Words by Cole Gregg | Photos by Paris Gore

With 2020 throwing us all sorts of curveballs when it comes to media camps Specialized decided to host a private camp to showcase the new 2021 Stumpjumer EVO. Thinking outside the box Specialized had us come meet up with Product Manager Steve Saletnik, Marketing Manager (and absolute shredder) Allan Cooke, Paris Gore behind the lens as well as Jordi Cortes from Fox to give the Stumpy a proper shakedown in Bellingham Washington. Having this much one on one time with the guys from Specialized, Paris and Jordi was a big treat. We understand how hard the planning for this was and appreciate the effort and time that was given to put together an awesome trip! The riding was top notch, from massive jumps on day one to some seriously rowdy shuttle trails in Darrington this new Stumpy bleeds fun! We even had some time out on a sailboat, pretty much the perfect mix for a weekend in the sun.

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO

To the naked eye, you may not see much that is new when putting last year’s model side by side with the 2021 Stumpjumper Evo. Well that could not be further from the truth as Specialized Bicycles has added a long list of new features and changes for 2021. Starting with the frame, each size receives its own unique carbon layup intended to give riders of different weights a more tuned and beneficial ride. For example, an S4 has a larger tube diameter than the S1. It doesn’t stop there.

The kinematics for each size are also tuned specifically for the weight of the rider in that size category. In testing Specialized played around with multiple layups on each size with their testers finding a noticeable difference across the size range. Seat Tubes, headtubes and chain stays all get size specific changes and really offers a leg up on many competitors. These small details translate to a bike that fits and rides as you want it to. With sizing spanning from S1 to S6 there are more than enough options to fine tune your choice for how you want the bike to ride. Have lots of tight twisty sections? Size down. Want to get the most high-speed stability for rowdy shuttle laps? Size up. It may make your initial purchasing decision a bit harder but in the long run you will have a bike catered to the terrain you ride most. If the number crunching for sizing wasn’t enough, you’ve got even more options when it comes to the on-board adjustability of the Specialized Stumpjumper Evo.

Both the headtube angle and chainstay length are easily adjustable mid-ride with a simple 5mm hex. There is a flip chip located on the chainstay that gives you two options, either High or Low. The change will move your bottom bracket 7mm for a pretty noticeable change in handling and pedaling capabilities. Also new is the headset cup adjustability. With the 3-position headset adjustment, there is a 2.5-degree swing from neutral, slack or less slack modes. On the steep side you will be blazing through switch backs with a 65.5-degree HT angle and on the low side, a chute-eating 63-degree head tube angle will have you charging hard with confidence. There will be an aftermarket link available that will allow you to run a 27.5” rear while retaining all the same geo numbers, this is an awesome bonus for those of us that really like to adjust a bike based on the zone we are riding in. There will also be a limited version that ships as a mullet.

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO

This bike’s kinematics favors a generous amount of anti-squat early on in the travel but tapers off to below zero at full compression. This of course gives you a great pedaling experience while still sending sketchy huck to flat gaps with confidence. The knowledge and experience developing the new Demo and Enduro bikes translated directly into this frame, the 21’ Stumpjumper’s leverage rates and axle path is pulled directly from those bikes transforming it into a small bump and big hit eating machine. This new kinematic set up gave the team a chance to worry less about the shock tune for pedaling efficiency and rely on the frame itself. The RX-specific shock tune comes custom tuned for each size adding to the overall experience on this bike, a heavier rider on a S6 is going to require a significantly different rebound tune than a rider on a S1.

While many of us thought this bike would look similar to the new Enduro, Specialized was able to accomplish all their goals with the side arm frame design, ultimately making for a lighter frame with the same riding characteristics. A size S4 frame comes in at 2,750 grams.

The build kit on this bike is stellar and while there are other price points and builds, we’d be hard-pressed to find much to change on this model. Our test bike featured the new 160mm Fox 36 Performance Elite and 150mm DPX2. During the time we have spent on the bike both have performed outstandingly well. The tune on the shock is superb, the rear wheel stays planted to the ground through braking bumps and the fork soaks up big hits and chattery lines. Pedal bob is very minimal which had me only reaching for the lockout lever a few times on long, sustained road climbs. There is a wide amount of useable rebound damping, even when cranked up past what I would normally ride, the bike still behaved well without excessive bucking. I did end up putting an extra token in the fork as well as a larger reducer in the shock to really fine tune for my style of riding.

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO

SRAM’s XO drivetrain worked flawlessly. I did manage to bend a derailleur hanger but with the SRAM universal hanger being used it was a breeze to pick up a new one at my local bike shop. Big fan of that! The Code RSC 4 piston brakes and 200mm rotors worked great and were the right spec for such a capable descender. Cable routing for both the shifter and brake cables is super clean and eliminates any excess cable rattle. With internal tubes there is no fishing in the frame for those cables when the time comes to upgrade or change out parts, pushing the cable through from the front to the back is as easy as it gets.

