Wheels and tyres
The new Roval Controle SL heads up the lightweight XC end of the wheelset spectrum weighing 1385g, with the front wheel featuring 28mm oversized end-caps for increased stiffness and a carbon hub shell to save 40g weight just in this area alone.
Both wheels have DT Aerolite bladed spokes and titanium quick releases, the front wheel has a 24 spoke DoubleDrive pattern whilst the rear has a 28 spoke 3x pattern. The Controle SL is available in black or white and the Controle wheelset now comes in fast black, previously only available in silver.
Roval’s trail wheelset, the Traversee, weighs 1579g with the oversized 28mm end-caps, these can be switched for standard sized end-caps to make them compatible with other forks. As with the Controle and Controle SL the Traversee rims are tubeless compatible, which leads us on to the new tyres for 2009, all are tubeless compatible and to aid getting the tyres on and off easier Specialized have a shallower drop compared with UST rims.
We liked the look of the Purgatory, an all new trail tyre for softer conditions, perfect for the UK we reckon with a dual compound tread with choice of 2.2” and 2.5” widths. This big volume tyre has biting side and centre knobs and is available in S-Works, Control and Armadillo Elite casings. Specialized rider and demi-god Ned Overend helped design the Captain, an XC/trail tyre with fast rolling centre knobs and transitional edge knobs to mix a fast XC tyre with more predictability for harder riding. Sizes are 26” and 29” option, in 2.0” and 2.2” widths. For any XC race buffs needing a superlight tyre then look at the SauserWind with 2.0” width and S-Work Control casing for a fast harder pack biased race tyre developed with World Champion Christoph Sauser.
One more note on tyres, the Clutch is a DH focussed tyre designed for loamy/intermediate conditions available in DH and SX casings. Specialized have managed to trim 250g off it’s previous DH tyre and the Clutch comes in 2.3” and 2.5” widths.
Optics, helmets, shorts and shoes
It’s the fifth season for Specialized Optics and 2009 sees them adding the Stafe and Roulette models for men and women respectively. Designed with the classic Aviator in mind the Stafe has a more casual look yet still retains the best technical features such as NXT lens material and molded nosepiece and frames. Women can choose the Roulette in Adaptalite photochromic lens with new front vents and non-hinged metal frame-arm design. Now available in two sizes for smaller heads!
The top of the range S-Works Mountain shoe is still super light (670g pair) thanks to the FACT carbon mid-sole and for 2009 has a new Boa closure. We see new closures on the Pro-Mountain shoe too with the new SL buckle, lighter and easier to use than the M-Lock ratchet of old. Internally the new design on top end shoes is based on soccer shoes with a 1-piece liner for a more snug fit.
Helmets from Specialized have tended to be more road focussed in styling in the past, but for 2009 the new Tactic has been designed specifically for mountain bikers and aimed at the mid-price range (approx $60 in USA TBC), it is likely to be the lowest price helmet with a mouthport. Features include a retention system only at the rear, as seen on the Decibel helmet, an integrated visor that mounts at both the front and sides, and lower styling around the rear for extra protection. Weight is 295g.
The 2009 S-Works helmet has a 4-D casing and ProFit 2 retention system, built using 26ft of Kevlar stranding which weighs a mere 19g. Using new CAD/flow simulation software Specialized have focussed their attentions on designing better airflow through the helmet creating the largest Mega Mouthport yet and as we found out a very cool head.
An all new Era FSR frame takes on the technological advancements of the Epic frame, including oversized bottom bracket, downtube and headtube. However unlike the Epic frame, the curved Era top tube has a slightly different formation giving an even lower standover height. On a bigger frame this curved tube would lose some stiffness but with the women’s frames being smaller this compensates any lost stiffness and is claimed to be even stiffer in comparison. The Era frame weighs in 40g lighter than the equivalent sized male frame. Specialized’s Future Shock E100 fork is specially tuned for lighter riders and uses all the same technology as the male E100 fork. Same 100mm travel but with a set-up range more suitable for women riders; negative air pressure has been optimised for women’s weight range with slightly lighter compression damping plus the rebound rates are changed to match.
Again we see the FlowControl Mini Brain and S-Works EFR shock on the rear with all the same new features as on the Epic, just tuned for women riders. Overall the bike is 568g lighter than the 2008 Era, 215g off the frame, 213g off fork, 110g from crankset and 120g skimmed off the rear shock, quite impressive really! We’re waiting on confirmation to whether the Era will be imported to UK this year, if not we’re off to USA for a weekend break to get one, our test ride went extremely well to say the least!
No real changes to the Safire for 2009, although it’s good to note the tubing is specific to women riders needs with smaller diameter tubing and custom lay-up for lighter riders. S120 Future Shock forks are available on the S-Works model only and are again set up for lighter weights, matching the AFR rear shock and Brain set-up allowing trail tuning to be firm on smooth terrain and never locked out for a plush yet responsive trail feel. The weight thresholds are based on data collected by the Specialized team from around 500 female riders, the average weight is 68kg, compared with 82kg for men, with significant proportion of women being lighter than the average.
Last but not least in the women’s range is the Myka FSR, sister to the FSR XC, built to specific aims at a reasonable price point. For 2009 there is increased standover (33mm extra), increased seatpost adjustment and increased ride quality whilst maintaining the price. The bike has a lower centre of gravity through the addition of the rocker-link and provides 100mm rear and front suspension travel. Weight is saved through the use of smaller M4 custom diameter tubing and even the smallest frame size can accommodate a full sized water bottle. Models available include Expert, Comp and a lower priced rim-brake version.