- Good all-rounder
- Slow going on road
Price as reviewed:
Adventure bikes are invariably specced with a mishmash of road, cyclo-cross and mountain bike componentry, affording the discerning explorer the option to blitz through the bushes or streak along sections of tarmac with equal ease. The Specialized Sequoia Expert is equally at home on and off road as I found out during a journey the length of France – from north to south, taking in large sections of byway and bridleway en route.
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Specialized Sequoia Expert frame
At the heart of the Sequoia lies a steel frame made with what Specialized has termed Premium Cro-Mo tubing. The matte magnolia finish lends it an element of understated class, but the frame’s attributes don’t just stop at the aesthetics.
Yes, the welding is pretty easy on the eye, as expected at this price point, but the ultra-thin seatstays add the compliance needed to tackle the type of terrain that this bike has been billed for. Finished with a series of subtle graphics and bristling with bottle cage and baggage bosses, the Specialized Sequoia Expert’s frame more than hints at its intentions. Lacking, however, was internal cable routing which could be useful but didn’t detract from the bike’s good looks.
The highlight of the spec sheet has to be the wheelset. Specialized’s own Adventure Gear Cruzeros are arrestingly large. And heavy. The rear wheel weighs in at 2.61kg and the front a fraction less at 2.04kg. These are shod with some fairly robust rubber, which Specialized calls the Adventure Gear Sawtooths. In width these measure an authoritative 42mm and the minimal tread is as brisk on the tarmac as it is assured in the woods. Levers have been eschewed in favour of thru-axles on both front and back, tightened with a 5mm Allen key.
SRAM Force has been assigned shifting and stopping duties, while Shimano has been tasked with providing an incredibly wide-ranging cassette, which possibly isn’t as consistent in its increments as some may like. Parts of the Specialized Sequoia Expert’s finishing kit could be considered somewhat incongruous on a bicycle bound for the back of beyond; the saddle and handlebar tape are upholstered in a dark blue canvas which looks, instead, bound for an Eighties disco, and clings onto grime and moisture with gusto. But the actual handlebar itself, Specialized’s Adventure Gear Hover, bows outwards on the drops making for a comfortable cruising position.
With the bike fully laden (with Specialized’s own Burra Burra bag range) with a week’s worth of clothing and equipment, the Sequoia was approaching weight of an alarming level – if I dropped this thing, I mused, at Paris Gare du Nord, I’d need to employ the services of the military to pick it back up. But on my way down to Montparnasse, through the chaos of the French capital, the bike remained delightfully steady.
Starting from the South of France, I used a selection of byways and country lanes. On flat stretches of tarmac the Sequoia felt decidedly undergeared and I was able to spin top gear out easily; this obviously capped my top speed and I chugged along at around 18-20mph on even surfaces. However, I was touring rather than racing and when I settled into the ride I found that this was one of the most comfortable bikes I’d ever ridden, not least because of the ergonomic design of the handlebar which offered multiple easy cruising position, including on the drops themselves. In fact I probably spent more time on the drops than in any other position.
The first part of the journey was more or less flat so the larger half of the cassette was left dormant pretty much until I made it up to Brittany, then that tiny 42×42 gear really came into its own and easy spinning became flavour of the day. The compliant frame and chunky rubber made a mockery of the coarse coastal paths with the Sequoia remaining surefooted amid all the, albeit sedate, rough stuff it met with.
At 2,500, the Specialized Sequoia Expert comes in at a fair old chunk of change. And although it’s an ‘Adventure’ specific bicycle, it’s incredibly reassuring to be able to hop off piste as and when the need, or mood, arises. Specced with a decent array of componentry, sporting a fairly dashing, if bombproof façade, the explorer in you could do a lot worse.
After making peace with its heavy weight and lack of urgency, it’s easy to embrace this machine for what it is. Yes, you’re never going to top any Strava leaderboards and yes, it’s probably a very wise idea to bend your knees and keep a straight back while lifting it it, but the Specialized Sequoia Expert is extremely good at what it was built for – namely, adventure. As well being beefy enough to take on ruts and ridges at a canter, the myriad handholds offered by the ergonomic Adventure Gear Hover handlebar makes for a satisfactory experience on the asphalt, too.
Frame: Premium Cr-Mo size-specific tubing
Fork: Specialized FACT carbon
Size range: 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61cm
Groupset: SRAM Force
Gear ratio: 42x11-42
Wheels: Specialized Adventure Gear Cruzero
Tyres: Specialized Adventure Gear Sawtooth
Bars: Specialized Adventure Gear Hover
Stem: Specialized Pro SL, alloy, 4-bolt
Seatpost: Specialized CG-R, FACT carbon
Saddle: Body Geometry Phenom Comp