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Steel bikes: Specialized Sequoia Elite review

2 Oct 2018

Page 1 of 2Steel bikes: Specialized Sequoia Elite review

Verdict:

A horizon-broadening heavyweight that belies its weight on the road, but it really comes into its own when you hit the hard-pack trails

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,850

If we were the types to put bikes into pigeon holes, we’d be calling this an ‘adventure’ bike. But for now, let’s call it a fat-tyred, go-anywhere road bike-cum-tourer…

It’s a bike designed to be loaded up to the gunwales to take you wherever you like.

Adventure bike? How about ‘freedom bike’?

Frameset

The Sequoia’s heat-treated chrome/molybdenum steel alloy frame offers a decent strength to weight ratio, and Specialized has ensured that the frame tubing size is specific to each frame size available (a range of 50-61). 

The geometry of the Sequoia is designed to offer a good balance of performance and comfort – a head angle of 70.9° ensures an easy and predictable rate of turn allied to a 75.4° seat angle which forces you over the front of the bike for better leverage and control.

A carbon fork aims to take some of the jarring out of all-terrain riding, too.

A pronounced slope to its top tube results in a small rear frame triangle – good for getting the best out of the drivetrain on all terrains and also with the knock-on effect of facilitating the use of a long length of seatpost for reducing vibrations felt at the rear.

The cables for the front and rear mechs run along the underside of the down tube, but because they also have cable outers, you’ll not need to trouble yourself with frantic post-ride jet-washing.

Notable additions to the frame also include bosses for front and rear racks, bottle mounts where you’d expect to find them, and others where you wouldn’t – on each fork leg (we reckon you could use them for extra luggage, too). Thru-axles secure both wheels, rather than quick-release skewers.

Groupset

There’s a mix of parts on the Sequoia, designed to offer, again, a balance of performance and durability.

Consequently, Shimano’s 105-level hydraulic disc brakes, and coordinated shifters, plus a 105 front and rear derailleur, adorn the Specialized.

An FSA Gossamer chainset packs a 48/32 set-up, and works with a Sunrace 11-36 cassette to offer a smallest possible gear of 32-36 – even your nan could pedal that up a grass bank.

Finishing kit

Specialized’s in-house alloy finishing kit is used across the build, and it’s taken from what the firm likes to call its ‘Adventure Gear’ range.

So, compact drop handlebars with a 400mm diameter measured at the hoods splay to a 460mm diameter at the drops, while there’s also a pronounced rise from the stem clamp to raise the position of your hands for maximum comfort on the road/trail/fields.

The front end is heightened further by a 90mm alloy stem; it’s flipped on our test bike, but if this makes the riding position a little sit-up-and-beg, you’d get a more road bike-style position by turning it upside-down.

A 27.2mm alloy stem is topped with a Specialized Body Geometry Phenom Comp saddle, finished in a very attractive, and surprisingly comfortable, denim-effect material.

We’d like to put it to a longer-term test to fully gauge whether it might wear through your shorts, though.

Wheels

Specialized’s own box-section Hayfield rims are hand-built, attached to the bike by way of 12mm thru-axles, but heavy.

No getting around that… they contribute to around one third of the total weight of the bike. That said, their 25mm diameter readily accepts the 42mm-wide Specialized Sawtooth tyres fitted to the Sequoia Elite.

They roll pretty well on tarmac, offer plenty of acceptable grip on hard-packed bridleways, but struggle on poorer surfaces, especially in really wet and muddy conditions.

On the road

Tank. That’s the word that first springs to mind as we chuck a leg over the Sequoia and head off for a ride that takes in not only local roads but also a few miles of bridleways.

There’s no getting around the fact that it’s a heavy old chunk of metal, but that just adds to the impression of utter robustness.   

What, on the face of it, looks like a downright peculiar riding position, actually makes a fair amount of sense once you’re on the road – tarmac or otherwise.

The high-rise bars are an easy reach from the saddle and place no stress on the neck or shoulder muscles over several hours of riding. The splayed drops work in unison with shifters angled to match.

The overall sensation on-board the Sequoia is that it’s a willing machine despite its bulk; not what we’d call blistering in its acceleration, but we’d argue that these aren’t the feelings this bike is designed to engender.

It is, however, a comfortable bike to ride for a long time, and a particularly stable one. Its lingering impression is that of a two-wheeled steamroller – in a good way!

The easy-geared Sequoia Elite makes mincemeat of road climbs, while the 32-tooth smaller chainring comes into its own once the terrain transitions from tarmac to hard-pack, either when slogging up longer inclines on bridleways or sitting and stamping on the pedals at a high cadence.

The fork, while carbon-fibre, doesn’t quite cut it for us in the vibe-reducing department – the front end of the bike is fairly harsh, even more so off-road. 

As you might expect, the long wheelbase of the Sequoia makes it stable not just for off-road and road-based straightlining, but also for the twists and turns of both tarmac and trail.

It belies its weight on the road, especially when powering through turns; whether you’d surprise any pure road riders on the Sequoia is doubtful, but you’d certainly be cornering in more comfort, given the low pressure, high-volume tyres fitted.

Hit rougher road surfaces, and imperfections such as smaller potholes and unrepaired tarmac are rolled over with little need to rethink your line.

On looser terrain, the tyres perform admirably in the dry, providing a good amount of grip, speed, and an acceptable compromise between paved and unpaved surface performance.

A low bottom bracket height also adds to a feeling of cornering stability. For long hours in the saddle at a sedate pace, you’ll be thankful to be astride this oddball Californian; for longer rides involving changing terrain, you might find yourself wishing for more flex from the front end as fatigue sets in a little earlier than we’d have liked or expected.

RATINGS

Frame: Size-specific geometry enhances comfort. 7/10 
Components: A decent blend of 105 and budget-conscious kit. 7/10 
Wheels: Heavy but sturdy and reliable own-brand hoops. 7/10 
The ride: Stable and speedy on both the road and the trail. 8/10 

Verdict: The Sequoia's speed belies its weight on the road, but it really comes into its own when you hit the hard-pack trails.  

Geometry

                                     
Top Tube (TT) 525mm
Seat Tube (ST) 460mm
Stack (S) 544mm
Reach (R) 382mm
Chainstays (C) 435mm
Head Angle (HA) 70.9 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 75.4 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) 1032mm
BB drop (BB) 70mm

Spec

Specialized Sequoia Elite
Frame Cr-Mo size-specific tubing, flat-mount disc
Groupset Shimano 105 hydraulic, 11-speed
Brakes Shimano 105 hydraulic
Chainset Shimano 105, 48/32
Cassette Sunrace 11-speed, 11-36
Bars Specialized Adventure Gear Hover
Stem Specialized 3D-forged alloy, 7-degree rise
Seatpost Specialized alloy, 27.2mm
Wheels Specialized Adventure Gear Hayfield
Saddle Body Geometry Phenom Comp
Weight 11.54kg (Medium)
Contact specialized.com

Page 1 of 2Steel bikes: Specialized Sequoia Elite review

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