Specialized invited a small group of journalists to its private mountain retreat above Whistler Village to unveil a completely new slopestyle bike that will step in for the SX
that the team has been using this year. The P.Slope is designed to replicate the agility and snap of the hardtail P.3 chassis
, while offering the extra stability and measure of control that rear suspension brings to the game. Rear suspension travel is 87mm, with 100mm up front. The P.Slope shares the same geometry as the competition-proven P.3, but is otherwise a new design from the ground up.
The P.Slope was first photographed at the Bearclaw Invitational under the Claw himself. The new chassis steps away from the FSR four-bar suspension that Specialized has carved its name upon and instead uses a single-pivot triangulated swingarm that drives a RockShox Monarch air shock through a seat-tube tunnel. The swingarm rotates around the bottom bracket shell to eliminate chain growth - which means that it can be run as a single speed.
The heart of the P.Slope is a low-leverage rear suspension designed to reign in the foolishly high air pressures that Slopestyle competitors use to keep the shock from blowing through its travel on landings. Most suspensions run near three-to-one leverage rates, which force slopestyle competitors to run shock spring pressures in the 300 to 340 psi range. Specialized team riders Darren Berrecloth and Martin Soderstrom reportedly can use pressures as low as 175 psi in the Slope's RockShox Monarch shock - and that the rear suspension actually works well when it finally does move.
Specialized says that the P.Slope's concentric bottom bracket pivot and matching shell were among the most highly engineered aluminum forgings that their design team has produced.
The P.Slope's single-pivot rear suspension rotates concentrically around the bottom bracket shell on a sturdy pair of needle bearings. An ISCG-05 chainguide mount is integrated to the drive side of the swingarm, so the chain guide will rotate as the suspension compresses, which should keep the chain in better alignment when a derailleur is being used. "When?" you ask. Specialized designed the P.Slope's adjustable rear dropouts to be interchangeable from single-speed to geared, so its owners have more options. The left-side rear dropout incorporates a post-type caliper mount to keep the brake aligned with the rotor as the chain is adjusted in single-speed mode. In addition, the P.Slope's BB30 press-in bottom bracket can be adapted to fit conventional threaded BB systems, or even the old-school press-fit BMX BB system. The rear hub is 135mm wide with a 10-millimeter bolt-on axle.
Two Allen bolts fix the rear dropouts in place, while chain tension is accomplished with a captured, threaded adjuster. The rear brake caliper (right) is mounted to the left dropout so it will remain in position with the P.Slope's 160mm rotor.
Specialized chose to drive the shock directly with the swingarm through a tunnel in the seat tube. The arrangement presumably keeps the P-Slope's profile slim and smooth, with no external rocker links to catch clothing or shoes as the rider performs in competition. The seat tube is hydro-formed into its final shape and afterwards, the tunnel is bored through and finished with a discrete welded insert. The result is a simple looking chassis that emulates its P.3 hardtail sibling in profile and reportedly, handles and pedals so closely that the team can switch seamlessly between the P.3 and P.Slope.
A look down the seat tube tunnel at the P.Slope's RockShox Monarch 3-way damper. The suspension configuration keeps the frame slim and smooth.
Components are primarily Specialized P-Series items, with a 750mm handlebar, a 35mm stem, and 36-spoke wheels with P-Series hubs. The fork is the venerable RockShox Argyle with a chromoly steerer. When asked about the possibility of a Specialized-made Gyro appearing on the P-series bikes, we were told that Specialized has no plans to make one, and that the team uses a Cane Creek headset to adapt to either of the two most popular existing Gyros. The P-Series stem has a built-in feature to route the front brake hose through the fork's steerer tube.
Clockwise Up front, the P.Slope runs a 100mm RockShox Argyle fork. A rider's view of the P-Series stem reveals the brake-hose routing through the stem cap. SRAM/Truvativ's Descendant crankset can be fitted with a chainguide should the owner decide to run a rear derailleur.
The Claw airs out the P.Slope at the Bear Claw Invitational. Fraser Britton photo
The final MSRP and delivery dates are still in the TBD stage although the buzz is that we should be seeing the new P.Slope later this year in bike shops, and Specialized estimated that the price of the complete bike will be a bit more than $2000 USD. We are told that complete P.Slopes will ship with an adapter kit that will include two different derailleur options as well as bottom bracket adapters. A frame-and-shock option will also be available.
Specialized 2013 Helmets
Specialized showed a new-for-2013 helmet targeted at the All-Mountain rider called the Tactic II. Designed by Motorsports helmet guru Bob lakes, the Tactic II sports a low, close fitting in-molded shell and a less aggressive profile that should play well to racers and riders who shy from XC helmet designs that appear to be styled after Acapulco's multi-tier beach-front time-share condominiums. The Tactic is tastefully sculpted to protect the head with a low back and a smooth profile. Plenty of vents should keep the rider cool in Summer and a ratcheting head band ensures a good fit. Specialized also designed in a vertical adjustment feature into the head band, and shortened the visor to provide maximum visibility. Specialized says, if you are going to buy only one helmet, then the Tactic II is it. Sizes are small, medium and large, and the price for the new Tactic II is a very affordable, $75 USD.
The Tactic II helmet is sculpted to please (and protect) All-mountain and gravity oriented riders who want a lighter-weight half-shell helmet. The rear of the helmet is low on the head and features Specialized's 'Headset SL' ratcheting headband. We liked the 'Tri Fit' buckle that spreads the retaining straps to clear most any ear types.
Launched earlier this year, the skate-style Covert helmet has an ABS plastic shell that is said to be one millimeter thinner than its competition - and 50 grams lighter. The EPS liner is designed to offer certified protection, while presenting the thinnest profile. The Covert shares the Tri Fit side buckles and is sold in an extra-small size for young riders, in addition to small, medium and large adult sizes. Eight colorways are available and the MSRP is pegged at $40 USD.
A look around the Covert helmet shows its minimal ventilation, and its true-to skate culture profile. Specialized hopes the Covert will cross outside the boundaries of cycling into most active sports.
While the carbon-shelled Dissident full-face DH lid is not new, two new colorways are offered for 2013: Shredded Clown (left) and Iced Blue on the right. Get yours now for only $350 USD