First Ride: Specialized’s new 650b/27.5-inch Stumpjumpers

A quick ride on the new Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon EVO 650B and Stumpjumper FSR Comp EVO 650B

27.5 Enduro

The Mtbr crew previewed the new Specialized Stumpjumper 27.5-inch bikes on home turf in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Mtbr got a chance to put a few hours on the new 27.5-inch bikes Specialized somewhat quietly introduced just before Sea Otter—the $6,500 Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon EVO 650B and the $3,400 alloy Stumpjumper FSR Comp EVO 650B. Both bikes fall into the trail/all-mountain segment with 150mm travel front and rear and represent two price points of essentially the same bike.

While Specialized initially resisted the new wheel size, they’ve now adopted the mid-sized standard, introducing tires in February and now bikes. With an accelerated timeline and some clever engineering, the company has brought some impressive, if not fully refined new models to market in short order. That said, it’s important to realize this first wave of 27.5-inch Stumpy FSRs are more-or-less retrofits, and not ground-up new designs.

While the spacers that make the Stumpjumper FSR 29er front end geometry work with 27.5-inch wheels are effective, they’re not quite elegant.

Stumpy geo needs a little bump to get rolling

Starting with the existing front end of a 29er Stumpjumper, Specialized added a 10mm aluminum spacer at the bottom of the head tube to correct the geometry for use with the smaller wheel size. They then added a newly-designed 27.5-inch-specific rear end that shortens the chainstay and other proportions. The resulting bike ends up with numbers in the ballpark of their existing 26- and 29-inch offerings. Though the effective seat tube angle sits at 74-degrees, the actual angle ends up between 68.4- and 69.7-degrees.

Rollin wet on the Specialized 27.5s

Evaluating a bike in a short session is never comprehensive, and the task was made more difficult by the drastic change in conditions we experienced just before our rides on the Stumpy FSRs. The week leading up to our test saw significant rainfall on the previously parched trails above Santa Cruz, Calif. that served as our test track. Soft ground ruled the day, with some sections snotty and slick with mud. Other sections fared better with grippy, albeit slow conditions more prevalent.

On the up-and-up

Like their counterparts, the 27.5-inch Stumpjumper FSRs both had an efficient climbing feel. Without the mud we added to them, the Expert Carbon EVO version weighs 25.6-pounds, while the alloy Comp EVO checks in at 28.4-pounds. But more so than a number on the scale, the bikes exhibited the signature stability of the FSR suspension that resists energy-sapping movement and makes them “climb light.” On roots and rocks, the suspension gets compliant and adds to the climbing prowess.

Not surprisingly, getting the front wheel up some ledges and roots took more effort than the Stumpy 29er which exudes a more roll-up-anything attitude. Without riding them side-by-side, it’s really hard to divine a difference between the 27.5 and 26er—though we suspect it would be much more subtle than the gap to the 29er.

Continue to Page 2 for more on Specialized’s 650b/27.5-inch Stumpjumpers and full photo gallery »

About the author: Mtbr is a site by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. We are the best online resource for information for mountain bikers of all abilities, ages and interests.

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  • pepelepau says:

    Basically is a 29 stumpy with a spacer and smaller wheels! What a scam! I can buy a used stumpy 29 FSR for $1300-1500, get a spacer for $20, a pike for $800 and a set of 27.5 wheels for $500 and with the rest I buy a reverb post and some beers. Specialized is not special in any way!

  • Allen Lam says:

    the 650b’s HA measured in at 69? Are you guys sure??

    • Mtbr says:

      Allen- We’ve corrected that part of the story. An error on our part indeed. No wonder the bike felt so normal–at 68-degrees its HTA actually is. Thanks for the catch.

  • Liberty555 says:

    Before reading this my first impression was that it didn’t look quite right. Glad you were of the same opinion. As for the autosag, did you actually check the sag? Did you try and get it right or is it that this patchwork bike just didn’t have the right leverage ratios as a result of its oddball front end geometry? Wait for Rev 2

  • Juanma says:

    Anyone putting a 27.5 fork in a 29 frame will void the warranty of any frame and fork.
    And then the almighty S do this crappy sloppy thing and have the audacity of asking up to 6k. Unvelievable. Might be I am missing something and this is a joke?

  • Izzy says:

    I have to think that the powers at Specialized we’re convinced that the 650b was going to come and go and the overwhelming demands for 650b changed their minds. Specialized waited and then maybe rushed the product to market to early. The problem now for them will be that their first 650b is not what they have been known for “THE WOW FACTOR” . They are basically butchering what was already an awesome bike. I say to Specialized get your engineers to sharpen their pencils and work some overtime to give us what we come to love from them.

  • Bikethrasher says:

    As I said a year ago. I don’t care if they make frames or not. I just want some Purgatories! Thanks for delivering guys. Now get to work on some proper frames that are actually made for the wheel size. As I recall your first Niners weren’t anything Special either. But then you actually tried and now you make some of the best Niners I’ve ridden.

  • Loll says:

    A quick way to make some money is to sell this retrofit package going from 29 to 650.

    Include the spacer, the rear triangle, and the lower end version of the proprietary wheel.

    I am willing to pay up to a grand for this retrofit combo instead of buying a new bike.

    This way i can switch between the two whenever i want to.

  • Reformed Roadie says:

    So essentially, they are doing what a bunch of early adopters did before any real frames were available. what a joke…

  • Sean says:

    This seems to me like Specialized has said, “Fine… here’s a 27.5……..even though we still firmly believe our 29ers are better…..”
    Kind of a half-assed effort.

  • mits says:

    The 26″ version looks so dialed. This sure looks wrong…unbalanced if you like. Head angle & fork length combo reminds me of a XC hardtail that someone fitted a 150mm fork on.

