Archive for the ‘Mountain Bike Reviews’ Category

Interbike: A First Look at Specialized Women’s Bikes

September 29, 2010

The Specialized Women’s 2011 bicycle line is very impressive indeed.

Specialized has rethought bike design for women in a three dimensional way; this makes their mountain bikes particularly easy to handle in all types of terrain.  The Specialized MTB bikes I tested are light enough to Manipulate and maneuver,  but  have a weight distribution that made it easy to keep  “tires to the ground”.

For Women’s road bikes, the Amira will be the bike to look out for. This is their premium bike for women. There are a lot of details that make the Amira stand out (it has all the earmarks of a really fast bike). One look at the geometry and you can see how nothing compares. It’s also sexy as anything.

If you are a fan of Specialized already, you need to try one of their 2011 bikes.  But if you’ve had questionable results with their Women’s geometry bikes from previous years (hey, I wasn’t always a big fan), then you really need to try the 2011 series. Specialized really went back, did their homework, and found what really works for Women’s geometry; and in this 2011 line up, it  shows.

In the coming weeks I will have separate reviews of 2011 Women’s Specialized bikes, including:

Myka – A 29er Women’s Hardtail Mountain Bike, with entry level pricing (warning, this bike could make mountain biking addictive).

Safire – Women’s All Mountain Bike (a dream to ride in 2010, with some interesting changes for 2011)

Era – Women’s Cross Country Performance Mountain Bike (2011 line adds a budget conscious carbon fiber level).

Amira – Women’s Premium Road Bike, redesigned again ( the delight is in the details).

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Mountain Bike Review: Specialized Safire Comp Women’s Full Suspension MTB

August 30, 2010

I tested the 2010 Susan Komen Limited Edition Version from Bear Valley Bikes

I tested the Susan Komen Limited Edition Version from Bear Valley Bikes

Small Safire from Bear Valley Bikes

The Demo Bike

TESTED: Specialized Safire Comp, Susan Komen Edition from Bear Valley Bikes

Price: $2400 for the Comp (tested),  to $7400 for the Carbon Fiber Top o’ the Line Pro Version

Bike Size: Small, with an Effective Top Tube of 540mm,  Weight: 27lbs

Rider Size: 5’4″  Back Length: 545mm (find out why that’s important HERE). Weight: 120lbs (135lbs with gear).

Terrain: Big Bear, California

(The Exact Specs can be found on Product Wiki HERE, or BikPedia HERE


Spec Highlights:

  • FRAME: Safire FSR M5 manipulated alloy frame w/ women’s ORE TT/DT, sealed cartridge bearing pivots, DMD front, replaceable derailleur hanger, disc only, 120mm travel
  • REAR SHOCK: Fox Triad, custom on-the-fly 3-position switch 1) lock out 2) Open 3) ProPedal pedal assisting damping, rebound adj., 7.25×1.75″
  • FORK: Fox F130 RL, 130mm travel, compression and rebound adj. w/ LO, alloy steerer
  • FRONT BRAKE: Custom Avid Elixir SL, alloy backed semi-met organic pads, 160mm rotor
  • REAR BRAKE: Custom Avid Elixir SL, alloy backed semi-met organic pads,S/M: 140mm, L: 160mm rotor
  • BRAKE LEVERS: Custom Avid Elixir SL Hydraulic, tool-less adj. reach
  • FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano M660 SLX, DMD, top swing, dual pull
  • REAR DERAILLEUR: SRAM X-9, 9-speed, mid cage
  • SHIFT LEVERS: SRAM X-7, aluminum trigger

SPECIALIZED OFF-ROAD: A REAL WOMAN’S BIKE

Specialized really does want us girls to ride mountain; why else would they make, not just one, but a series of REAL women’s mountain bikes? These bikes are not candy; they are hardcore mountain bikes that a woman can tailor for the way she rides. And on budget . From the sizing, weight and geometry, to budget and componentry, Specialized seems to be one of the “Big Boy” Companies to actual listen to what we women mountain bikers have asked for; then they stepped it up a notched and gave us some dream bikes, like the Safire, which is available in Carbon. (Oh, how I would love to test that bike!) But what I tested while I was in Big Bear CA, was the more budget conscious “Comp” level of the Safire. It seems that Specialized Comp level is a perfect Beginner/Intermediate bike, due to the “bang for your buck” quality of the components.

But what draws me in to this bike, is the unbelievably correct geometry. It is absolutely spot on. Somehow they managed to figure out how to make the head tube angle slack enough to handle any downhill (at 68.5°), yet not sluggish on tight corners and uphill.

Descending

At first I was a little unsure of it, so I picked my way down some trails. Well, that’s not what this bike wants to do. It wants to go fast, and it told me so. Steep downhill with roots and rocks means nothing to this bike, and given a chance, and some well guided direction, the Safire will glide down the trail pretty effortlessly, without “tugging me down the trail” the way some bikes do when they’re longer in the cockpit. Cornering was so easy, even at speed off-camber. The tight geometry made even tight corners smooth and fun. After a few trail runs, this baby felt as secure as a sofa, on the downhill.

Climbing

But how does it perform, going uphill? I really thought that the slack head tube angle combined with the 130mm fork meant a lousy ride uphill. SO wrong, was I. Specialized figured out how to make the head tube just a little shorter, which allows a woman to move her weight further forward for the climb, without losing traction in the rear.

Out of the saddle on climbs, I was able to get over the front end without leaning on it, and the front end never felt like it was was trying to force me to sit down (which also happens when a head tube is too tall). The kicker for me? When I stood up and tried to give it pedal bob, it responded by smoothing out the ride. I felt none of that “walking in molasses” feeling that you can get with a lesser suspension system.

Of course for longer climbs it’s very easy to lock out the suspension which completely eliminates all bob. Sorry Bob.

I would heartily recommend the Specialized Safire for women who would like a light all-mountain to cross country bike. This is a fun bike to ride.

In the last few years, I’ve demo’ed MANY mountain bikes directed towards women, but this is the first one that’s good enough for a “Girl Meets Bike” recommendation.  No, I don’t work for Specialized or anything like that; I’m just a girl who really appreciates good design.  I’m looking forward to testing other frames before I decide on which full -suspension bike is “The One” for me, but this is DEFINITELY in the running.  I’m hope to try the Myka FSR, which is Specialized’s first Women’s Full Suspension 29er.

Proper suspension set up is vital to truly experience what a bike has to offer. Without it, even the most amazing bike can feel like a dud.  Many thanks to Clay and Derek of Bear Valley Bikes for setting up the suspension beautifully for me. A review of their Bike Shop is coming very soon…

Girl Meets Safire, the Bike:


For those of you that want the quick and dirty version, here are some thoughts from the day.

  • Women’s geometry, 130 mil suspension, fairly light. Has my dream come true?
  • Why does the chairlift have to be so friggin’ cold!
  • Take your hand off the brakes..the brakes.
  • OH SH* , oh, no, I’m OK.
  • Trust the steep…Wow, do I love this bike.
  • the bike wants to go fast.
  • OH SH* no, I’m… Actually, that was fun. Should do that again!
  • Wheeeee!!!!
  • Stomping it! It can handle uphills!
  • Love these trails.
  • Love this bike!
  • Comes in carbon, there’s a 29er, comes in carbon, there’s a 29er.

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