For a fast-rolling single track experience the Specialized Carve range, with its 29 inch wheels and hardtail setup, is difficult to match. Each of the Carve 29ers is comparatively affordable when you check out the specifications and if you want to improve your achievements on cross-country stints without breaking the bank then one of the following might be suitable.
Specialized Carve Comp 29
At the start of the range is the Specialized Carve Comp 29 which has a fully manipulated M4SL alloy frame designed for the larger wheels and with cross country geometry to help you make the most out of the bike in its intended environment. Smooth welding on the fully butted frame gives it that premium look and ensures that it is strong as well as light so that your momentum is not compromised. Weighing 13.2kg does make this the lightest bike but it’s comparable to the Specialized Camber bikes which are FSR so in my book that makes it good enough, especially at this price point.
The RockShox XC32 TK SA 29 SL front fork has 32mm Cr-Mo stanchions and TurnKey damping for further weight reduction and convenient customisation respectively. 80mm of travel from the fork will make a good account of itself over the rough stuff while still remaining stiff and agile as and when required. Shimano Alivio and SLX Shadow components and BR-M446 hydraulic disc brakes are also onboard, so even the base model can be seen to have a well rounded selection of accompanying kit.
Specialized Carve Expert 29
The Specialize Carve Expert 29 ups the stakes in several respects, while still retaining the fully manipulated alloy frame which makes each bike so great. This time the fork is a Recon Silver TK model with magnesium lower for lightness and strength, delivering the same 80mm of travel as the RockShox option before it but doing so with greater smoothness and scalability. Meanwhile Shimano Deore and XT Shadow components form the drivetrain and BR-M505 brakes with a 180mm rotor at the front and a 160mm rotor at the rear help to keep the rider on top of things even if the skies have opened up and turned the earth to mud. The Captain Control tyres from Specialized are combined with Carve Disc 29″ alloy rims for that fast-rolling feel which reduces resistance an encourages straight line speed.
Specialized Carve Pro 29
The Specialized Carve Pro 29 sits pretty at the top of the range, enjoying a range of all-new features for 2012. The RockShox Recon Gold 29 SL fork is geared towards competitive racing, along with the rest of the components. A gaggle of different Shimano groupsets combine to help bring the Carve Pro to life, while the 10-speed Radpifire Plus levers will greatly enhance your shifting speed. The Shimano Deore Servo Wave hydraulic disc brakes at the front and rear are particularly impressive, setting the bar for responsiveness and durability in this price bracket.
Each of these Specialized Carve models will gobble up cross country stints and give you the competitive edge if you fancy getting involved in some real racing. That this can be achieved without spending an arm and a leg only makes the proposition of buying one all the more tempting for those who love their cycling.