Bike Review: 2017 Specialized Sequoia Expert

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As bicycle companies continue to release 2017 model lines, there are some categories that have found a much larger presence in the industry. Many companies are eager to push their version of an adventure road bike. The exciting thing about adventure road bikes is that the term is relatively new so companies are free to get creative with their designs. There aren’t concrete rules about what an adventure bike should be. Instead, there are vague and general concepts that customers are looking for. These concepts are slowly molding this genre into something that will likely become more solidified in the future.
Knowing that the definition of “adventure bike” is somewhat in the making, we have to ask the question, “what is an adventure bike?”sequoia-12
I’ve come up the analogy that an adventure bike is the Crossover SUV of bicycles; a comfortable roadster with some off-road capability. An adventure road bike isn’t going win a criterium. It also isn’t going to shed mud while quickly maneuvering its way through a cross race either. However, it will get you anywhere you need to go on the road and offer the opportunity to explore some dirt roads/trails, all while hauling a large amount of gear on the frame.
As I evolve as a cyclist, I am more intrigued by large-tired road bikes. I have been happily running 700x35mm tires on my Surly Cross Check. Although 35mm wide tires may sound large, I have been wanting something larger for a while now. I tell you this as somewhat of a confession: if companies keep putting fatter tires on their road bikes, I will keep buying them! That said, let’s talk about the Specialized Sequoia.
The Sequoia was the fist bicycle that Specialized ever released way back in 1974.
It eventually went away and returned in 2004 with this incarnation:
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Remember when high-end bicycles had triples? Yeah, that was a thing. The 2004 Sequoia was upright, lightweight, and a pretty solid bike. I know because I sold them when they were new, and I now work on them as aged and often worn-out bikes. The Sequoia hung around for a handful of years before being pushed aside by the Specialized Secteur in 2010. Now, after another  stay in bicycle purgatory, the Sequoia is back!
In once sense, the Sequoia returned to its 1970’s roots with a steel frame. That’s just about the only comparison that can be made. The new Sequoia is so radically different from its predecessors that it might as well have a different name.

Okay, enough background. Let’s talk about the 2017 Specialized Sequoia Expert.
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The frame is made from Specialized’s Premium Cr-Mo steel. To draw comparison, the Sequoia geometry is more compact and slack with a longer wheelbase than the Specialized Roubaix.
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To bring down the weight while sticking with the theme of soft-riding, the bike is stocked with a Specialized FACT carbon fork. Remember, this is an adventure road bike so the frame and fork have plenty of mounts for cages, racks, fenders, and whatever else you may need to get the job done.
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The components on the Sequoia Expert are a hodgepodge of different companies. This is mainly due to the lack of options within one company to achieve the goals of this bike. A broad overview of the components are a 1×11 drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes, capable tires, and a cherry on top carbon crankset. To put all of these key components on this bicycle, Specialized pulled parts from a litter of companies.
sequoiaThe shifters and rear derailleur are from Sram’s Force series while the brake calipers are from their Rival series. The shifting is smooth, consistent, and was a pleasure to setup.
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Mixed with the Sram shift levers and derailleur is a Shimano XT 11-42 cassette. It’s the same cassette I use on my mountain bike and I love it.
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On to the brake calipers.  I am somewhat of a fanboy when it comes to Shimano brakes and my initial feeling towards these Sram brakes is somewhat skeptical. I struggled getting these calipers aligned properly, a recurring issue I notice when repairing Sram brakes on the clock. However, I’m trying to approach these with an open mind and hopefully they will surprise me and I will give you guys an enthusiastic update in the future!
sequoia-91x drivetrains are on the rise. I’m noticing more mountain bikes around $1,000 that are equipped with a single chainring. I think 1x drivetrains are a big positive for mountain biking. So how about on a road bike? The Sequoia Expert is stocked with an FSA SL-K Light carbon crankset that is equipped with a Sram XX1 42t chainring. That gives this bike a 1:1 gear ratio in the granny gear. Tying the drivetrain together is the KMC X11SL chain. I haven’t had the chance to take this bike on a serious climb yet so I won’t make a statement on the 1x road configuration. How about you guys? Have you had a chance to climb a 1x road bike? What did you think about it? Please leave a comment below, I’m interested to know what you think.
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Let’s move on to the wheels. The hubs and rims are labeled as Specialized Adventure Gear Cruzero. I’ll sit on that for a while and try to figure out what that means. I do know that the wheels are decent. Not overly impressive, but decent. The double-wall alloy rims are wide, allowing for these large 700×42 Specialized Sawtooth. I converted this bike to tubeless straight out of the box. Although the tires are 2Bliss ready, the rims are not. There are small holes drilled on the inside of rim. Unfortunately the holes are set on the sides of the interior walls of the rim. Using 24mm tubeless tape, I put one strip down the middle and then followed up with two strips on opposite sides to ensure that the sealant couldn’t find its way to the holes. The conversion worked but wasn’t the friendliest process. I’ve been running these tires at a low pressure (50 psi) and they feel absolutely great. Cracks in the road are completely devoured by the large volume of the Sawtooth tire.
sequoia-11As far as the cockpit is concerned, Specialized put some nice detail on this bike. Equipped with a Specialized CG-R carbon seatpost, the rider gets 18mm of lightweight, vertical compliance. *CG-R is only offered on the Expert level.
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The handlebars offer a comfortable 15mm of rise while the drops open up outward for a nice, open position. The Specialized Phenom saddle and bar tape each have a canvas finish. Both components look really nice on this bike and compliment the overall toughness and utility of the Sequoia Elite.
sequoia-5What’s next? This bike is ready to go right out of the box. The only big plan I have for my new Sequoia Expert is to load it up with cargo. Specialized has a new line of adventure gear that includes large saddle bags, frame packs, and stuff packs to mount to the fork.Their new line will compete with companies like Salsa.
sequoia-15With pedals and the tubeless conversion, I weighed this bike at 24 lbs.