The Roval Traverse wheels have stood up to some super rowdy shuttle days, while they may not be the lightest out there, they proved to be a solid choice. They have a great balance of stiffness while still being compliant enough not to ping you off line. Our only complaint here is with the hubs, the engagement is noticeably long. This is something as a consumer I would not shy away from as it has minimal effects on the overall ride quality. Wrapped around the front wheel is an all new Butcher Grid Trail tire with the new T9 compound. This tire has been exceptional in both dry dusty conditions and over slick roots in the rain. The T9 compound was not just formulated for better grip but also to aid in small bump compliance. I actually ended up running around 1.5 psi more than I normally do without any loss in traction. The rear Eliminator with the T7 compound handed out great braking traction and sidewall support. Both tires have a rounded profile that gave us a wide margin of breakaway traction. I would not hesitate to put on a new set once these wear down. I did experience a failure on the sidewall when slapping a steep berm very hard. I will admit I was testing to see how well the bead would hold. I am not sure if the tear in the sidewall was caused by the corner or by rolling away with a flat. Either way it was a forced issue and in normal riding conditions this never happened.

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO

The cockpit is a mix of Specialized and Deity. The Specialized bars are clean with very minimal graphics, this is something I am quite fond of. I think they did the right thing by fitting the Deity Knuckleduster grips, as a gloveless rider these are some of, if not the best grips out there. It’s a small detail but having a solid grip really instills confidence on the bike.

My favorite feature on this bike is definitely the SWAT box. It is so dang handy! This model’s storage area has been increased by 15 – 20 percent (based on frame size). They have also introduced two new accessories, one being a handy tool or snack pouch with a loop on the end making it very easy to fish out. This is a perfect spot to keep some of the smaller items you may need to make repairs such as a hanger, quick links or zip ties. Along with tools you can fit snack bars or even a pair of gloves. The second accessory is a 22oz water bottle dubbed, the SWATer Bottle. This is something I have used on nearly every ride. With both the Swater Bottle and the tool pouch in the frame I was able to still fit a spare tube with some wiggling. It is going to be very hard to go back to a bike without this feature, well done Specialized, well done.

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO

While we are still early on in putting this bike through its paces, I have found myself reaching for it on the majority of my rides. I have spent most of the time in the High flip chip position and the middle setting on the headset adjustment. I look at this bike as an overpowered trail bike that I want to ride tight and twisty trails on Saturday and then hit the local jump zone on Sunday. During our shuttle rides I have put the chip into the long setting and the headset cup into the slack position as the trails were much faster and steeper than most rides I was doing. These adjustments did have a noticeable change in the on-trail feel without sacrificing the playful nature this bike exudes.

Being just under 6’1” the size S3 is definitely on the shorter end of what I like to ride but this has opened up a more playful type of riding experience I don’t get on longer bikes. There have been only a few times were that lack of length held me back, this is typically when encountering a very steep and sharp corner. With the shorter reach of the S3 my weight was more front biased than what I am accustomed to. I do not really see this as a negative because everything else felt great, so good in fact that the Specialized Stumpjumper inspired me to try my first 360 on a 29’r! And it worked.

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO

One of my weak spots when it comes to riding is technical climbs, I have never been the guy that can master punchy, root-filled climbs. In my time on this bike I have been able to clean two challenging climbs nine out of 10 times, whereas on longer more enduro focused bikes it would be three out of ten times on a good day. I think the slightly shorter wheelbase combined with the support of the frame’s anti-squat is just what I needed. With the shorter reach, on long sustained climbs I found myself sitting with better posture, causing less mid back pain from the forward lean longer bikes are putting us in.

One of the only negatives I have found so far with this new bike is the lack of useable seat tube length. With my long legs I have been running the 180mm dropper pretty dang far out of the collar. During bike set up in Bellingham the stock 150mm dropper was not cutting it, thankfully a quick stop at Fanatik solved that problem. Although I may be an outlier, this is something to consider if you plan to size down. If I am going to Duthie Hill, a local bike park that is heavily focused on jumps, I will slam the dropper down to yield more room to play, other than that the extra length sticking out of the collar on normal rides, it really did not hold me back at all.

While this would not be my first choice of bikes to spend a week at Whistler Bike Park, that certainly doesn’t mean it couldn’t handle a trip to the bike park. In reality though, I’d much rather have an Enduro or Demo for the bike park. What this bike may lose at the park it really gives back on your more common rides. There isn’t much sacrifice on your after work rides as long as you’ve got plenty of steep and technical terrain on your local riding menu. There is enough travel to keep you moving through the rough stuff while also providing precision when the going gets tight and twisty.

Specialized Stumpjumper EVO


The 2021 Specialized Stumpjumper Evo is a bike that makes you want to ride more and harder. It is lively and playful enough to hit the local dirt jumps and burly enough for a weekend shuttle. The “S” sizing platform will take some studying but we found it worked well, especially with the combination of the adjustable geometry. Don’t be afraid to size down, at 6’1” the S3 is a blast on all types of terrain, however an S4 would certainly be the “modern” way to go if you want to stay in fashion or regularly ride high speed terrain. In the last month and a half we’ve spent riding this bike, we’ve been very pleased with its performance and all-around fun factor. It has me trying new lines, cleaning technical climbs and tricking jumps other longer bikes don’t. We look forward to passing this one around for more input and ride time around the PNW. Out of the box, Specialized have created a bike capable of dang near everything in the new Stumpjumper Evo.

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Specialized Stumpjumper EVO