BIKERUMOR.com 2009 SEA OTTER CLASSIC COVERAGE: The last post had the video run down on this bike, and here are the images and some specs. Ã‚Â Just like the Epic 29er, the actual component spec for the Specialized S-Works 29er carbon hardtail isn’t done yet, but the top of the line version will run SRAM’s upcoming XX 2×9 drivetrain. Ã‚Â If you don’t watch the video, you should know they’re planning a Single Speed version with carbon fork!
I took this bike for a 19 mile “spin” around the Sea Otter Classic XC race course, which has some very fast single track, fire road sections that both blaze down and grind up (and up and up and up!), with wash bars, ruts and sand thrown in the mix. Ã‚Â About the only thing it doesn’t have to test a bike is tight, technical singletrack and roots. Ã‚Â My thoughts on riding this are after the break.
This bike also comes equipped with the Specialized / RockShox fork using Reba lowers and internals with a Specialized carbon crown and steerer tube. Ã‚Â Hit “more” for additional pictures and ride review…
The seat tube is curved forward to keep the rear wheel tucked under a little, offering a shorter chainstay for better traction and tighter handling. Ã‚Â Make no mistake, this is a race-oriented 29er.
The frame has a very nice flow to the shape. Ã‚Â Several riders complemented it while on the trail.
Paint and the absence of it help accentuate the lines. Ã‚Â The chainstays were worked over to offer some compliance, and on the trail and fireroads, it didn’t totally beat me up, but it’s still a hardtail.
The downtube is a wide, somewhat boxed shape with rounded sides, making the bottom bracket area stiff and efficient. There’s a small plate between the granny and the frame to keep chain drops from damaging the carbon.
The Specialized carbon crown continues up with a tapered 1.5″ to 1.125″ headtube. Ã‚Â It’s the same as on the Specialized fork that adorns the top of the line S-Works FSR. Ã‚Â The stanchions, lowers and internals are RockShox Reba. Ã‚Â Specialized claims it’s the lightest, stiffest 29er fork on the market…but no work on whether you’ll be able to buy it separate.
HOW’S IT RIDE?
Fast. Ã‚Â Faster than I could take it after two days of walking, standing, squatting and running around the expo taking pictures and such. Ã‚Â It was very efficient and stable, and is definitely a race bike rather than an all-day riding 29er. Ã‚Â The carbon frame soaked up some of the chatter, and as mentioned, didn’t pummel my rear end with the stiffness, which means those who prefer a 29er hardtail for races should find nirvana on this.
For those that like to ride rigid single speeds, just wait, they’re planning one of those, too.
On the Sea Otter course, there are some really, really sandy sections…all of which seem to be on downhills. Ã‚Â At really low speeds, the bike would get caught up if you weren’t pedaling, but spinning it in an easier gear let you run through it fairly easily without feeling like you were plowing. Ã‚Â Chalk it up to the big wheels in those cases. Ã‚Â On the downhills that were steep enough to just coast down (no pedaling), the bike and wheels were stiff enough to keep the bike in control even when some sand humps threw the front wheel to one side or another. Ã‚Â Versus the 26er I rode the previous day, this bike was much easier to control. Ã‚Â Again, big wheels certainly helped, but the wheel selection and stiff frame kept it pointing generally where it was supposed to go.
I’m 6’2″ and I rode the 19″ frame with a 400mm+ seat post in it. Ã‚Â It felt right to me. The next size up, a 21″, felt too big when I sat on it…mainly too stretched out across the top, not necessarily too tall. Ã‚Â If I were to buy one, I’d go with the 19″ frame.
This isn’t a full review, it was only a 2-hour ride, and the trails ridden are about as different from my East Coast home trails as can be, so take the following for what it’s worth: Ã‚Â Very fast, efficient bike that’s perfect for racers. Ã‚Â For all day epics or riders, personally, I’d say get something with rear suspension.