Specialized's New Chisel Shows That Aluminum Isn't Just The Cheap Carbon Version

Sep 30, 2020
by Dan Roberts  
2021 Specialized Chisel

Always advocates for a good bit of aluminum engineering, Specialized has released the latest version of its popular Chisel cross-country hardtail.

Aluminum often plays second fiddle to carbon fibre composite frames and in many instances it ends up just being the cheap version of the top end fibre-ridden bikes. In reality, it's actually a fantastic material with lots of smart and clever engineering still left in its development. Specialized, amongst others, is one to see this and endeavour to up the level of its aluminum frames.

The Chisel is Specialized's 29" aluminum cross-country focussed hardtail and, while it may be appealing to people more on a budget, that doesn't mean that the frame is lacking in technology.

Frame weight is claimed to be as low as 1,400g. This starts to embarrass other companies carbon fibre offerings and actually comes in at only 610g heavier than the brands own Epic hardtail, which has a claimed frame weight of 790g. Weight claims are currently not allocated to a particular frame size or which bits of hardware are included. Either way, it shows how good aluminum can be if you develop a bike with this material as the focus.

2021 Specialized Chisel
The Smartweld idea uses extra forming on the tubes allowing them to piece together like a jigsaw and provide a natural cup for the weld to sit in, smoothing out the finished welded surface.

Specialized employed its Smartweld idea to the Chisel to use more complex tube forming and welding techniques to remove as much excess material as possible while boosting the overall look of the junctions to be smoother and cleaner. This can be most notably seen on a cross section through the headtube, top tube and down tube junction when compared to a more traditional tube forming and welding technique. It even extends to the internal cable routing entry on the downtube which, when finished, sits completely flush with the tube surface and hides the small forged part on the inside of the tube.

Specialized also sought to increase the comfort of the hardtail structure, with attention paid to the shape of the seat stay tubes to allow them to flex to provide some impact absorption while staying stiff in the directions of loads coming from cornering or hard pedalling.

The Chisel has all internal cable routing and uses a 30.9mm diameter seat post which opens it up to the possibility of running a dropper post. Frames also have two water bottle mount possibilities and lovers of threads can rejoice at the inclusion of a threaded bottom bracket too.

2021 Specialized Chisel
2021 Specialized Chisel

2021 Specialized Chisel

2021 Specialized Chisel
2021 Specialized Chisel

Also related to the Epic is the geometry, with the Chisel seeing much of the same flavours that were recently added to the Epic with changes in head angle, lengthened reach numbers and altered BB heights.

Five sizes from XS to XL are available ranging from 385mm to 480mm reach with a 68° head angle, a 74° seat angle and 432mm chain stays. BB drop is a tiny bit lower, at 68mm, on the XS compared to 63mm on the remaining sizes. The XS also uses an 80mm travel fork compared to the 100mm on the other sizes, likely done to help drop the stack height for the smallest of riders.

2021 Specialized Chisel

There are two build options available for the new Chisel. The Comp uses a RockShox Judy Gold, a Shimano 12-speed drivetrain with a mix of SLX and MT511, Shimano M6100 two-piston brakes, Shimano MT410 hubs on 25mm inner width rims clad in Specialized Fast Track 2.3" tyres. It retails for $1,700 USD or £1,699.

The Base uses a RockShox Judy Silver, a Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain with Specialized Stout Pro cranks, Shimano M4100 two-piston brakes, Shimano MT410 hubs on 25mm inner width rims clad in Specialized Fast Track 2.3" tyres. It retails for $1,500 USD or £1,399.

A frame only option is available for $900 USD and includes the seatpost. All bikes and frames are available now.


116 Comments

  • 332 1
 That pic of the rider is one of the worst offending camera tilts I've ever seen
  • 40 1
 It fooled me
  • 31 0
 Ha, the shrubs and trees are growing sideways out of the ground!
  • 17 3
 Almost as offending as the maths - I wouldn’t say that alum being almost twice as heavy carbon is embarrassing
  • 10 1
 @NaturalSponge: Yeah I'm no expert but being 77% heavier doesn't really seem like something you would brag about. I do think it's a good looking bike for a relatively fair price though.
  • 29 0
 I have no idea what you are on about, look legit to me, just like this genuine picture.... www.liveabout.com/thmb/woaCi_7j3apXSMlPeLNVkPbSWzM=/656x492/smart/filters:no_upscale()/batclimbdiaply-57becd325f9b5855e5af5318.jpg
  • 15 0
 @mikefromdownthestreet: The sub-1000 g carbon frames are mostly on the top level race bikes, where the frame only costs more than the Chisel complete bike. The carbon frames that you get on the $3000-ish hardtails tend to be more like 1200 g.
  • 11 1
 Nah, wall ride bro.
  • 3 0
 I'm pretty sure Mogatu's photographer does side work with the big S...
  • 14 0
 You're just looking the wrong direction. It is a POV shot. It was the photographer who performed a pretty cool wallride there.

