Specialized goes big on big wheels – Part 1

Words by Josh Patterson

Photos by Emmanuel Molle and Josh Patterson

Specialized invited journalists from the United States, Europe and Israel to Frejus, in the south of France to highlight some of their 29er offerings. Just a few short years ago Specialized was perceived by many as behind the curve in 29er development. Now the company is leading the charge. Having chugged Kool-Aid from the 29-inch-wheeled goblet. For 2012 Specialized will have the largest 29er lineup of any bike company.

The lineup – by the numbers

Full Suspension

  • 5 Stumpjumper FSRs (plus 3 frame-only options)
  • 6 Epics (plus 2 frame-only options)
  • 5 Cambers


  • 7 Stumpjumper Hardtails (plus 3 frame-only options)
  • 3 Carves
  • 2 Rockhoppers
  • 2 Hardrocks

Ladies Lineup

  • 2 Fates
  • 1 Jett
  • 3 Mykas

Totals: That’s 10 models with 29-inch wheels, available in a grand total of 36 complete builds and 8 frame-only options. Here’s a few of the highlights of the 2012 line.

For the Ladies

Specialized feels that there are significant benefits and few drawbacks to 29ers, even for the smallest riders. Specialized women’s product and marketing associate Amy Shreve, standing five-foot tall, is a huge proponent of 29ers for women. “The larger wheels really inspire confidence,” says Shreve.

The pint-sized Shreve fits comfortably on a small Fate, Specialized’s premier women’s carbon hardtail.

One of the drawbacks for very short riders is the inability to get the handlars below, or even level with, the saddle. Shreve, like some other petite female racers, runs a negative rise stem and no topcap on the headset to get the handlebar as low as possible.

The Fate has a brace joining the seat tube to the top tube to reduce the standover height. Interested in learning more about women and 29ers? Look for more information in a future issue.

Big Wheels, Big Travel

Specialized global marketing manager Nic Sims walked us through Specialized’s long-travel 29er offerings. The Stumpjumper FSR features 130mm of front and rear travel. For 2012 most companies introducing long-travel 29er have chosen to spec Fox Racing Shox’s new 34 fork. Specialized choose to spec a 130mm version of the Float 32, citing weight savings.

The Stumpjumper FSR 29 is available in five models. One full-carbon version (S-Works), two carbon bikes with aluminum rear ends, and two aluminum versions, as well as two frame-only options. Pictured here is Stumpjumper Comp Carbon.

There is also an EVO model sporting even more travel (140mm front/135mm rear), and it’s available complete or in a frame-only option. Look for a review of the EVO  in an upcoming issue.

That’s not a dingle berry, that’s the Dangler, a simple plastic device Specialized adapted from similar devices used in Motocross. The combination of longer travel and longer chainstays on full suspension 29ers can create more chain slap. The Dangler minimizes chainslap while creating very little drag. The Dangler comes standard on all 29er Stumpjumper FSR models. 


Specialized started as a tire company and is constantly working to develop new tread patterns and refine existing ones. Specialized uses Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to help predict how each tire will perform under a wide range of conditions. The real test of a tire comes on the trail. The company relies on their athletes to provide them with real world feedback.

Specialized’s tire guru and all around good guy Chris Wyatt talking treads with Specialized World Cup racer Christoph Sauser.

There are currently five tread patterns in company’s 29er tire lineup. From left to right in increasing order of gnar-ness: Renegade, Fast Track, Ground Control, Captain and Purgatory. These five tread patterns are available in a dizzying array of sizes, and casing options, from the light and supple S-Works, to the heavier, but sturdy, Grid casing.

In the works…

Specialized is putting the final touches on a new aggressive 29er trail tire.

The 2.3” Butcher features an open tread patter with significant use of siping to improve traction.The 29-inch version of the Butcher is expected to be available in next summer.

Keep reading

Read Part 2 of our report on Specialized and 29ers.