2015 Specialized Rumor Expert EVO 29 (discontinued)

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Discontinued
2015 Specialized Women's Rumor Expert EVO 29
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2015 Test Sessions: Specialized Rumor Expert EVO 29

Rating: Vital Review

Reviewed by Courtney Steen and Amanda Wentz // Photos by Lear Miller

The sun is rising over the the gorgeous green hills in San Luis Obispo, the Vital MTB Test Sessions house smells of espresso and bacon, and it's time to test out another bike. Oh yes. For us lady testers, Specialized sent their Rumor Expert EVO 29er - a bike they boldly claim is the "ultimate women's full-suspension trail bike." We imagine if Batgirl rode mountain bikes, she would probably be on something dark like this murdered out M5 alloy bike with big ol' 29-inch wagon wheels, 120mm travel in the front and rear, and a design specially for women with an ultra-low standover and lady-specific parts. With our coffee cups empty and the trails calling our name, it's time to take on this panther bike and see how she purrs.

Reviewed by Courtney Steen and Amanda Wentz // Photos by Lear Miller

The sun is rising over the the gorgeous green hills in San Luis Obispo, the Vital MTB Test Sessions house smells of espresso and bacon, and it's time to test out another bike. Oh yes. For us lady testers, Specialized sent their Rumor Expert EVO 29er - a bike they boldly claim is the "ultimate women's full-suspension trail bike." We imagine if Batgirl rode mountain bikes, she would probably be on something dark like this murdered out M5 alloy bike with big ol' 29-inch wagon wheels, 120mm travel in the front and rear, and a design specially for women with an ultra-low standover and lady-specific parts. With our coffee cups empty and the trails calling our name, it's time to take on this panther bike and see how she purrs.

Highlights

  • Aluminum frame
  • 29-inch wheels
  • 120mm (4.72-inches) of front and rear wheel travel
  • Tapered head tube
  • 68.4-degree head angle
  • 73-degree effective seat tube angle
  • 327mm (12.9-inch) measured bottom bracket height
  • 450mm (17.7-inch) chainstays
  • PF30 bottom bracket
  • 142+ rear spacing with 12mm through axle
  • Measured complete weight (size M, no pedals): 27-pounds, 8-oz (12.5kg)
  • $5,000 MSRP

With its matte black paint job and parts to match, the Rumor Expert EVO stands out in a crowd of bright and flashy color schemes. At first glance this doesn’t scream "women’s specific" design, however, the frame was designed from the ground up with some nifty tweaks. Specialized uses a women’s tubeset, which is basically lighter tubing, helping bring the weight down to a respectable 27.5-pounds. The two piece top tube allows for better standover clearance even with those 29-inch wheels. You'll also notice a funny little black bumper under the down tube - because Specialized had to shrink a 29er frame to fit smaller ladies, they had to put the rubber stop there to protect the frame from the fork when it spins.

Specialized offers the Rumor in two types - standard and EVO. Those riding rougher trails will appreciate the slacker head angle paired with 10mm more travel on the EVO sister. Additional EVO upgrades include a RockShox Pike fork, 20mm wider bars, a SRAM X01 drivetrain, and a grippier front tire.

Bonus features include a rear FOX shock equipped with Autosag, plenty of mud clearance, a chainstay guard to keep it quiet, and Specialized's unique SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, and Tools) system chain tool under the top cap on the steerer tube and multi-tool on the bottle cage. We think these are some neat and certainly convenient innovations. The only thing that really stands out as a potential negative is the lack of stealth-style internal dropper post routing for that super clean look, and the exposed downtube routing for the rest of the cables due to the potential of rock strikes.

Specialized makes the Rumor line in Small, Medium, and Large sizes to fit a big range of riders. Prices are $2,000, $2,700, $4,000 for the standard models or $5,000 for the EVO edition, which is what we had the joy of testing.

On The Trail

San Luis Obispo isn't just a place to go visit the beach, watch the sunset, or go wine tasting. It served as the ultimate testing grounds for us to check out the Rumor Expert EVO 29er on a variety of trails. The riding options among the pastoral green hills ranged from fast and flowy to rough and rocky, and we rode them all over several days. Some rain leading into our testing period also meant the trails were prime for riding.

While setting up the Rumor, we struggled to get the Autosag feature on the FOX Float CTD Factory shock to work. For both of us, it was giving us something close to just 10% sag. It's a really cool concept though, where (in theory) you can just inflate the shock really high, sit on the bike, and depress a little button to end up with a good setup. We ended up setting sag the old school way to 30%. The fork was an easy setup. We just followed the handy-dandy sticker on the RockShox Pike RC 29 to put in the appropriate air pressure.

