Mountain biking is undergoing an explosion at the moment. There are more bikes to chose from than ever before, and the number of riding destinations and trail types is growing faster than people can accrue the annual leave to ride them all. In terms of bike purchases versatility is becoming increasingly valued over things like race speed, weight and the amount of carbon squeezed into a single package.
The Specialized Women’s Rumor Expert Evo has versatility written all over it. With a long wheelbase, stable angles, 29” wheels and 120mm of plush travel it’s hard to find a trail out there that you can’t confidently descend. At 12.65kgs and built around Specialized’s FSR suspension platform it’s also hard to find a hill out there which you can’t climb when on board. Skills, of course, make a big difference as well, but these are a lot easier to develop when you’re not compensating for the pros and cons of the bike.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time testing the Specialized Rumor Comp last year. The Expert Evo uses a modified linkage at the back to fit a 120mm custom tuned Fox Float CTD Factory rear shock (with Autosag), and runs the buttery smooth 120mm RockShox Pike RC fork up front. The longer fork slackens the angles a bit for improved handing in gnarly terrain. A higher performing parts list adorns this model as well.
The parts list is very similar to the no-nonsense 2014 model Camber Expert Carbon Evo, but with some necessary mods that we’ve seen other ladies make to this bike so it’s better matched to a women’s physique. These include a 30 tooth single ring up front (rather than the musclier 32), Shimano XT brakes (which are easier to dial in for small hands), slightly narrower bars, and a women’s specific seat. We’ve been testing Specialized’s new women’s Myth saddle separately recently, so keep an eye on Flow for a separate review on this too.
The biggest downside of the Rumor is that it still isn’t available with a carbon frame. We’ve been riding the Camber Carbon Expert Evo a lot lately and are keen for the direct comparison this will allow for assessing the performance difference of the women’s specific alloy Rumor frame as a result.
Our first impressions confirm that the different geometry makes for a more intuitive ride feel. We don’t have to push so hard to maintain an optimal ride position, we’re simply in it. The lower standover makes it easier to get on and off the bike but also allows us to squish down more on technical descents. In short, we don’t feel like we’re fighting the bike as much which makes us more confident in pushing it’s limits on all sorts of trails. In terms of set up, the only change we made was adding sealant to the tyres.
On our very first ride we were able to comfortably descend parts of the Smithfield World Cup downhill and cross-country tracks, and get there via a climb so steep it has been cemented. In order to really put the versatility of this rig to the test we’ve chosen it for riding the first two stages of the upcoming Crocodile Trophy while we’re up in Cairns as well. Sure, we could ride a whippety XC hardtail in this event, but the appeal of the Rumor Evo is the trail riding and holiday experiences it allows alongside the odd long ride and marathon as well. In any case, this upcoming adventure is sure to put the versatility of the Rumor to the test.