After checking out Specialized's new road and mountain bikes on the first day of their 2012 press launch, the emphasis on day two was firmly on the company's clothing and component ranges – both of which have been growing steadily in recent years.
This year doesn’t buck that trend; a host of updates, new products and trickling down of technology were on show. Most of this kit won't hit UK shops until January at the earliest, but US readers will begin to see the new products in stores almost immediately.
Last year’s S-Works Prevail is still top of Specialized's helmet tree, and no changes have been made for 2012, save for the addition of team-issue colour schemes from the likes of Saxo Bank and HTC-Highroad.
Further down the range, the Propero II is an update to the original Propero which borrows the Prevail's rubber Tri-Fix strap adjuster and the Headset SL fit system from the old S-Works model.
The new S3 (available from September in the UK) looks similar to the Prevail and shares a number of its features, such as the Kevlar-reinforced inner matrix (the structure that runs through the helmet, like metal in concrete) and Mindset micro-dial fit system.
Specialized's new S3 has a similar look to the top-end Prevail and share its Mindset micro-dial fit system
Shoes have been a huge winner for Specialized. Their work with ergonomics expert Dr Andy Pruitt, and the development of their Body Geometry technology, means that around 150 ProTeam riders are now using their footwear.
For 2012, small structural changes have been made to their Boa lace system; stainless steel caps have been added internally to improve durability, a stop limits the degree to which you can turn the dial, and there's more rubber on the grip. These changes will affect the S-Works model, which remains otherwise unchanged for 2012.
The Boa lace system has been improved for 2012; this is Specialized's new 74 shoe
Besides the Trivent triathlon footwear described in our earlier report, the other key new shoe is the kangaroo leather 74. Inspired by the shoes worn by Mike Sinyard when he founded the company in the 1970s, it has all the trimmings of the S-Works shoe (Boa lacing, carbon sole, BG features) but with retro styling, including an original Specialized tricolour logo. Only available in a limited run, the 74 line has a companion leather fingerless glove.
Body Geometry technology is also used in Specialized's saddles, and there are three new options for 2012. The Romin Evo is, as the name suggests, an evolution of the Romin, with a new shape that's said to improve blood flow. The Pro version has increased in weight, up 10g to 173g for a 143mm size.
The carbon-railed Romin Evo weighs 10g more than its predecessor but is said to be more comfy
The new women’s Oura saddle is similar in design and structure to the Romin Evo, and will be the stock seat on the new Amira race bike. Available in Pro, Expert and Comp options, the Pro version has oversized carbon rails like its men's counterpart. For commuting, there’s the new Targa, which is heavily padded and shaped for comfort.
The Targa is Specialized's new commuting saddle
Specialized's new WireTap technology – metallic fibres added to full-finger gloves so you can operate touchscreen devices – crops up in the BG Gel and BG Element. Both new models for 2012, the latter is a a winter glove constructed from Gore Windstopper fabric, while the former is a lightweight, close-fitting glove which we tested out on a 70-mile, 30°C ride in the Californian mountains.
WireTap technology is the standout feature on the BG Gel glove
We normally prefer mitts in such temperatures, but the BG Gels are well vented and our hands never got too hot. They have a fleece Microwipe layer on the thumbs to wipe away sweat, and the WireTap system worked fine on our mobile phone pre-ride. They're very tight fitting though, so size up.
Another new model, the BG Flite, is fingerless, so in the absence of WireTap you’ll have to settle for good old-fashioned bare fingertips to operate your touchscreens. Used by Alberto Contador in the 2010 Tour de France, it's a lightweight, aero glove.
The BG Flite is a Lycra-fronted aero glove
Given that Specialized’s first ever product was a tyre (the Touring from 1976), it’s no surprise to see their rubber line-up continues to expand, this year with the addition of the new high-mileage Espoir training tyre. And finally, for the first time, Specialized will sell their chainrings, spiders and cranks as separate components as well as complete chainsets.
For high-mileage, rough-terrain training rides, Specialized have introduced the Espoir