Tech feature: Specialized 2008 MTB lineup Part II, July 4, 2007
Yesterday we showed you Specialized's all-new, and dramatically revamped, S-Works Stumpjumper FSR Carbon for 2008. Today Cyclingnews Tech Editor James Huang takes a look at the other gems in the new Specialized lineup, and takes a quick spin on the range.
In addition to the 29" hardtail we showed you at Sea Otter, Specialized will now offer a full-suspension Stumpjumper version that offers nearly all of the benefits of the updated 26" aluminum version but adapted for the bigger wheel size. Rear travel is slightly reduced to 105mm but the Stumpjumper 29 will still be equipped with an AFR shock and remote Brain unit.
Specialized's DMD front derailleur mount allowed designers to shorten up the chain stays and head tube angles are increased by 1° to yield better handling with the standard-offset 100mm-travel Rock Shox Reba 29. All of the Stumpy 29 versions will also be equipped with shorter head tubes and flat handlebars to maintain standard cockpit heights.
Last year's Enduro introduction has not gone untouched for '08, either. The rear shock has been fitted with a new air can that provides a more linear stroke towards the end of the travel along with updates to the damping circuits and seals. Also new is an S-Works level E150SL dual-crown fork which sheds 90g from the standard E150 courtesy of a new upper and lower clamp, reduced profile stem, and new steerer tube.
Enduro also gains a baby brother for '08 in the form of the new Pitch platform. Pitch does without the Specialized-branded suspension bits in favor of custom-tuned rear shocks from X-Fusion and Fox along with specially-configured 140mm-travel Pike forks from Rock Shox. Rear travel remains at 150mm and frame geometry is fixed in the 'slack' position of the Enduro SL.
The Epic is most carryover for 2008 with most of the changes isolated to the rear shock and components. The Brain unit has been retuned for improved small-bump sensitivity and seals have been revised for better reliability. Adjuster knobs have also been revised for easier operation, while a switch to a Campy-standard integrated headset sheds about 40g.
Last but certainly not least, the ground-swallowing Demo gains a new forged magnesium rocker to shed a few grams.
On the trail
We sampled nearly all of Specialized's top 2008 offerings at one point or another and the area north of Madrid clearly has plenty to offer in terms of terrain and scenery. While the Epic, Enduro, and new Stumpy 29 each hold their own merits (the Stumpy 29 is particularly 'normal' handling, which in this case is a good thing), the real eye-opener was certainly the revised S-Works Stumpjumper.
Undoubtedly, the first thing you notice while riding the revamped bike is its fantastically light weight, particularly in the front end. A ready-to-go weight of sub-11kg (you can't go very far without pedals) reaches well into XC race bike territory, and it takes a bit of mental adjustment to accept that a trail bike this light can still hold up without exploding into bits of carbon fiber and resin.
Naturally, climbing traits are top-notch, particularly with the aid of the FlowControl Brain unit out back. As promised, the front end's behavior matched well with the rear, resulting in a pleasantly balanced and efficient feel that was eminently predictable. Handling was perhaps the biggest surprise, however. The light weight allowed for especially nimble and flickable handling, but the oversized front end still lent confidence when conditions got rough.
With performance this good and with such a light weight, we can't help but wonder what the long-term future holds for the Epic as the new Stumpjumper easily encroaches on its turf (and likely somewhat uncomfortably at that). We certainly have our ideas, but will have to wait and see what the crew has in store for next season. In the meantime, we'll do our best to secure a long-term test bike and see how the bike holds up to some real abuse…