Wading through the new-bike-hype has become an increasingly difficult task in the social media age. Predictably the hype machine rolls out a polished video with some big name pro endorsements and a few talking heads backing up the bro-speak with some leverage curves and a few grainy snapshots of the prototype bikes that led to the final production model. I, like most mountain bikers, am a sucker for these types or releases, but as I get older, my bullshit-ometer has been calibrated to a slightly higher degree of sensitivity. The concept of “what was great yesterday actually sucks today” simply because the new one now exists is a hard pill to swallow.
So when the new Stumpy Evo started getting teased out, I was both intrigued and skeptical. I currently own a 2020 Stumpy Evo Pro 29 that I utterly love, but it’s not without room for improvement. While my hope was that Specialized would put a spit polish on an already stellar machine, my trepidation was that they’d roll out a mini-Enduro and abandon the absurdly capable platform on which the Stumpy was built.
Anyhoo, a few weeks back the folks at Specialized rolled through town on a “top secret” tour to give a few bike nerds like myself a chance to hop on the new Stumpy Evo. We didn’t get much info, other than “it’s super adjustable and the kinematics are way better.”
Here’s a little mountain bike truth bomb: riding a bike that you know essentially nothing about is as enlightening as it is refreshing. When we get on a bike knowing all the numbers and “how it’s supposed to ride” it’s easy to get mired in confirmation bias. Consequently, knowing less about a bike leads to a bit more objectivity on those first few rides.
By now you’ve likely seen a few of the other MTB outlets spooling out their pontifications on this new steed. But we like to do these reviews to provide the reader with a Vermont-centric perspective. Shit’s just different here. If you know, you know. So we tested out the new Stumpy Evo in a size S4 here on our home turf in Stowe’s Cady Hill Forest in dry and somewhat blown out conditions (at least by Vermont standards), with some freshly fallen leaves mixed in for good measure.
In short, the Big Red S nailed it with this one. If you read the review I did earlier this summer on my Stumpy Evo, I opined that the 2020 version was a little too slack, a little too low, and a little too long; basically they had pushed the envelope just a touch too far. But in the right context that gratuitously unconventional geometry is AMAZING. The new 2021 Stumpy Evo retains all of that magic, allowing the rider to tweak the geo to get to those same very long, low, and slack numbers, while building in adequate adjustability to dial it back to a more pedal-friendly bottom bracket height, and a slightly less aggressive head tube angle that’s a bit more suited to an all-’rounder like this.
I literally had a hard time finding fault with this bike, uphill or down. Much like the Enduro, It climbs with such aplomb that it’s almost easy to forget its intent, but it descends exactly as you’d expect. Which is to say, wicked good. The Expert level build we rode leaves little to be desired for $4899 MSRP but there are a few other kit options, including a mullet, all of which look to provide pretty solid bang-for-the-buck.
So the standard question that begs to be asked: who’s this bike for? Like its predecessor, I think the new Stumpy Evo is a bike that surely rewards a rider who’s not afraid to ride with a bit more intent — pushing hard in corders, searching out those natural doubles, and generally givin’ ‘er the beans. But the climbability of this bike opens it up to be such a broadly capable all-around platform that it kinda becomes a quiver of one.
Take all of this with a grain of salt; our test was only one glorious day and it was in Cady Hill Forest, which is an exceedingly fun place to ride but certainly short on technical or steep terrain. Keep your eyes peeled for a longer term review that will most assuredly include some all day epics, as well as a few laps at the bike park.
150 mm rear travel
160 mm front travel
29” wheels only (available aftermarket link allows for mullet conversion)
S1 – S6 sizing (S1 being roughly an Extra Small, S6 equivalent to an XXL)
Increased SWAT storage