MBA editor Jimmy Mack traveled to Specialized for a first-look at their 2002 lineup. The first order of biz was lighter and stronger aluminum alloys for S-Works and Stumpjumper models. The M-5 stuff is reported to be far stronger and lighter than 6061 and the M-4 alloy is said to be a bit stronger than good old 6061–and more easily formed into shapes. On the subject of shapes, the big S developed a taper-butted J-shaped downtube that orients the upper section of the pipe to counter stress better. It is included throughout the FSR lineup and a few other choice dirt bikes. Specialized–one of the sports top spin masters, calls the tube shape, ORE technology.

Ball bearings have found their way to the S-Works FSR models. Titanium bolt kits and Mavic CrossMax UST wheelsets keep these skinny-tired expensive racers ballerina fit. Travel is adjustable from three to three and a half inches by inverting the new flip link . Perhaps the best news, however, is that the top tubes of all the FSR lineup have finally been lengthened. No news on whether or not the previously low bottom brackets have been raised.

The Stumpjumper line gets last years M-4 material and thus, are a few pounds lighter across the board . A brave new step for the big S is a FSR model with hydraulic disc brakes. The Stumpjumper M4 Disc has Shimanos mid-level M525 twin-piston calipers. The fork is RockShox new adjustable-stroke Duke XC slider.

There is a full complement of Enduro models–the longer-legged trailbike that Specialized broke ground with a couple of seasons earlier ). The upgrades for 2002 are a new monocoque treatment on the frame to cut its weight and retain strength; a flip-link that alters the bottom bracket height, suspension travel, and frame angles; and a made-for-Specialized Fox shock that allows on-the fly travel adjustments from four to a little more than five inches at the rear wheel.

Big Hit was the term Specialized coined for its downhill and freeride offerings. This coming season, A true downhill bike will be available in a complete-bike format. The FSR DH has eight inches of wheel travel in the rear and a 7.5-inch travel Marzocchi Shiver fork up front . The expected features like adjustable geometry and a universal-mount MRP chain guide system are standard, as is a DH-tough, chromoly crankset. A more freeriding-type Big-hit bike, the Comp shares the basic Monocoque chassis, but uses a single-crown Marzocchi Z.5 Bomber fork, and its rear wheel travel can be set at 5.5 or 6.25 inches.

Specialized will deviate from its patented four-bar suspension in order to reach lower price levels. The new bikes will be tagged with the UNO name and will appear on their ertry-level, HardRock lineup. The final word is that Specialized has expanded its female-specific bikes throughout the first two tiers of its cross country and road bike models . The designs have female-tailored cockpits; shorter cranksets and top tubes; and in some cases, lower bottom brackets–in addition to colors and graphics that are more suitable to the average womans more-sophisticated visual palette.
Look forward to early 2002 Specialized tests in the very near future.