Twentynineinches.com is suffering in the high country of Colorado, braving altitude sickness and certain death (or at least a really bad sunburn) in the best interests of our readers as we get a good look at what Specialized is bringing to the trails and roads of North America (and beyond) for 2014. Today was a funnel feed of info so we will take a bit to sort all this out and then get to riding some of the new models. It has been an interesting day to say the least.
We began with an address from Mike Sinyard who stressed some of the core feelings and goals within the company.
- “…to deepen the involvement of cycling in our culture.”
- “Cycling is the cure for a lot of the things that are wrong with the world.”
- “The rider is the boss.”
- “I love trying to make things better.”
- “Why is Specialized a privately held company? So we can chase dreams and do crazy things.”
Yeah, the Big S gets some rocks thrown at it and some of that may be deserved, but there seems to be a group of folks here who are bike nuts trying to make cooler and cooler stuff so we can ride better and better bikes.
Now I only mention this part of the High End Road Bike talk to point out that Specialized now has their own wind tunnel in house. Yeah, OK…that means little to me at 5mph on my singlespeed on some goat trail, but it goes to show that they take the chase for improvements seriously and technology tends to trickle down, like the Smartweld tech in the Allez road bike frame. They have developed a way to so improve the strength of the weld area on an aluminum road frame at the head tube/top tube/downtube junction, that it has been a game changer, allowing for lighter and better riding frames. Would this Smartweld make a better MTB frame? Yes, it sure could and maybe someday it will.
Refinement seems to be the main theme here in the main categories of performance MTB 29ers. Of course the shot heard round the works was the recently announced Stumpjumper Enduro 29er 150mm bike with that crazy short back end. But if you were expecting that to trickle down into the FSR, Camber or Epic models, it did not, at least not yet. But still, there were some worthwhile improvements and changes across the different lines of bikes.
First of all, no more OS 28/OS 24 front axle interfaces. It is 15QR just like the rest of the known world. Good. Even if the OS28 was better in some ways, it was less convenient for the consumer for fork swaps, wheel swaps, etc.
Another thing that is a new term is World Cup. In the Stumpy hard tail and the Epic lines there are World Cup models here and there, all in carbon. World Cup means dedicated 1×11 drivetrain, a lighter and stiffer frame, and in the case of the Epic, shorter chain stays by 10mm IIRC and a steeper head tube angle by 1/2* (should be 71* in this case) over other Epics. Full on race stuff. Even the Epic Mini Brain gets a firmer tune in World Cup mode.
The Epic S Works Carbon World Cup that they had on stage with some small tweaks like foam grips and smaller rotors was is 19.6lbs. Stock (no pedals) in a LG size should be 19.9lbs. Mercy. The Expert WC weighs around 23lbs. (Pics below) $6750.00
Even the Epic Comp M5 alloy bike shed some weight and is 1 pound lighter over last year’s version.
The SWAT technology gets going on the Epics and the Stumpy hard tails too, with accommodations on the frames for that new way of carrying essentials on the trail but not on your body. See our SWAT article for more on that coming up soon.
The focus on the Epics was to increase power transfer from the back of the bike forward. The carbon frames are noticeably different with larger, taller chain stays and other tweaks in the shapes of the frame. The concentric pivot at the shock/seatstay adds stiffness too. The 2014 Mini Brain is smaller and lighter and is less aggressive (should be a smoother transition from closed to open). Internal routing is new and really cleans up the look of the bike. Internal foam sleeves keep things quiet.
Oh yeah, regardless of whether you add SWAT to the Epic or not, they all have two water bottle braze-ons now. YAY! Also, the seat post size on the Epics is now 27.2mm diameter. Odd, as that eliminates the ability to run a Command Post dropper set-up on there…for now. I bet that will change soon and we will see a 27.2 racy version of that Command Post. Yes, I know that dropper posts may not be what you think when we say Epic, but times are changing. Dropper posts are not just for DH bikes anymore.
