Specialized are best known for their bikes but they started out as Specialized Bicycle Components, making aftermarket parts, and these days offer everything from shoes to helmets, tires to grips, and just about everything in between. Here's a look at some of their new mountain bike kit for 2012.
No-compromise full-face helmet: Dissident
The new US$425 Dissident carbon fiber downhill helmet is packed with safety features that haven't previously been seen in the mountain bike world; in fact, Specialized claim it'll set a new benchmark. They’ve spent three years developing it, under the guidance of Bob Lake, one of the foremost motorsports helmet designers.
The 1,000g (target weight) lid uses a shell made from a mix of carbon fiber, fiberglass and Kevlar, while the EPS liner incorporates Specialized’s 4th Dimension cooling vent system. This apparently works so well that riders on the Monster Energy-Specialized downhill team asked for vent plugs during early-season testing because their heads were too cold. The Dissident also has ports for earbuds, to pipe in music, and is finished with a bolt-on visor and titanium D-ring strap buckle.
It adopts many features from the motorsports world, including an EMT removal system, should the worst happen. This is designed to allow medics to remove the helmet without moving the rider’s head or neck and risking further injury. The system consists of quick-release cheek pads and the ability to install Shock Doctor’s aftermarket Eject helmet removal device.
The Shock Doctor Eject removal system's air valve
The Eject system is sold separately and consists of an inflatable airbag with a helmet-mounted valve. By pumping up the bag slowly and carefully, emergency personnel can remove the helmet without putting any pressure or tension on the injured rider's head.
Shoes: Women's S-Works, S-Works EVO, the new Rime
The new S-Works women’s race shoe offers the same feature set as the men’s version – a stiff FACT carbon sole with minimalist tread, and a closure consisting of two Boa dials and a single Velcro strap. It differs solely by way of the female-specific last upon which it’s built – something Specialized say is paramount for the best fit. The new shoe weighs 305g (claimed) and costs $350, the same price as the men’s model.
The women's S-Works race shoe has all the features of the men's model but with a female-specific last
The S-Works was designed as a race shoe but many riders, apparently, use it for riding outside of the tape. For these people, Specialized have created the S-Works EVO. This retains the high-performance features of the S-Works – namely the extra-stiff sole and overall light weight – but adds more tread made out of a softer material for better off-the-bike traction.
Understanding that the EVO will see more time off the bike, Specialized's designers have also added additional protection against rocks and trail debris to the upper around the base of the sole. The final new feature is the use of cartridge-style Boa S2 buckles.
These have metal encased ratchet teeth and a stop so that they can’t be wound past the end of the line. Though claimed more durable, they're easily replaceable with just a 3mm Allen key. The new S-Works EVO costs $375, with the increase over the S-Works race shoe being attributed to the new buckles and added materials.
The S-Works EVO has more tread and more rubber in its tread than the standard S-Works race shoe
The new Rime shoe looks to split the difference between on-the-bike efficiency and off-the-bike comfort and traction. It’s built for trail riders and said to be best matched to those riding full-suspension bikes like the Camber and Stumpjumper FSR.
The shoe uses a single strap-mounted Boa S2 buckle and two Velcro straps, which close a race-styled upper. The composite reinforced sole has additional foam cushioning (like that found in a hiking shoe) and is wrapped with a Vibram rubber tread. The Rime costs $175.
The new Rime sports a Vibram sole to better its off-the-bike prowess
Tires: New Ground Control and Butcher gets a trail casing
In what seems like a theme for 2012, Specialized have brought back another classic name and starting design for the Ground Control tire, a model that's almost as old as the 30-year-old Stumpjumper bike. The 25-year-old model name is the only vintage part of the product, however, as the new Ground Control is one of the first Specialized tires to be developed using an FEA (Finite Element Analysis) program .
“Traditionally tires are designed more by experience,” Wolf vorm Walde, Specialized’s German tire product manager, told BikeRadar. “You take your old design, or a design that you think is really good, and you make tweaks that you think will improve it. Then you go into tooling and test the tires. With our new tires, we utilized some of the methods that we use in frame design.
The new Ground Control with its FEA designed tread
"We use a structural FE analysis, which is a method to analyze [digitally] how you shape a material and put it to the best use. It allows us to build the best knob shape for the forces that come into the knob. It allows us to reduce rolling resistance, by stiffening the front side of the knob, and of course, reduce wear and increase traction.”
Specialized are calling their FEA design Adaptive Tread. Once the tires are finished, they use a third party tester, Wheel Energy in Finland, to quantify their rolling resistance, traction and durability. The new Ground Control is said to have great traction due to relatively aggressive tread lugs, but with less rolling resistance than other full-tread and even some minimalist-tread designs. It'll be available in 29in and 26in diameters, and 1.9, 2.1 and 2.3in widths.
The Butcher Control – downhill tread on a lighter trail casing
The Butcher is Monster Energy-Specialized's downhill race tire of choice. For 2012, Specialized have adapted the tire for trail use by mating the tread to a lighter cross-country casing. They’re calling the new model the Butcher Control.
XC Lightweight, the 9g grip
Finally, for cross-country racers, Specialized will offer a new ultra-light grip called the XC Lightweight. The $25 grip weighs just 9g and comes in a variety of colors plus a choice of two widths for different hand sizes.
The 9g XC Lightweight grip comes in red, blue and white