Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29 – The New Black

I picked up my new ride from B&L Bikes last week.
Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29
I have so much bike lust at the moment, ridiculous!

It took a lot of searching, but Gordon managed to track one down in my size somewhere up in LA. Then somehow finagled it down here and finally into my greedy little hands! Those guys at B&L Bikes really went out of their way to get that bike to me, thanks! Any brick and mortar can load their floor full of fancy gear but it’s the people in the store that make the place. Having worked at various bike shops nearly 10 years before graduating college, I think good service is a rarity in the industry and all too easy to overlook sometimes. The guys at B & L have that mix of bike knowledge and friendly that’s hard to come by.

Anyway, how ’bout that bike?

Well, the S-works 29er was pretty much exactly the bike I would have dreamed up for myself, but alas, the price tag was a bit out of my league. The next model down with a frame that has the same geometry and made from the same mold as the S-works is half the price. True, the parts aren’t as flashy as all that XX action, but I figured with a few choice upgrades I could have a bike almost as rad and save some cash to buy my kid shoes, too.

Out of the box, I think the Expert was around 24.5 lbs or so. Not too bad for a XL 29er out of the box. But being the weight weenie that I am, a couple parts deserved attention. The first to go was the stock triple XT crank which I immediately swapped out for the mega dope S-works carbon double crank.
Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29

In addition to looking rad it also narrowed my q-factor and dropped a cool half pound from the bike. Plus it gives me the option to upgrade to a XX spider in the future if I want to run SRAM double rings. The bike has removable bb cups, so you can run a traditional bb or pop the cups out and run the Sworks. Nice.

Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29

The bike came stock with a 143mm saddle which is a bit wide for my skinny ass. Gordon suggested the new Henge saddle in the 130mm width. It has more padding than the Phenom saddle and is still pretty light. The shape feels good, too. The Thomson post saves a few more grams from stock and is a proven post I trust.

Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29
I swapped out the stock cassette for a 11-34 XT I had lying around. The 36 cog of the stock cassette might have been handy with the double setup, but that thing was a doorstop. The gold chain was a nice touch Gordon added. Pimp, eh?

Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29

In the cockpit I switched out the stock alloy bar (which is wider and has a shape I like – might put it back on) for a carbon flat bar I was running on my old bike. The controls are all stock. I absolutely love those Avid Elixir CR SL brakes. Good modulation and more power than my XT’s. The grips are thicker than I’m used to So I’ll probably put some ESI grips on soon.

Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29

Swapped the Stem for a nice light Deda and put my Campy carbon top cap on. I’ve had that same top cap on every bike I’ve raced since about ’99. We’ve seen a lot together. The glossy carbon weave of the frame is stunning in the light. I got a lot of double takes at the race with this thing. It’s a good looking bike.

With the parts I swapped out, the bike is weighing in at about 22.9 lbs – and that’s still with the stock wheels, which while good solid wheels for training, are heavier than what I would like to be racing on. That might have to wait to see if I get a bonus from work, though. My kid needs shoes, ya know. Plus they came tubeless ready. Gordon didn’t have to do any taping, just throw some sealant in and air up the tires.

Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29
Every bike needs a name.

So hows it ride?

Super!

I picked it up on a Thursday and my first real ride on it was at the Racers and Chasers series that Saturday. I was a bit hesitant to race it without getting familiar with it first, but when I picked it up, the thing looked so good, there was no way I wasn’t gonna try it. Gordon at B & L had my cockpit dialed. I literally jumped on the thing and road it. sweet.

I’ll be honest, the first thing I noticed was it’s a hard tail. It’s been a good 9 years since I’ve owned a hardtail and I did notice the stiffness in the rear end. But really what this means is the timing is just different. With full suspension, I think weighting and un-weighting the wheels over really rough sections is timed a little earlier than with a hardtail, and I had to get used to that. I usually load the suspension and then float over rough sections, but with the hardtail I can wait till I’m a little closer to the section before I compress the bike to float over a section.

By the third and fourth laps of the race, I was really starting to feel comfortable on the bike. It actually started to feel more comfortable the more I rode the bike. Probably because I was getting used to the bike and started relaxing into it more. With my full suspension bikes, they usually start to feel a little dead and unresponsive twords the end of a race when I’m getting tired, but not this thing. It was still feeling spry on lap four.

My old bike had a really steep head angle (72 deg) and 26″ wheels which could be a little unforgiving if I wasn’t paying attention at the bar. I prefer the slacker angle of the Stumpy and because it has the massive carbon headtube and tapered steerer tube on the Fox fork, the front end feels much more solid and tracks through turns better. I thought the stock tires were fantastic. Really a nice feeling tire to ride. I raced them with about 28 – 30 psi (I weigh 165 lbs wet) and felt like I could take the pressure down next time.

Hmm, let’s see: I took out a new bike that was completely different from what I had before and without really ever riding it first, won my race.

I’d say I like my new bike.

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4 Responses to “Stumpjumper Expert Carbon 29 – The New Black”

  1. the bike is SICK!!!

    when are you racing next? lets ride.

    • Thanks! either Fontana or Bfield this weekend, not sure which yet, both is doubtful. Safari is just around the corner.

  2. Hi there can i ask what it has cost you.

    cheers wayne

    • bencycles Says:

      Hey Wayne,
      Not entirely sure.
      The stock bike retails for $3300. Some parts I already had. Some parts came from friends. Some parts I bought just for this bike.

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