2020 Specialized Stumpjumper Review
  • Total score
3.5

Summary

If you are looking for a modern trail bike with comfort and plushness being your top priorities, the 2020 Stumpjumper should be a compelling option on your shortlist.

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Pros

  • Updated and innovative carbon frame given cred by the oldest name in product trail bikes
  • Useful on-bike storage with Specialized’s SWAT system
  • Well-chosen factory component list

Cons

  • Geometry could be a bit more progressive
  • Ride feels plush yet slightly dull
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The “Stumpjumper” by Specialized Bicycles might be the world’s oldest mass-produced mountain bike. The model name, in its various iterations, turned 40 this year. The 2020 bikes share little with its 1980s forerunners, but it carries forward the same lineage of a rugged, efficient do-it-all mountain bike the Stumpjumper moniker has come to represent.

Present-day Stumpjumpers come in a wide array of build specs, frame colors and other options. You can also opt to buy a Stumpjumper frameset that you can build up with your own choice of parts.

Over the years, I’ve had a chance to spend some quality trail time on various Stumpjumpers, the latest of which has been a 2020 Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29. This

model sits more or less in the middle of the current Stumpjumper range, above its cheaper alloy-framed siblings and below the premium flasgship, the S-works Stumpjumper.

Design and geometry

Source: evanscycles.com

The geometry numbers of the latest generation Stumpjumper reflects the general trend in mountain biking of “longer, slacker, lower”.

While I personally believe this trend has limits, the slacker head angle and longer front end are welcome changes, as Specialized bikes have historically had a more conservative geometry.

Still, it could be argued that Specialized could have gone with a bit more reach and slightly longer wheelbase. Compared to many other trail bikes of the same model year, the Specialized’s cockpit felt just a little bit cramped.

As a point of comparison: my size medium Stumpjumper has a 425mm reach, a full 41mm shorter than the 466mm reach on my medium NS Synonym of the same model year.

Aesthetically, the 2020 Stumpjumper retains an unmistakable design language that goes back at least a decade, with the main update being the asymmetric brace on the drive side which gives the frame a unique look, but also has the important function of structurally bracing the front triangle allowing Specialized to  able to optimize the frame’s stiffness to weight ratio throughout the sizing range.

Specialized is a leader in innovating in-frame storage with its SWAT system. The Stumpjumper comes with a very useful storage compartment with a latched door located in the downtube.

The storage system isn’t limited to that compartment, though, as the side-loading bottle cage comes with an integrated multitool with the perfect size and utility for trailside adjustments and quick repairs.

Another neat feature of the 2020 Stumpjumper is the adjustable geometry “flip-chip”. The bike comes in the slack/low setting from the factory, but if your trails are rock-infested and call for a higher bottom bracket, it’s very easy to flip the chip and to get that little bit extra pedal clearance.

It is worth mentioning that 2020 marks the last year Specialized uses its famous and trail-proven FSR suspension platform on the Stumpjumper Carbon range, with the 2021 models eliminating the rear pivot and relying on the increasingly ubiquitous carbon flex stays. As to which system is better, that is not a straightforward question and is best addressed in a separate article.

Spec check

Source: evanscycles.com

The 2020 Stumpjumper Expert Carbon came equipped with SRAM GX 12-speed drivetrain, while a Fox 36 Performance 150mm fork and Fox DPX2 shock handle suspension duties.

The shock has a very useful sag gauge which makes it easy to quickly set your baseline shock air pressure, a feature that has been a staple of Specialized’s full-suspension bikes for a while.

The dropper post is an X-Fusion Manic (which I have used on other bikes and found to be rather reliable). Wheels are Specialized’s own Roval with DT Swiss 370 hubs and Roval Traverse Carbon 30mm rims, wrapped in Specialized Butcher (front) and Eliminator (rear) tires in 2.3in width (which I found to be fairly chunky for their size). Braking is handled by SRAM Code R with 180mm front and rear SRAM Centerline rotors.

Overall, I found the factory spec well thought out and, as someone who has a habit of immediately replacing components on new bikes with those I prefer, I didn’t find an urgent need to swap out any particular bits on the Stumpjumper, at least until I have spent some significant riding time on it.

On the trail with the Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon 29

In the most straightforward terms, the Stumpjumper is an incredibly plush and comfortable bike to ride, but the handling didn’t feel as agile and sharp to me as other bikes I have ridden this year (and I’ve ridden many!).

Describing ride characteristics of mountain bikes can be rather subjective because bikes certainly rarely come with like-for-like spec, but if I am to try to pinpoint the reasoning behind why I felt it had plenty of comfort yet lacked nimbleness, it would be two things: 1) the very upright riding position due to the relatively tall headtube, and 2) the comparatively shorter reach and wheelbase which demand a more proactive rider input in fast technical riding situations.

In straight line, point-and-shoot descending situations, this bike excels and just eats up the terrain, and the refined suspension platform makes for a very efficient pedaller, even out of the saddle.

Nevertheless, even with the welcome geometry updates, it seems to me that Specialized didn’t want to risk a radical change of a proven trail geo and ended up slightly trailing behind the sweet spot of contemporary progressive trail bike geometry.

Final Thoughts

The 2020 Stumpjumper Carbon 29 is a fantastic trailbike with a robust and reliable factory spec. The innovative frame design with integrated storage, efficient suspension platform and the pedigree of the Stumpjumper name mean that you can’t go wrong with any bike in the Stumpjumper range.

Yet, there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to making the geometry a little bit more progressive especially when it comes to reach and wheelbase numbers.

Modern trail riding is becoming more aggressive and technical and the new crop of progressive trail bikes make this category of mountain bikes arguably the most fun and versatile.

If you are looking for a modern trail bike with comfort and plushness being your top priorities, the 2020 Stumpjumper should be a compelling option on your shortlist.

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