Joe Breeze is attributed with making the first mountain-specific bike, but the Specialized Stumpjumper was the first mass-produced mountain bike, and the first one widely available to the public. It entered the market in 1981 and retailed for $750. The Stumpy has come a long way in parts, technology and price, but its newest incarnation, the S-Works Stumpjumper FSR 650b ($8,600), is still authentic to the original tagline: “The bike for all reasons.”
My first impression when pedaling the Stumpy on our enduro test loop in the woods north of New York City was that the bike is light — very light. Compared to other trail bikes in the 150mm travel class, this thing feels like an XC hardtail. You barely even notice the roughly 27 pounds on sustained climbs thanks in part to all-carbon everything: Roval carbon wheels, a carbon frame, carbon cranks and a carbon handlebar. Most bikes this light would feel squirrely and unstable on rough and rutted terrain, but the Stumpy shows none of these typical attributes. When pedaling through loose rock and chunder, the wheels seem to glide effortlessly over, skipping along like a rock on a still lake. The Stumpy evokes elegance and refinement, not brute force and brawn.
Wheel Size: 27.5
Suspension Travel: 150mm Front / 150mm Rear
Frame Material: Carbon
Weight: 27.3 pounds (with Crank Brothers Candy 2 pedals)
Test Location: GP Enduro Loop and Mountain Creek Bike Park, New Jersey
That’s not to say that the S-Works Stumpjumper FSR doesn’t buckle down when the trail gets rough. To confirm my suspicions of just how versatile this bike is, I took it for a few laps at Mountain Creek Bike Park in Vernon, New Jersey. MCBP is arguably one of the best bike parks on the East Coast, vying for the title with the likes of Highland Bike Park and Windham Mountain. To warm up, I headed to Greenhorn and Ego Trip, flowing trails with rollers and some small jumps. Once I felt how fluid and supple the suspension was, I felt confident enough to take it on downhill test pieces Tempest and Legion. While it didn’t eat up every bump and rut like the Scott Genius Plus or Genius LT Plus, the small bump compliance in the rear shock was superb and the 150mm of travel up front kept me from going over the bars on larger obstacles. Most trail bikes are geared towards one strength — going fast, taking big drops or pedaling efficiency — but rarely do all things well. And while the Specialized isn’t the best freeride bike on the market, it held its own on just about everything I threw at it, even small drops and table tops at MCBP.
Giro Montaro MIPS
When testing a helmet — whether it is for snowboarding, motorcycling, rock climbing or mountain biking — you hope to be able to take the safety claims as truth with no testing necessary. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the way it works out. Having tested the Montaro MIPS on longer enduro and cross country rides, I took it on more of an all-mountain mission. After coming into a corner way too quickly, the front tire lost traction and sent me careening towards a handful of rocks. I braced for impact but could not avoid my head making contact with one of the larger rocks. The Montaro was slightly askew on my head and, shaken from the fall, I brushed myself off and inspected the place where it impacted. There was a dent the size of a golf ball and the hard foam was compressed on the outer edge. Having experience with concussions, I can honestly say that the MIPS system prevented my third. Aside from the safety features, the fit and finish of the Montaro are also top notch with a Boa-like tension system on the back and an adjustable visor that allows you to place goggles on the front of the helmet.
Perhaps the coolest feature of the bike is Specialized’s new S.W.A.T. system, which stands for storage, water, air and tools. On the S-Works Shiv triathlon bike, S.W.A.T. takes the form of an integrated hydration system. On the new Stumpy, a water bottle cage is attached to a door on the downtube. The door opens, allowing you to store a tube, pump, cash, your ID and keys inside the frame itself. A multi-tool is integrated cleverly into dead space by the rear shock and a chain tool is hidden in the top cap of the headset. The idea is that you can leave your backpack at home and carry everything you need in or on the bike. The S.W.A.T. system accomplished what it set out to do with one caveat: there was no place for my cell phone, so I ended up riding with a Camelbak.
The Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper FSR 650b exemplifies 35 years of innovation and fine-tuning to one of the most classic mountain bikes. It is Specialized’s best Stumpy to date, a far cry from TiG welded aluminum frames, cantilever brakes, three-inch travel suspension forks and 3×9 drivetrains. The Stumpy will likely always be a flagship bike for Specialized and in 35 years, we’ll look back at this one and laugh at how outdated the technology is. For now though, it is the epitome of performance.