Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Pro 29 Mountain Bike Review
Words by Nic “U-Turn” Hall | Photos by Drew Rohde
The Stumpjumper is arguably the most recognizable name in the mountain bike biz. It has a longstanding history and is synonymous with mountain biking. The Specialized Stumpjumper was born in 1981 and was the first mass-produced mountain bike of it’s kind. As it approaches 40 years of service, Specialized once again gave their fans something new with the Stumpy Evo Carbon. Last year Specialized made a pretty aggressive change with their Stumpjumper Evo, and it seemed almost instantly consumers were asking, “Where’s the carbon model?” Not wanting to disappoint, the Big S developed two sizes of carbon frames in the Evo platform, and S2 and S3.
Right out of the box, our S3 tester got us excited. This bike has one of the best finishes I have seen to date. No unnecessary branding, extensive graphic treatment, or anything bright for that matter. This stealthy shredder shows off leafy carbon sheets behind a protective satin finish that caught people’s attention everywhere we took it.
The Stumpjumper Evo Pro 29 comes currently offered in two sizes – S2 and S3, which are essentially long and longer. Specialized’s numbers for a “high” setting are beyond any concept of progressive design and have gone into new territory for a trail bike. The front end of our S3 sports a stack height of 620mm, reach of 480mm, and head tube angle of 64 degrees. The BB height is 333mm, with 443mm chainstays, a 75.6-degree seat tube angle, and the wheelbase is 1,253mm. Oh, what’s that you say? That’s now low or slack enough for you? Flip the shock mount chip to low, and you get a BB height of 328mm and a head angle of 63.5 degrees…you know the kind of head tube angle World Cup DH racers have used to ride faster than we ever will down the steepest tracks on the planet.
We’re not talking about a downhill mountain bike though, we’re talking about a 140mm trail bike with a 150mm fork sporting a 44-degree offset. As you’ve grown to expect, Specialized continues to use a Horst Link FSR suspension linkage with their newer single-sided frame design. The frame structure and shock linkage are technologies they’ve developed from their DH development program. Specialized says they designed the linkage kinematics to be very supple off the top and progressively ramp deeper into the suspension while still having a responsive climb platform. They coupled their design with a custom-tuned Fox DHX2 coil shock with a 550lb spring.
Build spec on the Stumpjumper Evo Pro 29 is clever and balances value and performance with lots of SRAM parts. GX Eagle components handle drivetrain duties while quad piston Code RSCs with 200mm centerline discs control the speed you’re sure to achieve when pointing this bike downhill.
The cockpit features Specialized’s own 50mm stem and 800mm wide aluminum bars with 27mm of rise, and 8-degrees of back sweep. Rolling stock on the Stumpjumper Evo Pro 29 includes Roval Carbon Traverse rims with 30mm internal width and DT Swiss 350 hubs. We actually liked these wheels enough to do a separate review on them, which we’ll be releasing soon! Specialized Butchers 29×2.6” Gripton tires round out the package and offer traction in spades.
We can’t move on to the performance section of the bike review without touching on some of the most thoughtful and unique features that make Specialized bikes special. SWAT Technology has been evolving from bibs to integrated frame compartments, and the new carbon Evo is no exception.
The integrated SWAT door in the downtube makes plum smuggling a breeze but also allows room for an extra tube, Co2, even a lightweight rain shell if you so desire. It’s a rather gracious storage area and something we’ve grown very used to having on board. We also love the trail tool that is neatly stuffed in the steerer tube, much like OneUp Components’ EDC system. The system also includes a chain tool and a quick link further down the steerer tube.
Another highlight of the Stumpjumper Evo Pro 29 is the clever frame protection designed by Specialized. Impressively molded sections protect the seat stay and chainstay along with a large frame protector that keeps the down tube safe from flying debris. We also really like the chainstay protector with the raised sections to minimize chain slap noise.
Over the last few months, we have taken our Stumpjumper EVO Pro 29 on just about every type of trail imaginable. We’ve ridden insanely steep loamers with nasty roots and vertical chutes, extremely rocky, technical climbs, and plenty of jumpy flow trails. This bike has definitely been put through the gamut. After months of experience on various terrain and several different riders taking their turn aboard this bike, we’re confident in our verdict on who this bike is for and where it excels.
The Stumpjumper EVO is long and low…. really low. We rode the bike primarily in the high chip setting, which afforded a 328mm (12.9-in) bottom bracket height. That is one of the lowest BBs we have ridden. As you could imagine, it gives the bike mind-blowing, berm smashing, and trail hugging performance. Push the bike into a corner, get your hips twisted, and prepare to rip off your back tire.
