First Look | Specialized Announce New Stumpjumper and Rhyme
Ever since the first model rolled off the production line in 1981, the Specialized Stumpjumper has been synonymous with the ‘trail’ sector. For over 30 years the Stumpjumper has evolved with the sport, the geometry and specification changing as trail riding developed. As time moved on it could be argued that bikes are starting to look more homogenous, with marginal differences between the models. Specialized have just announced the latest incarnation of the Stumpjumper, along with the new ladies Rhyme and not only have they made some interesting changes to the build, the bikes also feature a very unique surprise.
We jumped on some long haul flights over to New Zealand to check out the latest range of bikes that Specialized were launching on the fun trails of Rotorua. From the moment we arrived it was clear that the specialized crew are all about bikes, they’re all riders, and they all shred. Specialized, like us all, believe that the thing that’s most important when you go on a mountain bike ride – is having fun! They were really excited to show us the new bikes and also keen to show us how they believed that a new innovation had made the bike even better for trail riding.
The New Stumpjumper
Trail bikes are one of the most difficult categories to build a bike for because they really have to do everything well. A trail bike has to be able to do it all, it has to climb, it has to descend and traverse and most importantly the geometry has to be balanced and work for all levels of rider. The Stumpjumper has been Specialized trail offering for over 30 years and the latest version has some interesting new features.
The new Stumpjumper will be available in both 29er and 27.5 formats, along with a new 27.5+ version too (see other article). The Stumpjumper’s geometry is well proven and the new bike does not deviate too much from this tried and tested setup. The head tube angle is a little more modern (slacker) than it has been before, now 68 degrees on the 29” and 67 degrees on the 27.5”. Specialized signature low bottom bracket still features too and all three bikes feature a 335mm bottom bracket height. Combined with a roomy top tube, Specialized claim that this makes the bike very stable and confidence inspiring to ride.
Specialized’s designers love a short rear end and the Stumpjumper is no exception, coming with one of the shortest rear ends of any 150/150mm travel bike (140/135mm for the 29”) at 420 mm for the 27.5” and 435 mm for the 29”. The low bottom bracket, roomy top tube and short rear end should make for a potent geometry that is fun to ride on the trail. Super short rear ends can cause complications if you want to add a front mech, so Specialized offers an optional taco blade that can be used for mounting a front mech, or removed if not required. Specialized have also removed the seat-stay bridge to improve clearance, but are keen to stress that a lot of engineering has gone into beefing up the shock extension, to make the rear end stiffer even without the seat stay bridge. The new Stumpjumper will be available in 5 models in both 29” and 27.5”, the Aluminium Comp and Elite builds, then a Carbon Comp, Expert and the top of the line S-Works Carbon. Specialized have done away with the EVO models, keeping all the travel the same throughout the range.
When it comes to suspension the new bike retains the FSR system as expected. However, Specialized have worked heavily on the shock tunes. Traditional shock manufactures offer a number of ‘custom’ tunes that brands can choose to fit to their new frames. Specialized wanted more control over the process and now offer an ‘RX tune, the ‘recommend experience’ tune. Every single shock stickered with the RX tag has been deconstructed (right down to the shim stacks) and rebuilt to perfectly match the bikes intended use. The RX tune extends to the new ladies Rhyme too which is tuned for trail use by a lighter rider.
At this point the engineers dropped a little surprise on us all, as they demonstrated one of the most dramatic innovations of the new bike. Specialized are keen to stress that handling and efficiency are paramount, but it is also cool to be prepared and they wanted to boost the bikes utility. Specialized believe that it is cool to get weight off the riders back on onto the bike, making riding more fun, and lowering the centre of gravity. The original focus of Specialized’s SWAT system was aimed at XC racing, keeping just the essential tools available for racers, Specialized recognised that trail riders needs are different and wanted to provide a solution for a more adaptable storage solution.
This is where it got pretty cool, under the bottle carrier the new Stumpjumper features a SWAT system that has a large opening in the downtube, allowing the items to be stored in a compartment inside the frame itself. After removing the bottle cage door there is a good amount of storage space. Neoprene wraps are provided to keep any metallic tools quiet inside the frame. One wrap is designed for Co2 or a pump, and the second is designed for tubes. But there is enough space inside the compartment for a small rain jacket, sandwiches, hip flask – the possibilities are endless? The compartment has a bulkhead inside to stop items migrating up and down the tubes. The existing SWAT tool kit still features inside the shock bridge. The new SWAT system and reinforcing adds around 200g to the frame weight in the carbon versions but really boosts functionality.
The new Stumpy also features revised cable routing with moulded on ports for cable routing, with internal tubes to guide the cables through, ending the nightmare of trying to thread cables inside a frame. The frame also features a new downtube protector, which can be removed if required. The new Carbon and S-works models come with the Roval 30mm wide rims, and the aluminium versions come with 29mm interval wheels. Specialized believe in the ability to run less pressures for more grip and stability and are rolling these wide rims out over the entire range.
The New Rhyme
In testament to their commitment to women riders, Specialized had a new model targeted at the female rider. When specialized canvased women riders they learned that geometry was key so the Rhyme shares the same geometry as the Stumpjumper but will only be available in 27.5”. Women wanted the same high performance trail geometry as the Stumpjumper, but with more appropriate contact points. As such the bar widths and saddle are drawn from Specialized extensive women’s range, and the crank lengths are size specific from 165 mm on the XS , getting bigger as the size goes up to 175 mm. Specialized will be offering the bike in an XS size that is not available in the Stumpjumper, and also a Small and Medium, targeting riders between 4’10 – 5’10. Specialized have really focused on the fine details of the bike to improve the riding experience, even the command posts on the XS and Small Rhymes also offer a shorter travel.
