July 11, 2011 (Monterey, California) – Before heading off to Specialized’s 2012 product launch in Monterey California, we made a quick pit stop in Morgan Hill to check out their flagship facility. A lot has changed over the years but the highlight of the tour was the creation of a full Specialized Concept store, built within the main building. Specialized has gone all out on this store and uses it as a test facility to help their dealers with all of the Specialized products coming out of Morgan Hill.
The Concept store was slick and streamlined, with everything Specialized from floor to ceiling. We were like kids in a Specialized candy store! Think Apple Store, but with Specialized as the main focus. If you have a Specialized concept store in your area get out there and check it out!
Monterey Day 1
From Morgan Hill it was off too Monterey where both press and dealers, from all over the world, gathered en mass to take in all that is new from Specialized for 2012.
We wandered through large conference halls full of Specialized goodies, both new and improved for the upcoming season. From gloves, pumps and bottle cages, to High end S-Works + McLaren road bikes, Specialized has an incredible spread down here in Monterey – we started off day one with mountain bike presentations, both men and women.
The main excitement was around the arrival of some new lines and new technology, along with trickle down technology that is finding its way into entry level bikes we could only dream of a few years back.
The new Carve was high on the list of exciting and new, representing a lower priced, aluminum race-performance bike that fits in between the Rockhopper and the Stumpjumper HT.
The Carve opens a lot of doors into hardtail racing, at a sub $2,000 price point. No matter what you think, hardtails are still in demand, and with bikes like the Carve it’s easy to see why. The Carve, which only comes in a 29er frame size, features a smooth and light weight ride thanks too a tapered seat tube, bridgeless seat stays (comfy), and 27.2 seat post, which allows more flex and minimizes excess material.
An 80mm travel fork with a stiff 1-1/8 to 1″ tapered head tube and M4 alloy frame give this bike its race readiness prowess but the Cave won’t carve up your wallet.
Also new, but at the other end of the MTB spectrum is the Status, an all new downhill bike focused on the younger DH crowd. The Status was developed after several years of feedback from DH riders on the Monster team, who spent most of their time on the pricier Demo frame.
In comparison to previous DH bikes, like the Big Hit, the Status looks much racier, has a slacker head angle, a lower BB, and an all-new FSR suspension layout. The M4 alloy frame, with 135mm rear end, will be offered in two models. The Status 1 and 2, with price points in the $2600- $3200 range.
Another bike to note for 2012 is the Camber that gained popularity last year with riders looking for a race ready bike but with a more all round XC short travel design. This years improvements take the Camber into the high-end category thanks to a 29″ carbon frame. The 2012 Camber Carbon Pro 29 comes with an M5 frame and the Camber 29er with an M4. The Camber also features internal command post cable routing, Blacklite command post, 110mm of rear wheel travel, and Roval Control SL 29 wheels with Carbon rims on the Pro Carbon model.
Blacklite, Autosag, and Dangler
Specialized’s Blacklite adjustable seatpost is improved for 2012, featuring three position mechanical seat dropping with either 100mm or 125mm options.
While we are on the subject of “cool” other offerings from Specialized we have to mention two more items that really stood out – the Autosag suspension set up and the Dangler.
The Autosag is the brain-child of Specialized’s engineers and manufactured by Fox Shocks, making sag setup an easy 4-step process. Simply open the compression, pump up the shock to 50 psi over your weight (in lbs), push the Autosag button, cycle the suspension and you’re done! Wow!
The Dangler not only has a cool name it offer cool functionality as well. This innovative product is all about chain retention. Specialized wanted a light-weight chain retention system that didn’t make a lot of noise or add weight. The result of their efforts is a 30 gram dangly bit that hangs off the chainstay and is custom designed for Stumpjumpers.
Both the Autosag and the Dangler can be found on the Stumpjumper, a platform that is now in its 30th year, and still shows no signs of slowing down in terms of innovation. This year’s Stumpjumper also features a new frame with PF 30BB (for stiff oversized cranks) and ISCG O5 if you want a chain guide; tapered head tube; 142+ axel system, post-mount 160mm disc mount and new pivot for squeak elimination and easy maintenance.
Extra goodies on the Stumpy are Roval wheels w/SL Carbon on the S-works, and Roval RIMS on the comp level; Blacklite seatpost, and the resurgance of GroundControl tires.
It was getting pretty apparent as we sat through the men’s mountain bike presentations that 29ers have really taken a hold in the Specialized line. In fact the 2012 Specialized 29er collection includes nine bikes with representation from base models to S-Works. All 29ers are spec’d with customized gear ratios, 2×10 chainrings, 29er specific handlebars, and a full line of Specialized 29er tires.
The 29er theme carried over to the women’s product presentation with most of the excitement focused on the new entry-level Jett.
There are 10 bikes in the Specialized women’s MTB line for 2012 with a focus on getting more women cycling. Specialized believes 29ers are the key, but they’re an engineering challenge to fit to smaller women.
The main challenges for 29er designs for women is fit, weight and handling, three areas Specialized has focused in on in their 2012 line of women’s 29ers.
Specialized Pro rider Amy Shreve was super excited to introduce the new Jett in 26″ and 29″ versions, featuring Performance Geometry. The Jett uses M4 aluminum, 1-1/8″ head tube and 27.2mm seat tube. New dropouts were also added to the Jett to reduce weight and while dropouts might not be the reason for buying a new bike it demonstrates Specialized’s attention to small details to get it right.
Also new for 2012 is the Full Carbon Fate, a bike which is race-ready but full trail capable. Two models will be available next year, the Fate Expert Carbon with XO, and the Fate Comp Carbon with 27.2mm seat tube, 29er Control wheels, and X9 group. Both are geared with 2×10, (22-36), and weigh in at about 22lbs.
Shreve pointed out that the Fate Carbon HT 29er features 394mm reach, 715mm standover, and 592mm stack height – all really important factors for shorter riders. “The geometry is aggressive with a sub-1,200 gram frame, and holy crap can this bike climb,” added Shreve. The frame is Fact IS 8M with PF 30 BB, hollow carbon dropouts.
The 2012 Myka 29er is a much higher quality bike this year w/two geometry styles for women – M4 frame for performance riding and the new recreational geometry. The rec geometry features neutral positioning with hydroformed tubing, great standover height, and tuned suspension for women (w/lighter weight springs).
Specialized considers its Myka Hardtail base model with disc brakes as the break-in model for women’s 29ers. All three Myka models are designed to get more women mountain biking from recreation to performance.
Tomorrow we get the goods on more gear and will follow up with some road bikes to blow you away. Stay tuned, Specialized is not finished with us yet!