I guess I've technically been mountain biking for 5 years now. Looking back at where I started to where I am now in ability level sometimes astounds me and fills me with pride, and other times it frustrates me; I've felt like I should be better than I am.
A lot of this has come down to confidence. The mountain bike I started on in 2012, and the bikes I've been riding in the years after that did not necessarily encourage my more cautious trailside demeanor to try bigger moves and faster speeds.
This past August, not owning a mountain bike at the time, I was borrowing one of the shop's mountain bikes with only a bit of travel; preparing myself to use this in the Shenandoah Mountain 100. One day, while out on the trails, my frustration with the combination of my riding style and the bike's riding style came to a head.
In that moment, I decided: "I am not riding this in the 100."
Thus, the 2017 Stumpjumper FSR Pro Carbon 29 entered my life. I think my second ride on this bike was actually the SM100. Let's just say this bike is so fast, it really surprised me how quickly I was going down the mountains, without even trying. It felt like my riding had gone to 11.
HOW DID I KNOW I WANTED THE STUMPJUMPER?
Our shop always keeps one in stock as a demo bike. Over the summer, it was available for me to ride on a day I decided to poach a stage at the always awesome Tour de Burg. We rode Death Star and Pond Knob. Both awesome descents. Both with climbing to reach each trail head. The Stumpjumper FSR performs well in climbing and descending. The riding here is technical both up and down; a bike that does well in both categories, and does not weigh a ton, is pretty much a requirement for overall enjoyment.
A lot of people I interact with here in the shop are usually surprised to hear that our bike of choice is the Stumpjumper FSR. It has 150mm travel in the front and 135mm in the back; specs that would normally make a person wary of using it for an all-purpose mountain bike. But, Specialized has made the geometry of this bike so that its travel doesn't get in the way of performance. I have yet to find a bike that feels as efficient and fun as the Stumpjumper FSR for the trails here.
My Pro Carbon Stumpy came stock with an Ohlins STX single tube air shock. This shock features high and low speed compression adjustment as well as the traditional low speed rebound adjust. It also has an extra-volume reservoir, resulting in more control and plushness.
This shock feels AMAZING. The STX is very tunable to the rider that will be using it; adjustment is available in high and low speed compression, as well as rebound.
The shock also utilizes the "autosag" that is seen on other Specialized mountain bikes. Autosag makes achieving proper air pressure in the shock a breeze. Below, you'll find a small description of the Ohlins shock that will go into more detail.
This bike also comes stock with a Rock Shox Pike (a great fork). But, with what we had heard about the collaboration of Specialized and Ohlins in creating a new mtb fork, Chris thought I should maybe change out the stock fork. So when we put the order through for my bike, we put one other item on the order - an Ohlins RXF 34 29er Fork.
The RXF "was designed to be the gold standard in front-end suspension." My own personal impression? It's pretty golden. Rolling through rocks, drops, and any type of terrain thrown my way, this fork feels smooth as butter.
Having both Ohlins front and back suspension on the Stumpjumper is incredible. With all of its available tuning adjustments this bike feels like it was made specificaly for me.
OHLINS RXF 34 & 36 SHOCKS:
The RXF 34 and 36 Shocks are unique in that they have a completely new damper setup. The TTX damper in this fork is a twin tube design. This allows the rider to make adjustments to low and high speed compression independently from rebound adjustment. Thus, less air pressure is needed in the system, which also means the overall feel of the suspension is smoother, and the seals will last longer.
Low speed compression adjusts how the bike will feel when pedaling over small bumps and/or uphill. The low speed dial is the blue dial on top of the high speed compression dial. There are 5 clicks of adjustment here.
High speed compression comes into play for bigger, faster hits. It has 3 clicks of adjustment with the last click basically locking the fork out. This is the black dial that sits on top of the fork, directly under the blue low speed compression dial.
Rebound Adjusmtent is the gold dial found on the bottom of the fork. There are 25 clicks of adjustment, allowing for quite a broad range in damping. This is nice because it is an adjustment that can be very finely tuned to the rider.
The RXF 34 and 36 use a 3 Chamber Air Spring. It is an enclosed system with a Main Chamber, a Negative Chamber, and a Ramp-up Chamber. Air is pumped into the Main Chamber and the Ramp-up Chamber with pressure based on rider weight. The Ramp-up Chamber is found on the bottom of the fork, opposite the rebound adjust dial.
The Ramp-up Chamber is also a unique feature from Ohlins. It takes the place of spacer tokens that other forks utilize to change the spring compression curve - giving the rider infinite adjustment, and a suspension that is perfectly tuned to them.
One of my favorite specs of these forks is the One-piece Steer Crown Unit. In this unit there is no press-fit between the crown and steer tube, and it has a built in crown race. This eliminates any possibility of creaking and increases stiffness in the unit, offering a much improved riding experience. Ohlins claims it's 34mm chassis meets or exceeds other companies (ahem Rockshox) 35mm platforms and is on par with other's 36mm setups. It's difficult to objectivly quantify this outside of a lab, but I haven't ridden any fork that feels as smooth under load.
OHLINS STX SHOCK:
The Ohlins STX22 Air Shock offers the same performance as Ohlins' TTX Downhill Shock, minus the coil spring. This saves weight - the TTX weighs 450g plus the Spring, where the STX22 weighs in at 390g. This is the first time Ohlins has created an airsprung damper for mountain bikes. When Specialized and Ohlins started their shock collaboration, Ohlins brought its damper expertise and Specialized brought its AutoSag system to the project.
To set up the shock air pressure, use the schrader valve on the right side of the shock to pump it up to 250psi, make sure the lockout or high speed compression is all the way open (soft), press the autosag valve on the left side (while rider is sitting on bike), and cycle the shock twice. The AutoSag system should put the shock at the perfect air pressure based off of the rider's weight. Then adjust compression and rebound accordingly.
The STX22 has Low Speed Rebound, Low Speed Compression, and High Speed Compression adjustments available to the rider. The Low Speed Compression (9 clicks) is the blue dial found on top of the black High Speed Compression dial (3 clicks). Low Speed Rebound (6 clicks) is the gold dial found towards the back of the shock.
The shock is able have either a progressive compression curve or a linear compression curve based on the number of volume reducers used by the rider.
The Stumpjumper FSR is an trail-eating machine.
It is FUN! I race on it, I take it to the bike park, and I joyride it on every trail available. It does everything I could want a bike to do.
Our overall goal, when figuring out what bike is best for an individual, is based off of, "What do you like to do, and what do you hope to do?" My hope, when getting the Stumpy was that it would help me gain confidence on the trails. It's done that, tenfold. This bike feels unstoppable and I feel pretty close to invincible.
Kelly's Stumpjumper FSR Pro Carbon 29 Setup:
- Frame: Fact 11 Carbon front and rear triangles
- Drivetrain: SRAM X1 Eagle
- Cassette: SRAM XG-1295, 12speed 10-50t
- Brakes: SRAM Guide RS; 200mm rotor front, 180mm rotor back
- Handlebar: Specialized Trail 25mm rise, 750mm, ESI Pink Chunky grips
- Seatpost: Command Post IRcc, 12 position micro-height adjustable
- Wheels: Stan's NoTubes Arch MK3
- Tires: Ground Control 2.3 Front, Renegade 2.3 Rear
- Fork: Ohlins RXF 34 29er
Some of My favorite Rides on this bike
*All Ohlins illustrations are by Kelly.*