Good quality components but the ride quality is let down by the details
The Comp is the flagship bike in the Jynx line, which consists of three models ranging in price from £400 to £550.
The whole range rolls on 27.5in wheels, which have fast become the wheel size of choice, as they strike a good balance between the stability and rollover of the bigger 29in wheels and the manoeuvrability of the old 26in wheels.
The slightly scooped top tube on the size medium Jynx frame offers plenty of standover clearance, which means moving your weight around to control the bike and allowing it to move around underneath you is a lot easier than on a men’s frame.
Obviously, there’s also less chance of hurting yourself if your feet get blown clean off the pedals — something that is more likely to happen with no rear suspension to fall back on.
The suspension on the Jynx Comp comes in the form of a coil sprung, 80mm travel SR Suntour XCM fork.
The disadvantage of using a coil spring, rather than air (other than adding weight), is that adjusting the firmness of the suspension for different weight riders, particularly lighter ones, involves ordering the correct weight spring, rather than having the quick adjustment facility of attaching a pump.
Even with Specialized’s custom multi-circuit damping, the Suntour fork didn’t offer as consistent a ride as we had hoped.
So despite the initial sag setting looking promising, the fork lacked sufficient support on bigger hits, such as roots and step-downs, and as the tempo increased on the descents we found ourselves dropping through the 80mm of travel very quickly, to the point where the fork would bottom out too easily.
This was compounded further by the relatively long 80mm stem, pulling even more of the rider’s weight onto the fork on the descents.
Contact points can make or break a bike, especially the saddle for less experienced riders. Yes, the Specialized Body Geometry Riva saddle is a little bigger and squidgier than we would normally choose, but it proved to be a comfortable, women-specific perch.
The breaking point is the Specialized grips, with its winged palm-support sticking out at the back. These are probably fine for resting your hands on when tootling along a canal towpath or fire road, but seeing as they don’t allow you to alter the angle of your hand on the grip, they aren’t conducive to finding a good riding position when climbing or descending steeper gradients.
The combination of Shimano’s Acera/Altus nine-speed drivetrain is spot-on at this price point, as it offers a wide spread of gears for twiddling up the steepest climbs without spinning out on smooth descents. In fact, it’s identical to the kit adorning the Trek Cali S.
Specialized has one-upped Trek with its choice of brakes, however — the shorter-reach women-specific lever on the Tektros don’t need to be wound in so far for smaller hands, resulting in firmer lever feel.
From the first few pedal strokes it was evident that the length and proportions of the Specialized Jynx frame felt spot-on. The narrow handlebar, coupled with the intrusive palm support of the grips, did not feel so reassuring though. Also, the fork felt a little sticky in the initial part of the stroke, transferring more trail chatter to our hands than we expected.
This was even more surprising given how quickly the fork plummeted through the full 80mm travel when hitting bigger bumps. The lack of support in the fork made technical trails even more challenging to navigate. And it wasn’t just the SunTour fork that lacked compliance; the Jynx frame also felt very rigid and could have done with a helping hand from some fatter tyres to reduce vibrations.
Sure, the standard skinny Fast Trak tyres are a good choice for keeping the pace up on hard-packed trails, but when tackling slightly more technical terrain, the Jynx would really benefit from something a little chunkier and more glued to the ground, even considering the trade-off of added rolling resistance.
On paper, the Jynx has the spec to be a nice choice for the beginner, with good quality components where they matter — such as the Tektro brakes and reliable Shimano mech and shifters — but the ride quality is let down by the details. The narrow bars, cumbersome grips and long stem, paired with forks that don’t feel as responsive as they should, reduce the confidence factor, and the slightly more XC focus is also less forgiving on technical features. Amendments to the cockpit and forks could improve the ride enormously, but at this price those elements need to be there already as you can’t expect a new rider to be fiddling around changing coil springs.