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Tired of being limited to just black or white saddles? Problem solved James Huang/Future Publishing
We hope you’ve been enjoying our coverage of Specialized's armada of new road and mountain bikes for 2014 so far. Here we walk you through the company's huge collection of parts, accessories, shoes and other gear for the coming season. Should you wish to cover yourself – and your bike – head to toe and tip to stern in S-branded gear, you've got plenty of options.
Last year's Roval Control SL 29 cross-country mountain bike wheels get redesigned hoops for 2014 that help bring the claimed weight down 80g to an impressive 1,370g per pair. The new tubeless-ready carbon rims sport hookless beads that Specialized claims increase strength by virtue of their continuous, uncut fibers and internal width is a useful 22mm.
Hubs are once again made for Specialized by DT Swiss but with a new design that includes bigger cartridge bearings and additional labyrinth and contact seals for improved durability. As before, the rear hub features DT Swiss's proven star ratchet mechanism with the upgraded 10-degree driver rings. Spoke count drops from last year's 32/32h front/rear to 24/28h in an effort to make the wheels more racing-focused.
Roval Control SL 29 mountain bike wheels get a hookless carbon bead
Included end caps allow easy conversions from quick-release to thru-axle fitments and separate bodies are available for use with SRAM's XX1 drivetrain. Retail price is US$1,700.
Most of the attention on the road is directed at three new tubular options: the Rapide CLX 40 disc (1,340g; US$1,900), the Rapide CLX 40 for rim brakes (1,240g; US$2,100), and the Rapide CLX 60 (1,330g, US$2,100). All three feature brand-new 23mm-wide rim shapes with deep recesses at the tire seam and valve stem for more consistent bonds.
Additional features include DT Swiss-made hubs with star ratchet freehub internals and 11-speed compatibility, straight-pull DT Swiss Revolution stainless steel spokes with external nipples, carbon fiber front hub bodies, and CeramicSpeed bearings throughout.
Specialized continues to make major inroads in the performance road clincher category with the current S-Works version being one of our favorites in terms of rolling resistance, road feel, and grip thanks to its ultra-supple casing and novel Gripton rubber compound. New for 2014 is a 220g, 26mm-wide option to go along with the current 24mm version as well as a 24mm tubeless variant with a 240g claimed weight.
Cyclocross treads carry on unchanged from 2013 with the exception of new tubeless-ready options for the fast-rolling Trigger, the all-purpose Tracer, and the mud-specific Terra.
The new Grid 2Bliss Ready casing is built for rocky terrain
Likewise, there are no new mountain bike treads for 2014 but riders who typically find themselves in rockier environments or just want more durability will take interest in the new Grid 2Bliss Ready casing. Essentially an armored version of Specialized's popular Control-level tires, Grid 2Bliss Ready adds an additional layer of sidewall protection to ward off cuts while only adding 15-40g per tire depending on size.
Specialized will offer Grid 2Bliss Ready models in the Fast Trak, Ground Control, Purgatory, and Butcher models.
2014 will be a big year in terms of shoe introductions from the big 'S' with nine new men's models and four women's-specific ones.
Topping the cross-country spectrum is a new S-Works XC model (for both men and women), which essentially pairs a slightly armored version of the equivalent road shoe upper (complete with thermobonded materials and dual Boa S2-Snap reels) to an off-road specific full-length carbon fiber sole. The thermoplastic tread is intentionally minimal to reduce weight, nor are the blocks replaceable. Dual toe spikes lend additional traction when needed and they're slightly offset for what Specialized claims is a more natural toe-off when on foot.
The new Specialized XC shoes feature BOA reels at the top two levels
Claimed weight is 310g each for a size 42 and retail price is a whopping US$400. If that's a little too steep, there's the Pro XC version (or the equivalent women's-specific Cascade XC) with a more conventional single Boa upper and stitched materials plus a slightly heavier carbon sole for US$275.
Performance-oriented trail riders looking for XC-like efficiency but a little more durability, grip, and versatility can instead look to the new S-Works Trail shoe, which uses a similar full-length carbon plate as the S-Works XC but with a full-coverage tread made of real rubber. Up top, the unique upper boasts a hard plastic toe cap to guard against rock strikes, the outer edge is lightly armored to protect against scrapes, and the inner side is raised to provide some cushioning for your ankle.
