2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
07 Oct 2020

For 2021, Specialized is unleashing a brand new Stumpjumper EVO that it calls the 'Ultimate Trail Bike'

The not-so-minor details

Product

2021 Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Expert

Weight

13.94kg

Positives

- Insanely floaty suspension performance
- User-friendly adjustable geometry
- The new SWAT accessories are brilliant
- Highly adjustable fork and shock package
- Code RS stoppers deliver enormous braking power
- Overall attention to detail

Negatives

- The sticky rubber and suspension are draggy
- Rear tyre is on the light side for a hard-charging bike like this
- We'd like to see a Star Ratchet freehub at this price

Wil Tests The New 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper EVO

It’s been a little over two years since the last generation Stumpjumper EVO was introduced, and barely a year since Specialized launched the carbon fibre variant. We expected them to hang around for a while, because in the world of mountain bikes, three-to-four years is a pretty standard lifecycle for a mountain bike frame. Once a new chassis is introduced, typically only the components and graphics change from year-to-year. And yet here we are with an all-new 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper EVO in our hot little hands. Sure, it looks pretty similar, but we can assure you this ain’t just a new paint job.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
Specialized has a new Stumpjumper EVO, which we’ve been testing on home trails. This bike absolutely rips!

Hold On, Who’s STEVO?

What originally started out as a bit of a niche model, the EVO (or STEVO as we affectionally like to call it) has always existed as a radical offshoot of the regular Stumpjumper. The EVO originally came to life as a sort of pumped-up version of the Stumpjumper, providing an opportunity for the product team to get spicy with the suspension and build kit to add a little extra kick to an otherwise mass-appeal trail bike.

The last Stumpjumper EVO was different though. Things got a bit wild with that one, which featured an entirely different frame that became something of a mad science experiment with some of the most forward-thinking geometry we’d ever seen from the Californian brand. Of course Specialized wasn’t the first to go uber-slack, long and low, but the Stumpjumper EVO still stood out as one of the bigger mainstream offerings on the market to really push the geometry needle.

The current Stumpjumper EVO (left) was introduced in 2018 as a freakish offshoot of the regular Stumpjumper. The carbon model then followed in 2019 (centre & right). Things have come a long way in two years though, as the new Stumpjumper EVO aims for a wider audience.

From Niche To Mainstream

While it was pretty bonkers at the time, the dust has settled on the Stumpjumper EVO over the past two years. More big brands are adopting new-school geometry, and more riders are seeking it out (which we could argue is both good and bad). As those previously radical numbers become less fringe and more mainstream, that’s helped to set the scene for Specialized to jump in feet-first with the Stumpjumper EVO.

Indeed for 2021, the Stumpjumper EVO is is no longer a niche offshoot. This little punk is all grown up, having evolved into its very own standalone model – a model that Specialized now refers to as the ‘ultimate trail bike’. Humble words indeed from our American pals. To see just how ultimate it really is, Specialized put a Stumpjumper EVO Expert into our hands for a week to test out on home dirt. Before we get into the ride review though, let’s take a closer look at what’s changed for Specialized’s newest trail bike.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
The new Stumpjumper EVO gets a brand new chassis with a tonne of refinement throughout.

The New Stumpjumper EVO – Give Us The Lowdown

It might not look like it at first glance, but the Stumpjumper EVO is all-new from the knobbly tyres up. There’s a brand new frame, which features the distinctive asymmetric Sidearm profile and classic FSR four-bar suspension design. Kinematics have been refined and travel increases by 10mm over the previous model – there’s 150mm of rear wheel travel matched to a 160mm travel fork.

No longer will you find separate 29in and 27.5in models, with the Stumpjumper EVO now rolling exclusively on 29in wheels with clearance for up to a 2.5in rear tyre. It is possible to set it up as a mullet though – Specialized produces a specific rocker link that allows you to fit a 27.5in rear wheel, without adversely affecting geometry and kinematics. The Mullet Link will be available as an aftermarket purchase for around $200 AUD (price TBC).

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert swat bottle
How good is this! A human range extender in the form of a soft SWAT bottle that tucks right down inside the downtube.

There’s A New Range Extender

Thanks to a larger diameter downtube, Specialized has increased the SWAT storage volume by a claimed 15%. To make use of that extra space, it’s also developed a new SWAT soft flask, which allows you to carry an additional 650ml of hazy IPA water on bigger days out. The soft flask is shaped like a Santa sack, and tucks in above the bottom bracket, keeping the added weight low in the frame.

