Specialized always seems to nail the essentials on the Stumpjumper Evo, and the Elite Alloy proves you don't need a fancy carbon frame to enjoy the ultimate riding experience.
Specialized’s Stumpjumper Evo has been a hit here at MBR since it was first introduced over ten years ago. And the last time we tested it, it walked away with the title of best full-suspension trail bike. The latest Stumpy Evo Elite model gets a sleek aluminium frame and top-tier Fox Factory suspension components; so, as ever, this riders’ favourite prioritises ride quality over outright weight saving.
Not that it’s a heavy bike. At 15.99kg (35.25lb), with our Maxxis control tyres fitted, it’s less than 500g heavier than the full carbon Trek Fuel EX 9.7 that it’s going head to head with in this hyper-adjustable trail bike test. And because the Evo frame is made from good old aluminium, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo features like the internal SWAT storage in the down tube. In fact, the hatch in the down tube is only marginally smaller than on the carbon Stumpy Evo, so it’s still way bigger and more useful than most of the carbon bikes we test, the Trek included, making it one of best trail bikes for anyone wanting to ditch the riding pack.
Frame and geometry
The real USP on the Stumpy Evo though, is the degree of geometry adjustability, and how easy it is to implement. By using a conical insert in the bottom of the head tube, and a drop in headset cup up top, you can adjust the head angle by +/- 1.25º. Best of all, you can do it trailside with nothing more than the multi-tool that’s attached to the bottle cage which comes supplied with the bike.
Flip-chips in the Horst link pivots in the chainstays are used to adjust rear centre length and BB height simultaneously. The 5mm longer chainstay setting lowering the BB height by 7mm. Taken together with the independent head angle adjustment that gives you six unique geometry settings. Specialized even has a geometry calculator so you can see how each change impacts every other aspect of the geometry too.
Don’t want full 29in wheels? Well, Specialized also has a different shock link for an MX set-up. And when you factor in the five unique frame sizes, from S2 to S6, if you can’t find a Stumpy Evo to suit your needs then there really is no hope for you.
The Sidearm frame design on the Stumpy was developed to ensure that all of the suspension travel comes from the shock, not frame flex. Something that can be an issue on larger frame sizes. Claimed travel on the Stumpy Evo is 150mm and we measured it at 151mm of vertical travel. So you’re definitely not getting short changed here.
On the trail there’s tons of support in the rear suspension, so even though the Fox Float X Factory shock has a low speed compression adjuster and a climb switch, the Stumpy Evo pedals perfectly well with the shock in the fully open position. If anything, some riders will prefer a softer/plusher baseline setting just to help take the edge of high-speed hits.
Paired with the Factory spec shock is a Fox 36 Factory fork. With lubrication channels on the back side of the lower legs and the self aligning 15mm axle, the action of the fork is buttery smooth. Oil flow is metered by the Grip2 damper cartridge, so the fork has lots of adjustment and enough support to maintain stable dynamic geometry, even when the terrain whizzing beneath your wheels is anything but stable.
With SRAM’s Matchmaker clamps on the Code RS brake levers we had no issues getting the SRAM GX Eagle shifter and OneUp V2 dropper remote positioned exactly where we wanted them. The contact points are good too, where the excellent Bridge Comp saddle really helps prevent you from sliding too far off the back of the saddle when winching up the steepest climbs in the big 52t cog on the Sram 12-speed Eagle cassette.
Crest a climb, dump a load of gears, and drop into a chunky descent and the MRP chain device is there to ensure you never drop the chain. The plastic skid plate on the underside of the guide should also stop you from bending the chainring should you underestimate a gap jump, or simply slam into a fallen tree that’s just too tall to bunny hop.
Even the alloy 29in Roval wheels on the Stumpy Evo are first rate. The rear hub uses DT Swiss intervals so you know you’re in safe hands, while the stock J-bend spokes make it so much easier to true a buckled wheel or replace a spoke.
In fact, the only blot on an otherwise perfect score card are the SRAM Code RS brakes. Yes, having full size 200mm rotors front and rear helps mitigate the distinct lack of power, but it’s actually the dead lever feel that makes it harder to modulate your speed with the same precision as the basic SRAM DB8 brakes on the Trek Fuel EX.
With stacks of support in the rear suspension, the Stumpy Evo Alloy rails turns and pumps rollers faster than any other 150mm travel trail bike we’ve tested. So even on the very first ride, this seeming unflappable stability filled us with the confidence needed to hit huge booters at speed, safe in the knowledge that the rear suspension wasn’t going to collapse on the face of the flip then spit you over the bars. And thanks to the Fox Factory 36 fork, the balance front to rear was also on point, so you always feel really centred on the bike.
And it’s not just jibbing and showboating in the bike park where the Stumpy Evo really excels. It’s equally impressive when riding natural trails too. It skis down loamers with perfect posture, and maintains that serenity through linked turns, down steep chutes, or when trying to stay on a highline across a long, high-speed off camber section of trail. In fact, the only time the Stumpy Evo didn’t quite bring its A-game to the trail was on really high speed chatter – the longer runs at BikePark Wales leaving the soles of our feet buzzing. So if bike park laps are your bag, you may want to run the shock a little softer for increased comfort, and just let the uplift take care of the climbs.
The sizing on the S4 Stumpy Evo platform is better than the equivalent size Enduro, so it’s long enough for big days in the saddle without feeling cramped, but not so long as to instantly make you wish you’d downsized to something more flickable. Factor in all of the adjustments you can make to the geometry and the Stumpy Evo Elite Alloy is adaptable, adept and, at the current discounted price of £4,399, an absolute bargain.
So the Stumpy Evo sounds and rides like a 10 rated bike, and it is. Yes, we marked the Canyon Spectral:ON CF 9 down a point due to the lacklustre performance of the Code RS brakes, but with Specialized Stumpjumper Evo Elite Alloy discounted for the foreseeable future, it leaves you with plenty of cash in your pocket to upgrade the brakes at a later date if you feel the need.
After tyre choice, what are the two biggest levers to pull in terms of mountain bike performance? Yes, you guessed it, they are geometry and suspension. And with Fox Factory level suspension and 6-way adjustable geometry, Specialized has pulled both levers hard on the Stumpjumper Evo Elite Alloy. The end result is a seriously impressive bike. All of the geometry modifications can be adjusted trailside, and taken with the overall ride quality the Stumpy Evo is a truly standout trail bike. Yes, the Code RS brakes wouldn’t be our first choice, but when everything else is so on point, including the discounted price, they don’t stand in the way of the Stumpy Evo bagging a double-digit rating.