First Impressions: 2013 Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon 29 SS- by Grannygear

First Impressions: 2013 Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon 29 SS- by Grannygear

I was very curious to contrast the new Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon 29 single speed frame against the Carve Pro SS that I had been on for most all of last season’s single speed riding.  I really liked the Carve and found it to be the first aluminum frame that I had enjoyed riding for long hours at a time.  I did a 60 mile race on it across cactus lined sections of the Arizona trail and never felt like I was getting hammered.  It was reasonably compliant, decently stiff pedaling, not expensive, reliable as far as eccentric bottom bracket use and it handled well across a variety of conditions.  It also was not expensive to purchase…IF you could find it as it was not sold in North America for 2012 and it seems to be the same for 2013, if it exists at all anymore.

So it was with that idea in mind, compare and contrast, that I decided to move most all of the parts from the Carve SS to the Stumpy SS.  So that meant the moldy oldie Fox F29 100mm fork with 15QR, the American Classic SS wheels, the Specialized 2.3 Ground Control tires (tubeless), as well as the cranks, gearing, brakes, etc.

specialized stumpjumper carbon 29 SSspecialized stumpjumper carbon 29 SS

I did add four new parts.  FSA makes some pretty cool stuff in carbon and a set of the SL-K CSI flat bars in 740mm wide (beautiful UD carbon wrapped over aluminum) and an SL-K 100mm forged alu stem with a carbon faceplate make for a great looking tiller set.  An SL-K 27.2mmX400mm zero set back seat post rounded out the FSA goodies.  I weighed the parts as 240g for the 740mm wide bars uncut (740mm = 29″ wide…how appropriate), the stem was 157g and the seat post was 216g.  They are very, very nicely finished with the UD carbon construction and shiny top coat.  The bars have a grippy section where the stem clamps on and they are marked for cutting if you want to shorten them.  These will be the widest bars I have ever used and I am curious how that will work out for the single speed.  The Stumpy frame includes a swanky S Works seat post in carbon, but the set back was a bit aggressive for me and besides, I liked the look of the FSA post better and it matched the stem and bars.  Bolted to the nice two bolt seat post head (I have hated some of the new single bolt clamp designs of late)  was a new WTB Volt Team Edition with Ti rails.  c_g wrote about this here, so see what he and Mark Slate, WTB guru, had to say about this new perch.

specialized stumpjumper carbon 29 SSspecialized stumpjumper carbon 29 SSspecialized stumpjumper carbon 29 SS

specialized stumpjumper carbon 29 SSspecialized stumpjumper carbon 29 SS

I used a PF30 to GPX adapter to get the SRAM GPX type 175mm single speed crank in there…gearing is my typical 34Tx21T…and the only other thing I had to fiddle with was getting the rear brake post mounts adapted ‘up’ to a 160mm size from the factory 140mm.  I also used some of the fantastically practical Shelter tape to armor the inside of the chain stays right where packed up mud would rub off the rear tire.  I also added a section of Shelter tape on the top tube right where the brake levers would impact it if the bars swung around in the event of a crash or just a casual tip over.  Carbon does not like a sharp point of impact very much and it also seemed prudent to not have a small glacier of mud and sand grinding away at the chain stays.  Even with the Shelter tape and the 2.2″ wide (2.3 claimed) Specialized Ground Control tire in there, I had plenty of room.

The sliding dropouts seemed to be smooth and easy to use and I did notice the fixing bolts looked dry on the threads, so I added some anti seize to make sure I could get a good torque setting without reefing on them.  A bit of left/right/left adjustment and I had a 17.5″ effective chain stay setting using a 1/2 link.  I was mid way through the sliders range.  I set the handle bar height about 1/2 to 3/4″ lower than the middle of the saddle, the same as I typically do for an single speed ride, and the cockpit was in check to my normal number of 33.5″ from the back of the saddle to the center of the stem clamp with s 30.5″ saddle height as measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the middle of the saddle along the line of the seat post.  I rarely care about my position fore aft relative to the bottom bracket center (KOPS).  On a mountain bike you move around so much anyway that it always seemed moot to me.  I tend to like being over the crank more than behind it and I like a steeper effective seat tube angle for an single speed as you are up and down so much for out of the saddle climbing.

Looking at the bike it has a more ‘cockpit forward’ bias to it as the shorter top tube/longer stem (compared to the Carve Pro SS set-up) moved me more over the front wheel even though the cockpit remained the same length (relative to saddle to stem distance).  As well, it is a bit shorter in wheelbase.  On the scale of truth and justice, and with SPDs and a single water bottle cage, the Stumpy was 22.5 pounds, 1 lb less than the Carve was.  That makes sense in that the Carve frame was a pound heavier and the bits and pieces that were new to this build were pretty comparable to the parts they replaced.

Out on the street to spin it out a bit, the ‘fast forward’ position feels aggressive and it pedals like you would expect a 22.5lb carbon single speed to pedal…well.  In fact, on my way up to show JeffJ in his castle on the hill, I noticed that I was seated more where I might be typically standing and I had the distinct impression of needing a taller gear than I have on it.  Of course that was just a first impression but another one was a smoother ride than the Carve gave me.  Carbon can be whatever the designer wants it to be but they all seem to have a nice characteristic of not transmitting much vibration through the frame.  Tire buzz, tar strips in the pavement, etc were muted.  No wonder carbon is so good for a road bike.

Into the dirt for a quick loop the Stumpjumper Carbon 29 SS is all business in the way it goes down the trail.  It feels shorter between the wheels and turns faster than the Carve and my forward weight bias allows for tons of front wheel bite in fast sweepers.  The ride is very impressive.  It is still a hard tail and all, but it is staying glued to the trail better as the wheels are staying on the ground and hooked up, especially the rear wheel.  This feels very similar to the S Works carbon Stumpy hard tail I rode last year and that is a good thing.  I would say racy feeling without a big penalty, at least so far.  Very positive first impressions are going on here and that is where it will stay till we get some more time on the single speed Stumpy.  This could be fun.

Note: Specialized sent over the Stumpjumper Carbon 29 SS for test/review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review. We will strive to give or honest thoughts and opinions throughout