Also included with the bike is a waterproof tool roll, which I packed with a tube, tyre levers, CO2 and a Dynaplug. The tool roll fits in above the flask, though there’s still heaps of room for a lightweight jacket, food, or any other essentials you think you might need.

Shock! Horror! It Isn’t Slacker & Lower

You weren’t expecting that were you! But think about it – the last Stumpjumper EVO was absurdly low and slack already. And with Specialized having launched the new Enduro last year, which has reclaimed its title as the big-hitting hooligan of the range, the new Stumpjumper EVO has been refocussed to become a more versatile allrounder designed for a broader range of riders and trail types.

With that in mind, things have been tweaked accordingly. Specialized has moved back to 170mm crank arms (from 165mm). Out of the box, the bottom bracket actually sits a little higher than before, and the head angle is actually steeper too. Both of those can be adjusted though – more on that in a bit.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
Travel increases by 10mm at each end, with 150mm of rear wheel travel courtes of the FSR four-bar suspension layout. The kinematics have changed though.

More Sizes For More Riders

Rather than just S2 and S3, the new Stumpjumper EVO is now available in six sizes from S1 through to S6, accommodating a much bigger range of rider heights. If you’re not familiar with S-Sizing, it simply refers to ‘style-specific’ sizing. The general idea of S-Sizing is to choose the right size based on your riding style and preferred reach, rather than just how long your legs are. As a starting point though, here’s what those numbers translate to;

  • S1 = X-Small
  • S2 = Small
  • S3 = Medium
  • S4 = Large
  • S5 = X-Large
  • S6 = XX-Large

However, because Specialized keeps the seat tubes nice and short on the Stumpjumper EVO, there’s more leeway when it comes to choosing your preferred size. For example, if you normally fit a Large size in most brands, then S4 is what you’d be looking at with the Stumpjumper EVO. Prefer a more nimble and poppy ride for slicing up twisty singletrack? Go down to an S3. Looking for maximum stability for going flat-out on chunky, wide-open trails? Upsize to the S5.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
S-Sizing grows for 2021, and there are now six frame sizes on offer.

6-Way Adjustable Geometry

As with the previous Stumpjumper EVO, the new frame gets a High/Low geometry adjuster. However, the flip chip is no longer found in the lower shock mount. Instead, there’s an offset chip on each side of the Horst Link pivot, just like the current Demo downhill bike. From the factory the bike comes set in the High position. Flip the geometry chip by 180° into the Low position, and you’ll drop the BB height by 7mm.

The High/Low geometry chip is now located at the Horst-link pivot. It comes set in the High position, but flipping it around drops the BB height by 7mm, and it slackens out the angles a bit too.

Furthermore, you can also separately adjust the head tube angle. Included with the bike is a secondary upper headset cup, which features an offset bearing bore that allows you to steepen the head angle by a degree, or slacken it by a degree. The cup itself is keyed into the frame, so it’s easy to remove and reorient by hand with no special tools required. And since the lower headset bearing is able to gimbal within the head tube, it’ll align regardless of what head angle you choose to run.

With those two areas of adjustment, you have six different geometry setups at your disposal. Not only that, you can achieve those setups on the side of the trail with just a 4mm and 5mm hex key. Pretty neat huh?

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
You can adjust the head angle by popping out (by hand) and flipping around the black upper headset cup. Shown here is the offset cup, which allows you to steepen or slacken the head angle by a full degree.

You Want Numbers? Here, Have ALL OF THEM

While there is a load of adjustment on offer, Specialized has picked the High geometry position and the neutral head tube position as the default setup for the Stumpjumper EVO, which is likely what most riders will leave it at. That setup delivers a 35mm BB drop, 64.5° head tube angle and 77.2° seat tube angle on our S3 test bike.

Chainstay length is 438mm on most sizes, though that grows to 448mm on the S5/S6 sizes to help keep weight distribution in check. For those who love numbers, get ready for a geometry-chart orgy with all six different setups. Yikes!

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo geometry
Stumpjumper EVO geometry options with the High BB setting
2021 specialized stumpjumper evo geometry
Stumpjumper EVO geometry options with the Low BB setting

It’s A Carbon Only Affair

There is just a single frame within the Stumpjumper EVO range, and it’s made of carbon. If you were hoping for an alloy STEVO, unfortunately there are none here. Or at least, none at the moment anyway.

