2008 Stumpy vs 2008 Enduro SL – the debate continues

This guy lives on the East Coast and wants to motor through those perpetual up-and-down rock gardens. His needs are different from Big Mountain folks.

Loved your book – I’ve read it at least 3 times and I’m happy to say that the Kung Fu is systematically progressing. So I have a bike question for you. I’m currently riding a Fisher hard tail and looking to upgrade to a Stumpy FSR or Enduro SL. I’m 200 lbs and ride tight, rock-infested quick steep up and down CT singletrack and I ride pretty aggressively, but not DH/FR – I look to take 1-3′ drops and jumps on trails; I’m not a racer. Is the Enduro overkill for my description, or do you think it will be more appropriate given my size + riding style? Figured if anyone was qualified to answer this, it would be you – any insight and comment is greatly appreciated!


Which is more important to you: up or down?

— Lee

I would say what’s really important to me more so than up and down is snap of the bike, stability / lack of flex, ability to pick the bike up over obstacles and ability to motor over rock gardens (the entire state). I just see up and down as part of the ride and don’t necessarily seek one or the other; I guess that’s New England, neither is particularly long that you could focus on either.

I have to say, after sending you an email I noticed that a similar thread was posted on your site, so sorry for the duplication – I do really appreciate your response though – you must get this question a million times!

I guess what I really want to make sure of is if I spend 3K, I want to get the “right” bike in terms of durability and max capability that I can grow into, this will likely be my “one” bike. That being said, I do love high speeds and sharp handling. Reading the thread on your site, sounds maybe like a stumpy is the way to go. What do you think?

Thanks Lee, Matt

Carnage Canyon, in the belly of Left Hand Canyon OHV Area. This was Enduro SL style, but the Stumpy rocked the same lines.

Hey Matt,

The whole Stumpy-vs-Enduro thing has been hashed to death on this site, but the 2008 bikes are different, and I have new data. Let’s take it one variable at a time:

Your size: Not a factor. Both the 2008 Enduro and Stumpy are overbuilt and stiff as heck. And Specialized has a killer warranty.

Terrain: The Enduro will shine on the downhills and through the rough stuff, and it will climb great. The same can be said for the Stumpy, except that bike will feel sharper and quicker. Here in Colorado, it’s worth the trouble to haul a big, slack bike up the mountain, because you get a long, fast DH. There, in rolling terrain, I think the Stumpy would feel better. Like you say, it’s all about motoring along and maintaining momentum.

Bike capability: Both bikes will do more than almost every rider will demand. I’ve seen the Enduro SL wrung out like a hated DH bike, and I personally have been wringing the heck out of my new Stumpy. Last week I rode the Stumpy at the gnarliest place around here, Left Hand Canyon OHV Area. That place is steep, rocky and raw, and it’s a handful on a DH bike or moto. I am proud to say I rode everything, feet up, and the bike worked fine. I wasn’t ripping it Demo 8 style, but I got it done. On our local (rocky) trails, I ride my Stumpy as hard as an Enduro.

Caveat: My Stumpy has burly wheels (Sun Charger 27s) and big tires. It needs a chain guide.

Riding style: If you are very aggressive, fit and skilled, the Stumpy is the weapon of choice for your terrain. The harder you ride it, the better it works (product manager Brandon Sloan says this was intentional). If you are a bit lazier or want more leeway, the Enduro will be the sled for you.

I hope that helps.


— Lee

18 replies
  1. Matt says:

    Definitely helps – I cannot thank you enough for your time and insightful feedback. Sometimes a demo isn’t enough to get at all of this; plus the marketing quite frankly usually paints such an all-encompassing picture it almost inevitably becomes paralysis by analysis (especially given the frequency with which they are updating models).

    Thanks Lee for humoring this one more time – I feel sure that this will at least add to the debate and may possibly end it!

  2. Slyfink says:

    I’m going to add my 2c here and say that I disagree with Lee on this one. I’m a 210lb rider that likes to ride hard in the Northeast too. I live on the Quebec Ontario border in Canada. I’ll start by saying that I definitely favour the “fun factor” of going downhill fast over being the first to the top, but I’ll qualify that by saying that on my xc rides I enjoy going as fast as possible over rough terrain, and just like Matt, I feel that the up and the down are all part of the fun of the ride. I ride my 2005 Enduro expert for xc, but I also have a dedicated DH bike for downhilling.

    I think that the Enduro would be your best choice. If you ride hard in the Northeast and are a heavy rider, it’s just a matter of time before your bike breaks. I honestly believe that an Enduro will break less fast than a Stumpy, thereby maximizing your enjoyment of your bike… The Enduro climbs well, but will give you an advantage on the “fun stuff” like downhills, jumping off rocks and roots, hammering through the rock gardens instead of picking your line… I have plenty of friends who ride Stumpjumpers and they’ll make it to the top before me, but only just barely… and that on the gravelly climbs. On the short intense technical climbs we have here, I don’t perceive a disadvantage. And… when the trail turns rough, I’ll usually have the advantage, by a good margin… I guess it comes down to what makes you smile more. Being up top first, or cruising the technical stuff like it’s nobody’s business…

    Good luck with making your choice… I know the feeling of wanting to make the most of your $3000 investment… Oh, and another thing… go tubeless as soon as you can. I just converted and it’s been a revelation!

