Bike Review: 2018 Specialized Chisel (W/100 mile update)

Chisel-2
*100-mile update is at the end of this article.
New for the 2018 Specialized lineup is the Chisel. The Chisel effectively replaces the Specialized Crave as their sub $2,000 hardtail 29er. The main difference between the Chisel and Crave is frame geometry. The Chisel geometry bridges the gap between traditional cross-country geometry and modern trail geometry by offering a head tube angle of 69.8°.
Chisel-22
There are three options for the men’s Chisel:
Chisel Expert 1x ($1850)
Chisel Comp 2x ($1500)
Chisel Frameset ($750)
I chose to build up a frameset. Going the route of a frame gives you the option of two colors that are not available as complete builds. All Chisels are built with Specialized’s M5 aluminum.
Chisel-1
The frame has internal cable routing, boost spacing, and a threaded bottom bracket shell.
My intentions were to build a lightweight cross-country bike that still felt fun/stable on the descents.
Chisel-3
For the fork, I chose the 2018 Fox 32 Step Cast with Kashima Coat.
Chisel-15
The fork is light (a hair under 3 lbs). I chose the Fit4 3 Position Damper without the remote lockout. The Fit4 damper offers more adjustment when the fork is in its open position.
Chisel-16
The wheels are built around Hope Pro 4 hubs which are high-quality hubs at a relatively affordable price.
Chisel-18
I chose Stan’s No Tubes Crest rims which are plenty light and far more affordable than an average carbon rim. The wheels are laced with DT Swiss Competition spokes and purple alloy nipples.
Chisel-17
Finishing off the wheels are WTB tubeless valves, Orange Seal rim tape and sealant, and Maxxis 29×2.35 Ikon tires.
Chisel-4
The drivetrain consists of a Shimano XT 11-speed 11-46 cassette, KMC X11SL chain,
Chisel-6
Shimano XT shifter and derailleur,
Chisel-5
Race Face Next SL G4 cranks and a Wolf Tooth 30t oval chainring.
Chisel-7
The brakes are Shimano XT with 160mm rotors front and rear.
Chisel-14
The cockpit contains a Race Face Next 35 20mm rise 760 width handlebar,
Chisel-11
Race Face Turbine 35 stem,
Chisel-10
ESI Fit XC grips, Origin8 VEX platform pedals,
Chisel-8
Specialized Phenom Expert 143mm saddle, and a KS LEV Integra 27.2 internally routed 100mm travel dropper post.
Chisel-9
Finding a 27.2 dropper with a decent amount of travel and internal routing proved to be difficult but this dropper seems up to the challenge thus far.
The Chisel is for a rider looking for a lightweight cross-country rig that is stable enough for fast and challenging descents without totally breaking the bank.
Chisel-19
The price gap between the Chisel Comp 2x and Chisel Expert 1x is somewhat negligible. It really just depends on whether you prefer a 1x or 2x drivetrain. Each has its upside and downside. The 1x is clean and simple but lacks the high-end gears that a 2x provides. On the other hand, 2x drivetrains are a little heavier and less pleasing on an aesthetic level.
My particular build retails somewhere around $4,300 with every component at full price. However, If you choose to build up a frame, you should be able to get a shop to give you a break on at least some of your components.
Let me know what you think of the new Specialized Chisel. Also, how about my build? What would you have done differently?

TIRE TEST
By far the most common inquiry regarding the Chisel is whether or not it will clear a 2.6″ tire. The only 2.6″ tire I currently have access to is the Specialized Purgatory (a great trail tire in my area). Today, after keeping you guys waiting way too long, I put the tire on my rear wheel.
The good news is that it fits with more than enough room to spare.
The bad news is this 2.6″ tire isn’t actually 2.6″. Unfortunately, it measures much closer to a 2.3″. 

2.6-1
This is an issue that Specialized is aware of and is planning on correcting this upcoming model year. 
I’ve decided to stop here as I still don’t have a definitive answer on whether or not a true 2.6″ tire will fit. As soon as I get my hands on a true 2.6″ tire, I will update this post.