Amanda ran the stock cockpit components and felt comfortable with it. Courtney swapped the 700mm Specialized XC handlebars for something in the 750mm range and the 70mm stem for a 50mm. Both of us were happy with the Specialized Women's Enduro XL lock-on grips, and both pleasantly surprised by how comfortable we were on the Women's Myth saddle. Maybe it's called Myth because it would sound like a myth if someone told you they got on a bike with a stock saddle that was actually comfortable?

At 5'6" and 5'7", neither of us felt stretched out or scrunched up while seated, and our overall body position felt neutral and comfortable, indicating a good top tube fit on the size Medium test bike. It was easy to move around in the saddle for technical climbs, too. Standing, the reach felt stable and roomy, especially with the shorter stem installed.

As you would expect of a 29er, the front end felt tall and a little more upright than the 27.5-inch bikes we've been riding often. This made for comfortable cruising, but was definitely odd to adjust to at first. At times we felt like the front end wanted to pop up on steeper climbs, and the high sensation made slow maneuvers and cornering a little awkward. After lowering the stem and bars as low as they could go, climbing and cornering felt much better. The high front end feel is amplified by the super low bottom bracket, which puts your feet lower than normal, but this helps the bike stay planted and carve turns better.

Traveling downhill Amanda adapted to the 29er feeling quickly and was surprised she felt as confident on it as she did. Courtney took a bit longer to warm up to the different ride. She didn't feel as confident on this bike while riding it on some really rough trails, and at first it felt like she was just pinballing around. On smoother and less technical trail sections, the bike came alive for both of us. It could be ridden casually just spinning along or, for more fun, ridden aggressively and really getting after it. It did well being maneuvered through open turns, and laying it over to make it down a switchback just took a smidge more effort than on a smaller bike. The slacker head angle on the EVO model felt good for all around use.

To our surprise it felt pretty decent going off jumps, something we can't say about most 29ers. The suspension didn't get all buck-wild off lips, was smooth yet supportive while pumping transitions, and rolled away confidently. On rougher stuff the suspension coupled with big wheels and a meaty front tire took big bumps well and smaller bumps were no contest. We routinely used a good amount of travel, but rarely bottomed. Specialized chalks this up to their custom women's suspension tune, which uses a more linear spring rate than comparable men's models.

Those looking to descend with the most confidence will want to consider upgrading to a dropper seatpost with more adjustment. With just 100mm of travel on the Specialized Command Post BlackLite (or even less on the size Small), it's sometimes tough to get your weight back and low when you really need to. You'll need longer legs to make this switch though, as our 5'7" tester already had to have the seatpost completely slammed. Anyone with less than a 30-inch inseam may not be able to get even the stock saddle low enough. So, while the low standover is awesome, it'd be great to reduce the seat tube length some more as well.

When it came time to get to the top of another hill, the Rumor didn't drag ass. We were glad it was wisely spec'd with a 30-tooth chainring to power the big 29-inch wheels. Only on extended steep climbs were we wishing we could lasso the rider ahead to help tow us up. It climbed about equally as well in Descend, Trail, and Climb modes on the rear shock. There was nearly no notable difference felt in its already minimal pedal bob, but the legs could feel a slight difference in efficiency and the sitting bones felt their perch get more firm. The seat angle was good for both of us to feel like we were getting good power on the pedals. When out of the saddle for beast-mode climbing or sprinting, there was also little bob to contend with.

Rolling down the trail, pedaling up it, maneuvering through cattle gates, or loading up into the truck, our perceived weight of this 27.5-pound bike was that it was decently light. With its smooth welds, matte black finish, quiet ride, and light feel on the trail, we had to do a double take to confirm this was indeed an alloy bike. It wasn't quite going to blow away in the next wind gust, but it was definitely no haus.

Build Kit

Coming in at $5k, the build on the Rumor is certainly competitive, just as you'd expect. This bike doesn’t skimp on the details for the ladies such as a lower standover height, low profile lock-on grips, a women’s specific saddle, and frame size specific cranks to optimize pedaling efficiency.

The SoloAir RockShox Pike RC is certainly a popular fork among our test bikes this year and with good reason. It is supple off the top to mute the smaller bumps, yet supportive enough to handle the big stuff too. Even at just 120mm of travel we didn’t feel like we blew through the travel when jumping or landing drops. The fork brings a lot of comfort to this ride.

