2016 Specialized Crave Expert 29
Benefiting from Specialized's vast experience with professional XC riders, the Crave Expert 29 delivers serious go-fast speed and smoothness. Abundant features in the M4 butted-aluminum frame like a tapered head tube and short chainstays result in great handling and climbing capability. There's also an 100mm travel RockShox Reba RL fork and big, 29-inch wheels with grippy Specialized tires. As a result, the Expert carves singletrack, fireroads, and all types of terra firma with ease. Plus, the wide-range 2x10 Shimano/SRAM drivetrain and the braking power of Deore discs round out this speedy hardtail.
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My impression of this bike is probably skewed a bit as I had previously been riding my Specialized Hardrock for the past 15 years. Obviously this new bike blows my hardrock out of the water in every aspect. It has taken a bit of getting use to but now that I am comfortable, I am climbing rather technical single track that I could not have dreamed of climbing previously. The 2x10 gear ratio is so much better! When having to quickly prepare for an unexpected incline or decline, there is little guess work to be had and the shifting is quick and smooth. The 29" tires are fantastic for unexpected bumps or blazing your own trail through the bush (handy in adventure racing). Additionally, this bike is super fast and maintains speed very well. I have also been happy with the suspension on this bike (rockshox Reba). With the poploc feature, it is effortless to adjust to different terrain while riding. Only real struggle, which I suspect is true for any bike outside the fat tire bikes, is the loss of traction in wet conditions. Pretty easy to spin out when attempting a climb. All in all, I have now been training for over a month on this bike for an upcoming adventure race and I couldn't be happier with it. Should be much better to race than the 15 year old hardrock! However, the durability of the hardrock is what influenced my decision to stick with specialized! That bike is still in great working order and I have not taken great care of it!