100 MILE UPDATE:

To put it simply, this bike is a rocket.
I expected my climbs to improve in comparison to my Stumpjumper FSR. I expected an improvement because the Chisel weighs 4.5 fewer pounds than my Stumpy. I expected an improvement because the Chisel doesn’t have 150mm of rear suspension. I expected the steeper head tube angle, 29er wheels, and  XC geometry to all translate into a much better climber. It came as no surprise that all of my expectations were met.
The Chisel is a climbing machine. On climbs that I averaged speeds between 3-4mph on my Stumpy, I average close to 6mph on the Chisel. The frame is lightweight and stiff in all the right places. I feel that little to no energy is lost on the Chisel and all of my efforts result in the bike moving forward at a fast pace.
The climbing performance alone is enough to sell me on this bike. What I didn’t expect, however, is how much faster I am on the descents. There are a couple factors that should be addressed when considering why I descend faster on the Chisel in comparison to my Stumpy. First of all, I am running 29×2.35 tires on the Chisel and 27.5×2.6 tires on the Stumpy. There is a wider footprint (contact point) with the 2.6 tires which certainly adds rolling resistance. 29er tires also carry momentum better than any other tire size. This is a claim that has been tested and supported by many manufacturers and I can attest to it. Secondly, I feel that my downhill skills are slowly improving and that may be reflected in my times. Take for example the trail I rode most often: Ash Canyon in Carson City, NV. The trail is a great place to work on XC riding. There is a fun downhill section known as Jackrabbit Downhill. This is the section where I really focus on my downhill times as I know the trail very well.
In the picture below, I have highlighted my fasted Jackrabbit Downhill time for both bikes. My fastest time on the Chisel is highlighted in green and my fastest time on the Stumpy is highlighted in blue.
ChiselvsStumpy
Again, I am becoming a better descender. But do I believe that my skills alone knocked 12 seconds off my best time in only one month? No.
I believe the 29″ tires account for some of the improvement. I also believe my sprinting efficiency on the Chisel is far superior and helped slash my time during brief moments and flat terrain. Whatever the case may be, and feel free to give me your opinion if I’m missing any possibilities, I am stoked with the results. I should mention that long descents on the Chisel aren’t nearly as fun or as comfortable as with the Stumpy. My back tightens up and begins to ache much faster on the chisel. But that’s not much of a concern because I bought the Chisel for one purpose: to go fast. I also had hopes that the Chisel would motivate me to get into shape and try some XC races. The bike has shown that it is fully capable of putting up some competitive XC runs. The only question I have yet to answer is whether or not I am as capable as the bike.
EZ-4

Bike Review: Specialized Ruze (Good 1st Mountain Bike?)

untitled-1
Let’s address one thing at the onset: $1,000 is a lot of money for someone’s first mountain bike. When customers enter my shop seeking their first mountain bike, I generally guide them to a bike that doesn’t exceed $600. That’s not to say they wouldn’t appreciate a higher end bike once on the trail, but it may give them the impression that cycling is an out-of-budget hobby.
My wife Monica has been hinting that she wants a mountain bike for the past couple of months. She has minimal experience on a bicycle. I had refurbished a 1970’s Peugeot Mixte, mainly because she loves the urban style of the bike, but the overall handling and geometry of the bike has left her wondering if there is more to cycling.
When deciding on which bike to purchase for her, there were some key factors that I needed to consider. My main focus was picking a bike that gave her confidence. Knowing that old school 27″ tires felt wobbly and unstable to her, I knew that a plus size tire would be a great foundation. My second point of focus was safety. I knew I wanted her bicycle to be equipped with hydraulic disc brakes as they harness sufficient stopping power without demanding as much hand power from the rider. Oh yeah, there was one other thing that was imperative on this bike: it had to have pink in as many places as possible.
untitled-5
I had my shopping list. I started eliminating options and the choice became clear pretty quick. The Specialized Ruze comes stock with plus size tires (27.5×2.8 rear, 27.5×3.0 front),
untitled-7
hydraulic disc brakes from Tektro,
untitled-9
and, most importantly, the graphite color option has pink highlights on the frame.
untitled-2
I was able to get all of the important factors covered under one bike. However, there are some features on this bike that fall in line with other beginner mountain bikes. The wheels aren’t tubeless compatible. The SR Suntour XCM fork is a coil fork that lacks range of adjustment and pays a weight penalty when compared to an air fork. That said, this bike is plenty capable for XC and Trail riding.
One feature that I overlooked was a 1×10 drivetrain.
untitled-8
Without a front derailleur, Monica has less shifting options to consider when riding and will be able to focus on the trail ahead.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time breaking down the components on this bike as my main argument is based on the Specialized Ruze being a good option as a beginner’s mountain bike. Yes, the price is high. But so is the performance. And, even though there are cheaper options out there, I feel confident that she will feel confident. That in itself if priceless.
I can say for certain that this is a great mountain for a beginner. It has plenty of features that make for a fun and stable cycling experience.

