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312 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just bought a new bike. I was on the fence about upgrading my existing bike with a new wheelset or putting that money toward a new bike, with more travel and more capability. So I'm writing this post for others in that situation. For reference I am 6'4" and 200lbs.

I kicked tires on many different 29ers with 5" travel (Tallboy LTc, Yeti SB95, Trek Fuel, Spec Enduro, Spec Stumpjumper FSR) I demoed all of these. Ultimately, because I found a good deal on eBay, I decided on Stumjumper FSR with a custom build.

Old bike: 2011 Trek HiFi Plus 29er, Reba RL Dual Air fork (which I like), added XT Brakes (awesome) and KS Lev Dropper post, as well as wider Easton bars. Rides on Stock Bontrager SSR wheels and Kenda Nevegals with inner tubes. 3x10 SRAM X7 drivetrain. Weight 32.5lbs. 100mm up front, 110m rear

New bike: 2012 Stumpjumper FSR 29er, 2013 Fox TALAS 34 140/110, Brain Rear suspension, Mavic SLR wheel set running tubeless specialized tires, XT 2x10 drivetrain, XT Brakes, Spec. Command Post dropper, Spec. Henge seat. 140mm upfront, 130mm rear. (The bike was built up last year but has never been ridden)

Pics of both follow

First of all, what's different about the Stumpy vs. my Trek? Besides the fact that it cost 2x what I paid for the Trek.
1. 5" travel rear, 5.5" travel front vs. 4" travel front and rear on the Trek
2. 2x10 drivetrain vs. 3x10 on the Trek
3. Significantly lighter wheels made to run tubeless
4. Tubeless tires already set up (no rim tape needed), Specialized branded tires
5. Shimano XT Drivetrain vs. SRAM X7 drivetrain (Different shifter feel)
6. 3 modes on the front fork, Climb, Trail Descend vs. Lockout or Open on the Reba.
7. Front fork is a Fox TALAS which means I can adjust the travel down to 4" for climbing/cross country which brings the bar height down (good on steep climbs) then pop it back to full travel with the flick of a switch and cycling the suspension once (need to do while stopped).
8. Rear shock has the Specialized proprietary "Brain" shock which basically automatically switches from lockout to open
9. Different dropper post...Specialized version vs. my Kind Shock version
10. Carbon handlebar
11. New bike (XL/21") is slightly smaller than my Trek (which I felt was a bit too big at XXL/23").
12. New bike weighs 30.5 lbs vs. my old one at 32.5 lbs.

What's not different:
1. 29" wheels
2. XT Brakes (though the new bike has bigger front rotor)
3. Frame and wheels still aluminum
4. Head tube is ~6" on both

So how's it ride?

Right off the bat I notice a difference in the gearing with 2x10 due to difference in chain ring size. But I figured out the gearing pretty quickly. Non-issue. As soon as I hit the dirt trail, I could feel the Brain shock working. It's got an "inertia valve" at the back of the bike near the rear axle. When you pedal, which normally would make your suspension compress, it blocks the shock oil and so you don't compress. It's solid like a hard tail. But when you hit a bump (bottom up) it releases and suspension gives. When the fluid is blocked, you can feel a small affect through the frame...almost like a click or a pop. Really surprised that I could even tell. It makes an excellent pedaling platform, more firm than my Propedal on the old bike (Fox RP2)

Climbing: This is where the 2x10 is most noticeable. Smallest chain ring is 24T instead of the 22T I had on the Trek. So more difficult to pedal in granny. But that is countered by the lighter wheels and overall bike weight. Now I basically stay in the small chain ring the whole time when climbing and shift only the rear cogs. Even though I thought it was a bit harder to pedal in the small ring, I feel like the ride actually took less overall effort to get to the top. Maybe because of fewer pedal strokes or because I wasn't spinning out the gear. The rear suspension with Brain is great. Stiff when you pedal, but compresses, even at low speed, when you hit rocks, bumps, etc... while climbing. I did not lower the front fork on this ride. The front end did lift a little easier than on my old bike, but when it did it was easier to control and put back down (on my old one if the front end lifted I had to put a foot down). I'll try the lower fork setting next time. The drive train felt solid when I had to put a lot of pedaling force to slips or jumps of the chain. I didn't even notice the "dangler" that came on the bike (like a chain guide).

Downhill: I went down Whiptail Loop, which has lots of switchbacks and is less rocky than the trail I used to climb to the top (I didn't want to scratch it my first ride out). Not too much in the way of drops or serious obstacles so I didn't test the full travel of the suspension. However, I also didn't notice the suspension being too squishy/soft. It's a very plush ride (vs. a firm ride like on a Tallboy LT or Trek Fuel). But I didn't feel like I gave up any control or flex. The bigger rotor on the XT brake is noticeable. got to be light fingered with that. I am not quite used to the change in bike geometry so I did not push it through the twists and turns. But at the bottom of the trail where it opens up and is relatively straight, I hit the pedals and the bike took off. The rear wheel engaged really fast and getting up to speed with light wheels was a significant difference to my old bike. I see why people say the best upgrade to a bike is the wheelset. Totally agree...close second is XT brakes though.

Bottom line, even though a new bike was 3.5x the cost of a new wheelset, I have so much more capability now that it's not a fair comparison. Very happy I went with a new bike instead of just a wheel upgrade.

It's going to be a lot of fun experimenting with all the knobs, buttons, and capabilities of this bike. Once I get used to the size and turning feel of the bike the downhills are going to be awesome!

Stumpy on Left, HiFi on Right
Bicycle tire Wheel Tire Bicycle wheel rim Bicycle fork

Side by side headtube angle and bar height. Bar height almost the same despite 1.5" more travel on the Stumpy
Bicycle tire Bicycle wheel rim Bicycle wheel Bicycle part Bicycle fork

This is a good example of white I ride on (N.County San Diego/LaCosta)
Bicycle handlebar Bicycle Plant community Bicycle part Landscape

And here is a pic of the pristine Stumpy
Bicycle tire Tire Wheel Bicycle wheel Bicycle wheel rim

Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 29 Black top of La Costa preserve
Tire Bicycle tire Bicycle wheel Wheel Bicycle frame

657 Posts
Nice write up.

Wow in the pics the Hi Fi looks just like the Stumpy. Didn't realise they built the Hifi frame that way. I have just recently bought a 14 Superfly FS 8 and coming from a hardtail I'm loving it but a little voice in the back of my head wonders if I should have bought a longer travel trail bike like the Fuel or Giant Trance. LOL

312 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The Superfly is basically the new HiFi. But they improved the frame and it is much lighter than the Stumpy. I felt the suspension design on the HiFi with long seat stays was pretty flexy, and because I only had RP2 (propedal on or off, no trail mode). I was not happy with the climbing in rough, technical stuff. My HiFi was the low spec'd config, thus the heavy wheels which probably hurt the bike the most. Quality was great and the Trek store I bought it from has outstanding service. The Fuel that I demoed seemed pretty stiff riding to me for an almost 5" travel bike. I wanted more "plush" and that is what a Stumpy is. I liked the Fuel 9 but didn't like the Chrome frame (too much glare on sunny days...)
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