Billed as an out and out trail bike, the Specialized Fuse Comp sees Specialized back at the sharp end of hardtails. What’s new? Everything really!
Specialized Fuse Comp need to know
- Specialized’s latest trail hardtail with updated geometry and attitude
- All models come with 130mm travel forks and 45mm stems
- Comp and Expert models roll on 29in wheels and 2.6in tyres, while the entry-level Sport gets 27.5in wheels and 2.8in tyres.
- Adjustable dropouts offer 15mm of chainstay length adjustment and make it easy to convert to a single-speed.
The entry-level Fuse 27.5 comes with 27.5in wheels and 2.8in tyres, while the Comp and Expert models roll on 29in hoops shod with meaty 2.6in tyres. The tyres themselves have been beefed up too, Specialized’s GRID casing on the rear helping reduce pinch flats, while the new GRID Trail casing up front adds extra support will keeping the weight in check.
Fork travel on the Fuse has also been pumped up. The £1,200 Fuse Comp 6Fattie we tested two years ago came with a 120mm travel Suntour Raidon fork, the latest version gets a 130mm travel RockShox Recon. It’s smooth, composed and most importantly, 100 per cent reliable.
The real transformation has been in the M4 alloy frame that comes on the Comp and Expert level bikes. Specialized seems to have thrown every manipulation process in the book at this one; butting, forging, a two-piece welded BB shell, hydroforming, swathing, double-pass smooth welds, you name it, the Fuse has it.
Gone is the diamond cut away in the drive-side chain stay, replaced instead by an elegant, elevated design. On the 29er it runs perilously close to the upper run of chain though, and my initial thought was that it’s going to rattle like hell. Fortunately, it didn’t.
And the reason for the blissfully silent ride is twofold. A rubber chain stay protector completely eliminates chain slap, while the beautifully sculpted alloy frame offers an impressively resilient ride.
Specialized has also moved the geometry and sizing forward. The latest Fuse comes in five frame sizes, where standover clearance and reach have both been increased. The head angle has also been knocked back one full degree; it’s now down to 66.5deg. And the claimed figures for this alloy bike are accurate; I measured the head angle at 66.7deg in our workshop.
The geometry on the latest Fuse is also adjustable. Well, the chain stay length is. With slotted horizontal dropouts you can run the rear axle anywhere between a super short 420mm rear end for increased agility, or, 435mm for a more stable ride. It’s a super sleek design where integrated chain tugs in the compact dropouts prevent the wheel from moving under power. Removing the rear wheel is just as straightforward as any other 148x12mm design but best of all, it only takes a few minutes to adjust the chain stay length, so it is really easy to experiment with different settings out on the trail.
The real beauty of this design though it that it allows for proportional rear ends across the size range, while letting riders tweak the balanced of the bike to suit their local terrain and riding style.
That’s not to say the geometry on the new Fuse is perfect. With the £1k category of our Hardtail of the Year test still fresh in my mind, I know that the 317mm BB height is on the tall side, especially when the bike comes with shorter 170mm crank arms as standard.
I also think the head angle could be slacker still, and the front end definitely felt a little low for me, even with all of the spacer stacked below the stubby 45mm stem. So I’d also like a higher rise bar.
Nit picking aside, the new Fuse is still a very capable trail bike. And for a bricks and mortar brand like Specialized, it is competitively priced too.