For 2012 Specialized will boost its 29er presence with the new Carve range of affordable hardtails, offering the same geometry as its high-end bikes but keeping the price down with a less bling specification.
The three bike range uses a TIG-welded double butted M4 aluminium frame, hydroformed with the company’s distinctive curved downtube and, to shorten the chainstays, a kinked seat tube. Increasing mud clearance around the rear tyre are bridgeless seat- and chainstays.
The Expert which we’ve just received for testing sits bang in the middle of the range, and for £1299 gets a spec that includes a Shimano Deore XT Shadow rear mech with a 10-speed cassette, giving a wide spread of 30-speeds, and a 80mm RockShox Recon fork with a tapered steerer tube and lockout lever.
Other parts include tubeless-ready The Caption Control tyres on Specialized Carve branded 29er wheels, Shimano disc brakes with a 180mm rotor up front and 160mm at the back.
The cranks are an obvious consideration to the need to keep the price down, and use the outdated Octalink bottom bracket standard to keep the costs down, but that aside the spec looks good for the money. There’s some nice touches like the rack mounts, tidy cable routing under the top tube with zip tie mounts and rack mounts for increased versatility.
Geometry has been carried over from the expensive Stumpjumper so, despite an increase in weight due to the heavier parts package, you’ll still get the same ride handling. The critical numbers are a steep 71.5° head tube, 435mm chainstays and a 43.54in wheelbase on our large size sample.
An ideal bike for the first time 29er rider then, but one we can see appealing to those just getting into mountain biking and are swayed by the increased stability of the bigger wheels and slower handling.