Specialized introduced three new bikes today but the product that generated the most ‘oohs and ahhs’ was something called the SWAT Door. It is a member of the SWAT family (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) and is the most ambitious implementation to date. Carbon frames now have an integrated storage chamber in the downtube, accessible by a door under the bottle cage.
And instead of merely cutting a hole in the frame for this purpose, a more accurate depiction of the process is that the frame was designed with this integrated storage cavity in mind. Structural integrity and stiffness could not be compromised. And the insides of the frame needed to be free of clutter and carbon manufacturing imperfections.
Reports are detailing that the SWAT door setup adds about 200 grams to the frame. All the hardware and internal padded bags add weight to a standard frame.
This feature is found in carbon frames only and it is in several of the new bikes launched including the 2016 Stumpjumper, Rhyme and 6Fattie. Aluminum frames don’t get this feature because of design and structural limitations of the material.
The SWAT door is fairly big and it is held in place by a long latch on the right side that snaps into place. Unlocking the latch with a simple tug allows the cage and door to be lifted easily and it reveals a big cavity in the downtube.
There are two storage pouches underneath the SWAT door that can be used to store a variety of tools and accessories. These pouches are designed to hold everything securely and rattle free.
There is a screen on the downtube above the bottom bracket area that can catch any errant objects that fall in. The upper part of the downtube is unrestricted so the useable cavity is quite big, at least a foot long.
On our test ride, there were no rattles or detectable differences in frame performance. It seemed normal despite this significant difference from traditional frames.
Is it a good idea?
If there are no stiffness, weight or noise compromises, we think so. The downtube of these Specialized carbon frame is huge and there is significant storage volume to be found here. All kinds of supplies can be stored here including a water bag, a jacket, a sandwich, aside from the essential tools.
Reports are saying that the SWAT door adds 200 grams of weight to a carbon frame. Also, there is a front triangle stiffness loss in the single digit percentage range. Most riders cannot detect these differences during riding but there may be some buyers out there where optimized weight and stiffness is critical.
The opening and closing action of the door is the key as no tools are required and the door is big enough to make access easy. But of course, the more things are packed in this frame cavity, the heavier the carbon frame gets.
The target market for this feature though is the rider who does not like to carry a hydration pack. As packs do provide a more obvious and accessible method of carrying all these supplies. And the pack is instantly transferable from bike to bike.