The 2017 Specialized Sequoia Experts retails at $3500

I hope you enjoyed this review.

If you have any questions/comments please leave them below or email me at justinchiazza@gmail.com

 

12 thoughts on “Bike Review: 2017 Specialized Sequoia Expert

  1. Hi Justin,
    Nice review…the Sequoia seems like a great bike.
    Just wondering what frame size you have? In the last photo it looks like you’ll have quite an upright position on the bike – what is your saddle height in that photo and how many spacers have you under the stem? Thanks a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Robbie,
      I ride a 52cm (5’6″).
      My saddle height, from the center of the bottom bracket, is 66.5 cm.
      The spacer stack under the stem is 25mm ((2) 10mm, and (1) 5mm).

      I really love the geometry of this bike. I’m pretty sure I’ll get away with leaving everything just the way it is.

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      1. Hi Justin,

        I’m also 5’6″ and will probably buy a 52. Are you getting any toe overlap with that frame size and the 42 Sawtooths?

        Good review! Looking forward to seeing how this bike works out for you as you put on more miles.

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      2. Hi Justin, I pulled the trigger on a 54 Sequoia expert. Waiting for it to arrive. I’m receiving it direct from Spesh so hopefully I don’t have anything too tricky to set up. I’ll keep you posted! Thanks!

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  2. Hi Justin, thanks a lot for the info. I’m really close to ordering one too but there are no shops near by where I can try it out or even sit on! I’m planning on going for a 54 as I’m 5’9 but my saddle height is 74cm and I don’t want it to be too aggressive, would prefer a set up like yours with little saddle to bar drop. Hope you have fun on it. All the best

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    1. I’m thinking about getting the base version for light touring but I’m wondering about clearance for fenders. It seems tight from the look of it, especially in the seat tube area.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Joe, I’ve actually had my Expert for the last couple of weeks and it’s an incredible bike. I’ve just fitted fenders too…I’m in the south of Sweden so fenders are essential here this time of year. I fitted the Velo Orange Zeppelin 52mm fenders and they fit beautifully. I can send an image later if you want?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Justin, it’s been great to read your initial thoughts and it definitely made me go ahead and get one. I’ve just got some tubeless 25mm rim tape, valves and sealant so will be converting the rims over the weekend. With that in mind, how is your tubeless set-up working out?

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    1. My front tire struggled to seal for the first 24 hours but has been solid since. When you open up your tires you may notice little holes drilled near the wall of the rim. Just make sure those are covered under your tape and should work out great. Let me know how it goes!

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