Utilising FACT 11m carbon fibre for the mainframe and swingarm, Specialized claims the Stumpjumper EVO frame weighs in at just 2,750g. That’s for an S4 size with shock, hardware, axle, armour and seat clamp. It’s about 250g heavier than the claimed weight of Giant’s new carbon Trance X, though it’s still darn impressive for a bike with such hard-hitting intentions.

The suspension links are made from forged and machined alloy, and you’ll find sealed cartridge bearings at all pivot points. With the exception of the bigger double-row bearings for the main pivot, all the bearings share the same dimensions, which is useful from a replacement perspective.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
While most of the frame is carbon, the linkages are made from chunky forged and machined alloy with sealed pivot bearings throughout.

Also nice to see is a threaded bottom bracket shell, a SRAM universal derailleur hanger, and internal cable routing with moulded-in guide tubes. There’s also a wee mudflap just above the main pivot where the cables pass through the mainframe into the swingarm, which is designed to prevent rocks and debris from getting wedged and causing damage.

While there’s no specific shuttle guard like on the new Trek Slash, the underside of the Stumpjumper EVO’s downtube does get a transparent protective sticker, along with a thick bolt-on armour plate down around the belly of the frame to protect it from rock strikes. Thick, soft density rubber is used around the drive-side chainstay and inner seat stay to pipe down chain slappin’.

The 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Range

There are just two complete Stumpjumper EVO models coming into Australia for 2021 – the Comp and the Expert. Specialized will also be bringing in the S-Works frameset on its own, for those who have more specific tastes. As mentioned above, all options use exactly the same FACT 11m carbon frame.

You’ll find Fox suspension on both complete bikes, with a 36 fork and DPX2 shock. They also get an X-Fusion Manic dropper post, as well as the new Butcher T9 and Eliminator T7 tyre combo. Read on for a closer look at the specs, followed by our first ride review.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo comp
The Stumpjumper EVO Comp comes with a FACT 11m carbon frame, Fox suspension, a Shimano SLX 1×12 drivetrain and 4-piston stoppers.

2021 Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Comp

  • Frame | FACT 11m Carbon Fibre, FSR Suspension Design, 150mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float Rhythm, GRIP Damper, 44mm Offset, 160mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2, Performance Series, 210×55mm
  • Wheels | Shimano MT400/510 Hubs & Roval Alloy Rims, 30mm Inner Width
  • Tyres | Specialized Butcher GRID Trail 2.3in Front & Eliminator GRID Trail 2.3in Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano SLX 1×12 w/30T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano SLX 4-Piston w/203mm Front & 180mm Rear Rotors
  • Bar | Specialized 6061 Alloy, 35mm Diameter, 30mm Rise, 800mm Width
  • Grips | Specialized Lock-On
  • Stem | Specialized Alloy Trail, 35mm Diameter, Length: 40mm (S1-S2), 50mm (S3-S6)
  • Seatpost | X-Fusion Manic w/SRL Lever, 34.9mm Diameter, Travel: 100mm (S1), 125mm (S2), 150mm (S3), 170mm (S5-S5), 190mm (S6)
  • Saddle | Specialized Bridge Comp
  • Sizes | S1, S2, S3, S4, S5 & S6
  • RRP | $6,900 AUD
2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
The Expert gives you a more adjustable Fox DPX2 shock and GRIP2 fork, along with a SRAM GX/X01 Eagle drivetrain and big Code RS brakes.

2021 Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Expert

  • Frame | FACT 11m Carbon Fibre, FSR Suspension Design, 150mm Travel
  • Fork | Fox 36 Float, Performance Elite, GRIP2 Damper, 44mm Offset, 160mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2, Performance Elite, 210×55mm
  • Wheels | Roval Traverse, Alloy Rims, 30mm Inner Width
  • Tyres | Specialized Butcher GRID Trail 2.3in Front & Eliminator GRID Trail 2.3in Rear
  • Drivetrain | SRAM GX/X01 Eagle 1×12 w/30T Descendent 7K Crankset & 10-52T Cassette
  • Brakes | SRAM Code RS 4-Piston w/200mm Rotors
  • Bar | Specialized 7050 Alloy, 35mm Diameter, 30mm Rise, 800mm Width
  • Grips | Deity Knuckleduster Lock-On
  • Stem | Specialized Alloy Trail, 35mm Diameter, Length: 40mm (S1-S2), 50mm (S3-S6)
  • Seatpost | X-Fusion Manic w/SRL Lever, 34.9mm Diameter, Travel: 100mm (S1), 125mm (S2), 150mm (S3), 170mm (S5-S5), 190mm (S6)
  • Saddle | Specialized Bridge Comp
  • Sizes | S1, S2, S3, S4, S5 & S6
  • RRP | $9,300 AUD
2021 specialized stumpjumper evo s-works frame
Fancy going your own way? There’s an S-Works frameset on offer, though for an extra $1,900 you could just buy the Comp model and get a complete bike with the same carbon frame.

