By Matt Kasprzyk
The Specialized 2011 product launch was at the Keystone resort in Colorado. Leaving the airport and plains behind, the jagged wall of the Continental Divide only hinted at the spectacular views and riding to come. This year’s setting was a couple hours west of Denver at enough altitude to make many experienced riders crumble.
For 2011, Specialized’s goals don’t seem to change. They continue to stay on point with helping riders become smoother and faster by creating platforms that act as a cushion between terrain and rider. Less fatigue, more momentum, more control and more fun.
The Safire suspension design has changed for 2011. To maintain a low stand-over for the average height of women riders, Specialized designed a way to incorporate the rear shock inside of the Top Tube. The TT is divided into three sections with the rear shock mounted inside of the middle piece. The redesigned Safire suspension was the result of 12 different pro and team riders from around the world, and utilizes a women’s-specific tuned suspension allowing for a supple ride with out sacrificing travel, making it race- or trail-ready.
Myka HT 29er
The Myka was one of Specialized most asked for bikes – a women’s HT 29er. 29er geometry creates a lot of challenges to fit smaller riders. A low stand-over while maintaining neutral handling is a challenge, but Specialized is confident they hit the mark. Each frame size has size-specific springs in the fork. The 15” will fit around a height of 5’4”, 17” about 5’7” and the 19” about 5”10”.
S-Works Epic Carbon 29er
As with all of Specialized competition products, the 100mm S-Works 29er was developed based on rider insight and feedback from team members. With comfort, control, efficiency and handling as goals, along with the ever-important sex appeal of a hot looking bike, the S-Works Carbon 29er was designed to be a total bike package. Weight, stiffness, looks and something you might not think of with Specialized – compatibility – creates a competitive platform for anyone who wants to ride fast. The S-Works features 29er-specific gearing, a Reba S29 fork with Brain, carbon dropouts and improved 142mm thru-axle Roval wheels. At about 1400g per set the carbon rim Roval wheels drop 300g. Less rotational weight means faster acceleration and quicker starts. If you think 29ers are slow, you haven’t ridden this one.
Band new for 2011. This bike fits between the Epic and the Stumpjumper in the Specialized line-up. It features the slacker angles of the Stumpy with the shorter travel of the Epic. The new model comes in both a 120mm 26” and a 100mm 29” version. I threw a leg over the 26” model and attacked the mountain. Even on the black diamond trails of Keystone the bike was enjoyable to ride and I loved every minute of my time on the Camber except for the 13ft. high corkscrew. I wouldn’t recommend it as a lift service whip, but Specialized thinks this bike will be a natural fit with most people’s riding style – capable climber and fun descender.
2011 Enduro EVO
Pictured: S-Works Enduro (above), Enduro Expert EVO (below)
Also new for 2011 are the EVO editions to some familiar models. The 140mm Enduro is also available as a 160mm coil sprung Enduro EVO. The EVO designation refers to a spec with wider bars, chain guides, beefier tires, and Command Post as well as the increased travel. This takes a popular platform and slackens it out for a more trail bike role.
The EVO R is a race-ready spec. Lighter weight components, faster tires, and 1×10 drivetrain at an attainable price point.
A few notable tweaks since 2010. For 2011 the Demo 8 is available in sizes XS-L and will have a shorter HT that will lower the bars across the board. The bike’s center of gravity has lowered, and the through-axle has increased from 135mm to 150mm. Even more noteworthy perhaps is the fact that the rear end is narrowed while maintaining stiffness. The tubes curve in as much as possible without sacrificing tire clearance giving your heels more room. The 2011 Demo 8 has a longer rear shock that claims to generate less heat, is more tunable and features an increased progressiveness – that means less bottoming. Below that shock is a DH specific press fit BB30.
Specialized is a total cycling company. Notice I didn’t say bike company. Every aspect of cycling is important to them. Being comfortable on your bike plays a huge role in how much fun you’re having and how fast you are, and they realize that. Each of their products are developed with as much insight and detail as their bikes creating a total system for the rider.
A 185g helmet is impressive, but a 185g helmet that cools your head, protects against injury and is comfortable? That’s tits. It’s all part of Specialized’s commitment to improving the cycling experience. The 2011 Prevail has already been featured in the peloton of France. At the core of this lid is a Kevlar matrix, which is light and stiff. Inline vents, internal channels, a Mega Mouth port in the front and exhaust ports in the back all help keep you cool. The retention system is connected to the Kevlar matrix and the dial for tightening is adjustable with one hand. The fitting band wraps around the entire inside, encircling your head and keeping your brow off the foam to help sweat evaporation. Pads are removable and washable.
I’m just going to come out and say it, I like Specialized shoes. The philosophy of being one with your bike is manifested in the Body Geometry shoes. Your feet are a critical contact point on the bike and Specialized has worked hard to make it a comfortable and efficient interface. Both the S-Works and BG Pro shoes feature a Varus wedge that eliminates the rotational movement of the knee and form fitting arch support inserts that prevent nerves and blood vessels from being crushed during pedaling. That means comfortable happy feet. It also means less energy worrying about form and more energy for power.
This is a race shoe, no doubts about that. The sole is all carbon with replaceable lugs. There’s a stomp pad to protect the middle of the carbon sole, and a crank saver pad on the inside of the heel to protect your shoe (and cranks) if you have a tendency to kick the cranks. The closures are 2 Boa systems on each shoe. The Boa cables have a stainless steel core and are straight across the tongue. Each dial is micro-adjustable where 4 clicks = 1 ratchet of a buckle. This gives a pretty custom fit while leaving the front of shoe free of straps. The tongue is moldable and spreads the pressure evenly across the top of the foot.
BG Pro Shoes
For 2011 these top picks are more durable and hikable. Featuring the same Body Geometry components like the Varus wedge and arch support as the S-Works. Again, this is a carbon-soled shoe, but more robust. This shoe just looks like it’s ready for a mountain bike ride. The tread is aggressive, but the new model is lighter and cleaner than previous years. The women’s Pro is less volume with a tighter heel to accommodate a female’s slimmer average foot profile.
Specialized also features a complete line of other accessories. No matter what the product, from bottle cages to DH bikes, the company has the same goal for each – to improve the cycling experience.