FOX's Float CTD shock with Autosag was developed specifically for "quick and simple adjustment that guarantees the perfect setting for optimal suspension performance." This would absolutely make setup easier but unfortunately we couldn’t benefit because it didn’t work on our test bike. In addition to the Climb, Trail, and Descend modes, this shock comes with the ability to further fine tune the suspension with three "Trail Adjust"modes. While cool, on the trail we felt as though just the three CTD adjustment modes would be sufficient without the complication of the additional three “Trail Adjust” modes.

The idea of having a 1x11 drivetrain on a 29er can be kind of intimidating. However, we found the 30-tooth chainring and 10-42 tooth cassette on the SRAM X01 drivetrain sufficient to keep the big wheels turning. The simplicity is worth it. Even through there is no guide (or ISCG tabs), we didn’t experience a single dropped chain and the bike was essentially silent except for some occasional noise from the rear of the bike when going over some rougher trail. To silence that noise all you'd have to do is add some tape to the seatstay. To further maximize pedaling efficiency, Specialized switches up their crank length based on frame size.

Also helping with efficiency of the bike are those 29-inch wheels. The Roval Control wheels on the Rumor are comprised of standard alloy rims with spokes that you can find at your local bike shop. Nothing major to write home about, but stiff enough and the hub actuation was just fine.

The tubeless 2.3-inch Butcher Control front tire matched with a 2.1-inch Ground Control rear gave us plenty of traction while climbing, through corners, and while braking. The narrower rear tire helps keeps things rolling faster, which we appreciate.

Shimano's XT disc brakes have adequate stopping power and good modulation. We like that these brakes have a knob on the levers to make reach adjustments for smaller hands a snap.

It is rare to find a bike without a dropper post these days, thankfully. The Rumor comes with Specialized’s own Command Post BlackLite with three height position options. Unfortunately, the post was one of the few items we had issues with. First off, this post rebounds with near violent vigor. Try one out (we recommend off the bike at first), and you will see what we mean. At least it isn't actually painful when it tags you in the booty (sorry boys). While the rebound speed is somewhat adjustable using a shock pump, even at low pressures it returns very quickly, plus it loses all resistance when going down which can feel a little odd. The thumb activated lever is only made for the left side of the bike, but we do like that if the bike is turned upside down, like when changing a flat tire, that the lever isn't being rested on. After a few days of riding we experienced the cable shifting through the sort stretch of internal routing. This created tension which prevented the post from extending fully, which made us wish it was one internally routed through the seat tube instead. This would prevent wear and tear on the cable from snags or even being pinched in a bike stand. Our last gripe with the seat post is the fact that it only has three positions. We sometimes found ourselves between the stopping points and this would cause the post to revert to the lower position.

Rounding out the spec of this bike are a few women’s specific details. While one of us switched out the bars and stem to our own, we do appreciate the Rumor holding true to its EVO geometry by coming with slightly wider bars and a shorter stem than non-EVO versions. Lock-on grips that fit women’s smaller hands cap off the bars. Saddles are such a personal thing but we found that the Body Geometry Myth Comp saddle didn’t leave us sore or numb after our long days on the bike.

Long Term Durability

It looks like this bike is going to be pretty solid in terms of the components. The Autosag didn’t work on our test bike, however that didn’t impact the shock's on trail performance. The only other thing we could see as a potential issue is the external routing of the seat post. It is possible that it could be damaged either by snagging or getting pinched in a stand. Specialized backs the Rumor with a nice lifetime warranty, and five years on suspension related equipment.

What's The Bottom Line?

The 2015 Specialized Rumor Expert EVO 29 is a good bike that we would recommend to women riders of any skill level. With big wheel efficiency, quality suspension, and good geometry, this bike will go many miles over varied terrain while keeping its rider happy. We appreciated the bike's willingness to get to the top of the mountain, then its responsiveness and stability which made for a ripping ride down. Only over the nastiest of terrain did we feel uncomfortable, but everything else was a cake walk and we had fun on the vast majority of trails. Our only warning would be to keep an eye on that seat post length if your legs are on the shorter side. With a fair price point of $5,000, you get a great list of components that truly do work well for the female rider.

Visit www.specialized.com for more details.

Bonus Gallery: 22 photos of the 2015 Specialized Rumor Expert EVO 29 up close and in action


About The Reviewers

Courtney Steen - Courtney has been at it for seven years and racked up some nice race results along the way in various disciplines. Today she travels the country in a RV in search of the next best trail and writes women's reviews for Vital MTB. Her technical background helps her think critically about products and how they can be improved.

Amanda Wentz - Over the last decade Amanda has soaked up all aspects of mountain biking and continues to push herself to progress. Just last year she fell in love with the rush of racing downhill. She recently turned her passion into a career by coaching riders to navigate the sometimes painful entry into mountain biking.

