2016 Stumpjumper – Brandon Sloan Interviewed

Words Simone Lanciotti (interview) Jon Harris (captions)
Photos Jon Harris (unless noted)
Date May 19, 2015

This interview, by my friend Simone Lanciotti, originally appeared in Italian on his site mtbcult.it, and he graciously allowed us to use it. -Cam McRae

Simone Lanciotti – Do you expect to sell more 650 or 29 Stumpjumpers?

Brandon Sloan – Right now Enduros are leaning a little more toward 650 and a little less 29. I think it’s because 650 is new and it’s kind of catching up. Stumpjumper is kind of the same deal, two nine’s been around for awhile and then we had a new 650 so usually the newest one does more sales but it’s a new bike and both 650 and 29 will be introduced at the exact same time. I think with 650 it’s easier for people to get their heads around it and for 29 it takes a little more convincing. They need to try it out to understand the benefits so probably just out of people’s understanding and comfort with the wheel size 650 will outsell 29. It doesn’t mean they should be on it (laughs) but it will outsell.


Specialized Product Manager Brandon Sloan.

Simone Lanciotti – Can you point out the biggest differences in the new Stumpy?

Brandon Sloan – There’s a couple major differences. Geometry. So the head angles are slacker, front centres are a little longer and we’re famous for our short chainstays and there’s a big reduction in length for nice snappy tight handling, especially for the two nine inch wheel size. 650 chainstays are 420 and 29 are 435. Our 29 inch chainstays are as short as many people’s 650 chainstays so super, super short. Low bottom bracket, roomy top tubes makes for great geometry. And the thing that people really appreciate is the utility of the bike and we’ve taken SWAT to the next level and introduced the SWAT door to the downtubes of the bikes. You can load up your entire downtube with tubes, with a pump, with food with a jacket.


A big talking point on the new Stumpjumper carbon frames is the SWAT Door. The whole section under the bottle cage can be removed to access a pocket in the down tube to stash your… well stash in.

Simone – With whatever.

Brandon – Whatever you are into, a beer. Whatever it might be. Utility-wise we like the SWAT system because the rider isn’t burdened by a pack. It’s super-practical.


Big enough for a tube, some food, or a rain jacket even, the SWAT Door takes the SWAT concept to a new level.

Do you think we’ll see this kind of door also in the Enduro 29er?

For sure. You know how we do it. We develop a technology and we apply it wherever it makes sense. And it does make sense for an Enduro rider or a trail rider for sure.


The linkage and chain stays have seen a lot of changes. The rear end is noticeably stiffer over the previous Stumpjumper and even the Enduro too. The chain stays now use a clevis-style pivot to attach to the linkage and the stays themselves are wider and more boxy. The increased stiffness is apparent when you start to climb.

How did the Enduro 29er affect the development of the Stumpjumper?

That’s a good question. The Enduro 29er, especially when we designed it, like three years ago now, it was very aggressive for a 29er. Lots of travel, slack and very aggressive geometry with the short 420mm chainstays and I think we changed the mindset of what a 29er could do and how capable it could be. So just being super aggressive, modern and progressive on the geometry helped the geometry here. It’s not as slack as the Enduro and the chainstays aren’t quite as short. They are a little longer for a little more stability but the learning from that aggressive geometry and the Enduro certainly played into the Stumpy.


One of the defining features of the new Stumpjumper is the shorter chainstays. Now sat at 16.5″ or 420mm the rear wheel is really tucked up beneath you. When climbing tight switchbacks the Stumpjumper gives you the option of taking a tight line without feeling the tire squirm and grapple for traction as you ask it to scribe a tight arc. It’s an impressive climber but the short stays also make an impression when heading down with the Stumpjumper feeling nimble and willing to be thrown into technical gnar.

Which frame sizes are available?

For Stumpjumper in carbon small, medium and large are available in 29 and 650 and 29 adds an XL. In aluminum there is also and XXL and for the Rhyme it’s available in extra-small, small and medium sizes.


The new Command post now has 10 positions to choose from, up from 3. This gives you a lot more options when it comes to tuning saddle height to the terrain.

Tell me more about the RX Trail Tune suspension.

