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Updated on February 11, 2015

Mountain Biking with The Specialized Stumpjumper

I love everything about mountain bikes and mountain biking. My favorite mountain bike is the Specialized Stumpjumper. I hope you enjoy hearing about this fantastic bike through some of my stories and the Stumpjumpers I have had the pleasure of riding over the years. Thanks for stopping by.

The Rich History of the Stumpjumper

Specialized started to produce the Stumpjumper in 1981, making it the first mass-production mountain bike. The first Stumpjumper was produced in Japan and was based on a design for a custom-made bike originally marketed by Tom Ritchey, Gary Fisher and Charles Kelly. Specialized's founder Mike Sinyard has explained that the company's aim was to "make a bike on a production basis but as though it was a custom bike". The first Stumpjumpers had welded steel frames because the lugged and brazed frames that designer Tim Neenan wanted to use were not available at the time. The original bike had a modified BMX stem and handlebars based on Magura motorcycle handlebars. The bike was equipped with 15-speed Suntour ARX GT gears, originally designed for use on road bikes, and the Stumpjumper also featured Mafac cantilever brakes and a TA Cyclotourist chainset, both designed for touring bikes. It had no suspension. The bike weighed just under 30 pounds (14 kg).

After the first production run in 1981, around 500 were imported to the United States over the course of the next year. The original Stumpjumper was sold for US$750 as a complete bike or $395 for the frame only. Specialized marketed it as an affordable and versatile bike for a new sport, namely mountain biking, and used the slogan "The bike for all reasons". Initially, bike retailers were sceptical about the Stumpjumper, with some asking Sinyard what he was doing with a "big kids' BMX". However, the first shipment of 125 bikes sold out in six days. According to sports journalist Ben Hewitt, the Stumpjumper "was a resounding success" and its introduction contributed to the rapid rise in popularity of the new sport.

An original Stumpjumper is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. A limited edition reproduction of the original Stumpjumper, featuring modern components and named the Stumpjumper Classic, was produced in 2007 to mark the bike's 25th anniversary. It was available for US$1,300.


1982 Stumpjumper

A few years ago I found an old 1985 Stumpjumper and decided to embark on a complete restoration project. The frame was in pretty good shape but the black paint was as scratched up as you would expect a twenty something year old mountain bike to be. Most of the parts were on the bike and only a few were not the originals. The project didn't seem too daunting though finding the parts was going to be the most difficult part.

I spent a couple of months checking the web to see what I could find and was able to come up with a seat that was in perfect condition and some handlebar grips. One night not long after the seat came in I was doing some searching on eBay when I came across the title: 1982 Stumpjumper. I clicked on the item and went directly to the pictures to see if there were any parts that I might be able to use. All the parts looked like they were brand new. Picture after picture of bright shiny vintage bicycle parts. Then I looked closer at the frame and wondered what's up here, the frame was pristine too.

Then I scrolled back up to the top of the page to read the description of the bike as my curiosity had peaked. The first thing I saw was that the auction only had three minutes left and that the price for this bike was extremely low. The bike was described as a 1982 Specialized Stumpjumper that had recently been found brand new, still in the box in the basement of a Colorado bike shop that had just been purchased by new owners. I couldn't believe it! I put in a bid thinking there was no way I could get this bike for what I could afford but two minutes later I was the high bidder. I guess I would say it was one of the few times I agreed with eBay when they said "You won".

The bike arrived about a week later and is beautiful. I still haven't finished putting it all together but am really looking forward to it. The bike has never been ridden, never had air in the tires and as you can see in the picture still has packing material on it. My wife asked what I was going to do with the bike and told her, "ride it" she then said "are you?" Good point honey.

As for the '85 stumjumper, I fixed it up (not restored) and gave it to a friend who loves it and rides with his son frequently.

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1991 Stumpjumper
1991 Stumpjumper

1991 Stumpjumper

Not long ago, which I guess is relative, so maybe to my seven year-old daughter it would be, a long time ago, whichever the case; I was casually perusing the Stumpjumper search results on ebay and I came across a 1991 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper bicycle frame. S-Works is the designation Specialized Bicycles uses for their top of the line competition products. The frame was black with red lettering and looked to be in near perfect condition. I watched the auction for a few days and put in a bid that I thought was more than reasonable for both of us. I ended up with the high bid and a few days later received the frame. It turned out to be in just as good a shape as I had hoped with the added bonus of being the lightest bike frame I had ever held. Now the only question was what to do with it.

One day our son Max and I were out riding and he asked how bicycles were made which gave me a great idea. How about Max and I finding all the parts and building this bike together? This turned out to be the perfect winter project for us. We had so much fun researching the how tos and the what fors of bicycle components, then hunting down the best price for each of the products we had decided on. The most fun came when we finally had everything in hand and started to turn everything into a bicycle. The time we spent together was invaluable. The things we learned about bikes were inspirational, and being able to go out and ride something that we made is so motivating. I highly encourage you to find a project like this to do with your child(ren).


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