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See our high-level takeaways below, or skip to our full review!Our Take:
- Most affordable starting price
- Sometimes out-of-stock
- Multiple price points
- 140 mm front wheel travel
- American company
Jump to: Full Review
- Advanced technology
- Expensive top-end prices
- Popular with race die-hards
- Aggressive geometry
- American company
Jump to: Full Review
When you are riding a bike on various types of trails, you want a bike that will be able to handle every type of terrain you may encounter. You expect maximum control at all times and a bike that is as fluid in its movements as you are. You also need a trail bike that is built to withstand maximum force as you move quickly down trails and over many kinds of terrain.
Trail bikes are designed to move easily along rocky and uneven trails and paths, but not all mountain bikes are created equal. Hardtail bikes have a front suspension system, but no rear shocks. This makes hardtail bikes cheaper, and easier to maintain, but that also leads to a bumpy ride over tough terrain. Whether considering the top hardtail bikes or preparing for a more significant investment in a full-suspension bike, the decision of professionals and amateurs alike often comes down to comparing Specialized vs Trek before making a decision.
Specialized Stumpjumper vs Trek Fuel EX Comparison
Two of the top full-suspension trail bikes on the market today are the Specialized Stumpjumper and the Trek Fuel EX Bike. Both have numerous similarities that allow them to be quite effective on any type of trail. Both trail bikes have special features that make them unique and give them a competitive edge in terms of quality and durability. Plus, the Stumpjumper and Fuel EX are both available in a variety of price ranges driven by various features, including whether or not your chosen bike is built with a carbon fiber frame. One thing is for sure: If you plan on conquering rough terrain, you need a bike whose shocks offer sufficient rear travel and overall effective suspension. The Stumpjumper and Fuel EX bikes lead the way.
Best Features of the Specialized Stumpjumper
I can’t help but start by saying that the Specialized Stumpjumper is one beautiful bike. In fact, it’s one of my favorite bikes from an aesthetics perspective. It’s handsome and somehow futuristic. It looks like it is oozing with technological innovations, and it is.
While an entry-level Stumpjumper still costs a few grand, more than the most expensive hardtail Rockhopper, theSpecialized Stumpjumper is packed with rider-first engineering and progressive geometry. What exactly does all of that mean? Well, for starters, the Stumpjumper is available in multiple sizes, and each size is engineered to match performance with the rider’s needs. The Stumpjumper is a lightweight bike, and the rider-specific riding ensures the same experience for trail junkies of all sizes. And that beautifully unique bike frame featuring a low design and steeper seat tube angle create a more stable ride.
Plus, the suspension package was field-tested and refined to develop the most advanced 130mm design on the market. It handles well and responds to the trail while still maintaining enough rigidity for connected climbing and straightaways.
The most affordable Stumpjumper models feature advanced alloy frames, but most versions of the bike feature a carbon frame. That is certainly no knock on a good aluminum frame if that is what your budget allows for, but there is no denying the lightweight and aerodynamic of a carbon frame that draws nearly every professional away from aluminum.
S-Works is the more prestigious badge that Specialized uses for its most advanced, and most expensive bikes. So the Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper might be the ultimate trail bike. The S-Works Stumpjumper features a wireless electronic groupset for shifting and a FOX suspension platform. It truly is the best mid-travel trail bike Specialized has ever produced, creating a comfortable bike when you need it, and an aggressive design when you are ready to dig in.
Best Features of the Trek Fuel EX
While the frame design on the Specialized Stumpjumper just hits different, Trek’s Fuel EX is pretty sharp in its own right. The Trek Fuel EX is a full-suspension trail bike that is designed for versatility and performance. The rear suspension offers 130mm of travel, similar to the Stumpjumper, while the front travel offers an even more generous 140mm.
The Trek Fuel EX 5 is the entry-level trail bike with a Shimano 1X12 drivetrain, and a dropper post designed for low descents. It is also available in multiple sizes, after all, nothing is worse than riding an ill-fitting bike without proper standover clearance.