We’ve been doing this type of work with suspension for a long time. We have a full suspension group with Mike McAndrews and all the shocks have been custom tuned to fit the experience and ride quality we’re looking for. So we get in there and custom tune whether it’s valving or volumes, it’s not an ABC or off the shelf tune whether it be Fox or Rock Shox or Ohlins or whoever it might be.


The new lever for the Command post is significantly more intuitive and comfortable to use.

This might be an obvious question, but why did you shorten the headtube?

Headtubes are shorter in almost all sizes because some riders have, especially in the long travel 29er because it’s a very long fork and stacks get pretty high, they have troubles getting their front ends low enough. So if you start with a little shorter top tube it allows you to get a lower bar height and if you need it higher you can add spacers or use a riser bar. My 29 has a riser bar but we spec’ed it with a flat bar. It’s always easier to go up.


The new carbon frames feature molded internal cable routing which will make cable replacement a less expletive filled task.

Is there any specific compatibility with Shimano Di2?

In this particular case it is compatible with Shimano Di2 in that you can hide the battery inside the SWAT box and the cables through the full carbon cable ports but we didn’t do anything special like have any special mounts like we might with a cross country bike. The only tricky part will be finding a Di2 compatible front derailleur that mounts to the taco blade front derailleur for this bike. Right now the taco blade compatible derailleur isn’t available in Di2 but maybe it will be in the future. For now you’d run Di2 in a one-by set up.


The new frames are longer lower and slacker across the range. Gone are the EVO versions of the bike with the whole range adopting the same geometry.

650b plus. What is the future if any?

Certainly a future and what the future is, is very unknown right now. Pure plus with a three inch tire will be important for certain riders because it does add extra control, it adds extra comfort, extra confidence for the rider. It adds weight in some cases – if they are replacing a Grid tire it’s almost the same weight. It’s new so the weights will come down, things will evolve, so whether it’s pure 3.0 or something else it’s going to be very popular for sure.


For models with a front derailleur, Specialized has taken the taco concept from the Enduro 29 and applied it to the Stumpjumper.

Can you predict how the Enduro is going to evolve.

Hmmm. I can predict because we are working on it right now. I know exactly how it’s going to evolve. It’s going to be a tricky bike to work on. We like to allow the rider to choose his or her wheel size so that could be 650, 650 plus and 29, so it’s a lot of frames and a lot of platforms so maybe one wheel size will become more popular than another in the future or the benefits of one size won’t be there as much in the future.


The new shock tune for the Fox rear shock is very impressive with a good progressive feel through the travel. Paired with a Rock Shox Pike up front, the Stumpjumper Expert looks like a good option for a BC-style trail bike.

Don’t you think that too many sizes and standards can confuse riders?

For sure. All the wheel sizes are totally confusing. It’s a big headache for the riders, it’s a big headache for the dealers. It’s a lot for us to design and manufacture around. It’s crazy for riders to know what wheel size to go for. You and I have the luxury of testing out different wheel sizes and configurations and finding out what we like. The riders have a tougher time finding bikes to try all this stuff out. Hopefully over time the wheel size will calm down and one wheel size or two wheel sizes will become more popular but until that time if we think there’s going to be a benefit or improved ride quality we’ll make all the wheel sizes necessary to make all the riders happy.


Shimano brakes and SRAM drivetrains are a feature across the range. This Expert model has a mixture of XT brakes and X1 shifting.

It’s just a matter of time?

To see how it all plays out for sure. It’s tricky because whether it’s wheel size or other standards like 148, it’s going to be very confusing for the riders. It’s not a simple time.


Brandon is the right guy to be figuring out bikes for elite riders. Photo – Paris Gore

No. Absolutely.

The bicycle industry is very reactionary sometimes. They have to jump on what’s next so it’s going to be tricky for awhile.

I think so. Thank you very much.



Happy Geeking. 2016 Stumpjumper carbon geo numbers.

MSRP in Canada: EXPERT CARBON 29 and 650b $7,599; ELITE $5,499; COMP CARBON $4,889; COMP $3,749
US MSRP: S-Works 29 $8900; 650b $8600

For a PDF with full spec sheets click here.
To check out the bikes on the web click here.

Is there a Stumpjumper in your future? If so what wheel size?

Trending on NSMB


Benson P. Bagasan  - Feb. 10, 2017, 6:02 p.m.

…so the picture of this SJ above is a legit SJ? i have this kind of frame with only 1 tube connecting seat tube or no small triangle inside main frame. Kindly explain further pls! any explanation is appreciated.