2021 Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper EVO Frame

  • Frame | FACT 11m Carbon Fibre, FSR Suspension Design, 150mm Travel
  • Shock | Fox Float DPX2, Factory Series, 210×55mm
  • Sizes | S2, S3, S4 & S5
  • RRP | $5,000 AUD
2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert wil
We’ve only had one hot week with the new Stumpjumper EVO, but already its vibe is shining through strong on the trail.
2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
Spring weather is bringing all the colour and gorgeous soft loam – perfect for some STEVO shenanigans!

Testing The New STEVO

Specialized sent us out a Stumpjumper EVO Expert a week before launch, so we could put it to the test on our local test trails. That’s hardly enough time for a long-term review, but I’ve had ample time to get everything dialled in, try out some different geometry settings, and take it on a variety of trail types to get a solid impression of what the new STEVO is all about.

To suit my 175cm height, Specialized sent an S3, which gets a 448mm long reach. With the thick grips, high-rise bars and 50mm stem, the fit feels generous. I personally wouldn’t want to go to any longer – the S3 feels spot-on for my build and riding style.

I did chop the bars down to 780mm, and I also slid the saddle forwards a bit on the rails to steepen the effective seat angle a touch. Even with my stubby legs, there’s tonnes of wiggle room with the stock 150mm dropper post – at my height I could easily run a longer dropper, or even upsize to an S4.

With the tyres setup tubeless and the various SWAT tools removed, our test bike came in at 13.94kg – not bad at all given the alloy wheels, piggyback shock, big brakes and rotors.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
As usual, the touch points from Specialized are dialled.
2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
Short seat tubes mean plenty of adjustability, and the option to upsize the frame.

Suspension Setup

To suit my 68kg riding weight, I initially setup the Fox 36 GRIP2 fork as per the setup guide with 78psi in the main air spring. I found the fork to ride a touch firm for my liking though, particularly compared to the buttery plush performance of the rear suspension. I ended up reducing the pressure down to 70psi for a smoother ride and sped up the high-speed rebound to liven things up a bit. After chatting with the team at Specialized, it turns out we were on the same page. For that reason, the Specialized suspension calculator is a resource well worth utilising for baseline tuning.

As for the rear shock, Specialized recommends setting it up with 28% sag. Because there are no sag indicators, you’ll want to bring out the ruler for this one, as you’ll be measuring a very specific 15.5mm of displacement at the O-ring. I ended up with 175psi inside the air spring. As I’ve previously found the DPX2 shock to be a little sticky on the trail, I ran rebound damping on the faster side (11/14 clicks), and added a few clicks of low-speed compression damping. The DPX2 also has a 3-position compression lever, with Open-Medium-Firm settings, which I’ll talk about in more detail shortly.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
Specialized designed the Stumpjumper EVO’s kinematics specifically with the Fox Float DPX2 shock in mind. As such, very little internal tuning was required.

Mini-Enduro Vibes, So Floaty

From the very first ride, the Stumpjumper EVO impresses with its smooth, active and floaty suspension performance. There’s a real bias here towards outright traction and high-speed response, which results in very little feedback through the pedals even when the trail gets choppy. Having tested the Enduro last year, I was having flashbacks on the Stumpjumper EVO – that floaty sensation gives off a genuine mini-Enduro vibe.

Drawing from the kinematics of those bigger bikes, the Stumpjumper EVO possesses a more rearward axle path to help the wheel move back and up over obstacles, aiding momentum over square-edge hits.

This makes sense. After all, Specialized’s engineering team injected considerable DNA from the Demo and Enduro into the new Stumpjumper EVO. Drawing from the kinematics of those bigger bikes, the Stumpjumper EVO possesses a more rearward axle path to help the wheel move back and up over obstacles, aiding momentum over square-edge hits. The overall leverage rate isn’t dissimilar from the Enduro either, and there’s notably more progression compared to the previous Stumpjumper EVO. That’s improved bottom-out resistance, and the frame is happily coil-compatible for those who are wondering.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
There’s a lot of the Enduro inside the Stumpjumper EVO, you can totally plough this bike on the rough stuff.