E-Bikes: Progress Meets Hostility.

*For the purpose of this article, “E-Bike” refers to a non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycle.

E-Bikes may be the most controversial topic in cycling since Lance was first accused of doping. That may seem like somewhat of a false equivalency, but to many cyclists, both topics have one thing in common: CHEATING. The rapid increase of E-Bikes has sparked a lot of heated discussion in the industry. Many riders feel that E-Bikes offer an unfair advantage to other riders and shouldn’t be allowed to share the same trails. Other people view E-Bikes as motorcycles in disguise, and since they are just motorcycles, shouldn’t be allowed to share the same trails. Where is this bicycle segregation coming from?
#E-Bikelivesmatter
Even at my bike shop, located in an area where E-Bikes haven’t really hit the riding scene, we are having daily discussions about them with customers. There are shops now, often in urban settings, that exclusively sell E-Bikes. The demand for this technology is clearly there. So why are so many cyclists passionately opposed to the idea of E-Bikes? To some extent, the answer is in the question. The most negative opinions about E-Bikes come from longtime cyclists. People I talk to that are new to the sport of mountain biking have a much more open mind about the idea. That’s not to say that longtime cyclists are wrong. They have spent decades in the saddle and have developed their own justified ideas of what mountain biking should be.
A regular customer at my shop told me a story yesterday that blew my mind. He owns a hardtail fat bike. Since purchasing his fat bike, he has outfitted it with a large frame pack. He was recently riding a popular trail in our area when he was stopped by another rider. The rider looked at his frame pack and began lecturing him that E-Bikes didn’t belong on the trail. The customer made light-hearted efforts to explain that it was a frame pack full of food and clothing but the cyclist who had stopped him refused to listen. This particular situation is rare. However, it was very unsettling. After hearing that story, I knew it was time to get on here and try to open a discussion with you guys and see where everyone stands on the topic of E-Bikes. Let’s first go over the two most common arguments I hear around my shop.
levoashcanyon-3
E-Bikes are just a new way to cheat.
It’s a common complaint I hear about E-Bikes. I think it has some truth depending on the scenario. If someone is sneaking an E-Bike, whether road or mountain, into a race, then yes we can all agree that it’s cheating. But if someone is taking an E-Bike out for some recreational fun, I don’t see an issue. One could make the argument that the rider is cheating his/her personal fitness, but that’s a conscious decision that person has the right to make. I took a Specialized Levo FSR Expert out for a ride this morning. In certain areas where I would normally be gassed, I felt strong. In what would normally take me a couple of hours to complete, I did in just over an hour. I had fun the entire time and never felt as if I was cheating myself or anyone else around me. If I was on my personal bike and someone passed me on an E-Bike, I would greet them and wish them a happy ride. That’s the type of attitude I would like to see cyclists carry towards E-Bikes, even if they’re purists. If you have moral objections to E-Bikes, use the proper outlets to express them rather than confronting riders on the trail (e.g. writing a letter to the National Parks Service or Bureau of Land Management voicing your concern).