Despite all that protection, Specialized says the new S-Works Trail shoes are the same weight as last year's S-Works Evo MTB model at 370g each – and they're slightly cheaper, too, at US$350 per pair.
The new S-Works Trail shoes
One step down from there are the men's Comp MTB and women's Motodiva shoes, which use similar outsoles but with a softer fiber-reinforced nylon plate. Much of the upper armoring remains but with a more conventional ankle height and a single Boa reel. Claimed weight is 365g each (size 42) and retail price is US$160.
Rounding things out are the men's Sport MTB and women's Riata off-road shoes with triple Velcro straps and more minimal armoring just around the toebox. Suggested retail price is just US$100.
Finally, there's an updated Defroster Trail winter boot with 400-gram 3M Thinsulate insulation, a neoprene collar, and a seam-sealed internal liner to help keep your feet both warm and dry. The roomier fit is designed to accommodate heavy socks without cutting off circulation, too, and the single Boa reel supposedly lends an evenly snug fit throughout while still being easy to operate with gloves.
Suggested retail price on the Defrosters is US$200.
We've already covered Specialized's new S-Works Evade aero road helmet but nevertheless, we learned a few more details at the company's recent global product launch. Designed in conjunction with the company's McLaren time trial helmet, the Evade sports a very similar profile that Specialized aero guru Mark Cote claims yields the same aerodynamic performance as its full-blown TT2 model. Vents were an integral part of the design from the start and according to Cote, the rear exhaust ports are intentionally larger than the intake ones so as to help actively suck air through the liner. In fact, Cote insists that the Evade is slower with its vents taped over than with them fully exposed.
We've now got one on hand so stay tuned for a first ride review shortly.
New on the off-road side is the mid-range Dissident Comp, which mirrors the top-end carbon fiber Dissident's features but with a more economical fiberglass shell. As with the Dissident, the Dissident Comp includes compatibility with the Eject system to prevent further damage in the event of a neck injury and flow-through vents for decent airflow at speed. Suggested retail price is just US$150.
The new Dissident Comp brings the Eject system to a more reasonable pricepoint
Coming in at the entry level are the new Chamonix and women's-equivalent Duet, both with a sleek exterior shape, fixed Tri-Fix strap splitters, and a convenient, one-handed retention system – that's ponytail-friendly in the case of the Duet. Retail price is a very reasonable US$50 but both are only offered in a one-size-fits-all shell.
Aside from the TT/tri-specific Sitero most of Specialized's saddle line will look familiar with the exception of several new casual options for 2014. Specialized has, however, added gel inserts to some of its most popular models – such as the Toupe Expert and Romin Expert – for improved comfort on longer rides. A few saddles also get more flexible edges that allow the shells to move slightly as you pedal – similar to what fi'zi:k does with its Wing Flex design.
Color palettes have expanded beyond the usual black and white, too, with some models being offered in brighter green and blue hues if you prefer something with a little more pop.
Specialized saddles remain largely the same, with the addition of new colors and flexible edges
SWAT – Storage, Water, Air, Tools
Specialized is making a big deal out of bike-mounted accessories for 2014 with its new SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) concept. Essentially, the idea is to remove extraneous saddle bags, tape, and straps whenever possible in favor of directly mounting everything directly on to the chassis.
Examples include the Shiv-specific Fuelcell, which provides an handy pseudo-open topped plastic box that mounts atop the bottom bracket shell to store tubes, energy gels, and repair items. Likewise, the new Keg Storage Vessel accomplishes the same goal but fits in a standard bottle cage.
Speaking of cages, new side-access Zee cages now come with an extra hole at the bottom for mounting the new EMT Cage Mount mini-tool. Compatible 2014 mountain bike frames can also use the new MTB XC kit, which adds a small plastic box below the down tube bottle cage to store a spare tube, CO2 inflator, and tire lever.
The SWAT MTB XC kit
A new Top Cap Chain Tool conveniently provides a chain breaker and spare link inside your steerer tube, too, while the Reserve Rack adds bottle storage and sockets for mini-pumps, CO2 inflators, and tubular repair canisters for Sitero-equipped TT/tri bikes.
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