First Ride - Specialized SWAT Apparel

Apr 9, 2014
by Mike Levy  
A week before the Sea Otter Classic, Specialized invited a handful of journalists from around the world to Santa Cruz, California, to showcase their 2014 apparel lineup while shredding some of the tackiest, most ripping trails you can imagine. With sunshine in the forecast after a week of rain, it was primed to be a fantastic few days that included a look at three different categories of clothing that incorporate their evolving SWAT system. Specialized created the SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, and Tools) line of products in early 2013, and the two areas where you'll see it are on the bike storage needs, and on the rider’s body. We’ve already seen the bottle cage and top cap system that they introduced in 2013, but now they’ve taken the SWAT setup right into their apparel with their SWAT bibs, vest and short liners.

Matt Hunter Specialized SWAT clothing

Matt Hunter rocking the new SWAT gear in some Santa Cruz singletrack.


Just like when selecting a new bike, there are different categories of clothing to choose from depending on the type of riding you're looking to do. The Atlas XC gear for the XC/trail rider (picture riding the Camber and Stumpjumper bikes), enduro gear for the trail/enduro rider (Stumpy Evo/Enduro bikes), and Demo gear for the all-mountain/gravity rider (Enduro/Status/Demo bikes)

Atlas XC
Atlas XC is an ultra-lightweight range of gear that is tailored tight with a stretchy element for increased mobility, and the Atlas XC Pro short also comes with the clever SWAT bib. Being somebody that absolutely hates wearing a pack, this was my personal favourite from the 2014 line. A lot of riders are on the fence about wearing lycra or baggies on long rides but will succumb to the ''pickle suit'' for storage and mobility reasons only. It’s definitely not to look studly in front of all the ladies, that’s for damn sure! The Atlas XC Pro shorts have pockets on top of the quads so your keys, cell phone, snacks, or whatever you need to stash all remain still and don't bounce around on every pedal stroke. The shorts are also laser vented to keep it breezy for the boys down stairs.

Specialized SWAT



The SWAT bibs can be removed and used with any short to give you three lower back pockets and two quad pockets. Riders at the camp stuffed water, pumps, CO2’s, snacks, and even beer on their backs to take full advantage of the storage. The quad pockets are great for wallets, cab fair, cell phones, used snack wrappers, or anything else you want to put in there. The Specialized employees made it clear that it wasn’t their business to tell you how to use your storage, but creativity was encouraged.

Atlas XC Pro short
• VaporRize™ moisture transfer stretch woven fabrics
• Two zippered pockets
• Bonded seam construction
• Removable bib liner short with SWAT and Body Geometry Mountain Chamois
• DeflectUV 50+
• MSRP $150 USD

Atlas XC Pro jersey
• VaporRize™ moisture transfer knit fabrics
• One zippered side pocket with sunglass wipe
• Partial zipper with sunglass loop
• Laser perforated venting
• DeflectUV 30
• Relaxed fit
• MSRP $98 USD







Enduro
Everybody’s favourite word represents the Specialized Enduro line, but you can’t knock’em for it - they have been using the Enduro name far before it became the latest craze. Also, the moment you hear it you have a pretty good association for what the product is best suited for. This welterweight trail/enduro gear is aimed at those who aren’t afraid of the most technical descents, but don’t mind pedalling to the top of the mountain to access them.

Specialized SWAT clothing

As soon as you slide on the Enduro Comp short you notice how much you actually don’t notice them. After wearing the Atlas XC gear the prior day, it was also obvious that the cut is longer to accommodate wearing kneepads. After all, nobody wants to get caught showing skin between their pads and their short. The short has only one zippered pocket but, when matched with a SWAT bib or vest, we found there was plenty of storage. The PRO model does come equipped with three pockets, however. They’re also reinforced with two snaps and extra Velcro to ensure they stay up no matter how wild you get. The waist size adjuster tabs on the side of the shorts also provide up to two inches of adjustment, ideal for those who find themselves in between sizes. Specialized also did a good job offering a variety colours that can be mixed and matched to create some different looks, and there are different elements that tie multiple options together.

