Specialized Sequoia Elite review

The return of an old Specialized name in a new gravel bike guise

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £1,500.00 RRP | AUD $2,800.00 | USD $2,000.00

Our review

Genuinely trail-and-tarmac ready ride with kit befitting the price
Buy if, You’re looking for a versatile machine at home on tarmac and trail
Pros: Shimano 105, hydraulic brakes and quality multi-surface tyres
Cons: Bar shape limits lighting/computer space; uncomfortable brake hoods
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Specialized is probably best known for its high-end exotica – and for its attempts to achieve worldwide cycling ubiquity – but its original sport-tourer Sequoia dates back to 1981. The 2017 incarnation is a very different beast though.

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Down-tube shifters have long since vanished, and side-pull brakes have been supplanted by hydraulic discs. But it’s still essentially a ‘sports-tourer’, albeit in a more modern gravel bike-inspired design. And it’s made from good ’ol chromoly, so some things never change – though we doubt ’81-era Spesh would have released a bike in ‘California white sage’. Or very pale green to the rest of us…

Components and handling

The Sequoia’s contact points are comfortable, and they’re colour coordinated too – a sort of charcoal black pairing. But the canvas tape and the canvas-feel saddle finish looked much the worse for wear after one very muddy ride, and neither is as easy to clean as traditional bar tape or saddle.

There’s no doubting that the Sequoia Elite’s braking is head and shoulders above the next model down in the range, as your extra money contributes to Shimano hydraulic disc braking (the entry-level Sequoia has Tektro Spyre mechanical disc brakes). The thru-axles also contribute to the quality braking.

The downside of the Shimano 105 groupset is the shape of the hydraulic levers, which have a pronounced bump you feel under the inside of your thumb when you’re on the hoods. That said, the 105 gearing is superior to nearly anything else at a similar price point, and the 48/32 FSA chainset paired to an 11-36T cassette will get you up any hill.

Everyday riding, fitness riding, gravel and even singletrack are within the Sequoia’s remit
Everyday riding, fitness riding, gravel and even singletrack are within the Sequoia’s remit
Robert Smith

The unusual-looking Specialized Sawtooth tyres have a zig-zag pattern in the Gripton rubber compound and are a winner, fast running on tarmac and gripping impressively on gravel, especially considering the minimal depth of the tread. These are up there with the best all-surface tyres and they’re tubeless compatible. Their width helps with comfort too.

Specialized has gone for a flared bar for extra control, particularly when you leave the black top. The distinctive Hover bar also rises either side of the stem, which helps you to achieve a more upright riding position. But it makes fitting lights and computers (and a bell, remember them?) that much trickier.

Specialized Sequoia Elite summary

Specialized’s Sequoia really is an accomplished and versatile bike. It may fall shy of a full-on expedition mount (Specialized has the AWOL range for that), but as a one-bike-for-virtually-all-eventualities it’s well sorted.

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Everyday riding, fitness riding, canal towpaths, gravel and even singletrack are within its remit, and it’ll handle all of them with panache, if not necessarily great speed. It also comes with five bottle mounts – three on the frame and two on the fork. So you won’t get thirsty.

Product Specifications


Name Name, 0, 10, Name, Sequoia Elite
Brand Brand, 0, 20, Brand, Specialized

Available Sizes Available Sizes, 2, 0, Available Sizes, 50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 61cm
Bottom Bracket Bottom Bracket, 2, 0, Bottom Bracket, FSA Mega-Exo
Brakes Brakes, 2, 0, Brakes, Shimano RS505 hydraulic discs
Cassette Cassette, 2, 0, Cassette, Sunrace 11-36
Chain Chain, 2, 0, Chain, KMC
Cranks Cranks, 2, 0, Cranks, FSA Gossamer Pro 172.5mm 48/32
Fork Fork, 2, 0, Fork, Carbon
Fork Offset Fork Offset, 2, 0, Fork Offset, 4.5
Frame Material Frame Material, 2, 0, Frame Material, Chromoly
Front Derailleur Front Derailleur, 2, 0, Front Derailleur, Shimano 105
Front Tyre Front Tyre, 2, 0, Front Tyre, Specialized Sawtooth 700x42mm
Front Wheel Weight Front Wheel Weight, 2, 0, Front Wheel Weight, 2010
Handlebar Handlebar, 2, 0, Handlebar, Specialized Hover 42.5cm
Head Angle Head Angle, 2, 0, Head Angle, 71.5
Headset Type Headset Type, 2, 0, Headset Type, FSA
Rear Derailleur Rear Derailleur, 2, 0, Rear Derailleur, Shimano 105
Rear Tyre Rear Tyre, 2, 0, Rear Tyre, Specialized Sawtooth 700x42mm
Rear Wheel Weight Rear Wheel Weight, 2, 0, Rear Wheel Weight, 2600
Saddle Saddle, 2, 0, Saddle, Specialized Phenom Comp
Seat Angle Seat Angle, 2, 0, Seat Angle, 74.5
Seatpost Seatpost, 2, 0, Seatpost, Specialized alloy 27.2mm
Shifters Shifters, 2, 0, Shifters, Shimano 105/RS505
Stem Stem, 2, 0, Stem, Specialized Alloy 100mm
Trail Trail, 2, 0, Trail, 7.2
Weight (kg) Weight (kg), 2, 0, Weight (kg), 11.82
Wheelset Wheelset, 2, 0, Wheelset, Specialized Adventure Gear Hayfield, 32 spoke
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) Bottom Bracket Height (cm), 2, 0, Bottom Bracket Height (cm), 29
Chainstays (cm) Chainstays (cm), 2, 0, Chainstays (cm), 44
Seat Tube (cm) Seat Tube (cm), 2, 0, Seat Tube (cm), 46
Standover Height (cm) Standover Height (cm), 2, 0, Standover Height (cm), 81
Top Tube (cm) Top Tube (cm), 2, 0, Top Tube (cm), 56
Wheelbase (cm) Wheelbase (cm), 2, 0, Wheelbase (cm), 106
Frame size tested Frame size tested, 2, 0, Frame size tested, 56cm