@Poulsbojohnny : If you're serious about saving weight, you're going to wear lightweight garment too. Lycra is light weight but bodypaint beats them all.
  • 6 0
 That along with what ever the hell gloves he is wearing. Looks like he dipped his hands in a bucket of red paint...
  • 1 0
 Hahaha
  • 3 0
 @ninjatarian: it was just windy!
  • 3 1
 IDK if I would want to watch XC racers in body paint
  • 1 0
 Gnar wall ride!
  • 1 0
 @samimerilohi: I just built up a carbon Transition Throttle. Frame weighed 1600 grams in size large. It's a much burlier bike than this, but still....

I prefer aluminum frames (I also have an alloy Patrol), but got the Throttle since the geo suited me and it was on sale.
  • 11 1
 Isn't the bicycle frame the least relevant part to invest in weight saving? It is quite centered, sprung (or well, as sprung as any bike part can be) and doesn't rotate like wheels and cranks. And especially considering this current trend of strapping and stowing everything on and into the bike it seems quite hard to justify the added expense of saving the difference between a full and an empty bottle. Yet somehow there seems to be more outrage over a more expensive carbon wheelset than over the added price of a carbon frame. Sure I understand any weight saving does matter but here I'm seeing a super lightweight frame spec'd with parts that surely are reliable, but not primarily made with weight saving in mind. Heck, I know this isn't the place to say this kind of stuff but for a rider so focused on saving weight, wouldn't (for the same gearing range) a 2x10sp drivetrain be lighter than a Deore 1x12sp? That said, I get that for a northern hemisphere racer on a budget this a save way to get into it. Train on this stuff all gritty and wet fall and winter and when race season comes around, slap on the more expensive lighter weight gearing and wheels. But yeah, that's the only situation I can think of where this current approach (of a super light weight frame with regular workhorse components) makes sense.
  • 66 6
 Finally, Shimano 12s turning up on cheaper builds. The days of hating SX/NX/GX might be ending.
  • 35 9
 who hates GX?
  • 33 13
 @chiefsasquatch: Lots of people just don't like SRAM because they are Shimano fanboys. I can't find a thing wrong with my GX groupset.
  • 28 1
 @Marc-Antoine28: Mostly I think the hate is for SX/NX. The cassettes are Walmart boat anchor grade garbage tied to a deprecated spline. Shame on SRAM for putting that crap out.
  • 4 0
 @Marc-Antoine28: Yup. I've ridden both quite a bit over the years and really enjoyed both. However, if the new 12-speed shimano shifting is as good as they say, I'd be down...plus it's cheaper and cheaper to replace if/when parts get thrashed. I would still be as happy if my bike came with an equiv. spec shimano or sram drivetrain though.
  • 13 0
 @chiefsasquatch: hate is for sx-nx especially sx
  • 30 2
 SX is hot garbage that shouldn't exist. GX is a darling. I'm torn on NX.
  • 4 2
 @chiefsasquatch: Wouldn't say hate, but can't say it inspires. The derailleur wheels for example are cheap plastic pieces, that don't even have anything resembling bearings. Can't say they stay perfectly aligned for long, and the derailleur sticks out very far from the frame. And GX was mounted on every bike this side of the price of a new Ferrari! Gimme less fancy trickery each year and more quality! That goes for group-set makers as much as for bike brands...
  • 9 2
 @Marc-Antoine28: GX is pretty good, but its not XT quality. Plus many GX builds are GX in name only and have an NX cassette on them, even on carbon bikes retailing for over $4k
  • 4 0
 @Capable: Even the jockey wheel on my X01 Eagle derailleur is plastic!
  • 4 0
 @Capable: huh? Plastic jockey wheels are the norm in 2020, and both my GX mechs (11sp and 12sp) have sealed bearings in the jockey wheels. I ride parts from both Shimano and Sram, and while both my bikes ended up with GX drivetrains it was only because the companies specced it for that price point. They have worked well enough for me.
  • 1 0
 @Poulsbojohnny: They are steel just like deore cassettes and very similar in weight. For some reason no one here ever mentions the weight of deore.
  • 8 3
 @hamncheez: Don't even. I constantly see "XT" bikes with SLX shifters or lower. I built an XT build Scott yesterday with Deore shifter and cassette.That is a fault within the industry of bike speccing, not a fault of the parts manufacturer. Hardly Sram's fault for what a bike company decides to buy, ya dig?

