Featuring 150mm of rear-wheel travel, alloy frame construction, and modern trail bike geometry, the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO was introduced as a more radical take on the venerable Stumperjumper trail bike. When I was looking to assemble a 27.5″ fun machine, the EVO and its progressive design, features, quality of construction, and reasonable price point stood out as a solid platform ideal for our local rides.
I spent some time on a carbon Stumpjumper with 27.5″ wheels a few seasons ago and thought it was a blast on our local flow trails. Playful and nimble, I found myself boosting every roller on the trail and clearing gaps I didn’t even attempt previously. Looking forward to having a long term test rig with the 27.5″ EVO iteration, after unboxing the frameset, I had to force myself to take a moment to photograph some of the well-considered features before getting it assembled and out on the trail.
Highlights of the EVO Specs & Features
- 150mm of rear-wheel travel via Fox DPX2 metric shock
- M5 alloy frame, asymmetrical design, 27.5 style-specific EVO Trail Geometry
- Threaded BB (yes!)
- Flip chip for adjustable geometry
- Fully enclosed internal cable routing
- 12x148mm dropouts, sealed cartridge bearing pivots, replaceable derailleur hanger
- Custom RX Trail Tune on Rear Shock
- Headset and upper chain guide included
- Ribbed Chainstay protector included
- Room for up to a 2.8″ tire
It’s more affordable to buy a complete bike then swap out parts according to personal preferences than build a bike up from scratch. The nice aspect of this approach is that down the road if/when you sell your bike, you can reinstall brand new parts increasing the value of a used bike. If you’ve accumulated a growing stack of parts, going the frame-only option is a nice option that allows you to play product manager and handpick every aspect of the bike. In our case, with stacks of components in for product reviews, building up the EVO from a frame was a great way to put things into rotation.
Components for our build consisted of:
- XT 11-speed Drivetrain. Our go-to for reliability and shifting performance. Don’t think about shifting, just rip.
- XT 4-piston brakes – favorite trail and enduro brakes. These brakes kick ass, period.
- XT crankset. The reliable standard; quality, durability, quiet performance.
- Spank Industries 350 wheels. Durable, reasonable weight, good value.
- SDG Components Tellis Dropper Post, 7″ of adjustment- light action, durable and reliable, plus easily serviced, all at a great price. Our favorite dropper post.
- SDG Bel-Air V3 Saddle. Long time personal favorite, the latest model just gets better.
- SDG Thrice grips – the newness from SDG. Review in progress.
- Shimano Pro Alloy Handlebar – great sweep, strong, light, reliable, 20mm of rise (30mm would be my ideal though), and all black graphics FTW.
I’ve had a number of components ready to go for sometime, with some of them fresh out of the box, and some previously run on former test bikes, thanks to Shimano, Spank Industries and SDG Components.
For the fork, I was looking to source a Marzocchi Z1, as it looked to be a great fit for a reliable, value-packed but performance as a priority approach I was looking to focus on. It’s difficult to get parts right now, with so many brands out of stock, so for this build, I utilized an MRP Stage fork I’ve had hanging on that wall for a few seasons. (the Stage fork has since been replaced in the MRP lineup with the Ribbon)
I had acquired on to try it out on my Santa Cruz Nomad but had to send it back as its rebound was too slow for my weight – even opened all the way up out of the box. After getting it back and breaking it in, I enjoyed the options for turning. Although it is a bit dated now, it has low hours and is a lightweight quality fork with decent stiffness and a range of setup options. That said, the goal was to set it and forget it, as I was more preoccupied with the Stumpjumper.
Putting everything together was relatively trouble-free; the bulk of the setup time was based around figuring out how to get the housing for the cables through the frame. The housing for the dropper post was already routed in the frame, which was a nice gesture. Getting the rest of the cables routed as a bit of a challenge, but with the aid of the Park Tool IR-1.2 Internal Cable Routing Kit, no hair was pulled, though it did take a bit of time to coax the cables through the frame. I purchased the cable routing kit a while ago and this build was the first time I had to use it… and it was money well worth spent.
It’s also worth discussing the “fully enclosed internal cable routing”. The frame ships with full length foam noodles you slide over the housing during installation. It’s nowhere near as fancy as “tubes in tubes” technology found in the carbon frame, but it’s a surprisingly effective low-tech solution for keeping cable noise to a minimum.
On the trail: first impressions
Coming off a recent review bike with similar geometry – the Norco Sight – it’s going to be impossible to not compare it to other bikes I’ve recently reviewed, as well as my personal 29″ trail bike, the Transition Sentinel.
I’ll admit I had some assumptions on how the Stumpjumper EVO would behave on the trail. And while much of it was right on, I was surprised by how different the EVO rides from the Sight platform.
