Bike Test: Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon Evo

January 9, 2012
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Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon Evo

Blurring The Lines Of Conventional Wisdom


The Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon Evo (whew, that’s a long name) aims at being a more aggressive version of the do-it-all Stumpjumper. The Stumpy Evo sits between the standard Stumpjumper FSR model and their at- home-at-a-bike-park Enduro in terms of suspension travel, frame geometry and weight. This bike is set to blur the lines between flowy trail riding and aggressive, big-mountain, technical riding.

 

WHO IS IT MADE FOR?

The Carbon Evo is for gravity enthusiasts looking for a bike versatile enough to fill in as their daily trailbike. But even cross-country enthusiasts looking to get into more aggressive riding will find the charms of the Stumpjumper Evo hard to resist. The basic Stumpjumper appeals to a wider range of riders, but if you have moto skills or like to push it on descents, the Evo is it.

 

WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?

The main triangle is constructed out of carbon fiber. The chainstays and seat stays are made from aluminum. What differentiates the Evo model from the standard Stumpjumper FSR is its rocker link and longer-travel fork. The rocker link on the Evo, coupled with a 5.9-inch-travel fork, results in a model with almost a half-inch more rear-wheel travel, a lower bottom bracket and a slacker head tube angle compared to the standard Stumpjumper FSR. The frame features a press-fit BB30 bottom bracket (PF30 BB) and ISCG ’05 mounts for running a chainguide. The Stumpy Evo utilizes a tapered head tube and Specialized’s 142 Plus rear thru-axle.

WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?

The first piece of equipment that caught our eye was the Fox RP23 Adaptive Logic shock. At first glance, it looks like a production RP23 with Fox’s fancy Kashima coating. Look closely, though, and you’ll notice an additional ring and valve wrap around the air sleeve. This little extra is dubbed “Autosag.” As the name implies, this technology automatically adjusts the shock’s sag to meet Specialized’s recommended setting. Aside from the shock, the new Specialized Command Post BlackLite (reviewed in our October issue) is an appropriate and a welcome spec. The Roval Traverse rear hub utilizes Specialized’s 142-plus spacing, allowing engineers to space the freehub body further outboard to gain additional wheel stiffness. You can still use a standard 142-millimeter rear hub with this frame too.

HOW DOES IT PERFORM?

Ergonomics: The Stumpjumper Evo’s cockpit is absolutely dialed for aggressive riding. There is an awesome amount of standover clearance; the low-slung top tube makes it feel like you are riding a frame size smaller than you are. This is a major plus, not a negative. The top tube reach feels great. It is slightly shorter than your average trailbike, but for aggressive riding, it is perfect. The bars are wide and low, allowing the Evo to tackle anything in its way.


Setup:
So is Autosag all it’s cracked up to be? In a word, yes. It’s an incredibly simple, innovative feature that will help ensure the bike’s suspension is set up correctly. Here’s how it works. Step 1: Fill the shock to 300 psi (we found this excessive and had no problem with the system filled to 40 psi above the rider’s weight). Step 2: Sit on the bike wearing your riding gear. Step 3: Depress the red Autosag valve and remain still until air-flow stops. Step 4: Cycle the suspension; set the rebound and go ride. You’re done. The Fox Float RL fork doesn’t have the Autosag feature, so you are back to measuring sag the old way (see “Garage Files,” February 2011).

           
Climbing:
It is rare to find an aggressive, 5.9-inch-travel bike that climbs as well as the Evo. It’s no cross-country speed machine, but that’s not the purpose of this bike. All it takes is a flip of the ProPedal switch, which is easy to reach, a seated position and a comfortable gear to spin. Even on steep terrain, the bike barely wallows and holds its line just fine. Out of the saddle with ProPedal engaged, the bike does surprisingly well, but there will be suspension movement on a bike with this much travel. Still, it is not excessive, and, more important, the bike feels very stable. With ProPedal disengaged, the suspension is too lively for serious ascending.

         
Cornering:
The Specialized Butcher DH tires have great bite, so we weren’t surprised to find one in a single-ply Control Casing version up front. Coupled with a relatively low bottom bracket and slack head tube angle, the Evo rails corner with ease. Whether the trail is tight and twisty or fast and meandering, the Evo can quickly snap and change direction, making it an absolute blast to ride on serpentine terrain as the trail twists and turns.

           
Descending:
Drop the saddle and crank up the volume because this bike is built to shred. The Command Post’s three positions make it easy to decide the right position for the given terrain. We were amazed by how lively and fun this bike was on the descents. It is remarkably stable and yet very nimble?a tough trick for a bike like this to pull off. When traveling over rocky trails, we found ourselves constantly popping off rocks and ledges, turning our favorite trails into an endless playground. The Stumpy Evo has incredible small-bump compliance; the trail chatter instantly disappears as the bike blasts through rough terrain. On the other side of the spectrum, the Evo has no problem absorbing large square-edged hits and drop-offs and does so with flying colors. Even though it has a relatively low bottom bracket, we didn’t encounter any clearance issues. The bike’s lively nature is also apparent when you catch some sweet air; the Stumpjumper Evo is a go for launch.

           
Braking:
As expected, the Stumpjumper Evo’s FSR suspension remained fully active when we got heavy on the brakes. The Butcher and Purgatory tire combo had no problem biting into loose terrain to slow us down. The Formula brakes provided plenty of stopping power and were relatively easy to modulate. One complaint we’ve had with Formula brakes in the past that still persists is the noise factor. If you are riding in wet conditions or through creek crossings, your riding buddies may want to grab a pair of earplugs, as these brakes will howl. Noise complaints aside, they did their job well. The lever feel was consistent, and our Evo slowed down very quickly.

TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?

          
It’s hard to complain about this bike. As in the vast majority of cases, we recommend converting the wheels and tires to tubeless to enjoy even more traction. For the price of this bike, we were a bit disappointed to see a Float RL fork spec’ed. If you are a suspension junkie, you will likely upgrade the fork to maximize the front-end suspension performance.

BUYING ADVICE

           
If you shy away from steep and aggressive terrain, the Stumpjumper FSR and Specialized Camber are better options for you. But then again, this bike may be just the ticket to get you to attempt more challenging terrain. If you are an aggressive rider looking for a versatile trailbike that can still tackle gnarly terrain, the Stumpjumper Evo delivers?big time.

Reprinted from the January 2012 issue. Like us on Facebook

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