    Certainly a half arsed attempt and I’ll be surprised if they sell, given that there are so many other companies that have actually designed something specifically for 650B.

  • Benja says:

    SWEET closeup shot of those NICE spacers! #JANKY

  • Patrick says:

    Well… I can’t say I liked the Stumpy 29 all that much, this doesn’t appear to be any improvement to it.

  • SC says:

    You should do a back to back comparison of the 26″ Stumpy EVO with this, instead of comparing to a 29″. The 26″ (and 29″) is an incredible bike and completely dialled geo wise (but GASP slightly less rollover?), this think hold nothing too it.

  • Mike says:

    They should just sell a retro fit to make the 26er into a 27.5 as well since this is basically a 29er down sized

  • David says:

    Really disappointing effort by Specialized. An adapted 29er front end? Really?

  • Kingdon says:

    The main thing the Stumpy 29er needed was shorter chainstays. This thing has them, Yay! I doubt that a ground up front triangle would be significantly different so no big there. Good to see Specialized in the ring, and the Stumpy with 150 travel.

  • JBGS says:

    This review makes me really glad I picked up a the Stumpjumper FSR 26 at the end of last year before they stopped making them…steal of a deal if you can still find one.

  • just sayin says:

    much of the benefit of a 29er is the large front wheel. putting a 29er front wheel and fork on this bike would be fun. the hosrt chainstays and lower bottom bracket of the 27.5 is where it is at

  • Woodchuck says:

    I think this is Specialized “innovate or die”ing.

  • FSRGuy says:

    My LBS worker said they were having a Specialized demo a couple weeks ago and multiple employees confirmed they would have the Enduro 650b’s. Imagine my disappointment when they ‘only’ had the S-works Enduo 29 or the stumpy 650b. Not being interested in a stumpy (ever), I took the Enduro 29 out, but discovered it does not come in a small. I’m in between sizes so I took out the Med Enduro 29. What a disappointment for me. It was huge and didn’t feel right. It idn’t want to lean to corner, it was too big for tight switchbacks. Lost all short gearing. No thanks. Then I decided to try the Stumpy 650b since I was there and already disappointed. So glad I did. Say what you will about this being a specialized ‘hack’ (as is the HDR 650b, althought the HDR 650b is a brilliant hack), but I thought the expert carbon 650b was seriously fun. If I didn’t already have a 2007 S-works Enduro SL (26’er, size med) that I already love, I’ buy this stumpy 650b. It’s much more plush than my Enduro SL and I’m sold on the 650b wheel size. I’m 5’5″, and I feel the 29er wheel is still too big for us small guys. Still waiting for that Enduro 650b (been riding Enduro’s since year 2000). That’ll be my next bike. But this stumpy is still a super-fun ride! Don’t knock it unless you’ve thrown a leg over it on a local trail.

  • guppie says:

    FSRGuy, I think what you’re not realizing about this so called “new” bike is that it’s not “new” at all… Anybody who values their paycheck won’t dare touch this bike because it’s essentially a prototype and is already a dead model before it hits the store. Everybody knows Specialized will design a dedicated 27.5 frame and it will certainly be a homerun in 12-18 months (that’s what they’re known for) but this is a slap in the face to all those wanting a 27.5 by Specialized. By scrambling for mixed parts and creating a “frankenbike” is just plain insulting. One of my favorite bikes of all time was my 2008 Stumpy Expert. With that being said, Specialized fans deserve more than this… especially when you’re throwing down $3500-$6500! And since you’re paying a decent chunk of money for these, this is my interpretation:

    Marketing Team: “boss, ugh, we really F’d up on this 27.5 craze and underestimated it’s popularity”
    Design Team: “Boss, it’s going to take at least 12-16 months to make a whole new deisgn”
    Boss: “Oh well, screw the customer, grab some parts from the shed and call it a 27.5 and try to make whatever money we can…”

    • FSRGuy says:

      guppie – agree with your interpretation. I suppose $6k+ is too much to spend on a frankenbike. I would have to actually ride it on a well-known trail before making a decision. But then yes, I would feel cheated once the dedicated frame came out so I’d probably wait.

  • newbie says:

    hello, is the blue alloy stumpy available in canada? i don’t seem to be able to find it and it looks pretty sharp. anyone know

  • John says:

    Basically they made too many 29ner frames not too long ago to cheapen the cost. When 27.5’s started arriving they tried to ‘stop or delay’ its progression that explains their press releases 2 years ago. Now what to do with a surplus of 29ner frames amidst the unstoppable popularity of the 27.5’s? Smack in some spacers! Rubber mallets near their factories are definitely sold out.

  • BIll Clark says:

    Soooo…… I just Rode the Stumpy Expert carbon Evo 650b at a demo-day put on by my Trail Head Cyclery and in my back-yard trail system, Santa Teresa County Park where I’ve ridden hundreds of times. This bike absolutely delivers and I’d have no problem throwing money at it – even if you want to call it a frankenbike. It was the most fun bike I’ve ridden in years. Super stable, The front-end easily lofts over anything. Every bump or rock became a launching point. The bike is flickable, carves corners, rolls fast, sucks up gnar, listens to body english, and allows you to change lines instantly without arguing. Reminded me of the Ibis mojo HDR 650b, but with more travel. This bike is the real deal. An absolute blast. I came away smiling… armchair cyclists can denounce its merits all they want. Throw a leg over it on a familiar trail and become enlightened. I rode this back-to-back with an enduro 650b and I actually liked the stumpy better. Surprising, since I’m on my third enduro now.

  • Chad Maki says:

    reading old article, and laughing. Don’t just geek out and hate the bike. Try the stumpy. It rips.
    I am now geeking on an MRP Stage on the front. Too fun.

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