|My Trek Fuel EX 9.8|
First impressions: My first impressions of the Stumpjumper were very positive. First off the look of the bike is very sleek, the black with yellow detail looks great. The simple things matter to me like the color and the two water bottle cage mounts. I got a large frame and it is a perfect fit for me at 5" 10'. The 12 millimeter thru axle with the Rockshox Reba works perfectly and the quick response and handling surprised me. The Roval Wheel set seemed a bit sluggish at first, the wheels are heavy but I got used to them. The bonus was the "2bliss" Ready Rim strip that came pre-installed! All I needed to do was add some Stan's and pump up the Specialized Fast Trak Tires, it was one of the more easy tubeless installations I have done. The tires seemed a bit thin on the sidewalls and I knew they would struggle in the mud. The drive train was the kicker on this bike. Specialized mixed and matched Sram and Shamano products. The cranks, chainrings, front deraillure, and cassett were all Sram and the rear derailleur and shifters were Shamano. What stood out here was the Shamano XT rear derailleur with clutch. Basically it is a derailleur that becomes ridged by the flip of a switch on the derailleur it self. It is supposed to prevent chain slap and chain drop. Specialized switched from Avid Brakes to Magura on almost all of there Stumpjumpers this year. I like how powerful the Magura MTS (Specialized custom version of the MT4) are. The elongated brake lever is a bit awkward, something to get used to. Overall, I am happy with the components, but have plans on upgrading. The ability to upgrade to components I want is one of the reasons I purchased this bike over the more expensive Expert Carbon.
Trail riding: Like I said, I have done a lot of different riding on this bike since I got it in August. It has become my go-to bike mainly because of how efficient it is. On relaxing rides I see myself going much faster then I had in the past. I read that people need to get over the hump of switching to a 29er; the first handfull of rides where you want to get back on your 26er, I never felt that. The first thing that stood out was how the bike handled obstacles. For Example, going up a technical rock a foot in height. With my 26er I would have to crank up on the handlebars and pop my font tire up and over. With the 29er all I needed to do was lift up on the bars a little but mainly just engage the tire with the rock and with enough momentum the bike would handle the rest of the work. It was amazing how much less energy I expended.
Racing: Normal rides were fun, but where this bike excelled was racing. I started to do a few races late this summer, because I knew the bike could hold it's own and I wanted to see if I would enjoy it or not. The two shorter races I did at Hartman's Rocks in Gunnison went better then I had anticipated. some people say that the pickup on bigger wheels such as a 29er is slower compared to a small wheel, I thought the pickup was pretty good. I had not done too much racing on my Fuel Ex so I couldn't compare but I was happy with the way it excelled. Hartman's is pretty sandy, the one race I rode the Specialized Fast Traks was a bit scary. I noticed in fast turns I would washout a bit more. Not sure if it was the tires or me not used to the lack of tire coverage that 29ers have? In general these two short races were tough but the bike handled pretty well, A few upgrades might make it even faster. The one race this bike excelled at was the Crested Butte Classic. It is a 100 mile bike race that take racers around three large loops in the Crested Butte area. There is a lot of singletrack but also a lot of road and that is where this bike felt like a rocket. It also surprised me in super steep descents. Because of the big wheel size, the bike's weight distribution is more balanced, thus preventing a dive over the handle bars. Even with the long saddle time my back never seemed to hurt, this also could have been due to adrenalin and proper fitting on my bike, but still I was surprised.
Kokopelli's Trail for a bikepacking trip. Bikepacking is pretty much backpacking but on bikes. I add packs on my bike and cinch them down. This specific trip was short but such a blast.. This summer I started getting into bikepacking and thru biked the Colorado trail. I was really excited to take this bike on it's first bikepack. I plan on doing the Arizona Trail Race this April and I wanted to test the bike out with the packs on it. It did not disappoint. Not only was it a great test run, but I was surprised what the bike could handle through technical sections with all the weight on it. The only problem I had was my saddle bag was packed a bit to much and my rear tire would scrape against the large saddle pack every so often. I might have to consider a different way of carrying my stuff in the future. Overall this is a perfect bike for bikepacking.
Final Thoughts: The Fact IS 8m carbon frame gives just enough that you don't feel like your getting beaten around.Yet its tougher then the 6m carbon frame on all other higher end models. This was one of the deciding factors over an Aluminum frame. I love the Rockshox Reba, so far it has held up great. For my bikepack trip I added a little more PSI and it worked great. The lock out is a function I rarely use but when I do it works flawlessly. The Roval rims will be my next upgrade, not that they are bad but I just want better, they are a bit heavy. The Specialized Fast Track tires didn't last long, I just didn't like how they felt and I had heard to many good things about the Maxxis Icon exo's, that was my first upgrade on the bike. The drive train has preformed up to my standards with the highlight being the Shamano XT Rear derailleur with clutch. Countless times has it been used to the fullest going thru fast rock garden and it never disappoints. I have noticed the X7 front derailleur constantly needs adjusting, it tends to over shift I wondering if it has something to do with the 2X10 drivetrain? The SLX shifters don't compare to my XT shifters but you get what you pay for, this could be an upgrade for the future but not to high on the list. The Magura brakes have been so-so thus far, probably my most frustrating component. The brake levers just don't fit on the 680mm Handlebars. Now if you like to brake with two fingers this lever is for you, but I don't. I also already had to replace my rear brake pads. I love resin pads but they wore very fast. They also need to be re-bled already, this could be because it is one of the lower ends of the Magura MT series. I enjoy the 180mm front and 16mm rear Rotors, that contributes to how powerful these brake are. The other disappointment with the Maguras is the Modulation. When feathering the brakes the rear tire locks up and skids. In general this bike is fast, it is a race machine, and I have been very please with my purchase. I plan on getting 700mm carbon handlebars, carbon seat post, some lighter wheels, and maybe a brake upgrade. Whether it be trail riding, racing, or even bikepacking this bike will suit your needs. Specialized has a winner in the 2013 Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29er.
The 700mm Bars are what this bike needed. It offers much more control and its more conformable.
XT Brakes with Ice-Tec Rotors have worked great thus far. A far better option then the Maguras. The Modulation is what the XT is know for so that's one of the main reasons I went with them! I need my brake Modulation!!!!
My next upgrade will be a new drive train to accompany the already awesome XT rear derailleur. Xt cranks, cassettes, and chain.