Having developed the bike’s kinematics with the DPX2 specifically in mind, Specialized says it ended up right in the middle of that shock’s tuning range. This meant that there was very little need for any custom valving, though the rebound tune is slightly lighter on the S1-S3 sizes to suit lighter riders.

However, the shock does feature a smaller custom LCR (low compression ratio) air sleeve, which gives you more options for tuning with volume spacers. You’ll find a 0.6³ volume spacer inside as stock, and you’re able to downsize or upsize depending on what you’re after. I found I could very occasionally bottom out the rear suspension on the ugliest of hucks to flat, but otherwise the end-stroke support feels spot-on, and I like that the suspension is still responsive deeper into its travel – something that hyper-progressive bikes struggle with. Even riding with flat pedals, my feet were never ricocheted off of more seismic impacts.

Otherwise the end-stroke support feels spot-on, and I like that the suspension is still responsive deeper into its travel – something that hyper-progressive bikes struggle with. Even riding with flat pedals, my feet were never ricocheted off of more seismic impacts.

Part of the suspension’s sensitivity is owed to the brawny rear end. To keep things tracking true, Specialized has employed wide linkages, big bearings, a clevis junction for the upper seatstay pivot, and double bearings for each Horst-link pivot. The shock extender, which not only controls the leverage rate, also reduces side loading on the shock body itself. There’s clearly been a lot of attention paid to minimising twist and flex through this whole zone, allowing everything to slide smoothly and with less stiction.

Along with the future-forward geometry, incredible GRIP2 fork and the high-rise bars, the Stumpjumper EVO’s buttery suspension really encourages you to attack the trail. The long wheelbase and low-hanging bottom bracket keep your weight centred and low, maximising stability as momentum builds on the descents.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
The Stumpjumper EVO exudes confidence – it’s certainly one of the most capable 150mm travel bikes I’ve ridden.

Overall it feels much more more enduro than trail. And while it isn’t a pig, Specialized has traded in some pop and zing for the grilled-cheese plushness. Compared to some other trail bikes, like the Giant Trance X and Pivot Switchblade, you do have to work a bit harder here to springboard the whole bike into the air. A lighter rebound setting is key to preventing the DPX2 from feeling too lazy.

It’s A Bit Stodgy On The Climbs

With the new Stumpjumper EVO’s kinematics, Specialized went more aggressive with anti-squat, again following in the Enduro’s footsteps. The main pivot sits quite a bit higher than before, which helps to get that more rearward initial axle path, while also increasing the suspension’s propensity to stiffen under pedalling inputs. Deeper into the travel, the anti-squat level drops below 100% to reduce feedback through the pedals on harder impacts.

While Specialized had big claims to extol about the Stumpjumper EVO’s pedalling efficiency, I can’t say my experience on the trail lived up to those expectations. In the Open position, the active suspension performance means the shock sinks a little too willingly into its travel, pushing your weight further back behind the cranks. Providing you’re pedalling smoothly, you can feel the anti-squat trying to control that shock movement. But as soon as your weight shifts on the bike, say if you pedal more raggedly, or out of the saddle, or you get a head-bob going on, or shuffle around on the saddle to get comfortable, the shock sinks and rises in unison with your body.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
There’s tonnes of traction on tap, but it’s not the most energetic of climbers.

I wasn’t particularly surprised at this – the DPX2 provides exceptional damping control and traction, but I’ve always found it to feel a little stodgy under power, and it’s more obvious here because the Stumpjumper EVO’s rear end is so sensitive. Of course this active performance means that traction is outstanding, and there’s basically no tug on the pedals even when whacking the rear wheel into big rock ledges.

In search of less drag, I tried increasing shock pressure (by as much as 20psi) but that didn’t really help. What did help was flipping the blue compression lever into the Firm position. While this does reduce some of the energy loss through the pedals, the Firm setting also extends the shock, lifting the whole bike to increase pedal clearance and steepen the effective seat tube angle – good things for your climbing position.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
The shock compression switch is within easy reach, and I regularly made use of the Firm position for extended climbs.

