Hardtail eh? Wait… 29er hardtail? Carbon 29er hardtail? Now we’re talkin’! The 2010 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29er is definitely one stoke-worthy machine. This carbon fiber beauty comes out of the box ready to destroy local singletrack and roll over everything in sight. I have had an absolute blast on this bike… no question. So, lets get on with the review already.
Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29er Features:
- FACT 8M carbon frame
- Tapered head tube for stiffness
- Fox F29 RL suspension fork with 90mm travel
- Specialized cockpit (stem, bars, grips, seatpost)
- Avid Elixir CR SL brakes (160mm rotors)
- Custom DT Swiss X450SL Wheelset (Specialized front hub, DT Swiss rear & DT Swiss spokes)
- SRAM X.0/X.9 and Shimano Drivetrain
- Weight: 25.2 lbs (as tested)
- MSRP: $3300
Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29er Review
When the Expert Carbon arrived, I was very anxious to get it out on the trails. I’m a huge proponent in carbon fiber frames, but had yet to ride a carbon fiber 29er hardtail. The much-delayed (but well worth the wait, I’m sure) Niner AIR 9 Carbon continues to be slow to appear, while at the same time, The Big S is pumping out two killer carbon-fiber race-ready hardtails that are already hitting dirt all around the world.
This year has seen amazing interest and growth in 29ers. Nearly every manufacturer underestimated the demand and local bike shops are having a hard time keeping some of the hottest bikes on the shelf. That said, I feel lucky enough to have the Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29er at my disposal.
Sometimes demo bikes come to me brand new, unridden while other times they are broken-in already. This one had been used a bit in the desert, but was in great shape. With some minor adjustments in the brake pad contact point on the Avid Elixir CR (simple twist of the barrel) and a quick swap from the stock stem to a shorter, 70mm Easton EA50 and I was in business.
If you have yet to ride a carbon fiber frame, boy are you missing out. No other material reacts quicker, feels as snappy or absorbs chatter better than carbon. There’s just something about the makeup of carbon bikes that gives them superhero-like qualities. This bike is just that — a superhero maker. While pedaling the Expert Carbon 29er, I felt like I could climb for miles and miles with every pedal stroke efficiently propelling me forward. The front wheel tracks straight and the rear wheel stays firmly-planted in terra firma while my legs and lungs press forward with traction aplenty.
Without question, this bike is the best climber of any hardtail I’ve ridden. Oftentimes, I felt as if I was being shot out of a cannon as every pedal stroke was met with lightning-fast acceleration.
When it comes to snaky singletrack, the Stumpy absolutely shines and begs for more. I dropped the saddle for my favorite 1600 vert of joy down Jacob’s Ladder and Ghost Falls Trails in Draper, UT and proceeded to fly. Big wheels maintain so much momentum, that I would often come into a corner a bit hot. No worries though as I’d brake and lean into the corner only to find the bike digging in and begging to be pushed harder. I can pump this bike hard and fly through winding singletrack — every pedal stroke and every angulation is met with confidence-inspiring traction and spring-like rebound into the next turn.
I’ve felt like the shorter stem has put me in a better riding position for me and offered more comfortable handling. The long-ish 24.2-inch top tube on this frame is tamed with the shorter stem and I’m now completely satisfied with the fit.
The only major negative I’ve found is at extremely slow speeds where I felt like the bike could easily tip over. Maintaining momentum is key with the big hoops and this one seems to get a little wonky when it loses all its steam. The only other gripe I can say is the arched top tube does reduce standover height — lets just hope I don’t put that to the test.
The entire package leaves nothing to be desired, really. Yeah, you could carbon-out the cockpit or cranks, but I’ve been completely-satisfied with every part of this fun-filled package. The crisp SRAM shifting is outstanding and the DT Swiss wheelset has rolled smoothly and tracked straight. The Fox F29 90mm fork has been smooth and consistent (set at 80 psi – 170 lb. rider weight). As always, I missed having a quick-release seatpost collar (hello… nobody wants to pull out the allen wrench).
Good Expert Carbon 29
- So quick it nearly climbs itself to the top
- This bike likes to be pushed hard and railed in/out of corners
- Carbon fiber makes this bike accelerate like a rocket
- Small bumps just disappeared
- Very lightweight package that can still be lightened further, if desired
- Tapered steerer provides pinpoint handling
- SRAM X.9/X.0 offers the best quality shifting on the market
- Solid, capable DT Swiss wheelset (bling pewter color too!)
- Specialized S-Works Fast Trak LK tires hooked up very well
- Fox F29 provides smooth performance in classic Fox-style
Bad Expert Carbon 29
- What’s with the SRAMano component mix? Just go with SRAM top-to-bottom
- Seems like a few parts could be higher-end (cranks, RLC fork)
- No quick-release seatpost clamp
- Can feel top-heavy at very slow speeds on technical turns
- Curved top tube limits standover
Bottom Line: Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29
I can confidently say that 2010 is the breakout year for 29ers and you’d really be very hard-pressed to find another race-worthy and trail-friendly hardtail 29er on the market today. This is the complete package from top-to-bottom. Now, good luck finding one at your local bike shop because I hear they are going quite fast.
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