Stumpy or Enduro?

To climb fast or descend faster — that is the question.

I am sure you get a lot of these questions, but here’s the deal. I am a former amateur motocross racer who hung up his boots a decade ago, finished college, got married, went to law school, had two kids, and spent the last four years glued to a desk in NYC writing legal briefs.

Last year, I moved to Southern California and made a couple friends who convinced me to buy a mountain bike. I timidly entered the scene by buying a Gary Fischer Piranha and am now totally hooked.

Needless to say, it’s time to step up to the plate and buy a full suspension bike. My dilemma? The ex-motocrosser in me wants to get a bike with 6″ suspension and start searching for the toughest way down the mountain and some drops to scare my pants off. The reality, however, is that most of my rides consist of a long climb followed by a descent on technical, rocky singletrack or fast sweeping fire roads.

So what would be your advice to someone like me? Dream big and go for something like the Enduro or come to grips with reality and stick with a Stumpjumper FSR? Or is there something in between, perhaps the 5.5″ travel Heckler?

BTW – dig your website and just ordered your book. Keep up the good work!


The more you click, the more I can post. Lee Likes Groceries dot com!

Hi Todd,

It’s not a question of big and cool or little and lame. It’s a question of style. If you want to cover varied terrain efficiently, go for a Stumpy. If you want to climb OK but really pin the descents, rock an Enduro.

OK, now the can is open, and the worms are out. So here we go:

Specialized has a full range of bikes designed for every conceivable flavor of trail riding (I’m omitting DJ and DH bikes). At one end you have ultimate lightness and climbing efficiency. At the other end you have ultimate plushness and descending capability. The array goes like this:

  • Stumpjumper Hardtail
  • Epic
  • FSR XC
  • Stumpjumper FSR
  • Enduro SL
  • Enduro
  • SX Trail
  • Note that the Stumpy sits right in the middle. I doubt this was intentional (unless Brandon Sloan is even smarter than I realize), but a Stumpjumper FSR works really well for a wide range of trail riders. As I said, it climbs very well, and it descends very well too. These days, a 5″ trail bike is the middle ground — the best reconciliation of up and down (for most riders).

    — Lee

    BTW: Most major bike makers (Santa Cruz, Turner, Kona, Trek …) have a similar array, and many people buy too much bike. Hey guys, what are you gonna do with that extra inch, really?

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