All the new features of SWAT system are present in the Rhyme, and it will be available in an Expert Carbon, Comp Carbon and Comp Alloy version. Specialized’s reasoning about specifying 27.5” only is that they listen to their customers and the demand was for 27.5”, and they still have the rumour for 29” fans.
We were able to get three solid days of riding on the new bikes allowing us to share with you our first impressions. From the outset it was clear that Specialized are focussed on fun and ease of use, the auto-sag function made setting up the rear shock really easy, just add lots of pressure, sit on the bike and press the auto-sag control. The bike then sets itself to the correct sag perfectly. We spent time on both the high end S-Works Carbon 29” and the Aluminium Comp 27.5” and both impressed our testers.
Both bikes climb really well, the FSR suspension system does a great job of filtering out pedal forces, and provides and comfortable and supportive ride, full of grip and feedback. There is no evidence of increased flex around the SWAT system or around the bridgeless seat stays, if anything the bike feels stiffer under power. When it came to descending both bikes were really fun, accelerating well and providing a very confidence inspiring ride. The roomy top tube and low bottom bracket kept the bike stable at high speeds and the tight rear end allowed the bike to be nipped through tight corners like a dog chasing a rabbit. One aspect that impressed us all was the new Roval Traverse wheel-set, with its 30 mm (or 29 mm) internal width, grip was very impressive and tyre roll was very controlled.
The geometry of the Stumpjumper is all about fun, it’s not slammed and super slack, or tight and steep, it’s just right for a trail bike. The 67 degree head angle (68 on the 29”) strikes a nice balance between cornering agility and stability at speed and the low bottom bracket made the bike easy to rail around turns. The playful nature of the short stays and active suspension make the Stumpjumper fun to hop about and it was perfectly suited to the fast flowing trails of Rotorua. Even with a fully loaded SWAT compartment there was no noise from the contents, the wraps work well and keep everything quiet and controlled. For a full review we will need to spend more time on the bike, in more challenging terrain. We can however, confidently state that the new Stumpjumper is even more fun to ride than the outgoing bike, and the new SWAT compartment is a great step forward in usability, all you need now is a bike and a water bottle and you are good to go and shred.
Stumpjumper Carbon S-Works
The S-works Carbon weighs in at 12.11 kg (size L) in the 29” and 11.70 kg (size M) in the 27.5” and retails for $8900 ($8700 for the 27.5”). Highlights include Shimano XTR Trail brakes, a full SRAM XX1 11 speed Drivetrain. The weight is kept down with S-works FACT carbon cranks and a carbon Roval Traverse (30 mm internal) Wheelset. The rear shock is a RX tuned FOX FLOAT factory CTD, and the fork is a Rockshox Pike RC3.
The Expert is also available in both 29” and 27.5” and features a carbon front end and an m5 alloy rear triangle. Highlights include Shimano XT brakes, a full SRAM X1 11 speed Drivetrain. The expert features a custom SRAM carbon crankset and an alloy Roval (29 mm internal) Traverse Wheelset. The rear shock is a RX tuned FOX FLOAT factory CTD, and the fork is a Rockshox Pike RC3. The Expert will retail for $5900.
The Elite is available in both 29” and 27.5” and will retail for $4300 and is constructed entirely from M5 alloy. Highlights include Shimano SLX brakes, a full SRAM X1 11 speed Drivetrain and an alloy Roval (29 mm internal) Traverse Wheelset. The rear shock is a RX tuned FOX FLOAT factory CTD, and the fork is a Rockshox Pike RC.
Stumpjumper Comp Carbon
The Comp Carbon is available in both 29” and 27.5” and will retail for $3800 and features a carbon front end and an m5 alloy rear triangle. Highlights include Shimano Deore brakes, a SRAM/Shimano 2×10 speed Drivetrain and alloy Roval (29 mm internal) Traverse rims. The rear shock is a RX tuned FOX FLOAT evolution CTD, and the fork is a Rockshox Revelation.
The Comp is available in both 29” and 27.5” and will retail for $2900 and is constructed entirely from M5 alloy. Highlights include Shimano Deore brakes, a SRAM/Shimano 2×10 speed Drivetrain and alloy Roval (29 mm internal) Traverse rims. The rear shock is a RX tuned FOX FLOAT evolution CTD, and the fork is a Rockshox Revelation.
Rhyme Expert Carbon
The Rhyme Expert Carbon is only available in 27.5” and weighs in at 12.24 kg (size S) and retails for $5900. The Rhyme has a carbon front end and an m5 alloy rear triangle. Highlights include Shimano XT brakes, a full SRAM X1 11 speed Drivetrain. The expert features a custom SRAM carbon crankset and an alloy Roval (29 mm internal) Traverse Wheelset. The rear shock is a RX tuned FOX FLOAT factory CTD, and the fork is a Rockshox Pike RC.
Rhyme Comp Carbon
The Rhyme Comp Carbon will retail for $3800 and features a carbon front end and an m5 alloy rear triangle. Highlights include Shimano Deore brakes, a SRAM/Shimano 2×10 speed Drivetrain and alloy Roval (29 mm internal) Traverse rims. The rear shock is a RX tuned FOX FLOAT evolution CTD, and the fork is a Rockshox Revelation RC3.
The Rhyme Comp will retail for $2900 and is constructed entirely from M5 alloy. Highlights include Shimano Deore brakes, a SRAM/Shimano 2×10 speed Drivetrain and alloy Roval (29 mm internal) Traverse rims. The rear shock is a RX tuned FOX FLOAT evolution CTD, and the fork is a Rockshox Revelation.
Words: Trev Worsey Photos: Specialized / Paris Gore