The 130mm FACT carbon fiber frame with 29er Trail geometry, plus a Fox/Specialized remote Brain shock with AUTOSAG, Fox TALAS CTD Performance fork, custom Formula T1 hydraulic disc brakes and a 142+ wheelset makes the SJ FSR Expert Carbon 29 one of the fiercest bikes on the trail.
Strengths: Spec level of the bike is decent for the price you pay.
Some air got into the Formula brakes, but they are strong when not too hot and pretty easy to bleed.
The brain is a decent addition to the bike but by no means a necessity.
The seat post has not given me a day's worth of trouble, although it got sticky once in a mud and rain fest at Portes du Soleil. I have also not adjusted the air pressure in it, thus it makes quite a noise when it goes to full extension.
Wheels were really easy to set up tubeless and I had to tweak the rear only slightly after a monster rock dented the rim and destroyed the tire.
X0/X9 drivertrain is great. No problems whatsoever. I have changed the stock shifter cables to some fancy Jagwire ones after they started getting a bit sticky. The X0 type to derailleur also work well. This is my 2nd on the bike after a small rock bouncing off the tires made the derailleur go into the spokes and badly bent the hanger and damaged the derailleur.
Dropping the fork into a low travel almost gives the bike an XC feel in terms of handling and is great if the trails are not too technical.
Long wheelbase makes the bike extremely stable. Very confidence inspiring over the seriously rough stuff. Coming from a purely XC backgound, this bike has given me a lot more confidence in the technical stuff and steep stuff.
Weaknesses: Fox Fit Talas CTD fork 2013. This fork is terrible, I just cannot get it tuned right. The climb mode is not even remotely a lockout, and standing and climbing out the saddle makes use of half the travel. Pump it any harder and you don't use more than half the travel going down, even on the biggest boulders. Just sent it in for repair and it came back with a white crown and black lowers after spending CHF220 on the repair...Not happy. No improvement on the CTD function though even after full replacement of all the internals. Time to upgrade to a RS Pike 140mm. Being 1.9m tall weighing 105kgs fully loaded I can do with a 35mm fork.
The Formula brakes are great for normal riding, but they tend to suffer on prolonged decents (think 1800m in 7km). Think the ice techs from Shimano might sort that out. The 2014 model has them.
Stock tires are awesome in terms of grip, but have sidewalls made of toilet paper. Not great for riding rocks or shale, they got cut up pretty bad.
Stock grips were to small so I immediately opted for the Specialized Enduro XL grips and they are great.
Not convinced about the brain on this bike, maybe the annual service will perk it up a bit. I can see the use of it on the Epic though or for someone that rides a lot of trails that leans more towards XC terrain.
Long wheelbase makes tight switchbacks very difficult.
Tire clearance only allows 2.25 tire comfortably. Fitting a 2.35 Hans Dampf had stones brace on the seat tubes all the time.
All in all a decent bike. I basically only use it for difficult trail/alpine riding and it works fine. Sure the wheel base is not ideal for tight switchbacks, but as a whole it is quite a blast going downhill. Going uphill is terrible on this bike due to the CTD fork not delivering on it's promises. If I could choose again however, I would probably buy the Camber EVO as it comes with 120mm travel which I think is enough for this class bike. It also comes with a stiff 35mm fork and has no brain. Between flipping the switch between your legs while riding, or stopping to adjust the brainfade in the rear, I would go for flipping the switch. Riding in the Alps the terrain goes up and then down, so my brain gets adjusted to be fully closed going up and 1 click back for the downhill or 2 clicks if the terrain is really rocky. Any more and I get constant pedal strikes on rocks as the suspension becomes way to soft (and yes I did set the sag to 25% with the little red button on the shock). Formula brakes are great stoppers when they are still coo but not ideal for extended downhillsl. All in all not a bad bike, but not quite what I expected. I think if you are a heavier rider, the 32mm fork might have too much flex, but that is only my opinion. I would recommend taking the bike out for a test run before purchasing. If you want an 29r Enduro, but also need to ride up or cover some distance, this bike is probably for you.
