The Specialized Globe Centrum is one of three core Globe models in a wider 2008 'Multi Street' line-up from the Morgan Hill, CA company, and at US$550 the Sport variant is one of the most stylish grab-and-go bikes we've tested this year.
The 26.3-lb (21-inch) Centrum Sport is following the same path as other models found on the market: stylish curves, flat-black finish, disc brakes and singlespeed gearing with braze-ons galore to appeal to the hearty urban commuter. Visually, its allure is all in the curves: swept-back handlebars, low-slung top tube, swoopy down tube and miniscule rear triangle all of which is churned by a single gear and modulated by disc brakes. The mostly black components blend everything together just how a chic urban hipster likes them, albeit in stark contrast to the white iPod earbud chords cascading down their necks.
Frame: smoothly does it
The hydroformed aluminium frame appears to strike the fancy of everyone else on the road, and passers-by always stopped to ask about the bike at the library, book store and coffee shop. The slider-style dropouts are very mountain-bike influenced; the matching alu fork blends nicely into the sculpted headtube, completing the smooth transition from stem to stern.
Equipment: street smart selections
Specialized uses the core Globe concept of a simple, urban street bike in two variants of the Centrum model; Elite and Sport. The Sport we tested uses a nifty chain-guarded 38-tooth single crankset with oval, canted platform pedals for a natural angle when wearing street shoes. The Shimano M415 mechanical (cable-actuated) disc brakes worked wonderfully with standard brake levers, and the discs themselves never squealed or talked back.
The Specialized 26 x 1.5-inch Nimbus Sport tyres roll as well as can be expected and feature a spiffy inverted rain channel tread. Stainless steel spokes keep the Alex RHD double wall alu rims tensioned to the generic Specialized-labelled hubs (28 hole in front with a convenient quick-release skewer for easy transport or tube repair) while other bits like the 31.8mm stem and 27.2mm seatpost are standard, reliable Specialized kit.
Ride: silent running for control freaks
A good grab-and-go bike allows you to just roll up a pant leg, grab a lock and helmet, and just go without any fuss. The Centrum Sport felt light and nimble, almost like a rigid mountain bike from the late 1980s, but much lighter. The 1103mm wheelbase of the 21-inch version, coupled with the 71/73 head/seat angles and 51mm fork rake, made the ride almost cruiser-like and therefore ideal for street riding. The natural-feeling, 15-degree swept-back bars, at 600mm wide, meanwhile, make for near-effortless control of the rig, even with one hand. The virtually silent chain allowed me to enjoy the natural sounds in my neighbourhood, albeit while reminding me that one gear needs a little more effort. We can see why the three-speed Elite variant would be an improvement when needing more speed on the flats; the gearing might mean too fast of a spin for some.
Likes: a flat-black beauty always gets attention, even in Googleville, California. Singlespeeds are quiet and easy to maintain. Very comfy saddle, natch for Specialized.
Dislikes: Simplicity aside, we'd like more horsepower, Captain! The cable guide braze-ons below the chainstays (useful for the three- and eight-speed models) prohibit the use of a kickstand; if the engineers would just bump it a few millimetres, all would be well for freestanding parking. Surprisingly, despite brake and chainstay bridge mudguards braze-ons, there's no mudguard or rear rack braze-on at the dropouts.
The Globe Centrum Sport is a step in the right direction from Specialized; the urban transportation market is expanding, and by blending an off-road pedigree with intelligent, road-oriented engineering it could be adding yet another feather to its big red cap.
© BikeRadar 2007