The first one was the notable weight. Although the EVO had an aluminum frame, it was easily over a pound lighter. It also felt lighter at the pedals. The best way I can think to describe the overall feel is that the EVO felt more like a trail bike, and the Sight more like an all-mountain bike. What I like most about the EVO though, is that I don’t feel like it plays second fiddle to carbon — which makes me want to throw a leg over the carbon iteration for a comparison.
The head angle and wheelbase of the two bikes are similar, which imparted me with a predictable, reliable feel on loose drifting turns. I felt utterly at home from the start. If you have yet to spend time on a bike with progressive trail bike geometry, the first thing you’ll notice with the lengthened wheelbase is the stability. At speed, in the turns, theses bikes are significantly more surefooted than their more nimble brethren.
I’ve spent a good amount of time on 29ers with this geo, and the ride quality on the 27.5 platform is similar. These bikes feel amazing slapping turns and berms with traction evenly applied to both tires. Obviously, with the smaller wheels, you don’t get the rollover and free speed of the 29″ wheels, but on smoother trails it’s just happy-good-fun-times at speed — perfect for flow trails littered with jumps.
In the rough stuff though, I felt like I was feeling it a lot more. And not just because I’m riding 27.5 wheels. Where the 27.5 Norco Sight felt like a mini-enduro bike, in comparison the Specialized felt more like a confident trail bike.
I actually found it a bit surprising; that said, it was definitely along the lines of what I had hoped to get from the platform. That “trail bike feel” I’m attempting to describe is accompanied by a feeling of additional liveliness — the bike has so much pop on the trail I felt it rode like a bike with less travel. Which I’m utterly stoked on, as I already have a go-fast plow bike in the 29″ Sentinel.
That said, I have yet to notice any harsh bottom outs… which is good, as I’m still trying to figure out how to gauge my speed on this bike. On our local flow trails I found myself under jumping, then over-jumping a few of the tabletop jumps. It’s super easy to get up to speed, carry it, and blast off lips… almost too easy.
That low bottom bracket
The frame features adjustable geometry with a flip-chip for some customization. The frame ships in the low setting, which can be adjusted in a matter of minutes between a high and low setting. In the low angle, the headtube is a slack 63.5º with the seat tube angle at 76º.
My preference is for a steeper seat angle so I promptly changed it to the higher setting. The EVO has a low bottom bracket height and the higher setting made a noticeable difference in pedal clearance. It also steepened the seat angle which improved the climbing. (I did this right after my initial shake down ride as I just wasn’t feeling the “low”)
That said, even in the “high” position the BB feels low; even with 170mm cranks, I finding myself smashing pedals, but I’m more concerned with how often I’ve bashed the chainring on technical trails. That low BB (yes, even set to high) adds to a feeling of stability in the corners, but I need to figure out a solution to minimize bashing the chainring before having to replace it.
I’ll be looking into options for chainring protection over the next few weeks, and continuing to get to know the EVO for a follow up post. In the meantime, I’m super impressed with what Specialized has put together.
There are two choices for EVO frame sizes: size 2 and size 3. According to the size chart available from Specialized, at 5’10” I’m on the upper end of the S2 recommendations. With a 465mm reach, the S2 looked spot on for my preferences, especially considering the S3 features 490mm of reach.
Having tested a range of bikes featuring modern “long and low” geometry in various wheel sizes and frame sizes, I was comfortable choosing the S2 based on the numbers on a screen and it is spot on for my preferences.
I’m currently running a short, 30mm Syntace stem to lighten up the front end and maximize the “jib-factor”. For longer distance trail rides, a 40mm felt great, but my goal has been to optimize the EVO for fun.
The EVO is also available in an 29″ iteration, which would present a more difficult choice; to me, the point of 29″ wheels is speed and stability, and the Enduro (more travel) or the Stumperjumper ST (less travel) probably get the nod over the EVO, depending on the trail experience desired.
I’m psyched on the EVO 27.5″ for the pure trail fun factor. If you’re looking for one bike to do it all, that choice is a bit more challenging. That said, I think the S3 would feel pretty long, especially considering the seat angle is only 75.6º. If the seat angle was more like 78º I could see the longer reach working. That wheelbase at 1258mm is pretty long though.
Acquiring your own Stumpjumper EVO Alloy 27.5 frameset will set you back $1,700. When it was still available, you could buy the EVO Alloy 27.5 as a complete bike starting at $3,620 with a Fox 36 Rhythm fork.
Check it out at Specialized.com
We’ll continue our in-depth long term review after more time on the trail, with a video review currently in the works. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the new Bermstyle YouTube channel to receive notifications of when it drops.