  3. leelikesbikes says:

    Well said. There is no bad choice here.

    I think this stuff comes down to riding style and personal preference.

  4. Bracken says:

    Here’s another perspective. I’ve had a ton of fun on all my bikes over the years, from my 89 Fisher Hoo-Koo-E-Koo, to my main sled these days, a Rocky Mountain Slayer 70. However, the transition from my 2000 Heckler to the Slayer was the most interesting bike change I’ve made. See, for me, the fun in biking is when you’re nearing the edge of control – where everything could unravel, and all your focus and kung-fu is right there to keep it from doing so.

    The Slayer is so effective, that the edge is further out there. Faster, bigger. Some trails just aren’t as much fun, as they were. If you go with the Enduro, before long, 1-3 foot drops won’t really seem like much anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having a ton of fun on the Slayer, but when the trail isn’t burly or super fast, I take my hardtail single speed out instead.

    P.S. – Shame on Rocky Mountain for putting XC wheels on a bike so capable. Here’s another vote for stout wheels and tubeless. It makes a huge difference.

  5. Chris says:

    I had a Trance (4″) and a Reign (6″) and I love rock gardens. I COULD ride them on the Trance, but on the Reign I didn’t get so beaten up, nor did it. And I enjoyed the ride more when all I thought about was the riding instead of “Uh oh, that rock is going to kill my bike/wrist for sure!”. And the Reign was faster in the fun stuff and so I had a wider range of speeds to choose from when riding with friends. So I sold the Trance.

    Slyfink, a secret to riding uphill with guys on lighter bikes is a few well-timed questions that you can get out in one breath but will take them twenty breaths to answer: “How’s work?”, “Thinking about a new bike?”, “What happened to that last girlfriend?” etc. Continually break their rhythm. With a handle like ‘Slyfink’, I know you are up to the task!

  6. Jesse says:

    If you do go with an Enduro, stick with a smaller size…maneuverability is key in the Northeast, and those new Enduros have a really long wheelbase.

  7. Slyfink says:

    oooh.. that’s a good strategy. It’s more subtle than grabbing their brake levers or shifters… It’ll be put to the test this weeked! questions? I’m good at questions!!!

  8. leelikesbikes says:

    My buddy Jim used to pull that move all the time. When I started pulling away on a long climb, he’d ask an open ended question, like What’s the meaning of life?

    I’d downshift, settle in and wax poetic.

    Answers … I’m good at answers!!!!


  9. Lor Riihimaki says:

    I’m the proud owner of an 08 Enduro SL. It climbs really well, especially with the different shock settings and the fork has the travel adjust. What more do you need. It really is a bike for just about everywhere.

  10. Chay says:

    Looking at reviews on the Enduro SL on the web, many seems to experience problems with the suspension. Lee what is your POV?

  11. Matt says:

    Hi Everyone – thanks again for all of the help. Hope you don’t mind humoring me for one last comparison. Lee compared the 2007 Yeti 575 with a 2007 SJ with weight and travel being major discriminators. Does the same conclusion hold for the 2008 bikes or have they diverged moreso than 2007? Also, anybody have strong feelings around 575 vs. SJ Triad vs. SJ Brain rear suspension for the Northeast?

  12. leelikesbikes says:

    Same principles apply to 2008 bikes, but the Stumpy is even lighter and snappier than before.

    You’re worrying about this too much. These are all great bikes. Pick one and ride it.

  13. Matt says:

    You’re right about that. Had to do some serious lobbying with the wife as to why I should upgrade from my HT so I don’t want to blow my shot. Thanks again for the help Lee.

  14. Slyfink says:

    Matt, with all the rocks and roots we have here the Northeast, I think that you’ll be better off with a Horst Link suspension system over a single pivot. It stays active almost all the time, which will allow you to keep pedalling through the rough stuff without experiencing pedal feedback…

    I’ve conducted the experiment with friends on Hecklers, VPP’s and Maestro linkages… They can definitely feel the chain pulling at their pedals, while those of us with Horst Link suspensions don’t…

  15. leelikesbikes says:


    The early S suspension had reliability issues, but I’m told they’ve been cleaned up.

    Specialized offers upgraded internals for existing suspension, and the new stuff has a killer warranty.

    My 2008 Stumpy Pro Carbon with S fork and shock is rock solid, despite my attempts to prove otherwise! 🙂

  16. Alex says:

    I have a follow up question – I am in the same boat as Matt @ 205 lbs. I got back into riding after losing 50lbs and have an 07 Stumpy. I pummled the living crap out of this bike and dropped another 25 lbs doing so – it’s held up amazingly well. My riding style has improved a ton and I pick cleaner lines the majority of the time. I ride down here in La Costa, SD – think jagged rocks and rattlesnakes – but fast clean sustained sections are my fav, like the mesas of penasquitos.

    Anyway, I am thinking about upgrading to the 08′ carbon S-works stumpy. My main concern is the frame – if I huck it or get a good gouge in the rock gardens, I’m screwed right? Thanks for your reply in advance!



    If my bike is reading this – I love you baby!

  17. leelikesbikes says:

    I doubt you’ll hurt the thing.

    I just finished a clinic in which I dove headlong into random, unseen rock gardens, and the Stumpy Pro Carbon was perfect.

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