If you take a step back and review just the frame of a Specialized Stumpjumper, it would be easy to believe it was a cyclocross or road frame. The tubes are elegant with strong but unassuming chainstays and pencil thin/comfy looking seatstays. If you compared it side by side with its competitors you would believe it even more with their bulky shapes and thick rear triangles. Surely Specialized has compromised stiffness to create a vertically compliant ride in the Stumpjumper hardtail. Haven't they?
One thing I strongly dislike about mountain biking is that it seems the equipment fails and behaves poorly all the time. When was the last time my shifting was good, or I made it through a ride without a mechanical, etc. Bikes are heavy and not exactly responsive. Why is there such a disconnect between road bike flawlessness and mountain bikes? Why can't my shifting always feel smooth with careful smart cable routing? Where is the stiffness I experience on the tarmac?
It's there; it's called the Stumpjumper.
You want a rocket? How about exceptional lateral stiffness? Good cable routing? Solid heatube? Immovable bottom bracket? Incredible tracking? How about light weight? Check.
There is no other way to describe this bike than to say: it feels like a road bike. What higher compliment can be paid to a mountain bike? It behaves as one with the body and does exactly what is requested of it. Of every bike I have owned (upwards of 30 which isn't very many compared to some folks!) it is THE BEST. It rails corners, climbs as well as my road bikes, and simply glides through the roughest terrain. I can't imagine riding a different hardtail and being satisfied. Ever.
I ride the Specialized Stumpjumper because it is the best hardtail in the world.