Also, XT most certainly isn't any higher quality than GX. Both are absolute workhorse drivetrains that last for ages. Pick your poison, but you're havin' a laugh to flatly say one is better. Your previous rhetoric alone kinda indicates you're more on the fanboy side of things.
  • 7 0
 @big-red: I have both with sets. GX groupset with X01 shifter and XT groupset with SLX derailleur. The Shimano may feel slightly better at shifting, but it isn't really noticeable. The double down shift is nice.

What is really noticeable is the different gearing. On SRAM, the second biggest cog is a 42. On Shimano its a 45. That 45t is great for climbs when you want a little more power that your giant 51 bailout. That 42 is way down from the 50 though so it is much less useful. The new 52t SRAM cassettes probably make this even worse.
  • 2 0
 @sherbet: what previous comments? I'm no fanboy- I'm currently running a 10 year old x-9 10 speed with an E*Thirteen 9-42 cassette
  • 4 0
 Call it a downside that the lower end SRAM gearings run on the the HG bodies so that the 11t sprocket is the smallest it can take (affecting the gearing range slightly) or call it a positive (as NX and SX are supposed to be more budget and HG interfaces are just cheaper). But even then, wasn't it true that all Eagle components can be mixed and matched? I thought there was an ad about that. So if you've got an SX rear mech, you should still be able to build a wheel with a XD driver and fit a 10-50t GX cassette, isn't it?
  • 1 0
 @ranchitup: Absolutely love your username Smile
  • 43 0
 "Specialized's New Chisel Shows That Aluminium Isn't Just The Cheap Carbon Version"
And then article shows that it actually is.
  • 5 0
 You claimed 'not just the cheap carbon version'. The presence of the 30mm steel stanchioned Turnkey damper fork determined that this was a lie.
  • 22 3
 I’d love to see a frame-only option with SS compatible dropouts like the fuse.

Geo looks like it would also work great with a 120mm fork. Nice low BB, 67HA, 73 SA

This bike ticks the boxes for NICA, and anyone’s first bike for XC trails.
  • 3 0
 There is a frame only (search 71721-7003 on specialized.com) and you can SS it with a Phil Wood Philcentric or a Trickstuff Exzentriker. Not quite as convenient as dropouts and does limit you to a smaller spindle crank but it works.
  • 1 1
 @fullfacemike: The issue is that there a lot of other frame options available that are much better suited for SS. IMO, eccentric BB's and heavy tensioners are what you would use when SS is an afterthought, not the primary intention of a build.
  • 10 0
 @opetruzel: How many SS's do you see on the trails vs gears...That's why frames aren't built with compromises/ things that make them more complicated to make SS easy.
  • 3 0
 @opetruzel: NorCal is right, production single speed is dead.
  • 1 0
 @fullfacemike @T4THH : Luckily, there are still countless steel and titanium SS options in the market from smaller businesses. For that reason, I guess I personally couldn't care less if the bigger retailers like Speccy, Trek, and Giant stop producing SS-compatible frames. It would be cool if they did, but not a huge loss.
  • 8 0
 I have the previous Chisel and it's excellent. The frame is gorgeous and very light, my size large bike with no carbon at all is 23 pounds. Looks like the new geo is even better but maybe not different enough for me to consider a frame upgrade.
  • 9 0
 I would say the Demo that Bruni and Finn ride shows that aluminum isn’t just the cheap carbon version. Haha
  • 10 1
 When it comes to aluminium specialized is on another level
  • 3 1
 It is indeed not on the same level as what Cannondale is capable of doing with aluminum.

Just look at the rear triangle of the Cannondale Slate in the pictures underneath for example, it's an (actually great working) piece of art, which makes this Chisel look like a B'twin.

Also the frame only on this aluminum Slate only weighs 1250g, al though you can't compare the weight of a 650b gravel frame to a 29er xc frame.

Top view: www.roadbikereview.com/reviews/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/slate25.jpg
Side view: media.flowmountainbike.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/08123844/LOW0213.jpg
  • 2 0
 It’s honestly not even that special. Quite a few other companies have been building alloy frames like that. Merida, Giant and Cannondale come to mind especially. And in comparison to Liteville, it outright seems like a second rate product.
  • 1 0
 I'm not talking to this bike specifically, Their aluminium frames are pretty good, never saw a cracked one for a long time
  • 5 0
 I have a Specialized SmartWeld Allez for spring/fall riding when the trails are wet and closed. Its hands down the most comfortable road bike I have ever owned. I have up carbon for aluminum and have not looked back.
  • 6 0
 Living in a rocky rooty place with chundery fire roads, this seems like an ideal wet weather, double track, gravelesque bike that you could ride single track with.
  • 5 0
 This is exactly what I want one for, essentially a badass gravel bike with enough capability to dip into the woods from time to time.
  • 4 0
 I built up last year's model into a monster gravel bike, it's sub-20 pounds with a rigid fork and absolutely rips! Plus you can fit a decent tire in there for bikepacking and rigid trail bangin'. Overall, a huge fan, despite being a little anti-Spesh.
  • 9 1
 Full circle......
  • 4 0
 Is this bike coming to Canada? No sign of it on the Specialized website for us and I'd love to buy a frame and build it up as a (relatively) inexpensive race bike.
  • 2 0
 +1 to this question, called my local Specialized dealer this morning & they had no clue.
  • 3 1
 "allow them to flex to provide some impact absorption while staying stiff in the directions of loads coming from cornering or hard pedalling."