Enduro Comp short
• VaporRize™ moisture transfer woven fabrics
• One zippered and one stash pocket
• Internal waist adjustment
• Deflect UV 50+
• MSRP $72 USD
Enduro Comp jersey
• VaporRize™ moisture transfer fabrics
• One zippered side pocket with sunglass wipe
• DeflectUV 30
• Relaxed fit
• MSRP $70 USD




Demo
Demo gear is targeted at those pushing the limits, hucking their meat, and ripping the most technical descents. However, it’s light yet durable material still allowed for enough mobility to pedal around on the trail bike with ease. Although lightweight, Kyle Norbraten, who was also in attendance all weekend at the press camp, has proved the durability of these shorts at events like the Rampage. The cuts are similar to other options out there, but the material is definitely unique. Being somebody who is very focused on mobility, they never felt restrictive at all for a gravity short. Hell, they felt great for any short. The pockets being placed on top of the quad was also nice for carrying extra items without the usual bouncing around as you pedal.

Specialized SWAT clothing

The Demo Jersey was the only long sleeve item I wore all weekend because of the heat, but it still allowed for good airflow and absorbed all the moisture I secreted while working to keep up with the fast group of riders at the camp. It’s a baggy jersey and allows room for pads, but without pads it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a tall tee at a Lil Wayne concert - the fits on all the apparel we wore were pretty spot on.

Demo Pro short
• VaporRize™ moisture transfer stretch woven fabrics
• Three zippered pockets
• Laser perforated venting
• Pad ready
• Side waist adjustment tabs
• Deflect UV 50+
• MSRP $105 USD
Demo Pro jersey
• VaporRize™ moisture transfer knit fabrics
• One zippered side pocket with sunglass wipe
• Pad ready
• DeflectUV 30
• Relaxed fit
• MSRP $85 USD




To wrap up this preview up, we were impressed by the evolution of the Specialized apparel line. One very cool piece of insight was at the presentation dinner by Specialized employee Sam Bennedict. Sam stated to the group, “6 and a half years ago when I came aboard Specialized, whenever we did a photo shoot and had to wear Specialized gear we were all bummed out. Now, with our current product offerings we can proudly wear our own gear knowing it’s top notch.” A lot of this has to do with the team Specialized has put in place. Peter Curran, formerly with Burton, oversees the apparel team, and ten strong group aggressively strives for perfection with both in-house development and product feedback. The product team plays a huge role in testing and providing feedback to the apparel team. They also have a pattern maker and seamstress in house to make on the fly samples to try things out when ideas are born. No longer is their apparel line an afterthought but now has the horsepower to compete and even lead the industry with their development capabilities. We look forward to seeing the continued growth of this product segment in the years to come.


Words: John Hauer
www.specialized.com


88 Comments

  • + 32
 Friends, lets be honest.We all like doing the big all day rides, but you know just as well as me that life gets in the way. You work your schedule around but, all you can fit in is a 1-2 hour ride. I have been using the vest for about a month or so now and have been loving it. I think most of you would too. I feel faster and more "free," if that makes sense. Plus, if you sweat as much as me, its nice to not have to wear a backpack every time you ride.