Worth noting is that this setting isn’t a full lockout. The shock is a lot firmer, but it still moves, and it’ll still take the edge off jarring impacts. And with the shock’s head positioned between your knees, it’s quite easy to reach down and flick that lever back and fourth as needed. Consequently, I used it every time the trail turned upwards for a decent length of time, whether it was a road climb, a 4WD track, or on technical singletrack.

Even still, the Stumpjumper EVO isn’t the most enthusiastic ascender, and since there’s no lockout on the GRIP2 fork, there’s a lot of front end squish if you do attempt to sprint out of the saddle. Rather than rush your way up the climbs, I recommend picking a low gear, sitting, spinning smoothly, and taking the time to recover and enjoy your surroundings before embarking on the next round of downhill mayhem.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
The 30T chainring and 10-52T cassette gives much-needed low-range grunt for the big STEVO.

Seriously Sticky Rubber

Not helping matters is a decent amount of rolling resistance from the tyres. On that note, the Stumpjumper EVO actually debuts new rubber for Specialized – the Eliminator T7 on the rear and the Butcher T9 on the front. The tread patterns and casing constructions are carried over, but the rubber compound is all-new.

The T9 is Specialized’s softest and grippiest tyre compound, and it’s the same rubber you’ll find in the 2-ply downhill tyres. The gooey rubber feels similar to the softest Maxxis 3C Maxx Grip tyres I’ve ridden. It’s quite slow, but there’s a huge amount of damping control that keeps the tyre stuck to the ground in situations where other tyres rebound and bounce off. Along with the Butcher’s huge cornering blocks and siped centre tread, there’s an enormous amount of adaptive traction and braking bite on tap, even in loose conditions.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert butcher t9 tyre
Fresh (and uber-sticky) rubber from Specialized in the form of the new Butcher T9.

The Eliminator T7 uses a firmer trail compound that offers lower rolling resistance and greater durability, making it more suited to rear tyre use. The Eliminator’s tighter centre tread naturally rolls faster, but the cornering blocks still dig in confidently when leant over. Together with the Butcher, this is an excellent tyre combination that really highlight this bike’s aggressive riding intentions.

Worth noting is that both tyres size up bigger than claimed at 2.44in wide. It would seem that Specialized is no longer suffering from its tyres being grossly undersized. Weight is also competitive with the Butcher coming in at 1,070g and the Eliminator at 975g. I do think the rear casing could be tougher though, especially for the shenanigans this bike wants to involve you in. I put a tubeless insert into the rear wheel before I set foot out of the workshop, but even then I still managed to ding the rim and cause a slow leak. Habitual tyre splitters will want to consider rim protection and/or a 2-ply tyre for the rear.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
The Eliminator is faster rolling, making it an ideal rear tyre. It also features the firmer T7 compound.

Trailside Geometry Adjustments

In my opinion, one of the standout features of the new Stumpjumper EVO is the plethora of tuning options when it comes to frame geometry. There’s a load of scope here for modifying the bike to your needs.

I will say that I didn’t bother with the BB height adjustment, since the 35mm BB drop in the factory setting is already quite low. With my local trails being so choppy and raw, they punish poor technique and I was already clipping pedals enough that I didn’t want to lose any more height from the BB. Still, I can see the advantage of going lower for high-speed, machine-built flow trails, say if I took the bike on a trip to somewhere like Bright or Derby. All you need is a 5mm hex key to flip that offset chip, though I would recommend taking the rear wheel off first as the chips can get a bit fiddly.

Two upper headset cups are included with the bike. The stock position is the neutral cup, which delivers a 64.5° head angle. By fitting the offset cup, you can steepen or slacken that by a full degree. The process is super easy to do trailside with regular hex keys on your multi-tool.

I did spend a ride trying out different head angles, which was brilliant. The stock 64.5° head angle felt fine to begin with, but after taking the bike around a short 20-minute loop, which featured a mix of smooth and technical climbing, as well as flat-out high-speed descending, traversing, steep pitches, and slow-speed techy jank, I repeated the same lap with the head angle at 63.5°, then again at 65.5°.

The process is super easy to do trailside. It took me about five minutes to complete, and by doing so you can feel an immediate change in the riding position and front-end handling.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
I tested all three head tube angles, and ended up preferring the more responsive handling of the steepest position.

