August 25, 2006 – Bavaria, land of ginormous beers, pretzels, and bell-toting bovine was the site of Specialized’s recent 2007 product launch. We donned our finest lederhosen and headed for Holzkirchen, Germany, home to Specialized’s marketing headquarters, to check out its newest offerings for 2007. Specialized’s marketing and university headquarters are located in a 17th-century farmhouse that is still a functioning organic farm today. It was a stunning setting for a headquarters and an amazing venue to view Specialized’s 2007 lineup of goodies.
Specialized has been hard at work over the last year putting together a barnload of new and revamped products for ’07. Its top-shelf entries for the coming season include a stronger-than-ever line for women, a new proprietary suspension fork and line of shocks, lighter and more efficient Enduro SL, a completely revamped S-Works Roubaix SL and a refined line of Roval wheels.
Specialized’s 2007 line is based on maximum adjustability and precision fit, right out of the box. Body Geometry fit is key to the entire bike line and featured on almost every product it has out for the upcoming season.
The new D4W (Designs for Women) line, managed by our own homegrown cycling star Eron Chorney from B.C., is a prime example of focus-on-fit, and has received a lot of attention from Specialized brass for ’07. The introduction of a new FACT carbon S-Works Ruby leads the way, providing women with a high-end option specifically designed with female anatomy and riding motivations in mind. Shorter top tubes and taller head tubes are featured on both the Ruby and the D4W Stumpjumper FSR. The Ruby also offers shorter-reach levers and handlebars and specifically designed tubing to maximize compliance and provide a better body-weight-to-bike-weight ratio (i.e., lightweight!). Components have been picked to match each frame size and to take into account women’s power-to-weight ratio. Specialized’s new “Slim Shims” offer even more reach adjustment by fitting into the brake lever hood. As an added bonus, it seems the Slim Shims will eliminate that nasty rattle associated with DuraAce brake levers!
The S-Works Roubaix SL led out the men’s road line with several new innovations, ensuring this bike will remain at the top of the smooth-ride food chain. The Roubaix carbon chassis has been refined for ’07 employing the same Az-1 construction method used on Specialized’s top-of-the-line race machine the Tarmac SL. Newly designed second-generation Zertz dampers have also been added to the Roubaix frame and geometry has been tweaked to eliminate much of the head tube extension that existed on the ’06 model. The overall result has resulted in an endurance-savvy road bike with the highest vertical compliance in the industry and a frame, fork and crank weight of only 1,915 grams! The crank is Specialized’s new S-Works crank with hollow carbon arm and is built 23% lighter than DuraAce, but 17% stiffer. Roubaix also comes with Specialized’s new Body-Geometry-designed Toupe Gel saddle for even more comfort on the ride.
The Tarmac SL has a few upgrades as well, including: a new headset, featuring ceramic bearings, and a new weight of 15 pounds. An exotic SRAM model is available with Star wheels and a new adjustable Barmac; the Pro model now comes with an Az-1 frame.
Roval has been ninja’ed out for ’07 with a design that is sure to turn heads as you blow by your competition. The new Roval Star Rapid features deep section rims and a super-narrow front profile, thanks to the extended Star Hub. The wheels are more aerodynamic than ever before and stiff, stiff, stiff. Red and Black Star options are available.
One of the biggest announcements from Specialized for ’07 has to be its new proprietary FutureShock suspension. Mike McAndrews, renowned suspension specialist and veteran of RockShox, Fox and Maverick, is back with Specialized and the brains behind all the features on the new forks and AFR shocks. The FutureShock E150 is a 4.5-pound, six-inch travel shock featured on the new Enduro SL. The shock has a double triple-clamp design with a unique integrated stem to decrease weight and improve steering control. Integrated lowers and a 25mm thru-axel provide exceptional torsional rigidity as well as precision steering. The internals feature L-VAS (Large Volume Air) and a negative coil spring to provide an optimal spring curve at a very low weight.
The FutureShock also features Specialized’s new “Spike Valve” – also found on all AFR rear shocks. The Spike Valve works in two ways: 1) it prevents slow-speed forces such as pedaling and turning yaw from compressing the Valve in the closed position and 2) it provides a blow-off at high force that allows maximum travel (Valve in open position). The FutureShock also has “Attitude Adjustment” on the top left leg that provides quick lowering of the fork by 40mm for optimum climbing position.
The Brain boosts its IQ for ’07 with new internals. The new FlowControl Brain relies on the rebound flow of the shock’s oil to close the compression valve instantaneously, rather than the hydraulic “timer” on previous models. The result is a much faster response between active and firm modes, providing a seamless transition between rough terrain and smooth. The Brain is found on the Stumpjumper FSR and the Epic.
The Enduro SL gets back to its roots as Specialized takes to heart what its customers have been saying about its all-mountain machine. The Enduro SL is down to 27 pounds and matches up the new FutureShock E150 with FSR suspension. The top-of-the-line SL features a FACT 10M front triangle and lighter wheels, tires, cranks and saddle. Six inches of travel and best-in-class seatpost adjustability also add to this all-mountain’s well-rounded resume.
The Stumpjumper FSR gets the new brain and all-new M5 frame (a FACT Az-1 frame on the Pro and S-Works). The Stumpy is now stiffer, has more stand-over height and features bearings on its mud-exposed rear-shock mount instead of bushings.
Specialized’s optics shine bright this season with some upgrades to the adaptalite lens technology and the introduction of the new Tarzo (a road model designed for smaller faces) and the Arc Terra (an off-road version of the super-light Arc). The new optics have a broader range of photochromic shift over a shorter time, giving better performance under varying light conditions.
The Shoe line has also seen some modification and additions for the new season. The new Pro Road has a redesigned closure system with M-lock buckle and X-link closure offering lots of adjustability. In mountain, the Pro MTB also sees the new X-link top strap, a carbon outsole and M-lock buckle, which looks suspiciously prone to damage from crank interference. Time will tell.
The Pro Woman’s shoe is also new and for the first time offers a carbon sole. The Trivent is also new to the women’s line and offers a specific last with low forefoot volume, a narrower heel cup and super-smooth internals for sockless wear.
With all the new equipment to review, it’s hard to believe we had time to get a feel for it, but Specialized made sure we spent more time on the bikes and equipment than we did talking about it. In fact, with the help of Fahrtwind, a well-organized cycling tour company sponsored by Specialized, we managed to get in more than 20 hours on the new bikes and equipment as we explored the incredible Bavarian countryside. You couldn’t have asked for a better way to experience the latest offerings from Specialized or a better group to experience it with.
Mike Sinyard, founder and president of Specialized, Ned Overend and Christoph Sauser were regulars on each and every ride and were in the saddle as much as everyone else. With Specialized’s top players dedicating that much time to being on the bikes, it’s easy to see where it gets its inspiration to continually improve them!