As the great Ferris Beuller says, "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."
  • + 3
 Couldn't agree more and always have a pack for long rides.
  • + 5
 I agree, I've got the bib and I love it so far. only a couple rides on it so I'm still trying to master the art of putting the water bottle back in the pouch while riding. much better than a hydro pack and my blur ltc lacks cage mounts so this is a great option for me. Happy that I found it.

edit: some people apparently don't understand that the bib is an undergarment for the baggies and shirt.
would have been a good idea to include the other pics from the specialized site that shows the back pockets...without those...people are misunderstanding what they are seeing.
  • + 0
 Wait, I can't figure this out. It just looks like XC riding gear. Is the big "innovation" here that they have incorporated pockets into lycra riding gear? Out of everything I read talking about "hating to wear a pack", the only thing I'm reading that explains why you wouldn't have to wear a pack with this stuff is because of a back pocket on the vest thing (like every other XC jersey out there) and a zippered pocket on the lycra shorts. Is that it, or am did I miss a crucial piece of info here? A couple pockets doesn't seem like a replacement for a pack, except on short rides.
  • + 5
 It serves the same function as the pockets on an xc jersey. The difference is that in order to not flop around with stuff in the pockets, jerseys have to be pretty form-fitting. The vest is worn inside your jersey, as are the bibs, so that you can wear a baggy jersey and still have functional pockets. Lots of people wear bibs under their baggies anyway so why not throw some pockets on and ditch the sweaty constricting camelback.
  • + 2
 Yep packs suck.
  • + 3
 Holy shit, that article/video actually explains what the hell this product is actually for! Thanks airsoftesneeto. Now it makes sense (even if this article did an absolutely horrendous job of explaining what the hell the fuss is about, or even include photos of the crucial feature) That is a FANTASTIC idea, I will be looking for the vest-thing at my local shop for sure. Dare I say it?... this SWAT gear is super enduro.
  • - 2
 I'm with these guys, I love sweating directly onto my wallet, cellphone, keys etc...so when I want to put them to use I find them drenched in salty goodness.
Sidenote: The iPhone stands up to this abuse beautifully.
  • + 1
 @g11rant87 try it. Believe me man, when I sweat, it pours. I have always taken my iPhone with me on rides and have always put it in one of the back pockets. I have yet to have any issues of sweat messing with my phone. Heck I have been out in a down pour and had no issues. I think you will really like it!!
  • + 1
 g11rant87, wallet cellphone and keys? these are undergarments, you still have your baggies with whatever pockets on those and a saddle bag too if you like. I never take my wallet of keys though, not going to need those on the trail.
  • + 19
 Lunch ride gear designed by industry guys who get a lunch ride. This will be all the rage with a small number of over-biked middle-aged dudes on Emma McCrary trail (Santa Cruz, CA) around noontime who yell on the forums about full suspension frames needing water bottle mounting places. If that's for you fine, but long live the hydration pack, 2+L capacity, a little bit of extra gear in case something goes wrong, and rides longer than 90 minutes.
  • + 2
 Amen to that.
  • + 3
 Backpack is always necessary, how else do you carry water, tools, spare bits & all of your Safety materials.
  • + 5
 You missed the point of SWAT didn't you.
  • - 2
 There is no point to swat. Other than profit margins.
  • + 5
 Idiot. The point is you don't need a pack.
  • + 2
 Thought the post said "Specialized TWAT Apparel" When I glanced through!

I need my eyes tested!
  • + 4
 Some of us do prefer to not have a pack on your back. With a water bottle on the bike and one in your back and enough pockets for tools, you can get away with not wearing a pack AND wearing relaxed clothing. (not an xc jersey). And yes, some of us can get in a > 90 minute ride with 2 bottles.
  • - 2
 Idiot? It's clothing with pockets and a bottle cage. You missed the point of capitalism didn't you..
  • + 1
 @Helm72 You've got the right idea..."Safety materials"! "Safety meetings" before the long climbs are always nice!
  • + 17
 I just hope that RaceFace has Atlas trademarked Smile
  • + 3
 +1
and that they stick it to them for it.
  • + 2
 + 1MM
If Specialized sued a company for using the name "Epic" for cycling & messenger bags, then surely, Raceface can sue them for using their component collection name for clothing.
  • + 1
 Rab might have something to say about the vaporrize fabric
This kit has been around for years
rab.uk.com/products/mens-clothing/mens-clothing-vapour-rise
  • + 1
 Yeah come oooon!! Everyone sue specialized!!
  • + 15
 How does this clothing eliminate the need for a pack or water storage?
  • + 41
 It filters your sweat and stores it in the thigh pockets. Then you drink the filtered water through tubes. No wait that was the movie Dune.
  • + 1
 i was wondering the same thing i don't quite get it neither
  • + 2
 bottle cage on bike
phone & wallet in shorts pockets ( the normal ones that all baggy shorts should have)
pump, spare tube, tire levers, multitool, snacks in SWAT pockets. Same thing as xc/road jersey pockets but with the ability to wear DH type jersey or tshirt on top for enduro fashion points.

