July 21/12 7:20 am - 2013 Specialized Product Launch - Mountain Bike
Posted by Editor on 07/21/12
As always, Specialized has a huge number of updates every year, so we have broken it into categories: Road, Mountain, Women, Cyclo-cross and Body Geometry. This is the review of the 2013 Specialized Mountain Bike product line (Road has already been reported, in our Reviews section).
We are now into the time of year for the bike companies to start introducing to the press the latest and (hopefully) greatest new stuff they have for the cycling enthusiast. Some of this stuff has already been discussed online, based on sightings from the pro's bikes through the earlier part of the season. There has been much speculation, but now we get the official word and all those details that previously weren't up for discussion.
Specialized is one of the biggest innovators in the market - one of their slogans is actually 'Innovate or Die'. Usually, the S team brings together journalists from all over the world to some interesting location and sends us back to school for three days. However, it is a school any rider would enjoy.
View from my hotel window
This year, we were at Snowbird, a ski resort outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. While the 8000+ feet (2400+ metres) left us a little short of breath, the trails and roads were everything that could be desired for riding. We started each day with the school part - seminars with the product designers covering new products and updates from the previous year, while the afternoon was open to riding either road or mountain; plus, for this year, cyclo-cross.
The mountain bike category has experienced significant growth recently in two areas - 29er (29-inch wheel) and enduro bikes. The 29er trend is one that Specialized embraced early, and they now have more 29er models than traditional 26" ones.
The 29er models have all received upgrades, as you would expect, with weights continuing to drop. The Camber series of full suspension bikes has received the biggest rework, with a new suspension linkage system and lower standover heights - pretty much the same as the 26" bikes. The Camber models now go down as low as 25.8 pounds in weight, again similar to last year's 26" models.
The Carve hardtail 29ers were also upgraded considerably. We reviewed the Expert model this year, and our only real complaint was the weight. They have addressed that, with the bike dropping an astounding 3.5 pounds.
The new Enduro
While the 29ers have received upgrades, the biggest announcement was the completely revised Enduro. Enduro-type racing and riding is growing rapidly in the U.S. This all day type riding is an outgrowth of the All Mountain bikes, but this time done properly. All Mountain were bikes that you could struggle up a hill with, but were really more for downhill riding. The Enduro really is more of an all around bike that is light enough for extended climbing, but can still handle the bigger hits of a downhill run.
The 2013 Enduro has a new pivot point design
The new IS-X frame design on the Enduro has a low bottom bracket and slack head angle for both climbing and descending. The Enduro has incorporated a shockbloc suspension like the Stumpjumper, with a custom Cane Creek rear air shock on the top S-Works carbon model. Specialized has also incorporated their Autosag easy-adjust suspension system for pretty much all of the full suspension models in their line. The weight savings are impressive, with the S-Works coming in at 25.9 pounds, and even the aluminum model sub-30 pounds.
The Enduro Expert weighs in at 27.5 lbs & and the S-Works at 25.9 lbs
Other mountain bike changes for 2013 include the Demo downhill bike. There is now an S-Works carbon model, a team replica of the bike multiple times world champion Sam Hill rides. This extremely trick bike comes with many special features, including a middle seat stay (which Specialized calls a sub-stay), so that the shock system can be tuned separately for the wheel travel and for the braking system.
It runs a 9/32 7 speed cogset instead of a standard 11/36, so a smaller chainring can be used (less chances of bashing a ring), and the extremely rare pro Rock Shox Black Gold fork. Only 200 of these team replicas are to be made, at an estimated cost somewhere between $9000 and $10,000. A more 'affordable' Demo 8 Carbon model with the same geometry will retail for $6000.
The XC racing full suspension Epic line adds a marathon model, and all models get the Autosag system for suspension tuning. The Stumpjumper hardtail series also receives a marathon edition, plus a very sweet sub-20 version - the Expert EvoR.
The Tactic offers more protection at the back of the head
In the non-bike mountain bike categories, Specialized has introduced an easier to adjust strap system, and a new all mountain style helmet, the Tactic. The Tactic comes with a visor and extended rear head coverage.
New carbon MTB wheels for the Roval line
The mountain version of the Roval wheels have also received considerable changes. The Control SL and SL29 models are all carbon race wheels, but the more interesting models are the ones below - the Control Carbon 29. This is a $1200 carbon wheelset that weighs an impressive 1580 grams. One of the ways weight was saved is that it does not have a hook on the inside for the bead - the tire engineers told the wheel engineers it wasn't needed and, according to their extensive testing, this turned out to be true.
There are other wheels models as well - not as light but very robust - the XC Trail and Traverse. The Traverse come in carbon and aluminum versions and are designed for Enduro racing.
right: The new Control Carbon 29 is a $1200 wheelset that saves weight by dispensing with a bead hook