With little new componentry around (except for forks and shocks) the main news from the California MTB originators involves significant frameset evolution and upgrading at every level.
Specialized’s engineers have been working in conjunction with Italian tubing supremos Columbus to produce a new ‘M5’ tubeset, characterised by a curved down tube to eliminate the need for a throat gusset. The new tubing is being introduced on the team spec. S-Works FSR XC full suspension bike (£2799) and the S-Works M5 hardtail (£2599).
The Stumpjumper range, long established stalwart of the MTB scene, sees continued evolution and trickle down of S-Works level technology. The FSR XC frames are upgraded to heavily manipulated 2001 S-works level M4 from last year’s A1 tubeset, which means lighter weights and prettier shapes to look at while you wait for others to catch up.
Hardtail Stumpys all come in at the same price points as last year, with little in the way of changes to the componentry. Again, the real changes come in the frames with a completely reworked M4 tubeset that’s as light as last years S-Works M4. In common with this years S-Works bikes, toptubes are longer and lower giving a more aggressive look and a more compact responsive frameset.
The £1299 price point is probably the most interesting for hardtails:
Here you have a choice between the Stumpjumper M4 Comp, which comes with the heavily anticipated Fox Float RL 80 forks, or the entry level M4 upgraded with Shimano discs and a disc specific frame.
The Enduro range of full suspension bikes have a lightweight monocoque frame based on last years Big Hit bikes and have lost the mudguards that came as standard last year. Like their FSR XC brethren, the Enduro bikes all come with cartridge bearings in the pivots which should mean smooth running and minimal maintenance. The most notable upgrades to componentry are that all models now come with air shocks. All models also come with discs as standard.
The air shock supplied is the new Specialized designed, Fox manufactured, Itch Shock that allows on the fly travel adjustment from 4in to 5.2in. With increased performance expect slightly increased (but still very competitive) prices which now span from £1299 to £1699 for the three-model range.
Rockhoppers again look like a well-rounded bunch of mid-range bikes, with seven models covering prices from £499 for the retro looking rigid steel version, to £949 for the Rock Shox Duke C, Deore Disc equipped version.
There’s also exciting news on the road bike front: the cheapest model now comes in at £599, £200 cheaper than last year with a pretty similar spec. The Allez E5 SLX Pro road bike comes in at £1599 with the same frame as last year’s S-Works SL frameset (RRP £999), ridden by the Festina Pro team. Predominantly equipped with Shimano’s second string Ultegra groupset, with a couple of concessions, to the lower 105 group it’s superb value for such ultralight performance.
For more information on their BMX and Comfort / Sport bikes ranges, detailed specification or their huge range of Body Geometry accessories, check the Specialized website..