Which reviewer resembles you the most? Don't miss our Q&A with the testers for more insight about their styles and preferences.

About Test Sessions

Three years ago Vital MTB set out to bring you the most honest, unbiased reviews you'll find anywhere. That tradition continues today as we ride 2015's most exciting trail, all-mountain, and enduro bikes in San Luis Obispo, California. Reviews can be accessed 24/7 in our Product Guide. Test Sessions was made possible with the help of Foothill Cyclery. Tester gear provided by Five Ten, Race Face, Easton, Troy Lee Designs, Club Ride, Kali, Royal, Smith, Pearl Izumi, and Source.

Specifications

Product Specialized Rumor Expert EVO 29
Model Year 2015
Riding Type Trail
Rider Women
Sizes and Geometry
S, M, L View Geometry
Size S M L
Top Tube Length 558mm 582mm 607mm
Head Tube Angle 68.4° 68.4° 68.4°
Head Tube Length 94mm 100mm 110mm
Seat Tube Angle 73° 73° 73°
Seat Tube Length 387mm 427mm 445mm
Bottom Bracket Height 330mm 330mm 330mm
Chainstay Length 450mm 450mm 450mm
Wheelbase 1097mm 1122mm 1146mm
Standover 707mm 710mm 711mm
Reach 372mm 395mm 416mm
Stack 628mm 634mm 644mm
Wheel Size 29"
Frame Material Aluminum
Frame Material Details M5 Hydroformed Alloy
Rear Travel 120mm
Rear Shock FOX Float CTD Factory with AUTOSAG, Custom EVO Tune, Kashima Coating, 197x51mm
Fork RockShox Pike RC 29, Solo Air Spring, Tapered Alloy Steerer, with Lockout, Compression, Rebound Adjust, 15mm Thru-Axle
Fork Travel 120mm
Head Tube Diameter Tapered
Headset 1-1/8" and 1-1/2" Threadless, Campy Style Upper with 1-1/2" Lower, Cartridge Bearings
Handlebar Specialized XC, Mini Rise, 6000 Butted Alloy, 8-Degree Backsweep, 6-Degree Upsweep, 10mm Rise, 31.8mm
Stem Specialized, Forged Alloy, 6-Degree Rise
Grips Specialized Women's Enduro XL, Lock-On, Closed End, 125mm
Brakes Shimano XT BR-M785, Hydraulic Disc, Metallic Pads
Brake Levers Shimano XT BL-M785, Hydraulic, Alloy Lever
Drivetrain 1x
Shifters SRAM X01, 11-Speed, Trigger
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur SRAM X01, 11-Speed, Carbon Cage
ISCG Tabs N/A
Chainguide N/A
Cranks SRAM S-2200, Carbon, PF30 Spindle, 94mm BCD Spider
Chainrings 30 Tooth
Bottom Bracket SRAM, PF30, OS Press-In Bearings, Sealed Cartridge
Pedals Resin Test Ride, with Toe Clips, CEN Standard
Chain SRAM, 11-Speed
Cassette SRAM XG 1195, 11-Speed, 10-42 Tooth
Rims Roval Control 29, Alloy, 21mm Inner Width, 32 Hole
Hubs Roval Control 29, 15mm Thru-Axle, 32 Hole Front // Roval Control 29 142+ XX1, 12mm Thru-Axle, 32 Hole Rear
Spokes DT Swiss Revolution
Tires Specialized Butcher Control, 60TPI, 2Bliss Ready, Folding Bead, 29"x2.3" Front // Specialized Ground Control, 60TPI, 2Bliss Ready, Folding Bead, 29"x2.1" Rear
Saddle Body Geometry Women's Myth Comp, Hollow Cr-Mo Rails, 155mm
Seatpost Command Post BlackLite, Alien Head Design, Single Bolt Head, with Remote Adjust SRL, S: 75mm Travel, Others: 100mm
Seatpost Diameter 30.9mm
Seatpost Clamp Command Post, Single Bolt, 34.9mm
Rear Dropout / Hub Dimensions 142mm x 12mm
Max. Tire Size
Bottle Cage Mounts Yes
Colors Satin Black/Gloss Black
Warranty Lifetime Frame, 5 Years Suspension Attachment Points and Related Equipment (Pivot Points, Bushings, Chainstays, Seat Stays, Shock Links, Fasteners)
Weight 27 lb 8 oz (12,474 g)
Miscellaneous Bottle Cage with SWAT Technology
Price $5,000
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