E-Bikes are just motorcycles in disguise.
Let’s refer back to my opening statement: “E-Bike” refers to a non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycle. There is a vast variety of E-Bikes on the market. Some even have throttles and high-wattage motors capable of speeds over 50mph. Those bikes aren’t the focus of this article. Instead, I am referring to bikes similar to the Specialized Levo. This type of E-Bike has a pedal assist motor that only engages when the rider is pedaling. The more physical effort put into the system, the more output the motor will produce. The pedal assist won’t engage until the rider is moving just under 2mph. The pedal assist automatically turns off once the rider hits a speed of 15-20mph depending on location of purchase (USA/Canada). So is an E-Bike just a clever way of selling motorcycles? A quick search for the definition of a motorcycle produced this result:
mo·tor·cy·cle
ˈmōdərˌsīk(ə)l/

noun
noun: motorcycle; plural noun: motorcycles
1. a two-wheeled vehicle that is powered by a motor and has no pedals.
The obvious discrepancy in this comparison comes down to the pedals. By this definition, E-Bikes are not motorcycles. They also lack any characteristics one would look for in a motorcycle. I believe cyclists are running into a mental block at the mere mention of a motor. I think it is unfair to conflate non-throttle, pedal-assist bicycles with those stocked with throttles and motors capable of reaching 50mph without pedaling.

To wrap my opinions up, I will mention a couple examples as to why I support E-Bikes on the trail. I recently spoke to a couple that love to mountain bike but have reached an age where traditional cycling is taking a toll on their bodies. They love the sport and E-Bikes may extend their ability to ride for many more years. The couple isn’t looking for an over-powering motor, just the opportunity to continue their passion. I’ve also heard of several riders who have physical ailments that have left them with very low lung capacity. E-Bikes have allowed these riders to stay on the trail and continue riding. I find it very difficult to protest E-Bikes when some people benefit so much from them. The rhetoric surrounding E-Bikes is becoming increasingly hostile. I hope this article provides some insight to why E-Bikes aren’t as evil as they’re being portrayed.

Please share your opinions below. Did I nail anything in this article? Is there anything I should reconsider my position on? Let me know, I’m interested to see what you guys think.

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to check out my content. I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any comments/questions that you don’t want to post publicly, email me at justinchiazza@gmail.com

Bike Review: 2017 Specialized Sequoia Expert

sequoia-16
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:
seq
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.
sequoia-7
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.
sequoia-14
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.
sequoia-13
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.
sequoia-8
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.
sequoia-3
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.
sequoia-2
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.
sequoia-10
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

 

Bike Review: 2016 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon 650B

FUSE-SJ-2
After nearly 3 years without a mountain bike, it was finally time to put something together. My previous mountain bike was a hardtail 29er. However, since I ride a small frame, the geometry between the large wheel size and small frame wasn’t exactly what I wanted. This issue helped guide my purchase and I ultimately decided on my first 650B.
FUSE-SJ-4
Once I had my wheel size selected, I needed to determine which genre of mountain biking I wanted my new bike to fall into. Previous to this new bike, I had always ridden hardtail cross-country bikes. Without exception. And for no reason other than wanting to experience a new mountain bike sensation, I decided to build up a trail bike. “Trail bikes” take on different meanings to different people. Personally I feel it’s a bike that offers a rider efficient enough climbing while providing comfortable and confidence-inspiring descents.
FUSE-SJ-25

