Dream Builds: Stumpjumper EVO – The Extended Version

Gear editor Ryan Palmer creates a beauty

dreambuild_Specialized_HMPG

Frame, Shock, & Specialized Command Post (not used in Dream Build): $2,950
More info: specialized.com

I chose the Stumpjumper EVO for my dream build because I’ve wanted one ever since we tested it during the 2012 Bible of Bike Tests. I fell in love with the trail-eating capabilities of the FSR, not to mention the stealth black frame offered in the 2013 Specialized catalog. This 150-millimeter, 26-inch wheeled beauty could be ridden at mind-numbing speed through the roughest granite covered trails Pisgah National Forest had to offer, so I just had to have it. And with a plethora of incredible parts hitting the market in 2013, I knew how I’d build this dream machine.

Except for the fork. I was completely on the fence. I’d ridden the Fox product and it was great, but I also loved the RockShox Lyrik. The Fox 34 had offered excellent durability and good small-bump compliance, but I wasn’t thrilled with the CTD controls. I like more adjustment. The Lyrik offered the damping control I was looking for, but was a bit overkill for the Stumpy. Then came the RockShox Pike. It had 35 millimeter stanchions and a new damper that was not only supple in the top end, but resisted diving–or so people said. Also, it came in all black to match the frame. I had to have it. I even held the build by several weeks while waiting on delivery of the Pike. I’m glad I did, because it suits the bike perfectly.

Front shifting is a pain in the ass. Ask any shop mechanic and they’ll tell you that the most overarching customer complaint or confusion is related to front shifting. Full suspension bike designs further complicate front shifting. Therefore, I’ve been a single chainring advocate for years. The problem with that is that chain guides suck too. When SRAM’s XX1 came around and antiquated both front shifting and chain guides, I jumped aboard and haven’t looked back since.

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Given the carte blanche approach to the dream bike idea, I wanted to do something special with the brakes. I mounted XTR Race levers to Saint calipers. I love the reliability and power of Shimano brakes, but I’m really picky about lever feel, and I don’t love the feel of Servo Wave. XTR Race levers don’t have Servo Wave, a technology that provides better braking power, but makes the brakes feel grabby. By mating Saint calipers to XTR Race levers I more than gained back the power lost at the lever with Saint’s 4-piston caliper, and improved modulation tenfold. The rub, though, is that Servo Wave makes it so that a small amount of lever movement pushes the pads a lot, allowing for great pad clearance, so when you get rid of it you lose that clearance and your brakes are more likely to, well, rub.

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Problem Solvers makes this handy adaptor that allows a SRAM shifter to mount directly to a Shimano I-Spec brake lever, making for a clean, one-clamp bar interface. It’s called MisMatch. I love a tidy cockpit, so the MisMatch adapter was the perfect solution. The only downside to this gizmo is that it takes away the ability to adjust the angle of the shifter independently of the brake lever. It bothered me a bit at first, but I got used to it.

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The press-fit bottom bracket interface really pisses me off. I find it to be a marketing scheme to produce lower cost, less precise frames, playing it off as a performance advantage because it’s lighter and ‘stiffer.’ Who cares about lighter and stiffer when their parts continuously fail? Unfortunately, press-fit is taking over, but luckily, the best bearing maker in the business, Chris King, makes an aluminum press-fit bottom bracket that actually works. After several months it’s still creak free.

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When Thomson came out with its Elite dropper post, I wasn’t too impressed by the photos. But we got one in and I loved it. It has proven to be incredibly reliable along with offering low-friction movement and foolproof setup. So I chose it over the KS Lev, even though I had previously named it as my favorite post.

I’ve always wanted to try Industry Nine wheels, so I opted to put the Trail 24 wheels on my dream build. They’ve been super reliable, while being incredibly light, offering stiffness and instant acceleration. The only bummer is how loud the freehub is, although it does motivate me to pedal more to make the noise stop. For me, Continental Trail King 2.2 tires were the obvious choice. They’re a great all rounder, and last forever.

At just over 26 pounds, my custom Stumpy shrugs off anything I throw at it. Two-hour climb? No problem. Whistler Bike Park? Absolutely. It’s truly a dream bike.

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