September 22, 2011
Specialized always has so much stuff on its booth that it’s hard to know where to start.
…so we’ll start in the middle…
That Robert Egger (Specialized’s creative director) has a lot to answer for. Not only is he behind a lot of the unified look and feel of the brand, he helps develop the organic shapes of the bikes and helps turn the engineers’ visions into flowing lines. However, he also gets to play in the giant creative centre at Specialized. It resembles a sixth form art studio, with sketches and magazine cutouts on the walls and bits and pieces of half-built projects all over the place. Every year Robert and his team come up with some other new, completely impractical, but great fun plaything. This year was a grown up version of yet another American scooter bike that we never got to see in the UK. We love the racing go kart tyres…
Back to slightly more real world stuff. There’s a new tier of bikes in the Spesh mountain bike range called the ‘Evo’ range. These are production bikes that have bits added to resemble the kind of changes that Specialized saw riders making to their own bikes out in the real world. So for race-level Epic bikes, they gain 1×10 gearing and more racy components – and for more trail-level bikes, like the Stumpjumper, they gain slacker angles from the get-go, a longer fork, Command Post seatpost, shorter stem, wider bars and a chain device.
We’ve seen a few companies recently working hard to make their suspension as easy to set up as possible. As bikes have got more complex, yet more supple and efficient, the difference between a badly setup shock and a good one can be a few PSI. In order to remove this guesswork, Specialized has come out with a clever ‘Autosag’ system on its Stumpjumper FSR models. You open up the compression to open, pump up the shock to 50psi over rider weight…
…then you press the plunger on the second valve, releasing just the right amount of air. Cycle the suspension, give it another push to be sure and you have your perfect (starting) air pressure. Just set up compression and rebound to suit and go ride…
We did like the S-Works race shoe in the last issue of the magazine, however, it is pretty race specific. Here now is the S-Works EVO shoe. It’s got a little more armour to protect shoe and foot and has a little more tread for when you’re off the bike.
And here’s a new version of the Defroster winter boot. It’s got a fleecy lining and more insulation than the previous model, which was waterproof, but a little spartan. This one looks like a winner. Inevitably, it’ll be out just in time for the end of the winter. Next year though, watch out!
Here’s the new Propero helmet – it basically has all of the technology of Specialized’s top of the range helmets from three years ago, all for about £70
Specialized S3 – the super duper road helmet. We were big fans of the S2 when it was out a few years ago. This is obviously one better…
But there’s yet another tier above it… Here’s the Prevail, the current ultralight racing helmet…
Roval wheels: Here are the Roval Control SL29 wheels – featuring a carbon rim and built using DT hub internals. Multiple axle options too.
Radial non-disc spokes. You don’t see that very often…
Specialized has always made a wide array of tyres, and with a great team of fast people on hand to advise on treads, there’s no end of ideas floating around. Here’s the Fast Trak 2.0 hardpack and racing tyre.
The Renegade ‘racing in California’ tyre…
And welcome back to the Ground Control name – here in a 29in x 1.9in guise
Some more burly tyres: The Storm mud tyre, the Clutch and the Purcatory – all chunky 26in tyres.
Tubulars; Specialized has three new tubular tyres for cyclocross racing for hard, medium and muddy terrain.
Specialized has angled the Tri-cross into being more of a utility bike while coming out with the Crux, which is more of a pure ‘cross bike. Here it is with Avid discs.
And here for super light full-on racing…
And now a look at the Carve models. A 29in bike with good specs from around £1900 and up…
Specialized for Women
Quietly unveiled at this year’s Dalby XC World Cup, the Fate is a race-level 29er for women. It manages to cram big wheels into a frame that goes down to 15in without resorting to upside down stems or backwards seatposts. An integrated headset and 80mm travel fork helps here.
For 26in fans, here’s the Safire trail bike. It has 120mm of travel with a Brain shock and looks like a lot of fun. Although we’re not sure that all women want their bikes in black with extra black.
OK, how about black with some green?
The Jett 29 is a more recreational 29in women’s hardtail. Low standover and an 80mm fork again. Will 2012 be the year of that we’ll see more (or any!) women on 29ers?
Downhiller on a budget? We’ve always been fans of the Big Hit, but the Status looks like it’s going to take over the crown. Priced at £1800 or £2300 it features dual crown forks, a 200mm travel (and 170mm or 200mm on the front) and a full FSR suspension system. One for next summer in the Alps we think.