Apart from the sticker on the top tube nothing has changed. The Comp is still made from Specialized’s proprietary M4 aluminium. Both the top and down tubes have a square section where they join the head tube to create a larger weld area, with a resulting increase in stiffness. The down tube curves at the top, both for clearance and load-bearing reasons.
There’s a braced seat mast, and while there’s isn’t room to drop the saddle more than a few inches below minimum insertion, we’ve been riding this bike for a couple of months and haven’t felt the need to get the saddle that low.
The Comp is a long bike but one that feels right with a 90mm stem. The head angle is a slack 67.8 degrees, but we still felt pretty centred on this bike, with good weight distribution between both wheels. We never caught a pedal riding this bike either, despite Specialized’s supposedly low bottom brackets.
Specialized has been pretty canny spec’ing this coil-sprung fork with an aluminium steerer. Yeah, the coils are heavier than the Solo Air Toras, but they have a more predictable spring curve — none of that settling at the top of the stroke — and a better overall action.
Specialized has been running
X-Fusion shocks on the FSR XC bikes for several years now, and we’ve had no complaints about reliability or performance until now. On the 02RLA, one lever adjusts both compression and rebound damping simultaneously. The range of adjustment is huge, but fine-tuning is extremely difficult — we found the ideal position to be between two indents, which meant the lever would slip to the lighter setting under hard impacts. Specialized UK suggested that we might have the wrong shock. A replacement has yet to arrive.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there’s way too much back-sweep on these bars. No complaints about the ‘house’ stem and seatpost though, or the branded The Captain Sport tyres — some of the lightest and quickest in the test.
One of the things we think beginners should get from their first full-susser is speed, and the Specialized comes charging out of the blocks. It doesn’t have the travel of the Cannondale or the big-hit prowess of either the Commençal or the Giant, but it can leave both for dead in the singletrack. With the rebound adjuster wedged in place, the Comp offered excellent traction on rooty climbs, leech-like grip in the corners, and a lively ride that seemed to infect everyone that tried it.
Set-up-wise, there’s little we’d change on this bike — excepting the handlebar — but this length stem is perfect for this head angle, the position is centred and neutral and, while the sizing may be a little off if you’re on the large side of medium, the bike didn’t feel imbalanced or cramped in the least.
The obvious question is, if Specialized had spent another £100 could it have specced a Fox Float R rear shock on the Comp instead of the X-Fusion? That’s one for the bean counters, but we suspect that with better damping, or damping that didn’t change when you’re riding, the Comp would be looking at a rating in double figures. This bike rides lighter than its weight, has the best fork by far, powerful brakes, quick tyres and a good all-round specification. Specialized needs to forget about under-cutting the competition by £100, and filter the Fox shock from the Pro down to the Comp and Elite — both bikes will be better for it.
MBR RATING: 9/10