Of course, the Trek Fuel EX is available in a wide range of options. For the most competitive riders, the carbon offerings on the Fuel EX 9 Series might be tempting, but personally, I appreciate the middle ground that the Fuel EX 8 has to offer. The Fuel EX 8 is cheaper than the 9 series because the Fuel EX 9 bikes are built with carbon frames. The beauty of the Trek Fuel EX 8 is that it is built with performance components, some of which are found on the more advanced Fuel Ex 9 bikes, but instead of featuring the expensive carbon frame, the Fuel EX 8 is made with a light alloy frame.
Trek also expanded its size range to offer a better fit for all riders. Most bikes, including those in the medium to extra-large framesets, include 29-inch wheels, while the smallest frames include 27.5-inch wheels. The ranging frame size and wheel size offer more control and comfort on the trail, over a range of terrain.
The Trek Fuel EX offers a wider gear range than some alternative bikes and a top-tier suspension system. Even some of the aluminum versions of the bike, such as the Trek Fuel EX 8 offer high-end performance components, such as a FOX fork, extra-low 51-tooth climbing gear, and 4-piston brakes. If you are looking for value in a mid-travel 29er, this is it.
Is the Specialized Stumpjumper Worth It?
Buying a trail or mountain bike is a personal experience. There are many different factors that go into making the final decision. Starting at just under $2,500, the Specialized Stumpjumper gives you the versatility you need in every aspect. In the higher-priced, more advanced versions of the bike, you will find that the Specialized S-Works technology is suitable for even the most competitive riders. The rear suspension system provides just enough responsiveness to smooth the ride out, without eliminating the aggressive control you need to push the limits.
The SRAM hydraulic disc brakes are responsive, and the custom-fit sizing is built to work well with your body frame. Whether you are looking for a bike to excel on aggressive terrain or a bike with ultimate downhill performance, the Specialized Stumpjumper is one of the best full-suspension trail bikes on the market, and fully worth the investment.
Is the Trek Fuel EX Worth It?
For those who want rugged efficiency in their trail bikes, the Trek Fuel EX is well worth the price. The higher-priced models have lighter frames, making them faster, and easier to maneuver. Due to the Fox forks and solid suspension, the Trek Fuel EX is easy to get off the ground. There is no sluggishness or weight resistance that you might feel once you have landed a heavier bike.
The Trek Fuel EX is an excellent bike if you want to speed down exceptionally fast trails. It’s also incredibly durable if your goal is to make it down terrain that is exceptionally rugged and demanding. The stability of the suspension and the workmanship that has gone into the frame proves the Trek Fuel EX trail bike is one of the best on the market for anyone who chooses to compete or simply use it for recreational purposes.
While there are plenty of alternative options, ranging from a Norco Optic to a Santa Cruz Hightower, Trek has led the industry in performance and innovation for years. Plus, Trek offers plenty of options to meet your needs. If you are looking for an affordable bike with as many performance features as possible, then the Trek EX 5 is a great option. On the other hand, the Trek EX 9 series offers top-shelf carbon components that make it a formidable speed demon for competitions.
Both the Specialized Stumpjumper and the Trek Fuel Ex offer aluminum frames in their less expensive models and carbon frames in their most expensive trail bikes. Both are considered “mountain” or trail bikes and offer 12 speeds to maximize speed and potential. The prices for both trail bikes start at between $2,500 and $3,000 respectively with each bike having a high price of approximately between $7,000 and $9,999.
Both bikes have responsive suspension systems and impressive hydraulic brake performance. By the way, if you are still trying to wrap your head around mechanical vs hydraulic disk brakes, hydraulic disc brakes utilize a fluid-filled brake line, while mechanical brakes use a steel cable. Hydraulic systems are often considered more efficient because they require less pressure and more controlled braking.
When it comes to features and functionality, both trail bikes have been proven to meet or exceed the durability standards of those who both compete and/or use them for recreational purposes. Both bikes offer flexibility and stability. There is a reason the bikes are often compared, and there is a reason that they are often chosen by amateurs and professionals alike.
