Bike Test: Specialized Rumor Comp

Specialized’s goal is to make bikes to fit the needs of every rider out there. For decades, bikes were only designed based on the discipline in which they would be ridden, rather than the people riding them. Specialized recognizes that not only are the needs of female riders physically different from that of male riders, but female riders may also be looking to get something different out of their mountain biking experience. The Rumor is Specialized’s response to this realization, backed by extensive field research and medically tested design.

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WHO IS IT MADE FOR?

The Rumor is meant for the rider who wants to get out on the trails and keep going until she’s conquered the whole trail system. Riding simply for the enjoyment of tackling one trail after the next, she wants to feel confident through technical terrain without being smoked on the climbs. Never mind the gravity-induced whirlwind of the nearby downhill course, and forget the mellow laps around the local lake: the Rumor is for the woman with an adventurous spirit who wants a trail bike, from tire to tire.

WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?

Designed to be a daily-driver, the Rumor’s M5 aluminum alloy frame is ready to hit the trails for years to come.The Rumor’s frame and 110mm-travel suspension work in unison, producing a confidence-inspiring ride with spring rates optimized to provide women with use of all the suspension travel. The front triangle design creates a low standover height that still provides room for a bottle cage across all sizes. There are two simple components to the mountain biking equation, bike and rider. Specialized’s goal was to allow these components to bring out the best in each other.

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WHAT CAUGHT OUR EYE?

The low-slung design of the top tube and steep angle of the down tube create a compact appearance that begs to be flung around. Specialized’s autosag technology, in the custom RockShox Monarch RL shock, is a game-changer in the realm of do-it-yourself bike setup. The gender-specific components, such as the women’s Body Geometry Jett saddle, Enduro grips and shorter crank arms, ensure women that the bike is working for them rather than against them.

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HOW DOES IT PERFORM?

Setting sag: Even many experienced riders go years without riding a properly adjusted shock and miss out on the full capabilities of their bikes. Specialized has developed its autosag feature to make shock air pressure a no-brainer. Simply pump up the shock to 50 psi above your weight. Using metric measurements, pump it up to three times your weight in kilograms. Now, place your bike next to a wall, put all your weight into the saddle and press down on the shock’s red air release valve. The bike may buck a little, but that’s okay. Continue pressing the valve until all the air has been released. Cycle the shock a few times and you’re ready to ride!

Moving Out: The Rumor takes off like a smooth sailing ship when you first get up and go. It may not punch hard, but nothing stops it once you have it rolling. We were amazed at how well it glided over long straightaways without much pedaling.

Climbing: Smooth and steady is the fastest way to reach the peak on the Rumor. We found it hard to gain a fast punch up the climbs, but as long as we stayed in the saddle and kept our cadence up, we felt like the Energizer Bunny. The lightness of the bike definitely made up for the lack of power transfer. Actually, the suspension really helped in technical climbing sections, where the bike seemed to conform to any variances in the trail. As long as you have the power in your legs, the Rumor will take on any rock face, no problem.

Cornering: We absolutely could not get the Rumor to slide out. I love pushing hard through corners and taking bikes to their limits, right before they give and slide out. This bike took it far beyond that point. Our tester was pushing it hard into one particular corner and she was sure she was going down, but the Rumor held on and popped her right back up after exiting the corner. Armed with years of racing experience, our test riders have a keen sense of any bike’s tipping point, but the Rumor seemed to defy their expectations.

Descending: Fantastic. It felt at home through long, swooping singletrack and over hefty rocks and roots. It felt as if we didn’t have to lift up to overcome any obstacles. Simply put, it ate anything the trail threw at us and held a straight line while doing so.

Braking: The braking was sufficient at best. Trail riding with buddies, we encountered everything from hidden switchbacks to “I have way to much speed for this rock garden!” moments. The Avid Elixir 5 SL brakes lacked the at-a-moment’s-notice responsiveness we hope for in a trail bike; however, the tool-less reach adjust on the brake levers enabled us to set the lever to start contact precisely where we wanted.

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TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?

The bike’s responsiveness to our shifting was disappointing. It felt loose and delayed with each gear change, most notably at crucial times, like when shifting in anticipation of a steep climb. We suggest upgrading the SRAM X7 shifters and front derailleur to the middle-tier X9 for crisper shifting. The back tire spun out easily when we stood up to climb, even when we concentrated on placing more weight over the back wheel. If you ride in dry desert terrain, we suggest switching out the rear tire for something with a little more width and tighter tread pattern, such as Specialized’s The Captain Control.

BUYING ADVICE

If you’re a female rider who is still losing efficiency and forcing yourself to adapt to a male-specific bike design, we highly suggest you use your next lunch break to cruise over to the nearest Specialized dealer and throw a leg over a Rumor Comp. While the 2014 model we tested retails for $2,900, the new 2015 Rumor Comp has an even more affordable suggested retail of $2,700. Throw a leg over both and see which you prefer. Bottom line: women will be hard pressed to find a female-specific bike that better meets their needs.

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