Steel frame, disc brakes and 42mm tyres the key features of Specialized’s latest bike
Specialized has already taken aim at the gravel/adventure/all-road market with its AWOL and Diverge models but it has also resurrected the Sequoia from the back catalogue and designed a modern steel-framed, disc-equipped bike with big tyre clearance and all the features needed to make it a versatile choice for everything from touring to bikepacking.
The Sequoia comes in three builds priced from £950 to £2,500. Each features a steel frame with thru-axles, disc brakes, mounts for mudguards and racks, a new tubeless wheelset and 42mm tyre, and a carbon fork and vibration damping seatpost on the top-end model.
Aero might be the buzzword for race bikes, but away from racing it’s all about adventure, a word that is inspiring a whole new category of road bikes and accessories, with bikepacking all the rage and events like the popular TransContinental Race promoting a new sense discovery and a whole new approach to riding that is new for the younger generation of cyclists that haven’t been weaned on old school touring and Audax.
Most of the regular Specialized bike range features frames made from carbon fibre and aluminium, so it might seem a surprise to see the company introduce a steel frame back into its 2017 range, but it’s a nice reminder of the company’s roots, which all started with steel bicycle frames – the Sequoia was first introduced in 1981.
The Sequoia has a frame made from custom and size-specific Premium chromoly steel tubing with a FACT carbon fibre fork on the top-end models, and a chromoly fork on the entry-level bike. The frame bristles with eyelets for racks, mudguards, cargo and extra water bottles, making it ideal for everything from commuting, touring, Audax to bikepacking. There’s also internal routeing for a light cable, so you could add a front dynamo and power both lights from it.
While the choice of frame material might be traditional, in every other way it’s a thoroughly modern bike. It has a carbon fibre fork, thru-axles, flat mount disc fittings, tapered head tube, super skinny seatstays and the company’s Cobble Gobble carbon fibre seatpost, designed to provided seated comfort, on the top-end model.
Specialized is using 12mm thru-axles at both ends, with a 142mm rear axle so there should be no issues with wheel compatibility that have plagued its Tarmac Disc and CruX Disc.CruX Disc.
Tubeless tyres make a lot of sense for adventure bikes, minimising punctures through the use of liquid sealant in place of inner tubes. The Sequoia rolls on new Specialized Cruzero tubeless rims, with a wide profile that makes the ideal platform for the new Sawtooth 2Bliss Ready 42mm tyres. The bike will accommodate up to 45mm tyres if you want to go wider.
The Sawtooth tyre has been developed to handle any road surface from smooth tarmac to loose gravel, with a tread pattern comprising sharp angles and edges designed to provide grip in the loose, but tightly packed enough to be fast rolling on the black stuff. Specialized uses the same Gripton compound it uses for its road tyres with a reinforced centre tread section, and the casing is reinforced with an Endurant material to provide protection and cope with the extra weight of a fully loaded bike. They’re also tubeless compatible.
The top-end model gets the same CG-R seatpost as found on the Roubaix, which is designed to provide a bit of added deflection to take the sting out of the ride. There’s also a new handlebar with a 20mm rise and flared shallow drops, providing more control when riding in the drops on fast and loose terrain.
Geometry is key to any bike, and for the Sequoia the company says the numbers and angles thread a line between a traditional road bike and a touring bike. The bottom bracket is lower (66.5mm drop) and the wheelbase longer (1,053mm) with a slack 71.5-degree head angle and 50mm fork rake producing a 68mm trail, so it should provide very stable handling whether loaded with luggage or unladen. All numbers quoted are for a size 56cm, and there are six sizes to choose from.