With a general idea as to what type of frame I wanted, I decided to go with the 2016 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon 650b frame. A couple of years ago, the Stumpjumer FSR geometry went through somewhat of an overhaul. Now with a spacey top tube, slacker head tube (67 degrees), and a shorter chainstay/wheelbase, the Stumpjumper FSR is snappy and fun to descend on. The frame comes equipped with a custom Fox rear shock with Specialized’s proprietary Autosag system. With Autosag, the shock is inflated to 300 psi through the black valve. Then, with the rider sitting on the bike, air is released from the red valve until air no longer escapes the valve. This procedure automatically sets the sag. After setting my Autosag a couple of different times between six rides, I use about 90% of my rear travel on average.FUSE-SJ-7
The shock also comes with Kashima Coating. In essence, Kashima Coating provides better lubrication and reduces wear on the shock. For a more detailed explanation of Kashima Coating, click here.
FUSE-SJ-12
To match the rear shock, I chose the 2017 (yes we are heading into the future) Fox 34 150mm Fork.
FUSE-SJ-3
The choice came down to the Fox 34 and the RockShox Pike. And since I’ve never owned a Fox Fork in the past (always RockShox), I decided to give it a go.
FUSE-SJ-11
The fork has performed very well so far. The basics are as follows: Air chamber, rebound adjustment, and compression platform adjustment. I followed Fox’s recommended air settings for my weight and it felt fine during the six rides I’ve been on. The rebound, which is the rate in which the suspension releases energy after compression, is set somewhere near the middle. And as far as the compression goes, there are a handful of different settings to play with. The blue 3-posistion lever seen in the picture above has three settings: Open, Medium, and Firm. The Firm setting is not a complete lockout. However, it’s a great compression mode for climbing. I haven’t played with the Medium setting yet. The medium setting is recommended for undulating terrain. When in Open mode, the black dial gives the rider even more options. With 22 micro compression adjustments, the Open Mode Adjust is sure to give the rider whichever specific compression they desire. If after all of these adjustments the rider still doesn’t have the exact tuning they seek, there are always Cip-On Volume Spacers. The spacers rest internally on the air (left) side of the fork. If the sag is properly set, and the rider is still bottoming out the suspension, spacers can be added. And vice versa, if the sag is properly set and the rider isn’t using nearly all of their suspension, spacers can be removed. I found a really cool Youtube channel that explains this process clearly, click here to view the video.
FUSE-SJ-5
I had originally planned on using Sram’s new Eagle 1×12 drivetrain. However, patience is a virtue that I do not possess. I decided to run Shimano’s 1×11 XT drivetrain. I’m a big fan of Shimano products and this drivetrain is no exception. The cassette is an 11 speed with a 11-42 range. Combined with a Wolf Tooth 28 tooth chainring up front, there is plenty of low end climbing gear on this bike. I have noticed a couple of times that I can easily run out of high end gear with this drivetrain. However, that is a much smaller concern in my eyes than my climbing gear so I’ll stick with this setup for now.
FUSE-SJ-6
I decided to go with Shimano XT brakes. As far as hydraulic systems go, these have the most natural feel in my opinion. Maintenance is about as friendly as I have found with a hydraulic system. A lot of that has to do with the fact the Shimano brakes use mineral oil.
FUSE-SJ-10
I went with Race Face Next carbon handlebars as well as a Race Face Next SL G4 crankset. Both components are lightweight and aesthetically pleasing.
FUSE-SJ-9
My only complaint is the name “Next.” It reminds me too much of the Next department store bike. It makes me wonder when Race Face will release their new handlebar series, the Huffy.
FUSE-SJ-27
This is the first time I’ve ever used a dropper post. Overall I like it a lot. I do find, however, that dropping the post all the way down bothers me. The terrain I ride changes constantly and I find it to be a hassle going from bottomed out to fully extended. I seem to drop it halfway for descents more often than not. It allows me to pedal out of situations if I miss my opportunity to extend the dropper back to climbing position.
FUSE-SJ-8
There are a couple of components that I am going to divide up into separate posts. One is my wheelset: Hope Pro 4 hubs with DT Swiss M 442 rims. I’ll also go into a detailed post about a tubeless setup.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any questions/comments, feel free to post them below 🙂

 