Won't work for people without bottle cages. Also won't work for all-day backcountry rides, but perfect for a couple hours before or after work or school on your local trails. If I wore bibs I'd be taking a hard look at these.
  • + 2
 I have the swat bib, I carry a water bottle in the back pouch. I have no bottle cage mounts, and I hate having a hydro pack on my back. suits my needs perfectly.
  • + 2
 @conv3rt: +100000!
  • + 11
 Wait a minute. The article was posted by Mike Levy but written by John Haur? That's a serious conflict of interest because Haur is a Specialized sponsored athlete.

I guess that would explain why Pinkbike chose to post the story under a different authors name.
  • + 8
 You must've missed the "How to setup your rear shock" article a couple of weeks ago.

...just another spesh ad.
  • + 4
 Guys, It is not a conflict of interest. Both parties interest is profit. Smile
However this does not necessarily mean that the product themselves are not good. Vote with your wallet.
  • - 1
 @crices This was my first introduction the the SWAT line. I'm a die hard Lycra rider and almost always refuse to wear a pack. The reason I wear Lycra all the time is for two reasons. 1. Mobility, I don't want to have to worry about getting hung up on the bike or restricted from pedaling. 2. I hate packs and would rather destroy a jersey stuffing the pockets full of all my tools, tube snacks and extra water.

I dug the Atlas line because it's tailored very close to the body which takes care of mobility. The SWAT bibs are ideal for riders like me because we go out for 4+ hours and can hold all of our crap and 2 bottles (one on the cage and one in my swat bib). My rule of thumb is usually 3 hours or less, take on bottle, any longer and you better have two. Anyways, the swat bibs allow me to carry my sh*t and not look like a dweeb in Lycra.

Story from today at Sea Otter...

... After a few runs with Lopes down the downhill course he turned to me jokingly and asked " you don't have one one of those super secret tools on your bike do you?" I said of course, and popped out the multi-tool from under my bottle for him to adjust his brakes. He was blown away and said, "I've been wanting to do something like this for years!"
  • + 7
 Hey dude, that's rad you like the gear and all, but you race for team Muscle Milk Specialized or whatever. So you cannot and should not be writing reviews for a company by which you are sponsored by in some capacity without explicitly stating that in the article. Many people claim that Pinkbike articles are all ads, and I like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but in this case.....I'm a little upset. It seems like blatant misdirection for the website to post the review under Levy's name, even though you wrote it. For one, you did a good job. You deserve credit.....and well, i've already wasted energy complaining about the second reason. Oh and, nice name drop.
  • + 8
 Ohhhh look specialized charging a lot of money claiming they just revolutionized the industry of bike clothing launching a product that is not exactly bad but is not close to being either great or innovative. Geee im so glad they dont do this with their bikes.
  • + 2
 Acually, $88 for bib shorts is pretty cheap. Makes me wonder how good they are if they are ONLY $88.
  • + 1
 you do realize they are meant to be used as underwear? so they are actually charging you for one more piece that you dont actually need. an entire specialized enduro kit would cost something like this, 88 for the bibs+72 for the shorts+70 for the jersey for a grand total of 230 a tld wich is probably the most expensive one would be 110 for a ruckus short + 52 for a ruckus jersey for a total of 162. wich makes for a 62 dollars difference. and lets assume you really need to take a water bottle on your back, well then you can buy a camelback delaney for 35 dollars or even a venture for 60 and you would still save some money plus you don't have to wear f*cking bib shorts and also you would have much much better looking gear.
  • + 0
 Lots of people wear bibs under their choice of baggies anyway. Assuming these are decent $88 is a perfectly normal price. It's not an additional cost. It's not like these are only compatible with the full specialized kit.
  • + 8
 I'm not sure that anything revolutionary is happening here: Shorts with liners. They have a few pockets on them. And jerseys.
How is this different than cycling clothing of the last 5 years?
  • + 2
 Speed10, you're forgetting that specialized invented pockets.
  • + 3
 I just got a cease and desist order to stop using the pockets on my pants since it violates their patent.
  • + 2
 airsoftesneeto - Thank you. That video explained SWAT alot better than this article did. Props given.
  • + 9
 Where's the SWAT stealth fannypack? (Or was it deemed not #enduroapproved?)
  • + 1
 It would look great on the bib...
  • + 2
 Im suprised to see no one has capitalized on making a highlighter blue/green/yellow fannypack yet. That would be the #enduro apparel item of choice!
  • + 5
 Dear MTB apparel market,

