Sea Otter 2011: New Specialized Carve 29er hardtail

Plus 29in Renegade tire and updated Command Post

Racing legend Ned Overend won the US national singlespeed championship last summer aboard a mid-range Specialized Rockhopper SL SS 29er and he continued the trend at this year's Sea Otter Classic, racing the men's elite cross-country event on an as-yet-unreleased 29in-wheeled alloy hardtail called Carve.

The all-aluminum frame is TIG-welded using Specialized's M4 manipulated tubing and features a tapered front end, post mount rear brake tabs, bridgeless seat- and chainstays for maximum mud clearance, a kinked seat tube to help tuck in the rear wheel, and a standard threaded bottom bracket shell. Cables are neatly routed on the underside of the top tube and in a nod towards the frame's multipurpose intentions, there are even mounts for a rear rack. 

Overend said he wasn't at liberty to disclose specifics on the new model but based on the similar Rockhopper SL SS 29er frame, we expect a medium frame to weigh around 1.8kg (4lb) and cost about US$500. Built up with the right mix of parts, this could make for a very capable and yet bargain-priced privateer racer.

Renegade 29

Specialized look to be expanding the size range for their speedy Renegade 29 tire. Overend had 29x1.8in Renegades mounted to his Carve that were well suited to the non-technical and pavement-heavy course at Sea Otter. Again, no details were available but based on the weight of the 1.95in version, this smaller casing should yield a weight of around 420g.

Specialized factory rider Ned Overend used a new 1.8in-wide version of the company's fast-rolling Renegade tire at the Sea Otter Classic

Command Post Blacklite

Also new from Specialized is an updated version of their dropper seatpost called Command Post Blacklite. This continues with the original Command Post's adjustable air spring and three-position (fully extended, 35mm drop and full-drop) mechanical internal collet system. It adds a new bonded one-bolt alloy head, an energized wiper seal and underlying quad ring seal for improved durability, an internally fluted shaft to save a few grams, and a cleaner cable anchor system and actuator arm that's both easier to separate from the lever if needed and less finicky to set up. 

Included with the Command Post Blacklite is a new remote, which uses a standard derailleur cable and housing, and has a noticeably less sloppy pivot. The low-profile clamp takes up very little space on the bar, and also doubles as a lock-on collar when paired with Specialized grips.

Specialized will offer the new Command Post Blacklite in both 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters, each with 125mm, 100mm and 75mm total drop options to suit a wider range of bike and rider sizes and preferences. Actual weight of a 125mm-drop, 31.6mm-diameter sample with remote, cable, housing and all associated hardware is 580g.

Specialized's revamped Command Post continues to rely on a mechanical rather than hydraulic mechanism

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