The 130mm M5 hydroformed frame with 29er Trail geometry, plus a Fox/Specialized remote Brain shock with AUTOSAG, Fox TALAS CTD Evolution fork, custom Avid Elixir 5 SL disc brakes and a 142+ wheelset makes the SJ FSR Elite 29 one of the fiercest bikes on the trail.
This bike is worth the money. I was skeptical of the brain until I rode it. The brain is better than advertised, ultra stiff on up hills but still soaks roots. I leave it in full firm all the time. I live in Hawaii so the riding is true All Mountain and the suspension is the best I have ridden. I had to replace the Avid brakes before the first ride, they can not be blend. I have replaced them with XTR and, upgraded to Mavic ST wheels, also a KS LEV seat post. I think this is a true All Mountain race bike now. My bike weighs 28.6lbs which is the exact same as the Carbon Expert EVO, but with better brakes, seat post, and wheels. I have $5400 that's 1k cheaper.
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: June 8, 2013
Strengths: The SJ will roll over just about anything. I can get further on rougher trails on the SJ than I could on my EX9. At first the SJ felt big to me but the bike does shrink as you go faster and it is a very stable confidence and speed builder on the twisty up and downs in the desert. I was worried about running out of gears on a two-ring set up at the front but it has worked out well. Oh, beware the seat dropper if you are new to it. If it hits you in the gonads you will end up lying on the side of the trail while your friends laugh at you. It will bring the tears to your eyes, I promise. Since I don't really use it, I could do without it.
Weaknesses: This is my first Specialized. The Brain is a total waste of space IMHO, and an expensive, dysfunctional gadget. I don't notice any performance difference but now I have to pump the shock all the time as the Brain bleeds the air out. If I could get rid of the Brain I would in a heartbeat. The Brain cost this bike its fifth chili pepper. The Talas fork, OTOH, is sweet.
Perhaps as a consequence of the Brain this bike lacks ground clearance IMO. I experience way more pedal to ground/obstacle strikes than I did on my old bike.
My previous ride, which I still have, is a Trek EX9. The SJ is a superior ride that will get me into harder spots. I had not owned any SRAM equipment before, and being all Shimano was a bit leery, but so far so good. The Brain aside, all I will add to this bike are a set of Stan's ZTR Flow wheels. I would say anyone would do well on this bike.
Strengths: Smooth sailing bike. This thing rides/climbs amazing. The brain works excellent in helping with climibing. CTD front Talas shock has been flawless.
Weaknesses: None, I wish I had more time to ride it
I have put about 250 miles on this bike since my first review. The XTR rear derailuer is top notch, the smoothest RD I have used. Command post is awesome, and works great. The autosag feature seems to work very well. I love the CTD option also. This is a great bike and has top end components for the money.
Strengths: Front fork is solid, XTR shadow plus is solid and crisp. Fun bike to ride, very happy with purchase. The command post is an awesome feature to have also. Autosag feature is pretty cool, and very easy to use.
Weaknesses: Rear shock and brain. Im struggling with getting the rear shock to work well for me. It seems like the brain doesnt work as well as other brained bikes I have rode. I have to run the valving all the way slow, and the brain at the stiffest setting and its still not efficent. It seemed to be better when I first got the bike, and now it doesnt seem to work as well.
Very happy with the bike, great features for the money. I hope that my LBS will be able to get my rear shock figured out. So far the service at LBS has been disapointing.
Strengths: Solid bike. Great fox suspension, would be great on bigger stuff with 130mm travel. Nice do-it-all bike
Weaknesses: Don't like any of the paint schemes
The stupid crome, plastic cover over the stem/head looks walmarty and is a real eyesore. Has no business being on this bike. Seriously.
This was the epic with the brain. Did a really nice job setting the suspension up by putting in my weight plus 60psi, hit a button and I was off. Demo was in tight techical stuff in florida for about an hour. Not ideal place for the stumpy. It took a while for me to get used to it but I got faster on it, even in the tech stuff. A shorter wheelbase would prob be better for my area but with a couple more hrs. ride time I could do just fine on it. Rolled nicely. stem was a little short for me, even on the large. I'm 6'. I found that getting in the small ring I could ride the tech faster and even pedal climbs seated, even with roots. That was cool. The minor issues with the tight stuff are just a trade off for making the bike more stable for the bigger stuff.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: February 4, 2013
Strengths: it climbs like a goat and handles very nimbily. My ability to get in and out of tight corners is great a huge step up from my hardtail a 15 mile ride felt like 10 and I was ready for more
Weaknesses: it only comes in one color scheme. Is that a weakness? I will have to go find one
I just got this bike and it is my first fullsuspension bike and my second 29r
I absolutely love it, I was able take corners a lot easier than my hardtail and it shifted easier and amazingly it is lighter so the work to climb the hills was easier I could just have more fun on it
Strengths: Handles likel a 26, incredibly fast and safe on the downhills,looks good,rear suspension Brain equipped,rolls onto everything,truly unstoppable.
Weaknesses: Unbelivably heavy, more enjoyable at high speeds wich are tough to gain given the obscene weight,lousy hubs.
Size L here,14 kgs with pedals and tubeless.
Coming from and Epic Expert I've found this bike a lot more enjoyable to maneuver to the point that it doesn't even feel like a 29er. The real issues here is weight,this bike feels like a damn bull on sleeping aids trying learn how to fly .On the uphills be prepared to take your time and not to wear your legs out by hammering the pedals like you're on a front bike or on an mighty Epic. I hope is just a matter of getting used to it because I don't see myself keeping this bike for a long time if that's not the case. Everything else is great,the bike soaks up everything from small rocks to small ditches,I'm now able to throw myself into doing stuff I could only dream about with my 26 as when it comes to rocky dowhills I'm quite a chicken. Still, this will be my last FS 29. Unless you spend some top cash on monster bikes like Santa Cruz LTC it looks like you can't have the whole package ( fast uphill as much as downhill)
Suspension compartment got you covered : you may like or not like the Brain but I personally love it and it has been hugely improved from my 2011 26er. I was quite skeptical about the Talas fork but it turned out to be quite handy while climbing,I guess while it can be skipped on a 26 it's truly mandatory to have it here. Also,the new CTD fork is truly butter smooth and very functional,I love it !!
I have been extremely happy with my Stumpy Elite. I was skeptical about the Brain, but it is better than advertised. I live in Hawaii so the riding is true All mountain you need the travel and, to be able to climb. The brain is the firmest rear suspension bike I have ridden Period. Then theres the T ... Read More »
Picked it up yesterday. Have been riding a 2011 Specialized Enduro as my main bike for the last two years but I really have taken to 29ers and will probably never buy anything else ever again.
i know it's fashionable to bust on Specialized but while they are not as avant garde or trendy as som ... Read More »
Man..almost two months of wait but finally the bike will be here next week. This is the only picture of the bike "live" instead of the usual color altering marketing pics. I have to say I like it very much,probably more than the black-yellow chosen for the USA market. We'll see it how it looks in pe ... Read More »
Narrowed my looking to these two FS bikes, and am looking for opinions on the two. Both feel good when I sit on them so now it comes down to All Mountain capabilities. I ride around the neighborhood, forest roads, single track and some Ski Resort climbing and downhill.
So what do you think woul ... Read More »