Specialized Pitch Comp - First ride £1399.99

140mm-travel hard-hitter

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Pitch Comp is a slighter shorter-travel version of Specialized's more upmarket Enduro range. It’s £600 less than a bottom level Enduro Comp, with 20mm less suspension travel,  ut can still handle almost anything you throw it at – from your local cross-country trail network to massive Alpine drops.

It's a superb bike for riders who live for riding gravity-assisted terrain, and aren’t bothered by not being able to keep up with the hardtails on climbs. However with a little extra work on your fitness even that’s not out of the question, because for a long-travel hard-hitting bike its 31.3lb (14kg) weight is remarkable.

It goes almost without saying that the suspension action isn’t as well controlled as on the more costly Enduro models, but it’s very good for the price, and the Pitch gives you a frame on which later upgrades will be money well spent.

Ride & handling: Excellent choice for gravity riding and all-round use

Creating a ‘ride anywhere’ bike with 150mm (5.9in) of suspension travel isn't easy but Specialized’s design experience pays off, albeit with some compromises to keep the pricetag reasonable.

Because the rear shock setup is not as sophisticated as on the Enduros, the responsive back end is slightly affected by weight shifts and can end up feeling wallowy, especially on the ups, when you pile on the pedal pressure and start shuffling your weight back and forth.

A smooth pedalling style reaps rewards: stay seated and the Pitch climbs effectively – more like a shorter travel bike – and copes superbly with the most demanding technical singletrack, excelling when rock and root traction over rough ground is at a premium.

But it’s when the terrain starts to points downwards that the Pitch really comes into its element. It drops across rough terrain like a downhill demon: all you have to do is steer, pedal and let the suspension swallow the hits. In fact you’ll sometimes find yourself picking the roughest lines just for the hell of it.

It rides like one of the more costly Enduro bikes in terms of smoothing the trail while allowing you to stay firmly planted on the saddle and pedalling through. To quote one our test riders, Gareth: “It’s not a bike you have to fight and manipulate through the trails, it sort of does it for you!”

The big tyres and overall weight of the bike are inevitably energy sapping on the climbs, but there are still few long travel bikes that can climb this well – and none that we can think of at this price.

We think £1,399 is amazing value for a bike that looks and feels as good as this and, if this is the limit of your budget, the Pitch is good enough for trips to real mountains and to give you a taste of downhill racing. Upgrading the frame in future will be cash well spent. If you can spend £200 more, the Pitch Pro has the same frame but is better equipped.

In fact, we didn’t have any major moans. The fork compression was initially a bit sticky compared with the highly responsive back end, but it started to loosen up slightly after half a dozen long rides. However we never did achieve full travel despite a few hefty accidental rock slams.

The chainguide was fine initially but became afflicted by gritty mud on a couple of rides, which is not a real niggle but worth a mention. In fact, you might have expected some of the component parts to make their relatively low budget felt, but none of them did – which says a lot for the canny parts choices.

Frame & equipment: 150mm of well-controlled travel plus thoughtful and practical parts package

The frame design of the Pitch mimics the Enduro’s low-slung curvy looks. The radically dropped top tube and braced seat tube permit maximum standover clearance, with tight triangulation and cunning tube shapes adding considerable chassis stiffness to a bike that’s bound to receive some abuse.

There’s a single set of bottle bosses and the initially messy cabling is clamped under the down tube and zip-tied at the back. All the pivot bearings are durable and there’s a usefully tough chain-slap deflection wrap on the chainstay.

Specialized’s well proven FSR suspension setup (with Horst Link chainstay pivots) is predictably plush and pedal efficient, and the X-Fusion O2 shock offers well controlled compression and adjustable rebound damping. The swingarm-mounted front mech is a very tidy solution to pivot/derailleur clearance issues, and the finishing detail on the frame is superb.

The basic coil-sprung 140mm-travel (5.5in) RockShox Pike through-axle fork is an acceptable choice for this budget but don’t expect too many easy adjustment options: compression is factory set and the rebound damping knob needs pliers to adjust it.

The Pitch Comp’s parts package certainly looks and feels the part. A sturdy pair of Pitch-branded rims and Specialized Eskar 2.3in tyres are capable of taming most terrain without flinching, from local cross-country trails all the way through to finessing or even slamming your way down the gnarliest downhill race course.

The double Truvativ GXP cranks come with a rock ring in place of the outer chainring, and a retention roller stops the chain from bouncing around too much on the roughest descents. Gears are SRAM X.5 based, the brakes are large-rotored Avid Juicy 3s and all the finishing kit is well thought out and suitably sturdy.

Tester says

"The Pitch has latent abilities that lie well beyond my own real-time abilities, and that’s its attraction. Lots of bikes like this carry a weight burden that makes them a real drag when the terrain tilts even vaguely uphill. The Pitch is closer to the weight of a normal trail full-susser, but it’s more than just a competent all-round trail bike: it also has the sort of built-in downhill prowess that few trail bikes can muster" – Steve Worland

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