Specialized Fuse Expert Carbon 6Fattie review

Affordable plus-sized hardtail with modern geo and playful character

27.5 Cross Country Plus
Specialized added a carbon frame Fuse to its trail hardtail lineup for 2017. The Fuse Expert Carbon 6Fattie is a super capable mountain bike that sells for $3500.

Specialized added a carbon frame Fuse to its trail hardtail lineup for 2017. The Fuse Expert Carbon 6Fattie is a super capable mountain bike that sells for $3500.

Lowdown: Specialized Fuse Expert Carbon 6Fattie

Hardtails aren’t dead. Not by a long shot. Specialized’s new Fuse Expert Carbon 6Fattie proves that handily thanks to its fun geometry, excellent parts spec, and agreeable price point.

Stat Box
Frame: Specialized FACT 10m carbon Bars: 750mm Specialized Trail alloy
Fork: Fox Rhythm FLOAT 34 Stem: Specialized Trail, 3D forged alloy
Wheels: Roval Traverse hookless alloy Grips: Specialized Sip Grip
Hub spacing: 110×15, 148x12mm Seatpost: Specialized Command Post IRcc
Tires: Specialized Purgatory/Ground Control Saddle: Specialized Henge Comp
Brakes: SRAM Guide R Headtube angle: 67.5 degrees
Rotors: 200mm front/180mm rear Chainstay length: 430mm
Shifters: SRAM GX, 11-speed Seat tube angle: 73 degrees
Front derailleur: N/A BB drop: 51mm
Rear derailleur: SRAM X1 Wheelbase: 1164mm
Cable routing: internal Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Crankset: Race Face Turbine Cinch 28t Colors: Black/Charcoal/Red, Red/Black
Bottom bracket: Race Face threaded Weight: 27.9 pounds, no pedals
Cassette: SRAM XG-1175 10-42T Price: $3500
Chain: SRAM PC-1130 Rating: 4 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4 out of 5

Pluses
Minuses
  • No full suspension maintenance
  • Not light
  • Modern trail geometry
  • May hit knees on top tube
  • Two bottle cage mounts and down tube storage
  • 3” tires not replacement for suspension
  • Fantastic handling
  • Creak free threaded bottom bracket
  • Will accommodate 29er wheels
  • Highly versatile bike

Review: Specialized Fuse Expert Carbon 6Fattie

When I sold a well-loved Kona aluminum hardtail four years ago I told myself that I’d never own a hardtail again. But Specialized’s Fuse Expert Carbon 6Fattie has me rethinking that pact. While the jury seems to still be out on the 27.5+ wheel platform, I’m a big fan and I must say that it makes the idea of a hardtail more alluring than ever before, especially if you’re on a budget and looking for a fun, maintenance-minimal mountain bike. The Fuse Expert Carbon has a super playful geometry and reliable, economical parts.

The Fuse is an exceptionally fun bike that delivers without a huge outlay of cash. Hardtails like the Fuse are becoming more relevant than ever thanks to modern geometry, plus-size tires and dropper posts.

The Fuse is an exceptionally fun bike that delivers without a huge outlay of cash. Hardtails like the Fuse are becoming more relevant than ever thanks to modern geometry, plus-size tires, and dropper posts.

After recently riding mostly full suspension trail bikes, getting on the Fuse took less adjustment that I expected. Much of this is due to the modern trail geometry. The head tube angle of 67.5 degrees is the same figure as many of my current favorite bikes. Other welcome features included 120mm of front-end travel handled by Fox’s new OE-only 34 Rhythm fork and Specialized’s Command Post dropper with 125mm of travel.

The surefootedness of the 3.0” Specialized Purgatory and Ground Control tires also encouraged the Fuse rider to blast through rough sections, floating above smaller crevices. And while not super wide, the 750mm bars, 70mm stem, and 25” top tube on the size large combined to give the Fuse a fun, rowdy feel.

The Command Post is controlled by a 1x specific lever in the location of a front shifter.

The Command Post is controlled by a 1x specific lever positioned in the location of a front shifter.

I loved riding the Fuse on many trails that I would normally only tackle aboard a full suspension bike. While it certainly isn’t super light at 28 pounds with pedals, the Fuse still loved to stomp up techy climbs and bomb back down the other side. Not worrying about rear suspension settings and instead dialing in tire pressures was a treat, allowing me to focus on the fun of mountain biking.

