This, my last report, means the Stumpjumper Evo is leaving my garage soon and the most telling thing is that I’ll be sad to see it go. It also raises the question: what other bike can fill the void? I’ve become used to pulling it out of my crusty pile of relics, riding it up to my local trails and bashing it around for a few hours. And every time I have, I’ve pedalled home thinking about what a fun bike it is. It’s fair to say that I feel totally at home on it now; swinging a leg over it and grabbing the bars revives a pleasant familiarity that has me itching to go.
If you’ve been following my experience with the Stumpy Evo then you’ll know I’ve had more than my fair share of reliability issues — none with the frame itself, just the components adorning it. It’s worth mentioning, though, that the Evo has never left me stranded mid-ride. Granted, it was a real pain early on when the BB disintegrated (and took a good month to get sorted), but since then it’s not been off the trail for any length of time and every issue was covered under Specialized’s excellent warranty. The other reliability niggles involved a spoke snapping in the rear wheel — that was sorted in a couple of days. Then there was the under-performing fork, which appeared to be an oil seal issue. More recently the adjustable Specialized Command Post lost all its air. Initially I thought the seals had gone, but it appears that the collar had simply loosened. I tightened it back up and it’s held air ever since.
Considering this is a £3k bike, I’d expect it to have performed a little better in the reliability stakes. The only thing I can say in its defence is that at nearly 90kg I am a relatively heavy rider. Also I ride hard and often, so it’s a punishing test for any bike. Add in the 10kg camera bag that often accompanies me and you have to feel sorry for the sub-30lb Stumpy.
Over the course of the year I’ve raced it in three Gravity Enduro rounds, a local Super Enduro and even a downhill race. At each event the bike saw me through with no mechanicals and it’s been a pleasure to race on. I’ve also met a fair few other Stumpy Evo owners and every one of them has had similar things to say: fantastic to ride, when it’s not being fixed.
Since new, the only component I have changed out of choice is the stem, opting for 70mm over the stock 90mm version on the size large. That alone shows it’s a good bike. I feel comfortable riding and racing on all the other stock parts such as the Specialized branded bars and the adjustable seat post. Even the saddle is comfortable on long rides, as are the grips, which only now feel like they need replacing.
I also believe the geometry on the Evo is spot-on. At first I was a little apprehensive about the ultra-low BB height — and while climbing on rooty, rocky ground I have hit the pedals a fair amount — but it’s a bike built for fun descending, and when you hit a fast turn, that low centre of gravity feels perfect. Cornering, I’ve quickly learnt, is what the Stumpy Evo is all about.
I also had some doubts about the SRAM carbon cranks, but they feel solid and have proven plenty strong enough. Lastly, the stock Specialized tyres are great for dry conditions and it took a few months of hard riding before the sidewalls became threadbare. Since equipping the front end with a Super Tacky Maxxis Minion, I’m enjoying grip levels as tenacious as those generated by the FSR suspension.
I’ve been debating for quite some time as to what score I’d give the Stumpy Evo. It’s always been between an eight and a nine and seeing as it’s crunch time, I’ve settled on the latter. Given all the reliability issues I’ve had, a 10 rating was always out of the question. But I’m not going to go as low as an eight because from my experience, and that of others, Specialized has always honoured its warranty when something’s gone wrong.
More to the point, I love the sheer fun I’ve had while riding the Stumpjumper Evo, something that’s hard to put into ratings or pounds and pence. Ultimately, if you’re more interested in your descending than climbing, be it roller-coaster trail centres or loamy ribbons of singletrack, but don’t venture onto full-blown downhill tracks, then the Stumpjumper Evo should be somewhere near the top end of your wish list.
Mbr rating 9