Bike Review: 2016 Specialized Fuse Pro 6Fattie

FUSE-SJ-13
Some of you may remember my buddy Ben from my Surly Straggler post found here. Well he is back! This time with his 2016 Specialized Fuse Pro 6Fattie.
FUSE-SJ-26
6Fattie, 27.5+, Mid-Fat, whatever you choose to call them, 650×3.0 tires have made their mark on on the industry in 2016.
FUSE-SJ-22
The most common question asked by riders who are inquiring about +size tires is “why?” There is no doubt that the cycling industry releases its share of gimmicks. However, +size tires are not one of them. Whether you are a seasoned veteran, or a beginner to mountain biking, you can definitely benefit from +size tires.
FUSE-SJ-23
The most obvious advantage is contact point. On average, +size tires adds a 69% larger contact point than tires in the 2.1 range. The larger contact point equals greater traction, greater stability, and increased rider confidence.
FUSE-SJ-24
Ben has quickly become an advocate for his Fuse Pro. Understandably so. And, having now ridden a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 6fattie myself, I must say I agree. At the beginning of my first descent, I was weary of the tire’s riding characteristics. I approached my first corner very conservatively. The next corner a little less conservatively. Finally, I was bombing into each corner as hard as I could. At no point did I lose control with the 6fattie tires. I noticed my confidence quickly growing with the +size tires.
FUSE-SJ-15
To the seasoned veteran, try them. You will find yourself pushing your previously gained skills into unchartered levels.
To the beginner rider, try them. You will feel more confident with a +size tire than you will on a traditional 2.1-2.3 tire.
*Keep in mind that +size bikes are currently priced high. The Fuse series begins with the Fuse Comp at $1,600 and climbs up to the Fuse Pro at $3,100. There really isn’t a whole lot of down size to running +size tires. So I predict that within a couple of years the price of Specialized 6fatties will be in the $600-$1,000 range.
FUSE-SJ-14
The Fuse Pro itself is spec’d very well. All bikes in the Fuse series comes with Specialized’s M4 Premium Aluminum Frame and a 1x drivetrain. The Fuse Pro, unlike the Fuse Expert and Fuse Comp, is stocked with a 1×11 drivetrain opposed to a 1×10 drivetrain. With the 11 speed cassette, you get a 42 tooth climbing gear and a 10 tooth high gear. In comparison, the 1×10 offers a 40 tooth climbing gear and an 11 tooth high gear.
FUSE-SJ-18
The Fuse Pro is also the only model in the series that is stocked with a carbon crankset.
FUSE-SJ-19
Unless you’re riding a small frame, which comes with 100mm of travel in the fork, the Fuse Pro is stocked with 120mm. Combined with the pneumatic suspension in the tires as a result from their large profile, you should have no issue at all riding this hardtail. The fork itself is the Rock Shox Reba RC3, a lightweight and fully adjustable fork that handles the trail with precise riding characteristics.
FUSE-SJ-20
Only Fuse Pro is stocked with the Specialized Command Post, a cable-actuated dropper post with ten internal positions. Specialized claims that this new dropper post eliminates saddle wiggle, unfortunately that claim has not been met in my eyes 😦
FUSE-SJ-21
Another nice feature that is exclusive to the Pro level, and an easy after purchase add-on to any other model, is the SWAT (Storage Water Air Tool) bottle cage and stem cap chain tool. Specialized seems committed to keeping weight off your back and creatively dispersing throughout their bikes. I would look for other companies to fall in line with this idea as it is proving to be highly effective and favorable by those who are using the system.
FUSE-SJ-17
If you’re skeptical about whether or not you will like +size tires, I suggest finding a shop that will let you demo a bike off-road. It may be difficult to get the full effect of a +size tire on pavement. Or take my word for it. I’m confident in saying that the vast majority of mountain bikers out there will love the benefits of +size tires.
*Take your research further by checking out Bike Radar’s video comparing 6Fattie tires against 29″ tires by clicking here.

