S-Works vs. S-Works: Specialized Stumpjumper Showdown

2017 Specialized Stumpjumpers are relatively affordable, but can they compete with the latest generation? We take a closer look at two S-Works models from then and now to see how they stack up.

2021 Specialized Stumpjumper vs. 2017 Specialized Stumpjumper

Written by
Bruce Lin

Published on

Posted in
Bikes

Everyone wishes they could ride a "dream bike," but what if you could find a deal that's just as capable for way less? Today, we're comparing two Specialized S-Works Stumpjumpers that are separated by four years, two generations, and $4,000.

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The dream bike:

2021 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper

[product-block handle="2021-specialized-s-works-stumpjumper-l-3"/]

For the dreamers, we have this custom-built 2021 S-Works Stumpjumper. The Stumpjumper received a major update for 2021, with a move from Specialized’s FSR suspension system (a 4-bar or Horst-link system) to a linkage-driven single-pivot with carbon flex stays. This reduces weight and provides a more efficient pedaling platform for climbing. Not only that, the geometry has been updated to keep up with modern trends, meaning it’s longer and slacker. 

The deal bike: 

2017 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper

[product-block handle="2017-specialized-s-works-stumpjumper-fsr-l"/]

This Stumpjumper may be an S-Works, but it’s now five years old and the Stumpjumper has been redesigned twice since this version was first released in 2016. Still, you get baller S-Works features like a full FACT 11m carbon frame, a SRAM XX1 Eagle drivetrain, top-of-the-line suspension, and carbon wheels. 

The deal Stumpjumper is exactly $4,000 less than the dream Stumpjumper. But is it worth the savings? Let’s dive in and find out! 

2021 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper vs. 2017 S-Works Stumpjumper

Bike

2021 S-Works Stumpjumper

2017 S-Works Stumpjumper

Price

$8,599.99

$4,599.99

Frame Material

FACT 11m Carbon

FACT 11m Carbon

Wheel Size

29”

27.5”

Travel

140mm / 130mm

150mm / 150mm

Fork

Ohlins TTX Evo

RockShox Pike RCT3

Shock

FOX Factory Float DPS

Ohlins STX Custom

Drivetrain

SRAM X01 Eagle

SRAM XX1 Eagle

Dropper

FOX Factory Transfer, 175mm

Specialized Command Post, 120mm

Brakes

Magura MT5 Fabio Wibmer

SRAM Guide RS 

Wheels

Crankbrothers Synthesis Carbon

Roval Traverse SL Carbon

Weight

29 lbs 2 oz

28 lbs 1 oz

Frame

Both bikes are S-Works bikes, Specialized’s top-of-the-line offering. This means they both use the lightest and highest-grade carbon fiber, Specialized’s FACT 11m (introduced in 2017, earlier models use FACT 10m). The two major differences between the 2021 and 2017 frames are suspension design and geometry. Of course, the appearance is different too. In 2018, Specialized introduced an asymmetric brace over the rear shock. Then there’s the bottom bracket. The newer 2021 Stumpjumper has gone to a threaded BSA bottom bracket, which is sure to please home mechanics with its serviceability. The 2017 model uses a press-fit PF30 bottom bracket. 

Otherwise, the frames both have SWAT storage in the down tube, internal cable routing, and Boost spacing in the rear. The 2017 model year was the first Stumpjumper with 12x148mm Boost axle spacing, so bear in mind that a 2016 model would have had the older 12x142mm rear axle spacing.

Wheel size

Pay attention to industry trends and you’ll know that 29” wheels are taking over. They roll faster and win races. Does this mean the 2021 Stumpjumper is better? Absolutely not! Plenty of riders still love 27.5” wheels because they feel more agile and playful. If you’re not out to win a downhill or XC race, either wheel size is fine, and you might even have more fun on smaller wheels. 

Suspension

2021 Stumpjumper vs. 2017 Stumpjumper suspensionNote the lack of a chain stay pivot on the 2021 Stumpjumper (left). Instead of a pivot, it uses flexstay seat stays. 

The 2021 Stumpjumper uses a new flex stay suspension system that saves 100 grams over the old design. It has 130mm of rear travel and is paired with a 140mm fork. The rear suspension kinematics have also been revised to make it a more efficient climber. 

The 2017 Stumpjumper uses the tried and true FSR suspension system with 150mm of travel front and rear. This system is still in use on bikes like the Stumpjumper EVO because its active nature makes it perfect for maintaining traction and control while charging downhill.

Both are equipped with high-end forks and shocks that are perfect for trail riding. Only the pickiest riders (some people need them to match!) will feel the need to swap any of it. 

