Old St. Francis School
Our headquarters during our time in Bend, Oregon, was the McMenamins' Old St. Francis School. And while we certainly took in a few things about Specialized's new 2013 model range, we weren't in Bend to attend any classes. The hotel's name comes from its history as the first-ever parochial school to be established in Central Oregon. The faculty's doors first opened in 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression, and the grounds were expanded over the years to include more classrooms and outbuildings. Editors who flew in from all over the globe, including Europe and South America, were treated to McMenamins' self contained movie theatre, vintage tiled soaking pool (ideal for nursing those post-ride, sore legs), and slept in bedrooms converted from the old classrooms. The rooms themselves don't feature numbers such as you'd find in a run of
the mill hotel, but rather are named after the school's more prominent students. Pinkbike stayed in the McMenamins' Nunnery house, once home to the school's teaching nuns. Our walls were hung with portraits of the Sisters and adorned with quotes, many attesting their stern outlook on education. The Specialized camp was likely a much more relaxed atmosphere than the Sisters would have preferred, luckily for us. Plan on sampling some of Bend's supersonic singletrack? McMenamins' Old St. Francis School is a great place to rest your head if you appreciate a bit of history and character.
2013 Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon EVO 29 Details
• Lower BB, slacker head tube angle
• Wider tires as stock equipment
• 135mm of rear wheel travel
• Command Post Blacklite dropper post
• Dual ring guide
• FOX CTD suspension front and rear
• Autosag rear shock
• 68° head angle (versus 69° on the non-EVO model)
• 335mm bottom bracket height (versus 338 on the non-EVO model)
New for 2013, the Carbon EVO 29 brings the slack geometry and low bottom bracket to big wheels in a package that leans a little more towards bringing out the smiles on the descents than outright cross-country prowess. Specialized upped the rock and roll factor by way of a slightly shorter shock link that both lowers bottom bracket and slackens the steering, along with spec'ing some wider tires, wider bars, and a proper dual ring chain guide. The smartest addition to the bike, though, and one that oh so many companies seem to lose sight of in the hard battle of cost versus spec, is the inclusion of a dropper post straight from the factory.
FOX suspension is utilized front and back, with a Talas equipped fork allowing the rider to reign in the bike's slacker head angle by dialling down the travel to 110mm. An Autosag valve on the Float CTD rear shock means that there is no excuse to be running off-base pressures - simply over pressurize, get on the bike, and hold down the Autosag button until air is no longer released in order to get the sag at a near perfect level.
Now, you'll have to keep our perspective in mind here: we prefer wide bars, usually run platform-type pedals, and enjoy going for lengthy trail rides where we try to include burly terrain that may or may not be beyond the bike's intentions. That sort of thing sounds like it might be listed on the Carbon EVO 29er's Plenty of Fish dating profile, so it made sense that we spent our entire Bend visit aboard the new bike.
At this point we have logged time on many different 29ers, some of which quickly reinforced our love for 26'' wheels, others that weren't polarizing enough to leave an impression (which could be a good thing depending on your take), and others still who had us wondering why we would ever ride 26'' wheels on a trail bike again. After a quick bar swap - the Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon EVO 29 comes
with a 720mm Specialized branded bar, but we went wider still - we hit the dirt to find out which category the black, orange, and blue machine falls into. We rode the bike on everything from the sustained climbs and loose descents of the Smith Rocks region, to rocks on Horse Ridge, to the more smooth, Bend-esque terrain found on Phil's trail. A proper sampling, indeed.Confidence In Spades
It only took a few minutes of parking lot shenanigans while setting up the bike to feel that the Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon EVO 29 has that 'sit in' feel of a well sorted bike. That confidence inspiring feeling of being in the bike, rather than on top of it, is a symptom of a number of geometry numbers coming together: bottom bracket height and drop, top tube, head tube, and down tube length, and let's not forget about the wheelbase, all need to be balanced in order to find that special feeling. The EVO 29 ticks all of those boxes, letting us jump on and charge on a bike that we had never ridden just ten minutes prior.
Pointing the bike down slope revealed an easy to get along with personality that seemed to always have room for rider error, likely thanks to the relatively slack 68° head angle and low-to-the-ground rider position. Many sections of trail seemed to be laid out to allow riders to approach landspeed records on their bikes, but we don't recall feeling squirrelly at any point. Rough and rocky outcroppings were handled well, with the FOX CTD dampers doing well to eat up much of the chatter. The bike's agility surprised us outright as well, with quick changes of direction feeling very 26''-esque and a personality that was constantly asking us to back it into corners and play more than any other 29er we've ridden previously. As with our previous experience with CTD, we found ourselves preferring the middle 'Trail' setting more than the under damped feeling of the 'Descend' mode. This setup also added to the EVO 29's kick when it came time to put down some power, although the bike pedalled quite well with the suspension set to full open as well.
|Although Bend, Oregon, is lacking when it comes to steep and rooty terrain, the EVO 29 felt more capable in every situation during our three days on it than a longer legged 26'' wheeled bike.|
Although some of the climbing was rough and rocky, not much of it was overly technical, meaning that we'll have to refrain from commenting on how the bike tackled tricky elevation gains. One thing we can speak about, though, is the bike's neutral feeling over loose terrain. With 455mm long chainstays (nearly 18''
) we expected the rear tire to ask to be weighted quite a bit in order to bite on loose climbs, but this wasn't the case. Traction was there whether we were standing or sitting, proving to be much more forgiving than the on/off sensation that we've come to expect of bikes with similar length rear ends.
Deschutes BreweryCog Wild Tours
Our group was lucky enough to attend a private, after hours tour of Bend's Deschutes Brewery where we were given a run through of how they create their beer. Deschutes is known as a 'craft brewer', meaning that they produce more than the 15,000 barrels of beer per year that a 'micro-brewer' puts out. 2011 saw Deschutes manufacture 222,000 barrels of goodness, an impressive figure considering their humble beginnings as the small brew pub that opened in 1988 (they sold 310 barrels in that first year).
We went from holding hops in our hands, to seeing the massive, seamless steel vats, and even watching the bottling line at work, to sampling the brew at the end of the tour. The process is impressive, not to mention much more involved than an outsider might at first suspect.
With editors visiting from countries such as Brazil and Italy, both locations with amazing riding in their own right, Specialized wanted to be absolutely positive that we'd be sampling the best of what Bend has to offer. What better way to have the trails on lock-down than engage the services of the area's eminent guiding company, Cog Wild. Lev Stryker, one half of the Cog Wild partnership, acted as our ride leader, shepherding our multi-national herd up, down, and around the area's eye-watering fast trails. This was a treat for the Pinkbike crew who call British Columbia home - we don't often get to spend our singletrack time in the big ring. Lev is, of course, strong as an ox on the bike and with handling skills in tune with Bend's high-speed trails. Looking for more 2013 Specialized bikes? Check out our in-depth look at the brand new Demo 8 CarbonOr if riding the park and local jumps is more your style, you'll want to see their 2013 P. bike lineup. www.specialized.comPhotography by Sterling Lorence