Stumpjumper hard tails get some changes as well. The rear brake is now chain stay mounted and 142 rear axles are the deal. Chainstays are slightly shorter (no number for ya), the BB was raised to help give a faster turn-in and less pedal strikes and the head tube angle was slackened by a 1/2*. Also, the rear end of the carbon bike is now stiffer torsionally but did not lose any compliance. That is good as that is one issue I noticed with the 2013 version…a bit of twist up in the back end when you are seated and on the power hard. Sounds like they addressed that for 2014. However the Stumpjumper hard tail remains a race or at least high-performance focused bike. The S Works frame in a Med size is 1,050g and sells for $3,400.00.
The Camber line now gets an S Works version (rode it…it is pretty cool) as well as a frameset option for $4,250.00. It should be well under 25lbs in my XL size. Carbon Roval Control Trail SL 29 wheels, XX1…the goods. The Carbon Expert Evo Camber caught my attention. It has a trail tune for sure with a 120mm rear end (10mm more than normal), a Rockshox Pike fork running at 120mm (and 69* head tube angle), and X0 11 speed. That is a crazy cool bike. None were on site to ride, but that looks like a sweet twist on the Camber.
The FSR Stumpys get minimal changes this year compared to the other models.
It is no real surprise that Specialized debuted a couple of Fat Bikes for 2014 as the rumors had been flying for some time and there even was a pic of one caught during a snow race piloted by Ned Overend. In fact, the build goal of the Fat Boy was more along the lines of a snow race bike.
But the details were fuzzy until now. The two models differ only in parts spec but both have a monocoque carbon fork based on the Chisel and are built to accept 5″ tires. Not shown yet were the Specialized branded tires that will be 26×4.8″ size with a tread based on the Ground Control tire. The rim shows some unique material removal in a pretty cool pattern and weighs 795g in a 90mm width. The upper level model gets an XO rear der and both of them get Gripshift.
The rear hub is 190mm wide and the front is 135mm, both being Specialized branded hubs on the one I rode. Pricing TBA.
I rode a sample on the ski slopes trails of Copper Mountain so I will have that and an interview video soon.
AWOL: Specialized just dipped two 29″ toes into the adventure cycling market.
From the press release: “The AWOL is an adventurous soul wrapped in a heavy duty, do-anything body. It’ll tackle the mean streets as your durable commuter rig, but come the weekend it’ll be more than willing to let you strap on all the gear you need for an overnight camping trip and head on out into the rugged hills with you.e the mean streets as your durable commuter rig, but come the weekend it’ll be more than willing to let you strap on all the gear you need for an overnight camping trip and head on out into the rugged hills with you. Indulge your wandering spirit and go on an epic touring adventure, on or off-road. The AWOL has many faces—all you gotta do is pick one.”
Looking at this I immediately thought Salsa Fargo, but still different. The AWOL Comp (and available separate frame set) has a rocker dropout that allows for SS use (it splits on the drive side), Gates Carbon Drive applications, and internal geared hubs. Steel Reynolds tubing, a steel fork, rack mounts, drop bars and relaxed geometry…interesting. It is spec’d with a 42c tire but will accept a 29×2.2″ tire. I think Guitar Ted needs to get on one of these to see if it is the deal or not.
Crave: Race on a Budget
The Carve is now the Crave. Apparently the result of a trademark issue, but the Crave is not quite the Carve that I tested in SS form here. It is a bit improved. The tubing is now triple butted and reshaped (like the wider top tube) to add compliance and gain stiffness. Standover is lower now and it weighs less, trimming 215g off of last year’s frame. The number I heard was 1585g for what I assume was a Med frame, but don’t hold me to that. So, 215g lighter, 12.5% more vertically compliant and 5% stiffer at the rear of the bike torsionally.
