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  1. #1
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    2011 Stumpy FSR 29er; or, 5 bad brains in 18 months.

    In early 2012 I replaced my '07 Fuel EX8 with a new '11 Stumpy FSR Expert 29er. The first few rides were great - definitely felt the 29er advantage rolling over stuff. Messed around with the brain adjust a bit but couldn't really tell a difference. I thought with my newness to the world of the brain I couldn't yet detect its advantage. After a few more rides it just didn't feel right - no matter what I did with the blue knob things were stiff; to the point of feeling like it was bottoming out after about an inch of travel.

    So, after looking at the user manual, I come to find out the blue knob should be ~14 clicks from full soft to full hard. My brain's blue knob however just spun, never reaching a hard stop. After a bit more riding and adjusting I was convinced that no matter what I did there was no change in brain behavior. I took it to the bike shop and they confirmed - it was toast. They said to expect a ~4 week rebuild turnaround. I was NOT happy. The riding season was going great and I didn't want to be without a bike that long (the shop had no loaners/demos). So I wait a few months for the season to die down a bit. By the time I get it back to the shop I'm told it's out of warranty. I hem and haw and Specialized agrees to split the ~$400 rebuild cost.

    Anywho, in an effort of brevity, literally wash, rinse and repeat 4 more times over the following year. I'm relatively certain that the 1st brain blew out on my first ride with the bike. I'm quite certain that brains 2-4 blew out within 3 rides. I am 100% certain the 4th brain blew out on its first ride - I could literally feel it give (super rocky and root-strewn trail). Brains 2 and 5 are all-new; the others were rebuilding my existing brain.

    Specialized warrantied brains 2-5. However, they said brain #5 was it, and that I was SOL on any more failures. Now that I've told my story out on the trail I hear all sorts of similar stories - I rode with a guy last week who is on his 8th brain on an '09 Stumpy - his shop must be a bit better healed with Specialized - he was able to get brains 1-7 warrantied, and for 8+ they split the cost.

    Hats off to Specialized - they greatly diminished ~18 months of riding and cost me hugely in the depreciation on two ~$4,000 bikes (the Stumpy itself and then its replacement). Boo on me for not researching the Internets for war stories of epic numbers of failed brains. Once Specialized gave me the "no more warranty replacement brains" ultimatum, that day I went out and bought a Fuel EX9 29er (a much better bike even sidestepping brain issues). I just got the Stumpy back from the shop yesterday with brain #5. I'll never ride it again. I'll sell it and never buy so much as a buy Specialized tire for the remainder of my mountain biking career. Specialized's product and service are absolutely awful.

  2. #2
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    Wow! this is sad to hear. But I must say that if it were me I would be much more PO'd at the shock manufacturer FOX than Specialized even though they are partnered. Yes Specialized handles the warranty issues but im sure all defective shocks go back to Fox. I could be wrong but that usual proceedure with vendor issues. I also noticed that you didnt state your weight or kind of riding your doing which has huge factors on perfomance and longevity of the shock. Please dont think Im pro Specialized or Pro Fox from my response just questioning the high failure rate. It could be very well that Fox has a poor design, or had a bad run of shocks or it could also be that the end user is using the shock for the type of riding that its not in its design specs. I know for me that my weight has a huge factor on shocks,forks etc. Are you a 5'8 guy @ a 160 pounds or a big behemouth at 6'ft 295 like me?

  3. #3
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    Yes Fox builds and repairs (and likely designed at least partially) the brain, however, it is at the behest of Specialized. Additionally, if I buy a car and quickly go through 5 bad alternators, or 5 fuel pumps, or 5 exhaust manifolds, I will hold responsible (er, blame ) the automaker despite the fact that those items are built by external suppliers.

    I'm 5'-10" and 175 lbs and an intermediate trail rider. I had discussions with the bike shop about the trails I ride and they said that the Stumpy is built for plenty more. After the 2nd failure I asked the bike shop to have Specialized call me to discuss my riding or usage of the brain or the exact failure mode. I'll cop to it if I'm doing something wrong - I just want my ~$4,000 bike to work well. That never happened so I was left with the conclusion that it was a design or manufacturing fault.

    I had a bit more than four years and a LOT of miles on my Fuel. Sure there were lots of service items but that bike took 5x the abuse/miles and never had a fork or shock failure (both Fox FWIW) - didn't even had to do any rebuilds actually. Well, I'm back in the Trek family and will be there for a while.

  4. #4
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    Go back to a Trek 29er. Madness cured...
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    Go back to a Trek 29er. Madness cured...
    Yup, solved. Picked up a Fuel EX9 29er two days ago .

  6. #6
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    Same bike and very similar story. I've posted it at least twice here so I won't even bother to copy-pasta it since you've probably seen it.

    I had the Triad shock installed by my dealer for about $280. Yes, I payed for the advanced brain, but I had to get rid of it since it only brought me headaches and was bleeding me out in repair bills/downtime. In my case, Specialized didn't even want to help me with the first rebuild-not even with my 4th rebuild in a ~10 month period. Sucks that the Triad is the only shock that fits on my bike and will remain so for the foreseeable future-definitely won't be skipping on the maintenance. I'm still pretty sour
    about and all my riding buddies know how much I hate the brand now. It's made me a better rider though since I'm now going faster over rougher terrain because I'm a lot less concerned about damaging the frame on the bike that I splurged on.