Model Improvements by Price: Specialized Stumpjumper vs Trek Fuel EX
While the less expensive versions of the two bikes are made with aluminum alloy frames, the more expensive versions have switched to lightweight carbon frames. As the price increases, technological advancements also increase. The more expensive the bike, the more advanced the suspension and braking systems will be. Both use Fox forks for their models in every price range. The more expensive the bike, the more flexible and versatile the forks and suspension. The advanced technology used in building these two bikes dramatically increases the rider’s ability to take on the most difficult types of terrain and feel they are in complete control.
Price Range: Stumpjumper vs Fuel EX
The price range for the Specialized Stumpjumper starts in some locations at just under $2,500 and can go as high as $10,000. The range in price is due to the year, the exact model, the features, and the location where it is being purchased.
The price for the Trek Fuel EX can range from $3,000 to $10,000. Again, there are several factors that go into the price of the best and most popular brand of a trail bike. The Trek Fuel EX offers a level of stability that most trail bikes do not.
Understanding how technology improves the performance of a trail bike is important. When choosing a quality trail bike, there are factors that must be considered. Do your research. Talk to others and read testimonials. Each trail bike falls into its own niche in terms of durability, maneuverability, and stability. Before you buy a bike, make sure you know as much as possible about each of your choices.
What Is The Best Full-Suspension Mountain Bike?
While we prefer the aggressive geometry on the Specialized Stumpjumper, the reality is you could spend hours arguing about personal preferences related to the perfect head angle or how well each bike incorporates long-stroke dropper posts. If you are choosing after comparing Specialized Stumpjumper vs Trek Fuel Ex, you’ve already narrowed down your options to two of the best bikes to ever hit the trails.
Trek and Specialized make some of the greatest bikes on the planet, always leading current trends. If you were in the market for a road bike, you might eventually make a decision after comparing Trek Domane vs Specialized Roubaix, just as for full-suspension bikes, your final decision may come down to comparing the pros and cons of the Stumpjumper vs Fuel EX.
Full-Suspension vs Hardtail Mountain Bikes
Hardtail mountain bikes only have suspension systems on the front wheel; whereas full-suspension systems offer shock absorption on the front and rear wheel. If you are on gentle, rolling terrain where speed is the name of the game, a hardtail bike might be preferable because the rider can apply more torque through the frame to speed along the pathway. On the other hand, if you like more technical trails that are full of rocks, roots, and other obstacles along the way, then a full-suspension bike makes more sense.
Whether you choose a full-suspension bike or hardtail bike is a matter of personal preference, but full-suspension bikes are generally much more expensive, and harder to maintain. Of course, there is a huge range of price options that depend on the frame materials and complexity of the other components.
In considering hardtail bikes, riders often make a final decision after comparing Trek Marlin vs Specialized Rockhopper. The geometry between bikes is very similar. While hardtail mountain bikes may be the best for going fast on fire roads and clear singletracks, the case for whether a hardtail or full-suspension bike is the better climbing bike is less clear. It really comes down to the terrain. If you are on a technical trail, then an efficient suspension system will do wonders for your climb, and the reality is that few trails are perfectly flat or void of technical elements.
Of course, the other consideration is price. Those on a tight budget generally start with a hardtail. While those with a little more wiggle room in their bank account might opt straight for the more technically advanced full-suspension bike.
Final Considerations: Best Performance Trail Bike
Among mid-travel bikes, there are none better than the Specialized Stumpjumper and the Trek Fuel EX. The Specialized Stumpjumper may be the more playful bike, as it features a more aggressive geometry ready for a range of terrains and speeds, but the Trek Fuel EX remains a popular option among enthusiasts.
Still, while we might recommend the Trek Marlin when comparing hardtail bikes, we love the Stumpjumper among full-suspension bikes. The FlipChip adjustability enables the rider to control the fit and riding style, and that aggressive geometry facilitates attacking the most difficult trails with speed and control.
While we expect that you would be happy with a Trek Fuel EX or Specialized Stumpjumper, we recommend theSpecialized Stumpjumper. If you can afford the Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper, then even better, as it is truly one of the most impressive series of full-suspension bikes on the planet.
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