Kinky pillow talk. Sultry whispers in the ear. Tingling touch along the inner thigh. The culmination of balance, yogic performance and subtle grace in a firm yet flexible frame. Yes, this is some of the finest I’ve ever had – truly great S-X.
The affair ends soon, I realize, staring down on the deep dusty corners and sage gap jumps at the Kamloops Bike Ranch. It has felt illicit, the past few months, and while the test of this fine ride may be coming to an end, I hope it has not only the bike that has allowed me to divulge in such titillating forays of riding, and that my treacherous ways will endure…
I admit I am a bit of a male-slut when it comes to bikes. The quiver of cycles stashed in my garage testifies to the fact that I have difficulty being a one-ride kinda guy. The main reason for desires of diversity are not due to some perversity to blow cash, but rather each fits in its own way – downhill, urban and dirt-jumping, freeriding and cross-country. And yet, for the first time, the experience of the Specialized SX Trail has convinced me one bike can offer it all – and not just put out, but I mean PERFORM.
The SX Trail is based on a simple but tried and true four-bar VPS linkage, fine tuned over the past decade by Specialized
. There are eight sisters in this particular line, from the light weight all-mountain Enduro and Enduro Elite to the burly freeride version dubbed the Trail. I have been riding the SX Trail frame with all the sturdy bits from last year’s Demo 8 and a Marzzocchi 66 RC fork from 2005.
The bike’s set up is fairly plush, so Specialized sent me a 450 lb spring for the Fox DHX 5.0 shock as the size small frame came with a 350 lb spring better suited for a squeaky hotel room mattress. With the cushin’ for the pushin’ and the size of the rise dialed, the other components complimented the ride well, with a single chain ring and Blackspire C40 guide on the front. Of particular mention is the superb 66rc – considerably longer than the 2006 66 due to a raised arch – and set the bike with a comfortable rake for the downhill and free-riding it primarily endured during its three months in my sweaty palms.
But enough about my palms…let’s talk about performance. The SX Trail is incredibly fast and surprisingly stable, exuding confidence through almost all types of terrain. It really shines in tight, technical trails where its relatively short chain-stays ensure snappy turning out of tight corners and berms, while the single crown fork compliments the tight geometry with superb handling over rooty, rocky terrain where quick reactions are key. It pedaled better than any longer-travel bike I’ve ridden – not necessarily the long climb kinda rig that I’d choose, but for any medium length to sprint-able climbs, it excelled.
Riding the fast terrain of Kamloops and resorts such as the remarkable new trails at Silver Star (near Vernon, BC) was divine on the SX Trail. The only limiting factor was my ability (inability) to keep my finger off the stoppers.
Which brings me to the best aspects of this freeride version of the Enduro line, and that’s its jump-ability. The SX Trail
, properly fortified with sturdy components, is essentially a skookum dirt jumper bred with a downhill bike. I repeatedly checked the frame for cracks after a hard day’s riding and was impressed by its durability.
There are several key factors that contribute to the air-excellence of this ride, notably its relatively low centre of gravity, its small rear triangle (reducing the mass and elevating its flick-ability) and ideal geometry give it excellent balance in the air. Of course, as with all smaller travel bikes, the flipside to these advantages mean a more flexible feel in the rear of the bike under hard turning and less forgiveness should you not execute any air over 10 feet with sniper precision.
My only other criticism (and that needs to be denoted with an asterix the size of Bender’s balls) is that riding the big mountains of Golden thoroughly wiped me out. While the SX Trail is capable of pretty much anything you can throw at it, without the plush 8-10” of travel on a bigger bike it may be you that can’t handle it when it comes to long, fast, technical descents.
All in all, this was a fantastic bike and I will be sad to end our affair so soon. If you’re looking for an all-around ripper that excelled in most terrain, you’d be hard pressed to spend your money on a finer bike. There are rumours circulating about a Demo 7 for 2007,but the Demo 7 will likely be heavier and less efficient as the SX Trail
, thereby ensuring that this sexy ride will (hopefully) maintain its place in the brothel of bikedom.
The SX Trail frame set from Specialized is available in 4 sizes (S, M, L, XL) to suit most sized riders out there.
Check out www.specialized.com
for more information on their whole line up of bikes.