Please remember to include the female market. We ride bikes and have the same needs. Contrary to popular belief we don't all love "pink and cute". We grunt up hills and get rowdy on the downhills. We want clothing that's tough, functional, and also doesn't reveal the flesh between the knee pads and bottom of shorts.

Thank you,
Frustrated lady who's jealous by all the new boy kits being released.
  • + 1
 i hear you! my wife complains often,that there's slim pickings for women.
  • + 1
 Sorry @lalena ! I wan't tough enough to give the womens line a go but it's called Andorra www.specialized.com/us/en/ftr/spring-summer-mountain-apparel/womens-all-mountain-apparel

It's the Women's specific version of the Enduro line
  • + 4
 I certainly proffer riding without a pack but sadly my yeti doesn't have a good spot for a drinks bottle (pretty much the only thing i dont like about it thow) so when riding that i have to take a pack.
For my xc bike with a bottle cage however these look v.handy! a riding budy has one, they look sweet and he was saying he doesnt really feel the bits he's carrying in it. SWAT stuff seems handy for long rides, i always find i forget something packing a bag, when i next need a bib or something I'll be having a good look at these!
  • + 6
 Specialized announced today they will be sueing any law enforcement agency using the word SWAT
  • + 2
 Lol, wouldn't surprise me. Might win too.
  • + 2
 If you wanted to go this route, why wouldn't you just go to the running section of REI and get one of the fanny packs that holds just a low profile bottle and has a small pocket, and tuck it under your jersey? It would work with all of your gear.
  • + 2
 Hey, how about this for some pretty obvious innovation? More mtb shorts with a waterproof back panel like the Royal Drifts, MT500s, etc? God knows we'll never ever use a rear fender, even if it's pouring, and that rear tire is just throwing $h#% at our a$s the whole damn time we ride.
  • + 2
 I've seen those and while it seems like a good idea for wet weather, I can't help but imagine it being massively sweaty in warmer weather. Is this not the case?
  • + 1
 Clothing with pockets and use a bottle cage?? Wtf. Are we going backwards? Big brands, under this nonsense economic paradigm, are now trying to sell us rehashed ideas from when we grew up. I'll take my equipment and water strapped between my shoulder blades thank you. The camelbak was revolutionary. This is called 'must keep the shareholders happy'. I've loved specialized for years, but these days with their ruthless legal department and bs like this I find myself often on the fence about supporting them in any way shape or form.
  • + 2
 The Atlas shorts are the best shorts I own. I wear them a lot off the bike too because they're so light and comfortable, especially out here in LA. They even double as board shorts.
  • + 1
 The usual Spech bashing, it's so tedious! As large as Spech is its a bit stupid comparing them to Apple -the worlds most profitable company!! They are just a bike manufacturers after all! As much as I dislike many of the corporate decisions that they have made, they do make good bikes and apparel. I used to work for a company like them, and as usual the sales and marketing departments were full of big headed useless morons whilst the product the engineers made for them to work with was fantastic, but the sales and marketing departments got all the credit. As far as the bib baggys go I think they are a great idea, but not new. I hate wearing a backpack and so having the option to carry a water bottle without it swinging around your back like it does in a normal jersey is a big bonus to me. Well priced considering the cost of a separate bibs and shorts and more comfortable as there is no tying around the waist.
  • + 3
 most comfortable bibs I own
  • + 2
 I've got a closet full of 15 year old road jerseys with rear bottle pockets.