Similar Products Used: None before. First trailbike.
Bike Setup: Pretty much stock. Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35 in front and Nobby nic 2.35 in rear. Both snakeskin
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: March 17, 2013
Strengths: Fox fork and Brain shock. Carbon sit stays. Climbs really well and goes down like it is on rails. And it's "pretty"
Weaknesses: None really. The Brain shock went out and was shipped off, fixed with no hassle, and back riding within a week and half.
I am coming off riding a 2011 Carbon Epic Expert 29er and this bike is like an Epic with 130mm of travel. I knew I was going to be gaining some weight, but the SJ seems to accelerate (almost) as good. The plushness of the SJ really does my construction working back good. I wanted the lightest 29er I could afford that could handle 4' and 5' drops without me having to worry about doing damage to the bike or my bank account.This bike is amazing at doing that. The bump compliance in the rear is astonishing while still providing a pedal platform that is nothing but fast in climbing. Even with the Brain fully open there is no uncomfortable waste of energy. I guess the carbon sit stays not only produce stiff handling they also transfer power to the rear wheel.
I wish I could ride a bike like this for $3500.00 instead of $6200.00 but in comparison to other bikes in it's class (if there is any) you get what you pay for. And paying for this bike was worth every penny. It is like having an Epic with 130mm on it. Specialized did an amazing job with this bike. With the dropper post dropped one notch I can stay on the saddle going down hills and railing into burms almost like a motocross bike. It seems the bike becomes twice as stiff when it goes downhill. With the 29" wheels there seems to be nothing in single track that this bike's travel can't tackle.
I'm 39 years old with a wife and 4 sons. This bike allows me to ride hard without to much worry of getting hurt. It just absorbs what ever is in front of it. I can't afford to get hurt and this bike contributes to less chance of injury. It amazes me sometimes due to the light weight and plushness how I can ride out what could other wise be a crash. I'm very happy with this bike and can't think of anything I would want more short of an S-Works for the same price. That ain't going to happen, but this bike does happen on anything the trail has to offer.
Strengths: Love the Brain! Get it dialed to where you like it and go ride - no trying to toggle a switch on every climb! Components were top notch except for the stock bar which I swapped for a carbon riser. It is one good looking bike when you see it for real instead of on the Specy website! So far the dropper post has worked as advertised and it will put it to the test when the high country starts to dry here in CO. The stock tires seem to bite well and not wash out, so I am keeping them.
Weaknesses: I love the looks of the brakes and they do have great power, but so far they are a little noisy! I hope this fades with use. Going to ride the saddle some more before deciding to keep or not. At this price point I think they could of splurged a little more on the saddle, but I guess that is the trade off for all the rest of the high end parts.
I have been riding a SS for the last six years and at 57, it was starting to beat me up. My wife was telling me "You need a FS to take care of yourself", so I started looking around. Everything felt to mushy when you jumnped out of the saddle or you had to be toggling a switch all the time. One test ride on this bike and I was sold! Hammer on the flowy trails and the brain just climbs like a HT, jump off a ledge and wow, I have 130mm travel! It is not a 24lb race bike, but if you want a fairly light, fast, fun trail bike that you could ride anywhere on almost any trail, this is it!
Strengths: Inspires amazing confidence on rough descents
Brain fade shock works fantastically well, super smooth and plush, yet climbs extremely well
Components are top notch, there is nothing on this bike that I feel the need to upgrade
The relatively short wheelbase makes this bike nimble and playful for a fs 29er
It is so damn sexy, the finish on the frame is first class
Weaknesses: The only thing that I can pick on is the brakes, while they are powerful and feel good, mine have been quite noisy
This is without a doubt the best bike I have ever ridden. It is so much fun, I just find myself rolling along with a massive grin. I was a bit worried at first that a 29er couldn't handle the rough stuff, or might be sluggish in the tight stuff. This bike doesn't just handle it, it kills it!
