Specialized were one of the first big brands to realise that a lot of us want a hardtail that can take a good hammering. The P.Bikes range was created to fill this niche. In 2000 the P.3 was born and subsequently raced to many a dual slalom victory by the great Shaun Palmer. The range has grown to four for 2007 (P.1, P.2 Cr-Mo and P.All Mountain), with each model having a slightly different take on the hardcore hardtail. The P.All Mountain is the most versatile, designed for shredding downhills then riding back to the top for another go.
The Specialized P.Bikes have always had interesting frame designs and the P.All Mountain is no exception. It is essentially the same frame as the others in this year's range with a few tweaks to make it more suitable for allmountain riding and less of a dirt jump/skatepark weapon.
First, the butted 6061-T6 aluminium frame is made from slightly thinner tubing than the other models to shave off a few grams. The seat tube on the P.All Mountain is also significantly longer, allowing for the saddle to be raised high enough for effi cient pedalling should it be required. Geometry is tweaked slightly to make room for the 140mm travel Marzocchi fork, and with this fork fitted the head angle is 69.5 degrees. Despite the longer seat tube on this bike, the standover height remains low due to the extended and gusseted seat tube protrusion above the top tube. The forged bottom bracket yolk creates acceptable though not exceptional tyre clearance for UK conditions. Specialized's ORE (butted and machined to save weight and maximise strength) top and down tubes and their patented forged Cobra head tube complete the package.
The quality of the spec on this bike was one of the first things that grabbed our attention. There's a generous helping of SRAM's kit, which performs fantastically well, throughout. The highlights include the budget, yet fantastically performing, Juicy 3 hydraulic disc brakes and the superb X-9 medium cage rear mech. The Marzocchi AM4 fork functions well and is reliable, if a little heavy. Specialized's own Resolution Pro 2.3in tyres performed well in all but the thickest mud.
The ride of a hardcore aluminium frame is never going to be forgiving. The large gussets and relatively thick tubes create a stiff and responsive frame that accelerates well. The downside to this rigidity is that frames of this nature often have a tendency to pass every little bump in the trail directly to the rider. However, the fairly sizeable 2.3in treads and the long travel AM4 fork help to soften the ride and deliver a responsive riding experience.
Handling is sharp (perhaps a little twitchy at speed) thanks to the relatively steep head angle. The stiff frame and relatively short rear end make this bike a great jumper, and should you wish to stick a single ring and chain device on this bad boy (the frame is equipped with ISCG mounts) it would make a cracking little 4X bike.