Alexandra Salvaterra  - Oct. 25, 2015, 1:08 p.m.

lol that's not a stumpjumper on the pictures, it's missing a piece of frame where the top tube meets the seat post, chinese copy or what?


Austin  - Nov. 30, 2015, 4:59 a.m.

Exactly.. what the hell is the bike in the picture? It looks like Rhyme but it's in Gallardo Orange. I smell country specific.


Nicola  - March 23, 2016, 11:02 p.m.

You guys are freaking retarded thats the small sized frame. It doesn't have room for the extra piece so it can fit smaller riders.


Nick Wills  - Dec. 5, 2016, 4:24 p.m.

Nicola is right. 😀


Poo Stance  - May 22, 2015, 12:27 p.m.

All this talk of burrito stowage and tacos leads me to believe there is a lot of hype around cinco de mayo and not a bike


nick bitar  - May 21, 2015, 10:04 p.m.

You guys realise that the cost of bikes is so high because companies build 400 different models in six different sizes? Look at Motorcross, one spec, one size!

I kinda respected Specialized's stand. "We feel 29'er is best and that's what we'll build" while the rest of the world went 650b crazy, despite the fact most riders didn't like the shift away from 26. I'm sure the 650b is a sweet bike but it does feel a little like pandering to me.

The glove box is sweet! Finally some innovation that is genuinely rider focused, not just 5% less weight, 15% more stiffness and a new coat of paint.


John Canfield  - May 20, 2015, 10:34 a.m.

"It doesn’t mean they should be on it (laughs) but it will outsell."

What is it with Specialized's culture that makes them think they can assign the bikes we should be riding?


Malcolmshouldleave  - May 20, 2015, 11:11 a.m.

Pure, unadulterated arrogance.


the prophet  - May 20, 2015, 11:11 a.m.

Mostly because they ride them all extensively and know which one really rips the best, not just rips the best on the internet. One thing Specialized has is a ton of employees who shred on a bike. It is almost a requirement to be fast in order to get a job there. The culture is thoroughbred racing to the core.

If you ride like Mr Sloan (fast as *hit descending, not afraid to push a bike to the edge), you will like what he "recommends" for you.
If you are more into crushing out that sick climb rather than the descent, maybe listen to what some scrawny XC dude "recommends".


John Canfield  - May 21, 2015, 2:06 p.m.

So you are saying we should listen to them because they are good at bikes? Every bike company I know has employees I know who rip or are pro. Some of them dusted the shit out of Sloan at EWS. Does that make your point invalid?


anok  - May 21, 2015, 11:13 a.m.

I totally agree with you john. I tried listening to specialized and got a 29er stumpy…worse bike I have ever ridden. I rode it for a full year and could not ever get used to the 29er (from riding 26). Leaning the bike in fast turns never felt right and nimbleness was not there (but fast as hell going straight). Got so fet up that I dumped the bike at a huge loss and got a kona process 134. Night and day. Way more fun on the smaller wheel bike.

Now this is all my personal opinion and it's my fault for listening to the "experts".

Advise to specialized: you don't know what's the best bike for everyone so stop being arrogant!!!! Remarks like the one above make people not want any of your bikes especially the 650B since you make it seem like something you don't believe in.


Peter  - Oct. 13, 2015, 8:38 p.m.

I own a Kona Process134DL and love it (plus demo'd lots of bikes before buying it), but last weekend rode the 2016 Enduro 29er Expert and thought it was the best bike I've ever ridden. It's 2 and a half times the cost of my Kona though where I live! I imagine the new stumpy with much shorter chainstays will ride a lot better than the old model you had.


Shrockie  - May 21, 2015, 1:30 p.m.

I think what the inserted laugh was about is, the fact that people buy what they think is right, rather than having ridden all the bikes to make an informed decision based on personal experience. I took it as, he was suggesting that some people might be better of on a 29 (for their area, style, etc) but will get the 27.5 because of the current popularity of 27.5″..


it's a fish  - May 20, 2015, 9:41 a.m.

Sweet pedals on that rig


Cam McRae  - May 20, 2015, 1:20 p.m.

They cost extra.


it's a fish  - May 20, 2015, 1:36 p.m.

Reflectors don't grow on tress, you know.


Please log in to leave a comment.