A custom Fox Triad three-position shock offers a complete lockout, Pro Pedal platform and a fully open setting. The lock-out is useful on sustained smooth climbs as it is a full on locked setting. We haven’t seen this in a while on a bike with this much travel but the bike will climb like a hardtail at this setting. The Pro Pedal position saw the most action as it provides the most balanced feel in all conditions. The bike climbed and descended well at this setting. On the full open setting, it was a bit more plush on the downhills but climbing out of saddle was not a good exercise as suspension bob was quite noticeable.
The Wheels and Tires
At Mtbr, we’re kind of anal about wheels and tires. We believe that is a component that can unlock the potential of a bike or it can literally drag it down into mediocrity. Our mantra is light, stiff wheels to provide snappy acceleration and climbing. And lateral stability aids in the handling and trail carving abilities of the bike. Likewise with tires as they are the final gatekeeper for the bike’s cornering, braking and climbing abilities. It is very hard to find a happy medium with tires and wheels as the weight and preferences of the rider can vary greatly on this one all-purpose Camber Pro.
But Specialized came in with Specialized The Captain tires and Specialized hubs on DT Swiss X420SL rims with 15g stainless steel spokes. We are happy to report they arrived at a very good setup here. We never felt that the wheels and tires held us back in either cornering or climbing abilities of the bike. This combination, like the rest of the bike, just worked. They handled our 140 lb. and 210 lb. testers without hesitation. We are starting to get curious though what this machine can do with a pair of carbon wheels running tubeless tires.
75 mm stem with adjustable angle, check. Wide bars, check. Locking grips, check. Comfortable Body Geometry saddle, check. The basics are here and they are meant to complement the ride and not interfere. But what about the newfangled dropping seatposts? Well Specialized has the Black Lite seatpost option and this bike is ready for it. There is cable routing ready for it and we tried it for a couple months with this setup. We’re happy to report that they worked awesome together. Look for our review on the Black Lite dropping post by Specialized.
The crank looks like a carbon SRAM XO crank that is rebadged as Specialized. It is a very light and expensive crank and we’re surprised to see it at this price point. The drivetrain itself is a 2×10 that works flawlessly. The chainrings in front is 38/24 and the rear cogset is 11/36. This gearing is carefully spec’ed and is very forward thinking. In 2011, we received quite a few bikes that had the traditional 3×10 gearing and they were really inferior compared to these modern drivetrains. When the gears are selected carefully for a 2×10 setup, it is disappears into the ride. The rider can hang out in the big ring all day and there’s always enough gears in the smaller ring to tackle any surprise wall climbs the trail may offer. Specialized is a crusader of 2×10 and they even spec different front rings for the 29er version of this bike to optimize it for the bike and its intended use.
The XTR Derailleur may seem lost here in the mix but it’s a very nice touch. We never had trouble with our rear shifting. It performed flawlessly throughout all the test rides.
And finally, the magic numbers:
Head Angle: 68.5 Degrees
Seat Angle: 74.5 Degrees
Bottom Bracket Height (in): 13.2in
Chainstays (in): 16.5
If you just got excited, then you know a lot about bikes. The key thing to note here is the head angle is pretty slack at 68.5 degrees and the seat angle is steep at 74.5. Such is the forward thinking geometry of modern bikes. Make them slack and handle well in technical descents. Couple that with a short stem and wide bars and you’ll have a confident descender. And then the steep seat tube angle helps the rider drive power in those pedal when it’s actually time to climb the 3000 foot hill you just bombed down on. The bottom bracket is low this bike is a home in the very twisty trails of Santa Cruz or in the huge banked turns of Bend, Oregon.