Specialized Crave SL – SingleSpeed
I’ve noticed that all of my previous posts seem to feature my SingleSpeed… so I kinda felt obligated to tell you more.
I guess one could refer to me as a long term converted single speeder. I’ve tried and tested the bike almost two years ago, purchased it and loved it ever since. And yes although Specialized discontinued this model for now, they remain incredibly popular and almost impossible to get your hands on.
Well, simply put… this is biking in its purest form.
I’m sure you’ve reasoned out all the basics around maintenance etc etc… yes those are all true but that’s not why we (the SS community) love our SS’s. The truth is it’s the experience, the WOW factor of being able to get to the top of a hill using one gear. The pure brute force of your pedal stroke being converted to momentum. The feel of the actual surface in your hands, back and bum.
Not all of it sounds great but let me reassure you, it’s great!
So yes, the bike gives you a proper beating, but somehow you manage to enjoy it, i cannot explain this. The fact is that you lose out on speed on the flats and some on downhills, the upside of this is that you actually recover remarkably well. You then in turn climb significantly better.
Is it faster?
Yes, sometimes. I’ve tested this completing a number of 50km technical loops at the Buffelsdrift MTB park in Pretoria. On a number of different weekends I’ve alternated between my full suspension and the SS. The results showed consistently that I’m faster on the SS on these technical loops. I know, this didn’t make any sence. To contextualize, the route is quite comprehensive with lots of winding turns slowing you down. It’s a real hard on the body rocky environment with lots of climbing (for that part of the world not having any real mountains).
Lets race then
When the Trailseeker announced Buffelsdrift as their venue I decided to take this test to the next level and race using my SS. I burned my lungs on the flats as the bunch left me in their dust. However, once we hit the climbs the head start they vanished quickly. The minor advantage on the downhills wasn’t enough to fight the time I made up on the climbs and no, I’m not a strong climber. Bike versus bike I’ve tested this and consistently even on a bad day I remain faster on the SS. In addition tacking technical terrain being so directly in contact with the surface actually gives you a strange sense of control and confidence, you can actually feel what’s happening.
So a bit more on the bike
Component wise, well not that there’s a lot to talk about. The bike came with Shimano Deore brakes, i had a similar set on my Spaz Camber. Maybe I’m just picky but I didn’t like the brakes. On both my Camber and SS I had the same issue. The pistons in the calipers just never properly retracted. This meant that you’ll always have a pad touching your disk…. zing, zing, zing. No amount of readjusting will fix this. In addition, finding a proper set of pads was a mission. Shimano and other brands never built these calipers for high end performance thus the pad’s didn’t deliver high performance. I eventually replaced the brake set with a Shimano XT after I honestly tried everything (Disks, adjustment, pads, adjustment, disks, pads, pads, adjustment … 12month’s).
What else? Well I also replaced the 32 with a 32 oval ring… now i’ll expand a bit more on this subject in another post. And well the suspension, or lack thereof performs much better than you would think. Yes you get beaten and thrown around but it;s not even close to how bad you would think.