Grace Pang’s modified 2003 Stumpjumper fits into the tradition of the Stumpy perhaps more than a stock bike off the showroom floor. After all, the Stumpy was introduced to the bike world in 1981 as a steel off-road bike with part designs influenced by motorcycles (handlebars), and some components that were made for road and touring bikes (15-speed gears and canti-brakes). The front fork was rigid.
Now, take a closer look at Grace’s bike. It’s not like the Stumpy of old at all…and yet, it is. It, too, is an amalgam of components used on various styles of bikes. The most obvious is the set of 700c wheels, making this originally intended 26” mountain bike into a virtual 29er. This is made possible with the addition of a rigid fork scalped from a Bianchi SISS that allows for plenty of clearance, and a set of disc brakes (the fork is designed for a disc) that does away with the problem of rim brake alignment due to the difference in wheel size. Okay, so the bike is not steel, but consider the number of times the Stumpy has morphed into something far different from its original prototype and the aluminum frame of this bike is simply an alloy of a different parent.
Since this isn’t intended to be a mountain bike, but a bike for wandering over the back roads (which tend to be dirt around here), it also has a slightly longer SLX crank and larger chainring at 48-36-26T (originally 44-32-22) to make those road excursions more comfortable.
And how was all this accomplished, you ask? Grace is married to Ed Brewer. Ed’s the guy who owns the previously reviewed Quiring carbon/steel cross bike. Ed likes to tinker with bikes. He tinkered a bike for Grace that makes Grace very happy. You can tell that Ed has a lot of fun with this kind of thing. There are interesting touches here and there, like the low-budget inner tube wrapped over the chainstay to protect the metal, and the playful fun of tutti-frutti spoke nipples.
Let’s Go Back…Back…Back in Time
Stumpjumper. The name evokes off-roadness. But look at the lineage since that first 1981 steel wonder. There was the leap in 1985 to an even more dirt savvy frame and better components than the original. In the interim they’d differentiated their Stumpy with a base model and a Sport. They added a Comp, then a Team, an Epic, an Epic Ultimate. Then they went schitzy and tore the Epic name away and created a whole different line. The Stumpy lived on in all its cro-molyness.
In 1992 they went wild and created the Stumpjumper Ultimate (see it here), a carbon tubed, titanium lugged off-road bike for the financially gifted.
But, if I have my facts straight (tenuous at best), they took a major leap in 1993 and threw two changes at the unsuspecting public: an aluminum frame and a full-suspension bike. They still held on to a steel framed bike as well, and they didn’t ditch the hardtail, but that year the drip of evolution made a leap rather than a creep.
Since then they’ve granted cryptic names to their alloys, the way car companies like to do to make an engineered unglamorous lunk of something seem more exotic. Corinthian leather of Chrysler fame comes to mind, which was made in Newark, New Jersey and had no relationship to Corinth of ancient Greece.
Specialized plays this automotive-style name game with M2, M4, M5, and occasionally a more prosaic A1. A1, by the way, showed up in ’96, disappeared for a couple of years, then showed up again for a few more. It’s now history, replaced completely by M5. These hierarchical acronyms relate to the different mixes of alloy, and our hope as cycling consumers is that they truly are improvements, but most of us, if pressed during a lightning round of Jeopardy, wouldn’t have a clue what they mean. By the way, what happened to M3? Was it consigned to the metal heap of great ideas gone awry?
The full-suspension bike appeared in ’93, stayed in the lineup until ’96, slipped away in ’97 and ’98, and reappeared in ’99 and it’s been with us ever since. In fact, the full-suspension FSR series has gone the way of the Epic, becoming a whole different category in their lengthy catalog of bikes.
Cassettes went from 7-speed (’81 – ’95), 8-speed (’96 – ’98), 9-speed (’99 – ’10), and now 10-speed, which were standard on some, but not all, 2010 models.
Women’s specific Stumpys showed up in 2001. They are designed with women’s proportions in mind, most prominently a shorter top tube to accommodate shorter torsos and arm length. Grace’s bike is a Women’s specific model.
There have been other changes over the years, such as a waxing and waning of the number of models available, and most noticeably, a steady increase of carbon frames and forks in recent times. They never have returned to steel, though. Your choice is aluminum or carbon, with a sizable price leap for the latter.
Singlespeeds have also sneaked into the stable. There’s even a carbon singlespeed available, frame only. With the number of names and models (FS, FSR, HT, EVO, SS, Marathon, Comp, Elite, Expert, Pro, S-Works) you sometimes get the impression that they have no idea what’s going to catch on, so they just toss a bunch of model types at a wary public to see which way the wind is blowing. We are a fickle lot after all, thinking that the perfect bike awaits us with just one more upgrade, another change of materials, a new paint color, 3 fewer grams. (It does, doesn’t it?)
So, there you get quick overview of the of the Stumpjumper through the years. An iconic mountain bike that Ed and Grace had fun re-evolving into a modified dirt road bike.
Frame: M4 aluminum
Fork: Bianchi SISS
Brakes: Hayes Nine Hydraulic Disc
Shifters: Deore LX 9-speed
Front Derailleur: Shimano XT
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT 9-speed
Crank: Shimano SLX
Saddle: WTB Rocket V
Pedals: Shimano Clipless
Wheels: Velocity Aerohead 700c
Tires: Bontrager Select Invert 700x35c
If you’re a bike wonk and interested in learning more about the evolution of bikes over the years, there are a few good resources online. One fine resource is BikePedia.com, which covers all brands of bikes and all styles. They go back to 1993. Another is Mombat.org, which covers off-road bikes in that memory haze of mostly 80’s and 90’s models.
Google Specialized Bikes with a specific year and you’ll find a thorough archive that goes back to 2003 (2002 spits you into 2005 models).