Editor’s Note: Here is part Two of Grannygear’s visit to Specialized Bikes where he got to throw a wet, soggy leg over the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 29er. Here are his “First Impressions”.


Recently I had the chance to throw a leg over the 2010 flagship, bigger travel 29er, the FSR Stumpjumper Expert. Priced at $3300.00 suggested retail for a complete bike and $2000.00 dollars for a frame/seatpost/front der. combo, the FSR Stumpy brings 130mm of Brain Shock controlled rear travel to the trail and on the complete bike is paired with a Fox F29RL, 120mm, compression and rebound adj. w/ LO, tapered steerer, 15mm thru axle equipped fork. Five inches of rear travel is a pretty good number for a 29er trail bike, and although ‘trail bike’ is a different thing to different folks, the FSR looks to be competing for trail space against the Niner Rip-9, the Turner DW Sultan, the upcoming Intense Tracer, and the Lenzsport offerings like the Behemoth. It is a step up from the likes of the Tall Boy, Big Mama, etc with only 4” of rear travel among them.

As well, there will be inevitable comparisons against the lighter weight and slightly less travel Epic 29er from Specialized. I have quite a bit of time on the Epic Marathon version and it makes a very fine light to mid weight trail bike. I am looking forward to answering a couple of questions that have been on my mind: Can an FSR Stumpy, built up from a frameset with lightweight parts, say to 27-28 pounds (it can be done…27lbs in the one I saw) be a suitable option to a stock-ish Epic at the same weight? How much of a penalty is the extra inch of overall travel? Is it to the point where the travel does not matter and the performance of the bike needs to be considered by the ride alone…leave the tape measure in the drawer and see how it feels? I have stated that 4” of travel had become the sweet spot for 29ers in that it represented the point where it is the amount of travel that meets most folks needs, is not a burden for climbing and feeling ‘fast’, and can be dressed with parts to meet a pretty wide variety of conditions. But, will the FSR woo me over with the 130mm travel package? Can this be my everyday bike for relatively smooth but fast, loose and rocky So Cal?

We shall see.

Some of those questions will need to wait for another day for enough saddle time under different conditions. The ride was somewhere around 9 miles of twisty, up and down but pretty much smooth-ish trail. Combine that with heavy rains for the last week, including the day we were riding, and it added up to limit my scope of riding and was not a great test of the FSR’s capabilities. Be that as it may, there were sections of decent ruts and rocky outcroppings, lots of slippery corners, and fast bermed sweepers so I did get a pretty good feel for the flavor of the bike and I am willing to make a few statements based on that.


Compared to the Epic, it is a bigger feeling bike. The front wheel is further out in front with the 69.5 degree head tube angle (the bike I rode was an XL, just like the Epic I have at the moment), the handle bar is wider and the overall feel is one of a more substantial feeling scooter.
The Brain on the FSR is de-tuned a bit compared to the Epic. Eric from Specialized, who rides an FSR running a 1×10 combo of SRAM XX shifty parts and is one of the 29er developers there, basically said that the Brain goes to ‘7’ or ‘8’ on the firmness scale while the Epic Mini-Brain goes to ‘10’. Not his exact words, but I think I captured the intent. Regardless of that, the FSR pedals very well seated or standing although I could notice the 30 lbs approx weight (I did not weigh it) over the Epic’s 27 lbs. It felt quite good seated and spinning a small gear up techy stuff, much like the Niner Rip-9 in that regard. I think I would give a slight nod to the FSR for out of the saddle pedaling compared to the Rip-9 and the DW Sultan. Slight, but it was there. The Brain is quite unlike anything else in that regard.


130mm rear and 120mm front combined with a 69.5 degree head tube angle feels pretty good in anything that gets rough or jumpy. No surprise. The big wheels and that amount of travel are really inspiring. I have my doubts about the need for or the resulting sales figures of a really big travel 29er like many are clamoring for. But I sure could see a bike one notch up from this being loaded into the back of pickup trucks around the country: Maybe a Specialized Enduro 29er to go up against the Niner WFO and the Lenz PBJ?

Is there a head tube angle that does not work for a 29er? I was amazed how agile the slacker head tube angle felt. In fact, it loves to carve turns. At least this day, I actually liked it better than the Epics steeper set up, even on the smoother trails of the ride.


Get this…after riding SRAM XX 2×10 for a while now, the very nicely spec’d 3×9 Shimano/SRAM 9 speed mix felt slow and vague. Never thought I would say that. What is a big ring for anymore on a trail bike? 2011 will be the year of the 2×10 equipped bike, like it or not.


Beyond this I will have to wait for more time on a more appropriate trail to get a real in depth feel for the bike and that should happen in a couple of months. I do predict that this is a very good bike for anyone that is coming from a 5-6” travel 26er and expects the deeper trail bike feel that an Epic does not provide. It would be a great second bike in a quiver for trips to Moab or Sedona and days at home when you feel like playing rough or it could the perfect one bike solution if you ride rougher trails all the time and require the extra travel to begin with. The FSR is another option in a part of the 29er market that previously did not exist and I think options are a good thing. Specialized hopes you think so too.

Thanks to Specialized Bikes and Nic Sims for the arrangements to make this visit possible.