2016 Specialized Roubaix SL4 Pro Disc Race UDI2

IMG_5161 (1)
I was fortunate enough to meet Rob, an old friend and long time customer of my bike shop, for a recent fall road ride. Rob was on roughly the 700th mile with his new 2016 Specialized Roubaix SL4 Pro Disc Race UDI2. I could tell immediately that it didn’t take nearly 700 miles for Rob to fall in love with this bike.
IMG_5129
The target rider for the Roubaix is hard to identify since the design of this bike offers so much to so many. If you just get out for 20-50 miles on the weekend, ride centuries regularly, or if you’re pushing the limits of longevity with randonneur distances, the Roubaix is absolutely up to the task. This specific model in the Roubaix series is absolutely stacked and leaves little need to step up into the s-works level.
IMG_5137 (1)
FACT (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) frames undergo the process by which Specialized engineers design, fabricate, and test the entire spectrum of characteristics that will give the rider a lightweight and comfortable riding experience. Add to the FACT process Zerts inserts, and the rider is ready for any amount of time on the saddle.
IMG_5141
Zerts inserts provide vibration reduction not only in the fork, but the seat stays as well as the seatpost. The outcome is a significant improvement in the overall ride no matter how rough the road may seem. In response to the Zerts inserts, Rob said, “There is noticeable vertical compliance…It really smooths out the bumps, especially noticeable cruising at over 22 mph and higher speeds.”
IMG_5136 (1)
The Pro Race is stocked with Roval Rapide CL40 Carbon Disc wheels. When asked about the wheelset, Rob said, “Those Roval wheels are fast, I can feel them slicing through the wind at higher speeds. They are also very light and stiff…I felt like I was flying up the mountain!”
IMG_5135 (1)
If you happened to have read my review of the Specialized Diverge, you may remember my comments regarding the future of disc brakes in the genre of road cycling. Well it’s clear, now that the majority of 2016 bikes have been released, that disc brakes have found their place in road cycling and they are here to stay.
IMG_5151
Rob tested his first pair of road disc brakes on a local descent called Monitor Pass. After leaving the descent with a great impression, Rob said, “Because of the increased braking power, and not having to worry about overheating the rims, you can go much faster knowing that you can brake later and harder going into corners. I felt so much more in control descending at high speeds.”
IMG_5139
The main reason for stepping into the Roubaix Pro Race vs the Roubaix Pro, aside from the wheelset, is the Shimano Ultegra DI2 drivetrain.
IMG_5131
Quite possibly the most intriguing feature of the DI2 drivetrain is that the front derailleur automatically trims as the rider shifts through the wide range of gears in the 11 speed (11-28) cassette.
IMG_5130
Adjusting DI2 derailleurs is much different from conventional derailleurs and should be done so with caution. If you aren’t a confident home mechanic, I recommend you take your bicycle into your LBS.
IMG_5145
The DI2 battery life is surprisingly efficient. When asked about it, Rob said, “I have 46 hours and 702 miles in 3.5 weeks on its first charge. The battery is still showing between 100% and 51% charge. It’s supposed to give a warning at 50% and 25% charge on the Junction A LED (Junction A is the unit that connects the shifters to the derailleur wires and sits under the stem). You should check this by holding a shift button for half a second.”
IMG_5132
Another nice touch on this bike is the Specialized Pro Carbon Crankset. In response to its riding characteristics, Rob stated, “What stands out the most is how stiff it is. You can really feel that there is no perceivable flex when putting power to the pedals. No power is lost when hammering up a hill or sprinting. I can’t emphasize enough how noticeable this is.”
IMG_5140
Size matters. It especially matters if you are concerned about overall comfort on a long day on the road. The Roubaix is stocked with 700x26c tires that not only ride smooth and fast, but allow you to take down the psi just enough to reap the benefits of a larger tire. Rob is currently running his tires at 80psi (front) and 85psi (rear). He described his combination of psi and 26c tires as “Really comfortable for long days.”
IMG_5133 (1)
Rob’s Roubaix Pro Race (49cm) weighed 17.2 lbs out of the box without pedals.
Retail price for this bike lists at $5,800