I've been pushing my limits on some of the rougher trails in my area, and the Stumpy is just begging me to be pushed harder. It is an amazing climber, I've easily been cleaning technical climbs that I used to struggle with on my old 26er. Point it downhill though, and the fun really starts. I can carry so much speed with confidence on this bike, the fsr suspension is so plush, with the 29" wheels it just eats everything up.
If you are looking for a medium travel bike that can do a bit of everything, I think this is the one. It has handled everything I have thrown at it with ease, and I'm starting to get the feeling it might be more capable than me. I think I'll hang on to this one for a while.
Strengths: Can be very light for a 29er. Mine is at 26.5 lbs (without pedals)
Is as maneuverable as my 2011 Stumpjumper 26er was.
Climbs BETTER than my 26er
Descends BETTER, even though with 10mm less travel than my 26er.
Stock components are very good. Nothing needs immediate upgrading. Very different from my previous bikes.
Weaknesses: So far none really. My small frame bike came with a 100mm dropper post, which was still too tal for my short inseam, had to go to a 75mm dropper. The bike also comes with 170mm cranks , so it is harder to pedal.
Simply the best bike I have owned so far. It is likely I will not buy another bike for many years to come. I did change the 2X10 SRAM cranks to 1X10 with a 28T ring, MUCH better gear ratios for me. The wheelset is VERY good, as are the drivetrain components. The formula brakes are TOPS.. Equal to my old Shimano XT brakes, and of course FAR superior to the horrible AVIDS that Specialized usually sticks on their bikes.
I got a great price break on the complete bike, so I was FORCED to buy it...LOL!!! I'm very glad I did.
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: January 9, 2013
Strengths: The ability to race downhill without having to worry about hospital bills. This machine insipres confidence, easliy negotiates rocky, narly decents even is you lose your line. Pedalling uphill with the brain fade on firm the stumpy feels close to a hard tail while still activating the rear shock if crossing over roots, bumps and rocks. Will make you want to get out of bed and hit the trail on those rainy cold mornings - irrespcetive of whose next to you!!! The front Fox 130 mil of travel suits the heavier rider though and if you are a race snake then the Epic would be a better alternative. Lastly, the bike looks amazing with top spec components to complete the package. Go get one now...
Weaknesses: A bit pricy but once youre in the saddle trust me the cost will seem like the best investment you made this year espically when you are charging down hill at hospital speed.
The best all round moutain bike anyone could wish for except if you are a podum finisher, then look at the SWORKS and phone the bank manager to increase your mortage.
Similar Products Used: Santa Cruz Tall Boy, Trek Pro 29er
Bike Setup: easy with the autosag which literally adjusts the rear shock for you by simply inflating rear shock to 300 bar, climbing on and pusing the autosag release valve. Simple :)))
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: November 6, 2012
Strengths: This bike is better overall than the S-Works 26er I just came off of. It climbs well, rolls over obstacles that would stop me on the 26er, handling is far superior to the Yeti SB-95 I tried first. I can climb over obstacles better than my 26er and technical downhills aren't as technical with the big wheels. The wheels are works of art with big time stiffness for 29ers. The 142 + rear axle stiffens up the rear end. All the bells and whistles come on this bike for a fraction of the S-works cost.
Weaknesses: the long wheelbase makes switchbacks more challenging. Trail undulations cannot be pumped like on a 26er, and the larger wheels changes the balance point on turns different than on a 26er.
Components are high quality, geometry is dialed, and the technology of S-Works level just two years ago is carried over to the Expert level bike of this year. This is a great value for the money and comes in over three grand less the the S-Works but with all the same performance. After trying several 29ers from other companies, it is clear that Specialized got it right with this bike.
Trying to decide between these 2, having a tough time deciding! The Stumpy isnt out yet and i can get the Epic this weekend. Both are the same price so that's not the issue
I'm coming off of a Blur LT and want a quicker more efficient bike, never ridden a 29 so I don't know which would be better. ... Read More »