When it came to finding a new long-term test bike, the 2021 Stumpjumper EVO has consistently been at the top of a shortlist. While it’s not the first to incorporate this level of adjustability, the EVO with its wide range of geometry options paired with the progressive numbers represents the next wave of what we’ll be seeing in mainstream mountain bike frame design.
2020 vs 2021
For the last few year I’ve been enjoyed testing a frame-up build of the 2020 27.5 alloy EVO. Easily one of the best values in an alloy 27.5 all-arounder, for 2021, Specialized has changed things up. First off, the newest iteration of the EVO is no longer available with a budget minded alloy frame option. (though the limited release Status appears to have picked up the torch-see our post here) And for 2021, the 27.5 wheel option has been completely discontinued.
That said, Specialize now offers an aftermarket option mullet link that allows the use of the 27.5″ rear wheel without compromising on geometry.
- Frame: FACT 11m carbon chassis and rear-end, asymmetrical design, 150mm of rear-wheel travel
- Designed for 29″ wheels; option for 27.5″ rear wheel with mullet link
- SWAT™ Door integration. Includes 22oz SWAT hydration bladder
- Head tube angle adjustment
- 2 position bottom bracket adjustment
- Threaded BB
- Fully enclosed internal cable routing
- 12x148mm dropouts
- Sealed cartridge bearing pivots, replaceable derailleur hanger
- (EVO Comp) Fork: 160mm Fox Float 36 Rhythm with GRIP Damper, 44mm offset.
- (EVO Comp) Rear shock: Fox Float X Performance, RX Trail Tune, EVOL Air Sleeve. 210x55mm
Geometry Highlights (S4)
- Reach: 475mm
- Toptube: 623mm
- Rear center/ chainstay: 438mm
- Wheelbase: 1247mm
- BB Height: 340mm
- BB Drop: 35mm
- Headtube angle: (adjustable, stock setting 64.5º)
- Seat tube andle: 76.9º
Out of the box: EVO COMP
The EVO Comp is the base model offered and represents the best value of the line, starting at $4300 complete upon its release. That said, with limited availability, the street price on the comp was $4500 — provide you could get your hands on one. If you want one and have the opportunity to claim one, and don’t act on it, someone else will – and quickly. With limited availability, I had to acquire this bike the way everyone else does – called our local shop immediately upon seeing the bikes land via a social media post and handed over credit card numbers. It was good we did, as prices haven’t stopped rising. With 2021 models all sold out, 2022 models are being introduced early and the price has increased to $5,000.
The spec of the 2021 EVO Comp is solid. For suspension, the Comp features a Fox Float X Performance rear shock, paired with a Fox Rhythm 36 fork, (boost, 160mm travel, 44m offset) with a basic Grip damper. The drivetrain and brakes consist of a full Shimano SLX group, which, as a Shimano fan, is a treat. SLX with its four-piston brakes is similar to XT, though it weighs a bit more, and cuts a few small bits. That said, the performance differences between SLX and XT are smaller than ever.
The cockpit, grips, and saddle are no-name OEM spec, with seat height adjustments provided by the X-Fusion Manic post. This is the second X-Fusion post I’ve spent time on and I can attest it works extremely well and has a great feel at the lever.
As it stood on the sales floor, the complete bike weight came to 33 lbs, 7 oz. (almost 33.5 lbs)
That’s a bit heavy for my personal taste, and the stock bar/stem didn’t last a minute. After snapping our initial photos, they were the first to go, replaced with a lightweight 30mm Syntace Megaforce 2 stem and carbon Shimano Pro bar that began the diet. Then we loaded her up in the van and headed to Ashland, Oregon for the weekend to break her in.
First impressions on the trail
The Specialized Stumpjumper is a classic model, and has undergone a number of iterations throughout the years. I’ve owned &/or spent time on quite a few of them, as well as the EVO versions and the longer travel Enduro and Demo cousins, and they’ve always been fun bikes to ride. One of my favorites was the 2017 Stumpy, which, with its 27.5 wheels was just so playful and a great all-arounder. The EVO iteration has been known as the more rowdy iteration, meant for charging.
I personally felt the 2018-20 iteration of the EVO went too far in terms of the low bottom bracket height and rear center length. The 2021 EVO pulls back, with slightly 438mm chainstays on the Medium & Large equivalent instead of the previous 440mm. The bottom bracket height is also a bit higher at 340mm (the out-of-the-box setting) instead of the previously ground-scraping 324mm.
At 5’10”, I’ve been running size medium bikes for years and have come to the conclusion that a 450mm reach paired with the 29″ wheel platform is a bit short for me, considering modern geometry. I like my 27.5 bikes with a more compact cockpit and have enjoyed the 462mm reach of the Status, but with larger wheels and the intended use, I elected to move to the larger S4 size with its 475mm reach. With the short 30mm stem, the bike works well both up and down mountains, though it’s clearly optimized for descending, inline with other long travel trail/ all mountain bikes.
To help with climbing, I have my seat pushed forward on the rails, and have pointed it down a bit. With the long reach, the short 30mm Syntace Megaforce 2 stem improved my riding experience, as S4 sizing with the 475mm reach feels large for me with the stock stem, after riding mediums for so long.
In the stock geo settings and “high” BB position, I find the EVO to corner on rails, and prefer the geometry settings in the stock position. I find 64º to be my preferred head angle, as the 63.5º HA on the Status feels pushed a bit too far in comparison. I’d actually raise the BB even higher if it were an option, to help facilitate pulling the front end up, as I enjoy bikes that are easy to manual. Which, in comparison to the Status, the EVO is not. After spending time on the Status, I’ve been enamored with the handling and how easy I can pull it up and manual it. In comparison, I have the hardest time getting the EVO on its back wheel; and when compensating for the harder pull, I am not as comfortable manualing it as the balance point is much higher than what I prefer. It’s not a deal breaker — I can afford to have two bikes in my quiver, which each optimized for a slightly different riding experience. But it does make it a challenge when it comes to deciding what bike to load up for the day. Just kidding – the EVO is several pounds lighter, and that makes the decision easy.
Up next: Exploring the Mullet
Speaking of the Status, I quite enjoy the mullet configuration. According to the geometry chart, the EVO with the mullet link has 435mm chainstays. That’s much more inline with my previous trail bike (Transition Sentinel carbon, 2018 size medium) so I already ordered the mullet link and sourced a micro spline 27.5″ wheel. Part II of the 2021 Stumpjumper EVO review experience will focus on riding it as a mullet.
More info on the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Comp at Specialized.com