All-new Stumpjumper for 2012
For 2012 Specialized has gone back to the drawing board and all that remains of last year’s Stumpy Evo are the name and balls-out attitude. The new monocoque carbon front end is 416g lighter than the alloy version and combined with the 142mm alloy rear, the bike feels more solid than its predecessor. Travel on the rear has increased from 145mm to 150mm, to match the fork, and the addition of the RP23 rear shock gives the rider much more control over the damping settings. Combined with the FIT damped Float fork the 2012 Stumpy Expert Evo is an altogether tighter, faster and lighter package.
Other tweaks to the frame see internal gear routing on the chainstay, and the Command Post remote now runs through, rather than along, the top tube. Granted, the Evo is no longer the only bike in this category to sport a dropper post, but it is the only one here with a non-quick release seatpost clamp. Once again, Specialized is sweating the details. All the Command Post needs now is the ‘Stealth’ style remote routing found on the Trek Remedy 9.8.
Avid brakes are replaced by Formula The Ones, in a move to improve consistency and reliability. But the Italian units aren’t without issue: Getting them set up so they don’t rub is nigh on impossible, and as a result the pads wear out at an astonishing rate. And while on the subject of reliability, with the Roval wheels spinning on genuine DT Swiss hubs, thankfully we’re not getting the usual ropy bearing quality associated with Specialized’s mid-price bikes.
Specialized’s new Autosag feature on the RP23 shock makes initial set-up a breeze, and still lets you fine tune the sag in the regular fashion. The firmest setting on the Adaptive Logic RP23 rear shock is perfect for climbing, giving plenty of support to counter out of the saddle efforts in the 36t outer ring. With super-short chainstays and a forward offset seat tube, it is important to get the saddle position on the Evo sorted for climbing: too far back and the Evo is a wheelie machine, too far forward and your ass feels like it’s over the BB.
Being the second lightest bike in this test, climbing ability is better than all but the BMC Trailfox TF01, but it is descending where the Evo really shines. Rear end tracking is truly impressive, and all of the testers running flat pedals commented on the extra pedal grip afforded by the plush rear suspension. In stock guise, the Evo felt totally at home on the steepest descents, but the front end also had a tendency to run away from you on more gradual gradients. Basically the front end is a tad high, even with the 60mm stem fully slammed, which means you hang too far off the back of the bike. Pretty much the polar opposite of the Trek. Swapping to a lower rise Easton Haven bar instantly restored balance, but flipping the stem would have had the same affect.
But possibly the biggest ‘problem’ with the Evo is that is really easy to get carried away; it’s what makes this bike so much fun to ride. It has amazing pop off jumps and getting overly excited on one sideways landing, we rolled the rear tyre clean off the rim, putting a 5in gash in the sidewall in the process. It was a long, lonely walk back to the van, but I did it with a massive smile on my face as I’d been having the time of my life up until that point. Mountain biking doesn’t get any better than on the Evo, and only the BMC gave as a similar high.
All things being equal, Specialized deserves an extra point in the ratings purely for having the good sense to fit a chain device.
But even in the early stages of this test it was evident that these bikes were far from equal: The Expert Evo is one of the cheapest bikes in test, it’s one of the lightest, and one of the best performers. So it’s easy to see why even the custom-brand snobs are being swayed by the 2012 Stumpy Expert Evo. It’s been a long time coming, but the Expert Evo proves that the one do-it-all bike is finally a reality.
MBR rating: 10
Watch the Stumpy Evo, BMC Trailfox and Trek Remedy 9.8 in action
- HA: 67.5
- SA: 69.3
- BB: 331mm
- CS: 420mm
- FC: 705mm
- WB: 1,125mm
- DT: 666mm
- Frame: FACT IS 9m carbon/M5 alloy rear
- Shock: Fox Float RP23 Autosag
- Fork: Fox 32 Float RL FIT 150mm
- Wheels: Roval Traverse
- Tyres: Specialized Butcher 2.3in/Purgatory2.2in
- Brakes: Formula The One R 180/160mm
- Drivetrain: SRAM 2×10 XO r mech, X9 shifters
- Handlebar: Specialized AM 720mm
- Stem: Specialized XC 60mm
- Seatpost: Command Post Black Lite 30.9mm
- Saddle: Specialized Henge Comp
- Weight: 12.46kg (27.47lb)
- Sizes: S, M, L, XL (M tested)
- Contact: specialized.com
Same Evo attitude and geometry in a more affordable full aluminium package.