Day 1: Specialized Stumpjumper 29 SS

I’m trying a high-end singlespeed 29er hardtail. Today I got a little XC ride and a short BMX session. So far so fun.

2010 Specialized Stumpjumper 29 SS

Bike: Fully stock 2010 Stumpjumper 29 SS. M5 frame, Fox F29RL 90mm fork, S-Works Fast Trak LK 29×2.0 tires, 90mm adjustable stem at its lowest -16 degrees setting. 22 pounds out of the box. $2400 retail.

Source: This mighty steed was loaned to me by Specialized rep, tough guy and riding bro Jason Emmanuel. He built it up from the box, rolled it around his neighborhood then handed it to me. Heck of a guy. Thanks man.

Why would I be rocking a bike like this? 1) I’ve been thinking about getting away from the in favor of a longer, livelier, more versatile XC-oriented machine. 2) I have some clinics coming up with elite XC types, and I like to teach on the same equipment the clients are riding. (It’s silly to rail some crazy line on an Enduro or Stumpy then ask a hardtail client to follow.) I asked Jason if he had anything I could borrow, and here she is!

Ride 1: XC

On the way to my Friday meeting I hit the Chimney Gulch trail in Golden.

Climbing was what you’d expect. The bike is light, stiff and responsive. The gear was a bit too much for me in places, but a little oomph kept the train a rollin’. The mellow sections felt super quiet, super tight, super sweet. I can get used to this.

29er note: The bike climbed small logs and rocks very easily. I credit that to the big wheels.

Descending was super fun. I took the rougher lines on purpose, and the bike skimmed like a well thrown stone. Cornering felt good. Pumping felt good. Sprinting felt instantaneous. This trail is so smooth and crowded I rocked the descent in the same time as on the Enduro and Stumpy.

Memorable moment: Pumping and manualing a fast water bar section then trail braking into a blind, off camber corner. Tires sliding on marbles, releasing the brakes, leaning the bike and — braaap — perfect hookup and a new direction.

The adjustable stem feels too low for the high seat. A shorter stem would probably feel awesome.

Ride 2: BMX

After the meeting we did a quick sesh at County Line BMX. I lowered the seat as far as it would go (not very far). Otherwise the bike is in stock XC form.

We’ve all heard 29ers are excellent trail weapons. How will this monster fare on the BMX track?

Thanks to Robyn Markland for shooting photos.

Clean and sexy (the bike). T-shirt by OuterCulture

Pumping isn’t as snappy as with smaller wheels, but the bigger wheels provide greater error margin. The seat was in the way.

Turning is always fun. I’ve heard that 29ers won’t corner, but I don’t know about that.

Manuals were surprisingly easy. I don’t feel like the bike held me back at all (but check out the full commitment). Hmm, that challenges a bunch of my beliefs about stem and chainstay length.

Jumping felt great. I’ve heard all kinds of hocus pocus about how 29ers don’t jump well, but I don’t know about that. This bike had a fun springiness on the lips, and it flew just fine.

Tomorrow: If this rain lets up I’ll be rocking the P.Stumpy at tomorrow’s Lyons Outdoor Games. I might even race it in the pump track comp. I’ll try to keep the bike fully stock, but don’t be surprised if you see a shorter stem.

Stay tuned.

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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14 replies
  1. Simcik says:

    29ers rip turns! The larger tire patch is great, just lean the bike onto its side and it tracks! I enjoyed testing out a few

  2. Daniel says:

    I think 29ers jump amazingly well. The big wheels roll so smoothly into the lips that they just seem to take off naturally and the increased gyroscopic effect makes them stable in the air. You can still throw them around if you want to though. Big sideways whips are completely doable.

  3. MW says:

    One month into a 29er Im testing and it rips. I think they area all about geo, set up and body position like any other wheel size. My HT is 68 HA 71.5 ST and 12.25 bb with a 120mm fork, 50mm stem and 29″ bars. It feels a lot like my 4x hardtail with bigger wheels.
    pro’s: Pretty darn smooth for a HT on the trail, loves to decend and I had zero learning curve in corners.
    low bb with a lot of axle drop gives it a super stable jumping platform.

    Con’s: Not as flicky for street and pumptrack but it still works.

  4. Davis says:

    Looking at the pics on the specialized website, it seems as though the dropouts on the ss Stumpjumper are pretty short and vertical. I was wondering how different this would be from the dropouts from the geared 26″ stumpy expert? I am thinking about making mine a single speed but would like to avoid using a singleator.

  5. leelikesbikes says:

    Bummer: I had to return this bike. It was a brief relationship, but a beautiful one.

    What might have been … on gnarly trails … on the pump track … sigh …

  6. Eric says:

    “Manuals were surprisingly easy.” The bike is freakin’ vertical in that picture! The look on your face is great.

  7. marz says:

    How was the pick up and acceleration on this bike. You’ve almost got my sold on one, but my one concern and something I’ve noticed with other 29ers is their slowish pick up.

  8. leelikesbikes says:

    I thought it accelerated just fine. The bike is stiff and light. The wheels and tires are big but light.

    Keep in mind: While 29-inch wheels theoretically accelerate more slowly than 26-inch wheels, the difference becomes pretty insignificant when you consider total bike/rider weight, not to mention the terrain: bumps, soft ground, etc.

    Also keep in mind: 29-inch wheels theoretically roll over bumps about 6 percent easier than 26-inch wheels. If the trail is rough, that easier rolling can make up for greater rotational inertia.

    It all comes back to the ride of the bike. I thought the Stumpjumper 29 SS was quick, agile and fun. Plus it jumps well!

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