The 13.65 kg Ruze is the women-specific version of the Fuse – a hardtail with plus-sized 27.5 tyres. Specialized’s geometry for its women’s bikes is based on data from numerous sources and bike fits. For the Ruze, this means shorter reach, lower standover and shorter crank lengths matched to the bike size.
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As well as testing this bike around our local trails, we also took it for a bothy biking adventure in the mountainous and rocky Lake District in the UK. Laden with bags, it still climbed well, and was ideal for tackling technical descents, with the plus sized tyres making short work of loose, rocky trails.
The SR Suntour Raidon 650+ fork gives 100mm of travel, and while that might not seem like a lot, it’s more than enough for most terrain when combined with those plus-sized tyres. In practice, the bike rides like it has more suspension that it actually does, sucking up drops, rocks, and even a few small boulders.
With the additional volume and cushioning they provide, you’re able to roll over pretty much anything, and with the correct air pressure they act like additional suspension. It actually feels like you've got a small amount of rear suspension, but less progressive than an actual shock. Still, it does more than just take the edge off rough ground and drops that otherwise can jar the body.
Add to this the traction provided by a much bigger contact surface, the bike is great for climbing and dealing with wet, muddy and slippery conditions. In practice, this also means you can just point it down the hill and hold on, making line choice a whole lot simpler.
The Ruze is fitted with a Specialized Stout XC 28t front ring with a custom SunRace 10-speed 11-40t cassette in a 1x10 setup. This provides plenty of range for powering up steep and loose trails and climbs, even when carrying a heavy pack.
Downsides include the strangely confusing front through-axle, which took us a while to work out. The Specialized 6Fattie Ground Control tyres also need a little looking after. We’d want to run these as tubeless as the thin sidewall makes these susceptible to puncturing, and plus-sized inner tubes cost a fortune.
The TranzX YSP03 dropper seatpost is a welcome addition and one of the few droppers found in this test. We found the stopping power of the TRP Slate brakes more than up to the task on technical descents with a controlled, smooth action.
Overall, we found this bike equally fun lugging bags up Lake District bikepacking adventures as it was ripping around local woods. An able and confidence-inspiring ride.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.