Worth noting, the slackest position really pushes the front wheel out in front of you. That’s great for near-vertical chutes, and it keeps the bike super planted. But if the descents were fast without being mega steep, then you really have to concentrate on weight distribution, otherwise the front tyre could disappear from underneath you very quickly. Of course you can adapt to this with a forward-biased riding position, and like any bike, it’s the sort of thing that you get used to within a few rides.

For me personally though – and I know I’m the salmon swimming upstream in the cold waters of mountain bike journalism here – I preferred the steepest head angle. Despite the steeper head angle, I had no issues with stability on the Stumpjumper EVO, and I found I could still smash steeper descents with confidence. I simply had faster and more responsive steering everywhere else, and I was able to maintain a more central riding position that felt more comfortable while riding along undulating terrain.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
With six geometry settings on offer, there’s plenty of scope for dialling the Stumpjumper EVO in for your preferences.

This preference is also representative of my local trails, which are far from the steep alpine terrain found in other parts of the world. But that’s the beauty about this geometry adjustment – you can tweak the handling and vibe of the Stumpjumper EVO with no special tools needed.

Component Notes

In my limited time with the Stumpjumper EVO Expert, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with how much Specialized has sweated the finer details on this bike.

As well as including the secondary headset cup for tweaking the head angle, Specialized also throws in two conical upper headset top caps with the bike. Once you find your desired bar height, you can swap some of the spacers for one of these caps. It has zero bearing on performance, it just looks neater.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
The cables and brake hose are guided through the frame via internal tubes to make things much easier when it’s time for replacement.

I also love that you can genuinely go pack-less with the Stumpjumper EVO. You get a bottle cage and the EMT multi-tool included with the bike, as well as the SWAT soft flask and tool roll. I can’t think of any other brand that’s offering that kind of included accessorising with its mountain bikes.

The soft flask is dead brilliant too, and it gives you a total of 1.3L of hydration – good enough for a solid few hours of riding. I was worried things might get a bit tepid, but even while riding through the middle of a 28-degree day, the water was actually cooler inside the flask than it was in my bottle.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
Included with the bike is a SWAT soft flask, tool roll, bottle cage and EMT multi-tool. That’s a lot of value right there.

The contact points on this bike are absolutely dialled too. The SRL dropper post lever is light, snappy and tactile, and while the Deity grips are quite a bit fatter than I normally prefer, they offer excellent traction and vibration damping. As expected, the Specialized Bridge saddle was comfortable too.

The stock Roval wheels are a decent weight (1,947g confirmed), though the pawl-based freehub mechanism is cheap on a $9K+ bike. The 24pt engagement is also quite slow – I’d love to see a DT Swiss 350 hub with a 36pt Star Ratchet in its place.

Providing a great match for the speeds the Stumpjumper EVO is capable of, the SRAM Code RS brakes deliver lashings of power, though even more than I’m used to thanks to the sintered metallic brake pads and 200mm rotors front and rear. You normally find that combo on bikes with a battery and motor. Still, for bigger units bombing bigger mountains, you’ll be happy to know that the frame is rated for up to a 220mm rear rotor. I can actually feel the whiplash as I type that.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
The new Stumpjumper EVO offers a tonne of confidence for pushing hard on challenging terrain.

Flow’s Early Verdict

Specialized must have known it was onto something when it launched the last generation EVO, because not long after, the engineers had already begun scheming to build this bike here. The team took the same concept, broadened the size range, incorporated suspension knowledge learned from the latest Demo and Enduro, and brought a whole new level of refinement to the SWAT system and geometry adjustments. The result is a more versatile bike that is less on the fringe, and more appealing because of it.

The steeper seat tube angle and increased anti-squat levels have boosted pedalling performance over the previous Stumpjumper EVO, but it still isn’t the zippiest uphills. The sensitive suspension design and sticky front tyre temper the enthusiasm somewhat, but they’re also what makes this bike such a riot on the descents.

Despite the overall refinement, it’s still possible to engage full hooligan mode if that’s your jam. Go slack and low, and you’re basically there, albeit with more grip and bottom-out support than last time round. With the other geometry positions though, it’s possible to achieve a more balanced all-round demeanour that’ll be exactly what many Aussie trail riders and enduro racers have been looking for. If you’ve considered the current Enduro but thought 170mm travel may just be a little too much, then STEVO is the bike for you.

2021 specialized stumpjumper evo expert
With refinements to the suspension performance, more sizes and adjustable geometry, the Stumpjumper EVO is opening up to a much bigger audience than ever before.

Mo’ Flow Please!

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