The Frame

One of the beauties of any hardtail is that it should be fairly lightweight. While the aluminum Fuse models don’t have a reputation for being overweight, adding a carbon frame version is a smart play. This drops weight and can conceivably add to the frame’s performance, increasing bottom bracket rigidity and rear end compliance. In the case of the Fuse is also provides an opportunity for internal storage inside the frame via Specialized’s SWAT system. Tucking an inner tube inside the downtube keeps it low and helps avoid the need for a seat bag or hydration pack.

Not only does the Fuse offer big fun it also offer practicality with its threaded bottom bracket (left). As part of Specialized’s SWAT system, the top cap houses a quick link and a chain tool. Very handy (right).

Not only does the Fuse offer big fun, it’s also well designed thanks to a threaded bottom bracket (left). As part of Specialized’s SWAT system, the top cap houses a quick link and chain tool (right).

The Fuse carbon frame also looks good, with clean, efficient lines. It has no provision for a front derailleur, but this won’t bother most. Where the Fuse carbon frame really deserves accolades is its threaded 73mm bottom bracket. It’s been said widely and often, but I feel it’s worth repeating: we all want threaded bottom brackets! They rarely creak and they’re so much easier to work on.

As you’d expect the Fuse Expert Carbon uses boost spacing to help keep the rear end short and still clear large tires. If you’re interested in a lighter setup throw on a set of 29er wheels. In fact, Specialized includes measurements for the Fuse in 29er attire in its online geometry chart.

The Fuse Expert Carbon comes with a bottle cage that mounts to the SWAT internal storage cover (left). Removing the cover is a tool-free matter and inside Specialized placed an inner tube inside a cloth wrap with a pull tab (right).

The Fuse Expert Carbon comes with a bottle cage that mounts to the SWAT internal storage cover (left). Removing the cover is a tool-free matter, and inside Specialized placed an inner tube inside a cloth wrap with a pull tab (right).

A hardtail frame also opens up space for water bottles. On the size large Mtbr tested, two large water bottles fit easily, helping me routinely forego a hydration pack. The bike comes with one cage and it’s a good one, the Specialized’s Zee Cage that holds bottles over the roughest terrain without worry.

Internal cable and hose routing looks great even if it does create a bit more work for mechanics (left). The Fuse has no provisions for running a front derailleur, be it a mount on the seat tube or a port for running a cable (right).

Internal cable and hose routing looks great even if it does create a bit more work for mechanics (left). The Fuse has no provisions for running a front derailleur, be it does have a mount on the seat tube or a port for running a cable (right).

All cable and hose routing on the Fuse is internal, entering at the junction of the headtube and downtube. While this is a mild inconvenience for mechanics, the clean look is appreciated.

The Build

There is very little that I would change with regards to the parts Specialized selected for the Fuse. I rode it bone stock, liking even the Henge Comp saddle. But the parts spec is what adds to the heft of the Fuse Expert Carbon. The trade-off is what I consider a great deal at $3500.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Specialized Fuse Expert Carbon 6Fattie review »


About the author: Nick Legan

Nick Legan is happiest with some grease under his nails and a long dirt climb ahead. As a former WorldTour team mechanic, Legan plied his trade at all the Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Championships and even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In recent years, gravel and ultra-distance racing has a firm grip on Legan’s attention, but his love of mountain biking and long road rides hasn’t diminished. Originally a Hoosier, Legan settled in Boulder, Colorado, 14 years ago after finishing his time at Indiana University studying French and journalism. He served as the technical editor at VeloNews for two years and now contributes to Adventure Cyclist, Mtbr and RoadBikeReview.


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  • John says:

    $3500? Let’s see my SC 5010 was $2800 on sale. I think I’ll keep my full suspension bike. If this bike was $2000, maybe?

  • Robert Park says:

    Love my Aluminum Fuse. It’s a mountain bike for us old fart road bike guys. Super stable on the roughest terrain. But not as slow as a fat bike. And it was $1300. I keep the carbon go fast on the road side of the hobby.

  • Steve says:

    For carbon and $3500 this thing should weigh 25 pounds…. I built up a NS Bikes Eccentric Djambo frame (Plus-compatible, cheap, aluminum, 420mm chainstays, NOT BOOST-142mm rear spacing) with a mix of used and new parts for $1200 with weight in mind with a NON BOOST and non-plus 2015 Fox Float 32 140mm because standard Fox forks have plenty of arch and crown clearance and 140mm travel versions have the same A-C as 120mm Plus forks that the frame was designed around. It came out to 26.2 pounds without pedals.

    • Jason says:

      yea, but your still left with an Eccentric Djambo with a bunch of mis-matched used parts…congratulations. Change the wheels and tires on the Fuse and your well below 26.2 lbs.

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