How is this so revolutionary?
  • + 3
 these are for people who don't rock the spandex...plus, the swat bib I have holds the bottle better than a jersey, pocket is deeper and it goes underneath your jersey.
  • + 1
 Would never wear this shit, but nice write-up, John. I enjoyed the description of the fit on the Demo jersey.
  • + 1
 The inseams look stupid long. Do I tuck the pants into my shoes for m04r enduro powah?
  • + 1
 gawd the colors are hideous... the jersey reminds me of this... www.backwardglances.com/images/mesh-shirt.jpg
  • + 1
 Been rocking the swat bib for over a month and love them to no end. I hate packs as they are so heavy and restricting.
  • - 2
 Demo jersey's color combo is vaguely similar to that on the TLD ruckus. And that bib abomination...it merits all the hate the pinkbike community can muster. If I want to improve my time in the lap pool, I'll def buy one of your bibs, spesh
  • + 2
 Looks like some nice stuff. I think i would still wear a pack though....
  • + 1
 Just found a group of guys modeling the new SWAT BIBS!!!!!!!

www.pinkbike.com/photo/10813183
  • + 2
 Haha brilliant. Someone should release helmet covers that look like top hats!! I'd have one.
  • + 2
 you're so annoying specialized
  • + 1
 So are Law enforcement organizations everywhere going to sue them for the use of SWAT, or did they copyright that also?
  • + 1
 Soooo where am I supposed to carry my beer?
  • + 1
 Come on Race Face, law suit law suit
  • + 0
 Some good looking gear, cool to see them dipping into the clothing aspect of mtb.
  • + 2
 And Matt Hunter wears it.
  • + 1
 they've been making clothing for years. I still rock my specialized jersey that I picked up two years ago. but I agree it is good looking stuff.
  • + 1
 I was un aware
  • + 0
 They coulda called it TWAT apparel and nobody would've known there was a difference!
  • + 0
 uh oh i guess the swat law enforcement is getting sued next.
  • + 0
 Misread that at 1st ......thought it said Twat.
  • - 2
 I'm not even sure if this is serious
  • - 1
 I know. My $25 TLD XC jersey has a rear pouch, looks great and keeps me nice and cool. Specialized is really reaching with this 'revolutionary' BS.
  • + 1
 Seems to be a lot of spesh-love on here (this used to be me), but I'm with you... It's bs. The nature of capitalism these days and the size of specialized now, means they have to release products at a rate of knots and create a fake need for them. Profit is the CEOs modus operandi. People should remember this when hearing the word 'revolutionary' and listening to a sponsored rider telling them something is great. They seem a bit like Apple now, tons of people brainwashed into loving anything they make.. some people taking them on merit and tons of people disliking them because of their supra-national corporate 'behaviour'. Wouldn't surprise me if we find out they've been using malaysian seven year olds to build wheels lol. Interesting point, in some apple factories in the far east they have installed 'suicide nets' so the workers can't jump out of the windows. And in others a suicide clause in their contract. Rotten c*nts.

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