The basic difference between the Crave and a Stumpjumper is in the geometry and intent of the bike. Stumpys are no holds barred go-fast bikes, not that you cannot trail ride them, but that is not the focus. Crave is very race able and very cost efficient too but is longer, slacker and runs a 100mm fork Call it ‘Neutral XC Race’ geo.
Got a junior racer or maybe a high school race MTB race team member in the family? Think Crave and spend the money saved on entry fees.
The Ladies -
In 29er-land the ladies were not ignored for 2014. We already looked at the Rumor here, the 110mm travel women’s version of the Camber, but now there is a lower priced model in the line. The ‘Base’ model is under $2000.00 with a 9 spd triple Deore based drivetrain and a Suntour XCR fork. The Rumor Expert @$4200.00 gets a Command Post dropper post and Formula brakes.
The Jett line now has all Shimano, or in the lower levels, Tektro, hydraulic brakes and are all now 2×10 just like the big guys get.
The Fate Expert now has Roval Control Carbons, an XTR Shadow + rear der and Magura MTS brakes and sells for $4200.00.
S.W.A.T. = Storage Water Air Tools.
A unique approach to getting essential needs onto your bike utilizing nooks and crannies for storage, SWAT is kinda cool. I mean, who would have ever thought of hiding a chain breaker and a quick link under the steerer tube top cap? Someone did. So various models in the Epic and Stumpy HT line get this feature. There is a MTB XC kit in a frame mounted storage box that holds a 29″ tube in a wrapper, an air cartridge, Co2 head and a tire lever plus room for other small bits and pieces. There is also custom multi tool that nests in the carriage of an Epic or on a Stumpy hard tail at the bottle cage. The Epics have three riv nut ‘cage mounts’ on the down tube to accept the tool box mounting and SWAT is stock on the Expert model and up.
Stumpy hard tails get the SWAT Stage 3 kit on the Expert level and up as well.
Not just for the bike, there is SWAT apparel that we will be checking out that allows you to carry essentials under a jersey in three pockets sewn into the rear of a bib liner. Interesting, and might be a good answer to someone who hates hydration packs, wears MTB jerseys that typically have no rear pockets like road jerseys do, and still wants to carry extra gear in stealth mode.
In the wheel department, Roval had some step-ups as well. There is a new front hub that was designed in house with larger bearings and better sealing from the elements. the Control SL 29 is now a 24F/28R spoke count and is 80gs lighter than the previous wheel set at 1370g. The rear hubs continue to be DT Swiss 240 based hubs and all the end cap convertibility continues as before so 135. 142, 15 qr, etc. Note that there is no more OS28 or OS24 in the Roval hubs on stock Speclaized bikes for 2014. They are 15QR in all the performance line at least in 29ers. Good move for the consumer.
There is an interesting new shoe, the S Works Trail. It combines the ruggedness of a trail MTB shoe…wider toe box, rubber toe guards, ankle protection (on inside ankle only), a rubber sole for less lip on rocky hike a bikes, etc, but has an S Works level stiffness rating and surprising light weight. Boa lacing too. 370g, which is the same as the old S Works Evo MTB shoe. $400.00
If that price stuns you, take a look at the Comp MTB which gives you a ‘Boa Lite’ treatment and the same basic ruggedness for $150.00.
MTB 29er Tires.
The news in tires was in the new sidewall treatment available in FastTrak on up through the trail bike tires (no Renegade). Grid toughness without the UST butyl liner is what we get now if we check the right option box. So this replaces the Armadillo and UST Grid casings in the 29er tires. Expect a 70g gain per tires for Grid, but for those of you who want a tougher, stiffer sidewall, 70gs is a worthwhile tradeoff. 2Bliss of course for tubeless use.
We will be right back with ride reports on the Fat Boy, S Works Enduro 29 (including a back to back comparo of a 26″ S Works Enduro just for fun), S Works Camber, Epic Expert Carbon World Cup, and a Crave Pro 29.