Fun awaits under that red drape. We joined a select group of global MTB media members at Specialized's French headquarters in Charmes, France for the launch of the company's 2014 Trail bikes (in audio: Sam Benedict, MTB Product Marketing at Specialized).
You're going to hear a lot of talk of short travel and snappy handling, but don't be fooled - "trail bikes" are very capable machines, and we spent three days riding these particular ones with grins on our faces.
The 2014 Stumpjumper, shown here in S-Works configuration. The Stumpjumper gets a "technology refresh" for 2014, and moves to 29er wheels only (except EVO). The design remains very close to the 2013 version, with minor geo changes.
There is also a completely new S-Works EVO - available both in 26 and 29 inch wheelsize.
The Stumpjumper is aimed at trailriders who are looking for a little bit more travel. Ready for shredding, the bike also remains an incredible climber and at home for any epic day out.
Since we were hosted at Specialized's French HQ, we were going to get some French audio for you too, but turns out that in France they have completely abandoned the speaking part and now use ONLY hand waving to communicate.
Specialized launched the Enduro 29 to much fanfare earlier this year. One of its most appreciated features are the super short chain stays, an engineering feat on a 29er.
However, for the Trail bike category (Camber and Stumpjumper), Specialized chose NOT to implement the same technology - favoring stability over maneuverability for these bikes.
The chain stays remain relatively short, but do without the "taco" FD mount from the Enduro 29.
The Stumpjumper comes with a "Brain" in Elite, Expert, and S-Works. It contains a sprung weight that dynamically controls the compression damping of the shock - from locked out to open. It reacts to ground input but not to pedaling forces - providing a firm pedaling platform but still able to absorb the hits.
With office views like this, anybody with half a brain would rather go out riding than slave away at their desk...
The dial allows you to modify the strength of the brain effect. Fewer clicks on the dial make it more likely you'll find one you like - the shock remains perfectly rideable in any of the 4 settings now available.
Meet the ultimate trail weapon, the Stumpjumper S-Works 29 EVO. We rode this bike for a full day on punishing terrain, and were blown away. Initial impressions are of a bike that adds a whole new dimension of stability to a very lightweight and efficient package - super capable and super fun.
The new Rockshox Pike fork (shown here in the 140mm 29er version) is a game changer. Ridden on 3 different bikes during this event, it has all the makings of the new best-in-class trail fork - long term testing to confirm initial impressions still to come.
Meet the T-1000 (and Specialized's Sean Estes). 26/29 option, 67/68 degree HA, 150/135mm travel, lower BB. If you want a 26" Stumpjumper, the EVO family is your only ticket.
This new Rockshox damping unit is where all the magic of the new Pike happens - super plush yet rides very high in its travel with very low air spring pressure. Add a stiff 35mm chassis and you have a winner.
Specialized's Command Post goes "IR" for 2014 (Internal Routing). We rode the post extensively for 3 days, with very positive initial impressions. Easy to use, comfortable, and reliable - long term testing next to validate these initial findings.
Out back, the "Autosag" feature on the Fox Float CTD makes light work of suspension set-up: over-inflate the air spring, sit on the bike, and depress a valve found under the red cap - the shock will automatically settle into the ideal sagpoint and release the appropriate amount of air. Done.
The Stumpjumper family is going all 29er for 2014, with the exception of the EVO that will still be available in both wheel sizes. The 29er version impressed us the most - fast, stable, and fun!
Specialized's Sam Benedict dropped us...many times...
We've seen these new hookless rims before, as they were introduced earlier this year, but it's worth taking another look.
Entirely surprising to find out that you actually don't need a beadhook on the rim for the tire to stay on.
We rode the Specialized 2014 Trail bikes for 3 days, racking up quite a few miles....
...and a ton of vert and tech singletrack in the process, not to mention French catering.
Our initial impressions are very favorable. We did serious amounts of climbing to descend very technical trails, and all the bikes we rode (Camber Evo, Stumpjumper Evo 26 and 29) were extremely capable and fun bikes.
A big thanks to Specialized for inviting us - we're already looking forward to getting more time in on these exciting new bikes soon.
Join us in Charmes, France, for the unveiling of Specialized's 2014 Trail line. We spent 3 days examining and riding the bikes, wheels and tires that make up this category of equipment. First up, the lowdown on the iconic classic, the Stumpjumper, and a brief look at a couple of new Roval wheels (be sure to also check out the 2014 Camber First Look feature here, and join us for ONE Lap to see the bikes in action).
The Stumpjumper has grown up over the years, and although it is still classified as a trail bike, it is designed for the riders who in addition to racking up the miles also want to air it out a bit and get rowdy along the way. By the numbers, it is very close to the Enduro of a generation or two ago, so we were not surprised to find that this bike rips (go EVO if you really want to open it up). Now hit the specs to get under the skin of this up-to-date icon: