The Specialized Sequoia Elite is a refreshingly affordable adventurer

Wildcard steel adventure bike at a welcome price

Earlier this year, Specialized released a surprisingly affordable line of adventure road bikes under the Sequoia name. Our American colleagues have already given the top-level Sequoia Expert a good going over (and you can read about that here), but it’s this cheaper Specialized Sequoia Elite model that caught our attention here in the UK.

The Specialized Sequoia Elite retails for £1,500 / US$2,000, meaning it has to compete with well-equipped alloy bikes from the likes of GT and Norco. The thing is, the Sequoia is a bit of a wildcard as — if you hadn’t already noticed — it features a steel frame.

You’d be forgiven for not noticing too, as Specialized’s smart ways of working with metal haven’t skipped this frame. Look closer and you’ll notice a whole host of shapes and bends that aren’t typically found in mass produced chromoly. The rear end rotates on a 142x12mm rear axle and leaves ample room for the Sequoia’s 42mm tyres, enough room to make use of its fender mounts without changing rubber.

The Sequoia Elite is one of a relatively small number of steel frame adventure bikes on sale this year
The Sequoia Elite is one of a relatively small number of steel frame adventure bikes on sale this year

Should you want to switch out to smaller 650B wheels then this wouldn’t be a problem, and by doing so you’ll free up clearances for a tyre of up to 47mm too.

Geometry-wise, this is a model that “skews the line between a traditional road bike and a dedicated touring rig”. A long wheelbase (1053mm / 41.46in for a size 56) matches up to a low bottom bracket (292.5mm / 11.52in for size 56) while 71.5 / 73.5 degree head tube and seat angles have been chosen to keep the handling from being too lazy.

Beneath the frame’s tapered headtube is an own-brand carbon fork. It’s a disc fork with a 12x100mm thru-axle. As you’d expect there’s the appropriate hardware for racks and mudguards, but a nice touch that’s worth mentioning is the fork’s water bottle mounts which serve in addition to the three you can already find on the Sequoia frame.

Gaping clearances are good for 45mm rubber or the standard fit tyres plus mudguards
Gaping clearances are good for 45mm rubber or the standard fit tyres plus mudguards

Unlike the costly top-spec Sequoia, the Elite spec bike uses a double transmission. Up front there’s an FSA Gossamer Pro chainset with a 48/32T ring combination, this also turns on a regular, threaded bottom bracket. At the rear there’s a black 11-36t Sunrace cassette and a Shimano 105 rear derailleur. The front derailleur also comes from Shimano’s 105 line, and the same can be said for the ugly yet capable 505 level shifters.

Squeeze the levers and hydraulic fluid act on the ever-popular Shimano RS505 brakes — the calipers of which use Shimano’s neat flat-mount standard. The discs are mounted to Specialized's own-brand Hayfield wheels, which pair a broad box-section rim with custom hubs. The 42mm Sawtooth tyres are also in-house items, they’re tubeless ready and were quick to impress BikeRadar’s Josh Patterson when he tried them out on the range-topping bike.

The Sequoia is a road bike with riser bars
The Sequoia is a road bike with riser bars

Also worthy of a mention is Specialized’s handlebar — essentially a riser bar for the road with flared drops, it does away with the need for unsightly spacers beneath the stem. The standard bar tape has an unusual denim-like finish that’s shared with the Phenom Comp saddle. At 11.8kg / 26lbs for this 58cm example the Sequoia has definitely eaten some of the pies, but whether or not this will spoil the ride is yet to be confirmed.

Talking of which, we’re about to hand the Sequoia over to our colleagues at Cycling Plus, so stay tuned for a full review.

Oli Woodman

Senior Writer, UK
With more than 10 years of experience riding mountain bikes, Oli knows the good from the bad when it comes to gear. He's a total bike nerd and loves few things more than fettling with spangly riding bits. Also, he seems to have a talent for crashing hard but emerging unscathed.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Loamy singletrack
  • Beer of Choice: Corona
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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