Despite the weight difference, the the 2021 Stumpjumper should be the better climber because the revised kinematics provide more anti-squat. You can leave the rear shock fully open while climbing. The 2017 model is no slouch, and it has lots of climbing traction, but you may need to use the lockout on the shock when climbing smooth trails and fire roads. While the shorter-travel 2021 Stumpjumper may seem like the less downhill-oriented of the two, suspension travel doesn’t tell the whole story. Progressive geometry and wheel size make can make short-travel bikes feel incredibly capable.  

Geometry

Bike

2021 S-Works Stumpjumper

2017 S-Works Stumpjumper

Size

S5

X-Large

Head Angle

65.5°/ 65° (High / Low)

67°

Seat Angle

76.5°/ 76°

74°

Stack

636mm / 641mm 

617mm

Reach

505mm / 500mm

464mm

Mountain bike geometry is growing longer and slacker. The 2021 Stumpjumper has geometry that would have seemed extreme on an enduro bike from five years ago. The slack 65° head tube angle and long reach increase stability and improve confidence when descending steep and gnarly trails. The seat angle is also steeper, moving more rider weight forward to keep the long front end planted on steep climbs. The 2021 Stumpjumper also has a flip-chip that allows riders to swap between high and low geometry settings to suit their terrain or riding style. 

The 2017 Stumpjumper isn’t outdated, but its numbers are more traditional. This shorter and steeper geometry might actually be more fun on mellower trails because it makes the bike feel more agile and playful. 

One thing to note is that the 2021 Stumpjumper uses Specialized’s new S-Sizing system, which is based on reach rather than rider height. S5 is roughly equivalent to an X-Large. The 2021 Stumpjumper is around 40mm longer, which shows how much geometry has changed in only five years!

Drivetrain

2021 Stumpjumper vs. 2017 Stumpjumper drivetrainsThe drivetrains on these bikes are actually nearly identical. They are both SRAM Eagle 12-speed mechanical drivetrains. Interestingly, the 2017 Stumpjumper has XX1 Eagle, while the 2021 has X01 Eagle. Technically, X01 is a step down from XX1 because XX1 uses a few more carbon parts to save 30-40 grams. Otherwise, the two drivetrains function exactly the same. The 2021 Stumpjumper does have the latest 10-52t cassette (vs. 10-50t), so it has a bit more gear range. 

Normally, Specialized S-Works models will be equipped with the top-of-the-line drivetrain. But it's clear from the drivetrain and components on the 2021 Stumpjumper that it was purchased as an S-Works frame then built up by the previous owner with their desired parts. There’s nothing wrong with that, and often, it’s the best way to get a dream bike built to your exact specs.   

Components

Three component differences are worth pointing out: dropper posts, brakes, and wheels. The 2021 Stumpjumper has a 175mm travel dropper while the 2017 has a 120mm travel dropper. Don’t get too hung up on it, since both will get the saddle out of the way on descents. But if you want to tackle steep and gnarly trails, having more drop is a good thing.

Magura's MT5 brakes are distinctive.

The Magura MT5 brakes on the 2021 Stumpjumper provide gobs of stopping power and are beloved by trials riders like Danny MacAskill and Fabio Wibmer. The MT5s equipped here are the Fabio Wibmer signature edition which has some extra gold bits and Fabio’s signature. They definitely pop compared to the basic SRAM Guide RS brakes on the 2017 Stumpy.    

Finally, both bikes roll on carbon wheels. The 2017 Stumpjumper uses Roval Traverse wheels, a Specialized house brand. They’re light, wide, and tough, and there’s really nothing to complain about. The 2021 Stumpjumper runs Crank Brothers Synthesis wheels. These use different rim widths and spoke counts tuned specifically for the front and rear to provide the perfect balance of stiffness and compliance. 

Dream vs. Deal verdict

So which Stumpjumper would I choose? Normally, I’d want to go for the deal bike and use all the money I save on extra gear and mountain bike trips. But this time I think it’s worth dropping the extra four grand on the 2021 model. 

Bruce’s pick: 

[product-block handle="2021-specialized-s-works-stumpjumper-l-3"/]

For me, it all came down to geometry. I’m a big believer in the long and slack movement and think it really improves my confidence and speed on the toughest downhills. If I rode mellower trails or lived somewhere other than the Colorado Front Range, I might have a different answer. 

The 2017 Stumpjumper is still a fantastic bike. It has modern components that won’t need upgrading, and the suspension and geometry will be more than enough for the vast majority of riders and trails. And that $4,000 you save can buy a lot of trips to Whistler. Hmm…

Let me know which bike you’d pick in the comments!

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