A while back I did an “initial impressions” type of review for what was at the time my new 2014 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon hardtail 29er. I now have put around 900 miles on the bike, including racing at Southern Cross and Skyway Epic, and can offer up some additional thoughts regarding the bike.
FRAME – First off, as to be expected, the carbon frame is stiff yet comfortable. The bottom bracket area is massive, giving it stiffness where it counts (at the cranks). The downtube in general is fairly massive as well, but the other tubes are scaled back a bit. I seriously feel much more comfortable on this bike than any other mountain bike I have put miles on, including my steel Vassago Bandersnatch.
WHEELS/TIRES – The bike came with Specialized “Roval” rims laced to Specialized hubs and DT Swiss spokes. The tires are Specialized “Fast Trak”, with the rear tire being the Control version for extra durability. I was skeptical about the tires at first because of a previous bad experience with Fast Traks, but I’ve got to admit I have really liked them. With close to 900 miles on them, much of it being on pavement, it’s time for me to get new tires and I will strongly consider replacing them with the exact same tires. The wheels are super stiff and ride much better than my last Stan’s Arch wheels. The front thru-axle undoubtedly has something to do with that.
COCKPIT – Standard Specialized componetry here, though after going over the bars back in November I have since replaced the stem with a longer version (110mm in lieu of 100mm). It’s got a 700mm wide Specialized alloy bar, Specialized grips, Specialized alloy seatpost, Specialized “Phenom Comp” saddle, and the Specialized stem. As mentioned above, everything is plenty comfy, especially the saddle which has been a favorite of mine for years. If I ever get the itch to upgrade anything, which is really not necessary, I might opt for a carbon bar and carbon seatpost.
DRIVETRAIN – Good, sturdy components here. Highlights include a Shimano XT rear derailleur, SLX shifters, and SRAM cranks. With routine care and regular lubing after muddy rides, the bike shifts great and the cranks feel nice and stiff. The gearing is set up with an 11-36 cassette in the back and 38/24 chainrings up front, which provide as much gear range as I’ll ever need.
BRAKES – I was skeptical about the brakes at first, which are Formula C1 with 180mm and 160mm rotors, because I really wanted Shimano brakes instead. In the past I’ve had trouble with brakes from Magura, Formula, and Avid, and just had my heart set on Shimano. But so far I have been pleasantly surprised. I had one minor issue with brake line pressure, but it turned out to be a quick warranty fix by performing a bleed to remove some tainted fluid in the hose from sitting at the manufacturer’s warehouse for too long. But, I still plan to reserve final judgement until I’ve put a couple thousand miles on this bike.
FORK – The fork is a Rock Shox Reba SL. So far so good, as it performs like I have come to expect most mid-level forks from Rock Shox to perform. I’m sure there will come a day when I need to rebuild it to keep it smooth, but for now I am enjoying it. The fork comes with a lockout dial on the top of the fork leg, rather than a remote lockout, but that’s fine with me as it keeps the cockpit clean.
RIDE EXPERIENCE – For a hardtail, this is a very comfy ride. Tubeless tires combined with the carbon frame makes it about as good as it can get for a hardtail bike. I’ve done several long endurance races on it and never felt like comfort was an issue. It is also very fast on the straights due to its relatively low weight and stiff frame, which I really appreciate.
Overall, this has been a great bike for me and for once I am completely content to not feel like I need to tinker with my bike or constantly upgrade its parts….something that has plagued me with my previous bikes.
Some random pics below….