Bike Testers: Josh Poulsen, Steve Dempsey, Brandon Watts
Photos: Jadyn Welch & Brandon Watts
Thanks Specialized—you've actually killed my quiver. I hope you're happy!
While many all-mountain bikes lean more to one end of the XC/freeride spectrum, Specialized has created a true out-of-the-box bike that can be ridden anywhere. Obviously, it isn't your downhill bike or dirt jumper, but it takes characteristics from those genres and combines climbability with confidence on descents into one durable, 6-inch package.
Over four months with the "Stumpy" we have indulged in all types of rides and terrain. The lightweight carbon build (28.15 pounds with Crankbrothers Mallet pedals) performed exceptionally well in everything from the wet winter slop and jumps of Bellingham, WA to the dryer technical singletrack in Chico, CA.
Any great bike starts with a good design—and finding a proper balance can be especially hard when designing a bike meant to do it all. The EVO utilizes FSR suspension built around a more aggressive rocker link that gives it close to a half-inch more travel than its standard Stumpjumper FSR brother. This aggressive rocker only adds to the sleigh-a-bility of the already effective and efficient FSR design.
Aside from the patented Specialized suspension design, the EVO also utilizes some great geometry inherited from some of its bigger brothers. The 67-degree head angle and 68.6-degree seat tube, matched with the 16.75" chainstays make for a more aggressive and maneuverable ride while descending the mountain. These slacker angles coupled with the lightweight carbon fiber composite front triangle enable the pilot to ride aggressive and light on almost any trail, whether traveling up or down.
After good design comes a good build, and the EVO comes with a pretty solid spec for its price. The Roval Traverse wheels built on Specialized DT Swiss hubs with 142 x 12 and 15 mm through axles keep wheel weight down and stiffness up. The XO drive train also brings the bike weight down without compromising the feel of a quality shift. To ensure user-specific tunability, Fox has come through with their RP23 Adaptive Logic auto-sag rear shock, which worked exceptionally well. This ensured an accurate, simplified, and time saving method to setting up the proper sag needed. The shock handled the hardest of compressions with progression and never bottomed out. On the suspension front, we personally wished the front was a little more adjustable and stiffer by utilizing a fork with bigger stanchions, but word on the trail is that next year’s model offers a solution for this.
Through the course of our four-month test period with the Stumpjumper EVO Carbon, we had the chance to ride it in every variety of terrain. It handled the flowy and wet roots of Bellingham, the rocky descents of Squamish, and the daylong pedals around Oregon and California with dominance. Flowy and technical trails are more fun because the Specialized Command post allows easy adjustment of the seat height at the push of a button. An aggressive but comfortable cockpit combined with FSR suspension and Fox Float RL FIT fork with lockout were nice for any grinding climb. Flick the pro-pedal switch and the bike slackens out to become a 28-pound downhill rocket.
On faster trails strewn with features, the Stumpy maneuvers and airs almost anything in reason with confidence. Due to the 67-degree head tube and low standover, this bike feels nimble and comfortable in the air. Once the tires hit dirt again, the lower 13.3” bottom bracket height and 16.75” chainstay allow the bike and pilot to roost corners. Adding to the corner feel and descent are the Specialized Purgatory and Butcher tires. The Purgatory 2.2 rear rolls fast and has good cornering knobs to keep your tire where you need it, while giving the pilot a playful semi-slick feel while going straight. As for the Butcher 2.3, it dominates almost any terrain from wet to dry, and is consistent in either the straights or corners. When you need to slow down, the Formula ONE R brakes are there with significant modulation and allowed maximum control coupled with the Specialized rubber. We were impressed with the overall joy we felt every time we swung our leg over the top tube for a ride.
The Long Term Test
Through four months of daily riding, we did minimal maintenance aside from the typical services. All that was necessary: one fork rebuild, two new sets of cable and housing, a new chain and cassette, and a single brake bleed. We did, however, blow through brake pads at a fast rate because of the soft and powerful compound that Formula utilizes in their system. Aside from the normal wear and tear, the only mechanical issue we ran into was with the Specialized Command Post. It worked well at first, but slowly became finicky and unreliable. We had to change the cable in the post two times, and the post would often release over bumps if you weren’t in the saddle. The saddle bolt would also have to be WRENCHED down so the saddle angle wouldn’t change, due to the one bolt design. Aside from the post issues and soft brake compound, the bike was unbelievably durable during its life in our hands. Lastly, on a cosmetic note, the neon yellow paint on the frame started to fade after month two, so the “pop” in the bike graphics is a little subtler these days. But that, of course, doesn’t affect the ride. Aside from these small and honest issues, the bike went through more abuse under the bodies of our testers in 4 months than most do in an entire year. The Stumpjumper Expert EVO Carbon was durable, light, and confidence inspiring.
Within a quickly-evolving market of All-Mountain bikes, we think that Specialized is on point with the Stumpjumper EVO Carbon. Its versatility both up and down the trail have helped create the feel that is truly All Mountain. All three of the testers from Freehub had similar experiences with the EVO, and think that the Stumpy is fantastic bike for the more adventurous and advanced rider/racer. For $5,800 you can have a quiver-killing machine that opens up a wide variety of trails to more flow. If you have interest in such a bike, we suggest you talk with your local dealer to be fit and pre-order your bike because they go quick. And if you’ve already ridden one, let us know what you think by commenting about your own experiences with the Stumpjumper EVO Carbon below.
WEIGHT: 28.15 pounds
View full specs here: Specialized Website
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