The low center of gravity redefines what a trail bike can do in corners, but it does so at a hefty price. The compromise is a drastic reduction in your ability to pedal the bike in three-dimensional terrain. Whether you’re going up or down the trail, toes, pedals, and cranks are not in harm’s way. We had some terrifying moments trying to pedal out of corners aggressively and clipping objects at speed. Likewise, while attempting to climb the Stumpy Evo in rocky terrain or trails that have deep ruts, we had to alter lines and work harder to time crank strokes seriously.
When it came time to charge down the trail, the slack front end, coupled with a reduced offset fork, gave our test riders a very confident stance and feel on the bike. The Stumpjumper Evo Pro 29 was very stable in the steepest trails we could find. With a flick of the wrist, the bike can be laid over on its side, challenging the Butcher’s level of grip. But again, that long, aggressive front end has a trade-off. Slow speed cornering and wandering are side-affects that go along with the S3’s dimensions.
The long front end and slack head angle struggle most on climbs and tight switchbacks. There was a definite learning curve when it came to climbing steep switchbacks that had rocks or roots in them. We found ourselves resorting to a wheelie technique so we could get the front tire over obstacles on the far outside of the trail so that the rear tire could stay in the mainline for the climb. Slow technical sections that require weaving between enormous obstacles is a bit of a chore as we’d have to time front wheel placement while remembering to watch our low pedals.
The Fox 36 Performance fork worked great. It was stable, predictable, and consistent with good adjustability. The coil shock, however, took a few rides to really dial in, and it still left a bit to be desired. Initially, the rear felt very soft and spent most of the descents riding low in its travel. It offered excellent small bump compliance and traction but wallowed in berms and blew through travel when landing drops or jumps.
We added a bunch of preload and compression damping, which helped improve the feel, but we found the shock still rode deeper in the travel than we wanted. At 160-170lbs, this shouldn’t be an issue on a large size bike. If we were keeping this trail bike, we’d probably go to a slightly stiffer spring, however, then we’d likely deal with a slightly stiffer feel on washboards and smaller obstacles.
We like having a coil shock on such an aggressively-built bike, but it just didn’t quite seem that the performance of the rear end was as burly as the looks make the bike out to be. One highlight of the shock, however, is the platform switch. We used it just about every time we’d point the Stumpjumper back uphill as it gives a lot more low-speed compression damping to minimize pedal bob and rider-induced shock movement.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Specialized’s Stumpjumper Evo Pro 29 is a bit of a puzzle. It has the geometry, stance, and look of a big-hit bruiser in a 140mm package. To be fair, in many ways, it is, but it has some major topics worth discussing. First, we’ll get into who the ideal rider is for this bike, because if you’re not taking this bike on the terrain it was designed for the second part won’t matter anyway.
As odd as this may sound, the Stumpjumper Evo Pro 29 is not ideal for riders who spend a lot of time on raw, narrow, or ungroomed trails. This is very much a new school bike, so if you ride scratched in singletrack with rocks, deep ruts, or other tall obstacles within reach of your ankles, you’re better off sticking with something else, perhaps the regular Stumpjumper. If you spend most of your time on wider, bike parky trails with gaps, drops jumps, and insanely high speeds that make your butthole tighten, then this bike has some serious potential. So, how do we suggest tapping into that? Shock tuning!
Chances are if you’re the kind of shredder who’s going to love this bike you live for going fast and catching air. We’d suggest over-springing the rear shock so you can ride a bit higher in the travel, which will give you more stability, pop, and acceleration while pumping transitions. When we got this bike on the trails it was designed to ride, it was hands down one of our favorite bikes to ride. It’s very playful, inspires confidence, and made us want to attempt bar drag contests every time we took it out. This is where the bike shines, so if you spend most of your time climbing fire roads or shuttling just to get to the rowdiness, chances are you’ll be stoked as long as there aren’t too many snipers in the bushes!
Weight: 31.46 lbs
Frame: FACT 11mm Carbon; 140mm
Fork: Fox Float 36 Performance Elite GRIP2; 150mm
Shock: Fox DHX2 Performance Elite; 2 Position Lever; 210×50 (550lb spring)
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC; 200mm
Handlebar: Specialized 7050; 800mm
Saddle: Body Geometry Phenom Expert
Seatpost: Specialized Command Post; 160mm
Shifter: SRAM GX Eagle; 12s
Stem: Specialized Trail
Hubs: Specialized Sealed (f), DT Swiss 250 (r)
Rims: Roval Traverse Carbon
Tires: Specialized Butcher Gripton 2.6”
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB Threaded
Cassette: SRAM GX Eagle; 10-50t
Cranks: SRAM GX Eagle; 170mm; 30t
Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle; 12s
Stable and Confident
Corners, Corners, Corners
Raw Carbon Looks GOOD
Playful at Speed
Chainstay Protector Ridges
SWAT Storage Rules!
Clipping Pedals Frequently
Suspension Wallows a Bit/ Rides Deep in Stroke
Not a Backcountry Bike (Isn’t Meant to be One Either)
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