    Good news is that it is riding really well now that I changed the rear shock, replaced the bars with one that is 720mm long, and replaced the 90mm stem with a 60mm long one.

  7. #7
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    Interesting. After the 4th failure I asked both the shop and Specialized about a non-brain shock retrofit and they said there was none for that bike (M frame). Either way I still would have dumped the bike. Specialized is an awful company with an awful product.

  8. #8
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    An older fox vanilla spring shock feels better than the stock fox brain fade shock that was on my '06. Waiting for the seal kit for my RP23 so I expect it will improve much more with that. The brain fade has too much of a platform feel but it was also sent in prior to my owning the bike so I don't know if that's the nature of the beast or if it's malfunctioning again.

  9. #9
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    I have the RP23 on now and it is the most responsive of the bunch. My preference is small bump compliance without a platform and I was hoping for a super plush feel but still it's decent. I may order a different coil for the vanilla shock since I don't think the ones I have are the right weight for the SJ all too heavy and too light.

  10. #10
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    Hmmm. I was told by the bike shop an RP23 or some other non-Brain shock would not fit on my particular bike. I would have settled for than rather than buying a new bike.

  11. #11
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    I had heard that only specialized shocks could be used on some of the models also fortunately for me that wasn't the case with mine. I can definitely understand your frustration my previous bike was an Ironhorse MK and after a few years the frame cracked which was the time they filed for bankruptcy. There were a number of other reports of the rear triangles cracking also so I guess they decided they couldn't afford all the repairs.

  12. #12
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    Rumor has it that RockShox is preparing to release damper bodies that will fit rear-facing single-bolt clevis mounts like those on the Spec'd bikes. You'll be able to fit up Monarch and Monarch Plus rear shocks. I don't know if there will be stock shocks available pre-built or if the damper body will be aftermarket only. If that's the case, you'll have to buy a complete rear shock and then swap the damper body over.

    I have a spare damper body after I made the switch from the Brain to a Monach Plus on my stumpy...

    mk
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  13. #13
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    $400 to rebuild? No. The cost of rebuild is $90 to $180 depending seals and parts needed. I think your shop was taking advantage of you.

    I have owned lots of Brains and put tons of miles on them. I have over 4000 (in less than a year) on my current Epic without a rebuild.

    I would have went to another shop. 5 bad brains sound fishy to me.
    2014 S-Works Epic WC
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by broncbuster View Post
    I have the RP23 on now and it is the most responsive of the bunch. My preference is small bump compliance without a platform and I was hoping for a super plush feel but still it's decent. I may order a different coil for the vanilla shock since I don't think the ones I have are the right weight for the SJ all too heavy and too light.
    Following up on my previous post I installed a high volume sleeve on the RP23 and it's pretty much optimum in the plush department now also seems to improve ground control.

  15. #15
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    All 2010-2014 Stumpjumper use the same mounts so you can swap the shocks around. I had a 2011 RP23s from the 2011 Evo on my 2011 Elite, then I used it on my 2013 Evo while the stock CTD shock was getting new seals. A buddy of mine has a 2012 SJ s-works and he replaced the Brain shock with a 2014 CTD shock. The 2012 Brain shock is now on a 2010 SJ Expert and replaced the broken brain shock on that bike.

    The tricky part is when you get into the 29er and 26 parts. The SJ 29er can have issues if you install a shock from the 26. If the stroke is too long you can get frame contact and damage your bike.
    2013 Stumpy Evo
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  16. #16
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    Had a 2009 Epic and multiple brain fails. Ended up costing me dearly. I don't do brains any more. Of course when I posted multiple posters cited their brain successes. But if you have problems it means you watch others ride. I was at a local trail one day however when 2 brains failed on the same day. They do fail you know. All stuff fails. More stuff, more failures. Avoid brains unless it is that important to you.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailbildr View Post
    Rumor has it that RockShox is preparing to release damper bodies that will fit rear-facing single-bolt clevis mounts like those on the Spec'd bikes. You'll be able to fit up Monarch and Monarch Plus rear shocks. I don't know if there will be stock shocks available pre-built or if the damper body will be aftermarket only. If that's the case, you'll have to buy a complete rear shock and then swap the damper body over.

    I have a spare damper body after I made the switch from the Brain to a Monach Plus on my stumpy...

    mk
    I did a little Google searching to no avail - do you have a link to any more info on this?

  18. #18
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    Bad news makes a lot more noise than good ones. For a busted Brain out there there's tons of them working flawlessly. 2011,2012 and 2013 Brains,never had a single issue. The Brain technology is what keeps me hooked on Specialized.
    I'm looking myself at a Trek Fuel 29 but too scared to take the non Brain leap of faith,I'll probably sell my Stumpy FSR Elite 29 to go back to an Epic,that's where the Brain system really shines.

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