It was a HUGE adjustment for me. i lean towards XC style bikes and the stumpy is a trail bike through and through. The Stumpy has me riding in a more upright and neutral position. I’m accustomed to getting my weight waaaaaay back on technical sections but on the Stumpy i find that i can just ride those sections and the bike loves it and eats it up. The more neutral position also means that at the end of a bigger ride when i’m beat my body doesn’t feel as generally beat-up as it used to.

 

Things i don’t love so much:

  1. Climbing: i know, it’s not built to be a climber. i’m fully aware of that. But i enjoy the long slow suffering most days. If i don’t want to die on a bike at least once on a ride then it’s an “easy ride”. Don’t get me wrong: for a 150/140 travel bike it climbs pretty well. The rear shock stiffens up but doesn’t lock all the way out (which i wish it did). The fork will lock out but only on fire-roads or the rare hard-top connector do i ever lock the fork out. There’s some magic to the geometry that keeps the fork from feeling too bobby on climbs for me.
  2. S.W.A.T. rattle: i LOVE the S.W.A.T. box… (see above). Love it! but no matter how i adjust the contents or how firm i pack stuff in there; stuff rattles when the trail gets gnarly. Given the nature of the S.W.A.T. box i don’t see how there’s anyway around this. Its a hollow part of the down-tube you can stick stuff in. Then you ride the bike, with the down tube stuffed with stuff, down rough stuff and stuff shakes around. This is a SUPER minor thing, but i mention it.

 

Conclusion: Yeah the Stumpjumper is really too much bike for me. I’m not out there shredding like those crazy kids! My ride style is much more XC-Fun. But i wanted a bike for once that leaned more to the Fun side, so i got one. The more i ride this bike the more i like it, and i liked it a lot on the first ride! My dislikes are really silly things, one is evident from the style of bike the other is price you pay for that convenience. My likes are all solid reasons to buy and ride the bike! Would i recommend the 2019 Stumpjumper? Hands down! With zero reservations! Loving this big ole squishy bike!

 

Now watch this ridiculous promo-video Specialized produced: Watch it and love it! Stumpjumper 2019 Promo

 

Race Day (first one in a loooong time)

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It has been YEARS since i actually participated in a real race. So i decided to break the streak and sign up for one.

12 miles of pretty familiar trails in the Blue Ridge mountains. Since i work part-time (on my day off every week) at a local bike shop (Blackwater Bike Shop, in Lynchburg VA- an amazing bike shop that was my go-to shop long before i started fumbling with wrenches there) i felt it was appropriate to zip-tie a number on a bike, throw a jersey on, represent the shop on the local trail system, and ride my way to glory!

Ok, so not ride my way to glory! Here’s a summary: i didn’t ride in a way i am particularly proud of… but i didn’t ride myself into embarrassment either! i left myself room for improvement, and may have developed an itch… an itch for competition. There’s a spark kindled inside me that wants to get better, to get faster, to be more technically sound, to get faster, to build more endurance, to get faster… ok, i really want to get faster. Mountain biking is fun! Cycling in general is fun for me, and the faster i can do it the more fun it gets.

The race gave me an honest assessment of where i stand as a rider. Hopefully my next race will give me another glimpse into the single-track-mirror and i’ll find that i’ve improved. Maybe i’ll let you know… (unless i do really poorly, then we shall never speak of it!)

FYI: i rode the race on a Demo Bike from the shop. Specialized Epic: the more i ride the bike the more i like The Brain. The shop is currently rolling over the demo fleet so if you’re interested in an Aluminum Epic: look up the shop and reach out to us, it’s definitely for sale!