“OMG – What a bike and what a ride!!! The Specialized S-Works ERA 29 has to date been my best ride on a mountain bike!” gushed Debbie Stopforth as Full Sus pried the test bike out of her grasp.
If you want acceleration up the hills, control and comfort down the single tracks and a huge smile on your face after the ride, then this is the bike for you. It’s based on the men’s Specialized Epic with a shorter top tube and shorter wheel base. And it’s a fast, light cross country bike for the competitive female rider.
I had the test bike for a week and I had huge separation issues when I had to return it to the Full Sus team. The medium frame arrived with an 80mm stem and 670mm length handle bars. At first I thought the stem would be too short and knew the handlebars would be too narrow (I prefer 700mm plus on the 29ers). I was surprised at the manoeuvrability with the shorter stem. The bike went over and around everything with total ease. I felt as if I could stay on the bike for a full eight day Epic ride and still want more.
The S-Works ERA is a women’s specific 100mm travel carbon frame MTB built for comfort and pace. Starting with the most important part of the bike, the saddle…The ERA comes out with the new Specialized Myth Expert saddle. It is the first time I have ridden this saddle and I really rate its comfort. It is firm yet forgiving.
With my riding group I set off for a three hour ride up all the singletrack in Tokai, around the NoordhoekPeak, down the OuWa Pad, through Clovely Golf course and back over Boyes Drive on the road. This allowed me to feel the performance of the bike on all types of terrain. This bike accelerates up the hills with the most amazing pace. It feels like climbing is effortless and the geometry of the ERA allows the rider to feel so balanced on the bike at all times. I felt that I could just sit and pedal and the bike just went.
I was warned that the inverted fork (RockShox RS-1 inverted Era-tuned Brain fork w/ size-specific travel for XC performance) could be a small problem if I got a puncture and had to change the wheel of in a hurry. Clint, from Trail and Tar, spent some time explaining to me how to remove the wheel and manipulate the stanchions back into place. The fork legs rotate inwards and the one fork drops down when the wheel is off. It is not too difficult to rotate and pull the shocks back into line, to replace the wheel but one needs to practice this quite a few times to get it spot-on without damaging the disc brake. We did a dummy run in the forest. I pretended I had a flat front tyre. My friend and I managed to take the wheel on and off but it did require two of us to get it right. The Specialized/FOX Era-tuned Brain rear shock was fantastic and suited all terrains beautifully.
The S-Works Fast Trak tyres are fast! You need to take care around corners at pace as they tend to be a little ‘twitchy’ if you are not used to their performance.
Overall it’s an amazing bike. It usually takes me three to five rides to really decide if I like a bike or not – with this Specialized S-Works ERA – the love was immediate!
RockShox RS-1 Fork
The RockShox sponsored pro teams aren’t running the RS-1 because of the added time it takes to change a wheel, but if you aren’t the type to be rushed it’s actually quite easy to put the wheel back on. Flip the bike upside down, line the stanchions up and compress the left stanchion slightly to get the through axel in. It can become a nightmare if you’re in a rush or trying to do it with the bike on its wheels though.
It does ride beautifully though… (And you can be sure RockShox is working on the rotating stanchions issue, so keep an eye out for an updated version)
Sus the Era Geometry
All measurements in mm or degrees for a Medium frame.
|Seat Tube Angle (Actual)||71°|
|Head tube Angle||70.5°|