Bike Review: Specialized Era
Light & Fast
I had a chance to demo Specialized’s S-Works Era, a cross-country bike which is light and fast and gives confidence to riders whether going up or down the hills. It’s a fantastic bike for the woman who wants to get out on her favorite trails and yet it would be the bike of choice for those who race. To start with, the carbon frame is lighter than their men’s bike frame of a similar size. Simply put, the tubing is a bit thinner and the carbon lay-up is more compliant for lighter riders on the Era than the Epic. Even if men may be the same height as a woman, he is on average heavier. It stands to reason that a lighter, less muscled woman would be at a disadvantage with a bike of the same weight. I took the Era through the paces: racing it down a fairly straight bike path, I found it to be racy and quick. I like “fast” and it did not disappoint. Then I took it up the switchback trails on a steep hill. Its lightness was really an advantage here as I found myself easily climbing. Because I am not an expert mountain biker, there are times a hill has conquered me rather than vice-versa. I have loved my Trek mountain bike, but the Era felt nearly 10 lbs. lighter. I think I would have done better if I had ridden the Era last summer up the aptly named “Puke Hill.”
A bike with good frame geometry that is made to fit means good bye to back and neck pain. As you roll over rocks, roots, and up and over bumps in the trail, you want a bike that stays comfortable. The Era offers not only a good geometric fit, for the average proportioned woman like me, but also a suspension that can be dialed in to adjust for my specific weight. The Era has a “performance” geometry which helps the rider to get into an aggressive position for climbing–which you will feel when you ride straight up a slope.
The Epic and Era have different tuned suspensions; with the Era being well tuned for lighter-weight riders. The Era’s front fork has an adjustable negative spring that you can tune for your appropriate rider weight and the shock has a lighter platform and the full-firm (hard-tail) setting would be different for a lighter-weight rider. The shock can also be adjusted to a “Trail Tune” setting, allowing it to self-adjust to differing terrain.
Have you ever hit a large bump or other obstacle had had your chain slap the frame below it? That’s called “chain slap” and most riders justifiably hate that because it nicks your frame. The Era features SRAM’s rear derailleur that holds the chain tight and still as you hit those obstacles. There are more thoughtful details that Specialized has put into the engineering and design of the Era. If you wish for more technical details about the Era, and/or learn about its FlowControl Mini Brain shock, visit the website here. I am won’t pretend to be technically savvy, when I’m not. But I can tell you about the ride, how the Era inspires confidence on the trail, how it is an absolute joy to ride and will have you wanting to ride longer and more often.