*I truly enjoyed writing up this review as it was the first time I’ve used rider dialogue in my post. Let me know if you guys enjoyed it as much as I did 🙂

If you have any questions/comments feel free to leave them here on my page. Or send me an email: justinchiazza@gmail.com

Bike Review: 2016 Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon

IMG_4791
Meet the Specialized Diverge. In essence, the Diverge is a beefed up version of the Specialized Roubaix that isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty, literally. With hydraulic disc brakes and tire clearance up to 700x35c, the Diverge is sure to open your mind to the possibility of continuing your ride when the pavement ends. The stock tires are the Specialized Roubaix Pro 700×30/32c. That’s a casing that measures at 32c, and a tread of 30c. These tires ride comfortably and efficiently anywhere in the 70psi range. You can run the pressure a little higher depending on your personal preference. The recommendation, printed on the tire, is 75-95psi. Don’t be afraid to run these on the lower side of the range. The ride will be much more comfortable and you likely won’t see a difference in performance. If a wide-tire road bike is something that you’re in the market for, it’s safe to assume that you won’t be taking this bike to your local criterium race and sweating bullets over any possible advantage you may get. So relax, more and more riders are enjoying a wider and slightly less inflated road tire. In the long run, the more comfortable you are, the more you will ride. It’s going to take many more years for cyclists to break away from the idea that a 700x20c tire inflated to 130psi is the only way to ride. However, I say it’s time to break from tradition and enjoy yourself as you float over cracks in the road opposed to fearing them
. IMG_4799
A while back, I posted an article weighing in on disc brakes. In that article, I mentioned how disc brakes are here to stay in the road cycling genre. As more and more 2016 models are revealed to us, it is overwhelmingly clear that disc brakes on production road bikes is not a fad. The Diverge Comp is spec’d with Shimano BR-785 calipers and 685 shifters. Shimano avoided listing these particular components under any established series within their lineup, but I would say they fall somewhere around Shimano 105 level, possibly Ultegra. The Shimano 686 shifters are compatible with all Shimano 11-speed drivetrains. As with most Shimano components, the 785 calipers and 685 shifters work smooth and consistent. IMG_4792
The carbon fiber frame is lightweight and naturally vibration-dampening. Add to it Specialized Zerts inserts on both the seat stays and fork, and you have a frame that is begging to be ridden on any road, no matter how rough.
IMG_4795
In an effort to hand you an unquestionably smooth ride, the Diverge Comp also comes stock with the Specialized CG-R carbon seatpost. The post itself has Zerts technology to help reduce vibrations. Specialized claims that the CG-R has 18mm of vertical compliance. However, one may hard-pressed to notice that range of  “travel.” The setback is something that may or may not work for you depending on what kind of fitting you require. The owner of this particular Diverge, used in this review, did have to replace the seatpost to decrease the setback. If replacing this is something you have to do, you should take comfort in the fact that this seatpost retails for $200 and will be easy to sell online. IMG_4798
This bike comes with a Praxis Works TURN Zayante crankset. Besides having an exceptionally long title, the crankset has a a really nice look and, when combined with a BB30 bottom bracket, rides as stiff as almost any other crankset on the market. The rest of the drivetrain is made up of Shimano 105 derailleurs, Shimano 105 cassette, and a KMC X11 chain. The drivetrain performs at a high level of precision without having to break the bank for Shimano Dura-Ace or Sram Red.
IMG_4832
I would argue that the biggest strength of the Diverge is it’s diversity. Whether you’re on pavement, gravel, or even some singletrack trails, the Diverge never seems to bat an eye. If the stock tires seem too road-oriented for your liking, simply throw on a cross tire and push this bike’s limits. And let me know if you find any!
IMG_4849
The 2016 Specialized Diverge Comp Carbon retails at $3,300. In comparison, it’s closest relative, the 2016 Specialized Roubaix SL4 Comp Disc, will retail at $3,000.
IMG_4796
I really hope you enjoyed this article. Please feel free to like and comment 🙂