Interested to find out how they isolated impacts and cornering... Impact forces tend to want to move both dropouts upward, and cornering tends to force one dropout upward and the other downward. If they're allowing the vertical compliance for impact absorption, how does that vertical compliance not compromise cornering stiffness? It doesn't seem to have an oversized axle or anything to more firmly link the two sides together.
  • 6 0
 DO A CHISEL EVO
  • 1 0
 "he internal cable routing entry on the downtube which, when finished, sits completely flush with the tube surface and hides the small forged part on the inside of the tube."

Is is really forged? Forging is usually reserved for pieces that need extra strength, and I don't think a cable guide applies. Not to mention that forging though-holes is quite expensive, that part is usually done with post-forging machining, and for a small piece like that, one would think the entire piece would be machined in batches.
  • 3 0
 Likely the cable inserts are forged and then post machined. The piece cost for a small and simple forged piece like that is very low- lower than CNCing them individually. They'll be producing thousand of these inserts, so machining the whole part is way to costly. Its likely that forged part is used on many different bikes, so the tooling cost when amortized per piece is super low.
  • 3 0
 Cool. I love seeing thought go into ride compliance even on the cheaper models. I, too, would love to see an evo version.
  • 1 0
 "with Specialized Stout Pro cranks"

That 76mm BCD silliness? I thought they were done with that stuff. Also, those sure look like 2x cranks, with holes for mounting a granny ring. Will it fit a bashguard?
  • 2 0
 The pictured model has Shimano Deore cranks. Should be 96/64 spacing on that. Don't know about the base model.
  • 1 0
 I have last year's Chisel, came with the Stout cranks - but they had the SRAM direct mount system on them, no funky proprietary stuff.
  • 2 0
 What kind of tire clearance does this have? I'd love to ride some of the new 2.4 aspens on 30mm rims but most xc hardtail frames only recommend 2.3 or smaller.
  • 1 0
 2.4 Aspens will fit easy. In fact, low knob 29x2.6 tires will fit, just with little mud or wobble clearance. Apparently 275x2.8 also fits.
  • 1 0
 @PHeller: Thanks!
  • 3 3
 Is anyone else concerned by the number of pro-Specialized comments which gives a feel of industry bias? There’s an oddly high number of positive comments that just don’t seem founded, and some downvoting of some very reasonable comments.
I’m beginning to wonder if there is more pro-industry incentivization or brand support/loyalty than is publicly shared/known. In US medicine we have a tool to track this; would be nice to see more transparency in this area for bikes.
  • 1 4
 Personally I don’t care a ton because it’s easy for me to pick out the shills, but for newer riders who don’t know any better, it would be cool for them to more easily identify brollshit.
  • 1 0
 @Sethimus Die Rahmen waren innerhalb weniger Stunden am ersten Tag ausverkauft, wie immer beim Chisel Frameset. Deswegen kommt meins in L am Montag an und einige im IBC haben ihre Rahmen schon
  • 2 0
 Wow Specialized seems hellbent in giving Brits and Aussies shit rear brake routing these days. No sale Specialized.
  • 4 5
 I don't really get what the product managers at Specialized were thinking when choosing this price point, because it certainly isn't impressive in terms of value for money.

Better options would be the Trek Procaliber 9.5 or the Scott Scale 940. Both have a carbon frame, about the same components and are only 200$ more expensive than this. I'd buy one of those instead, if I wanted a cheap, race-ready hardtail.
  • 8 2
 Both the Procaliber and Scale are press fit BB's and I believe the Procaliber frame weighs more than the Chisel.
  • 1 0
 @Snowytrail: The Chisel being lighter than the Procaliber, doesn’t really speak for its durability and fatigue properties though. Carbon fiber is the objectively superior material in terms of strength relative to weight. So if an alloy frame is lighter than a carbon one, it’s probably also a lot less stiff and less durable.
  • 3 0
 I read Shartweld Technology
  • 2 0
 This (Specialized) does not show me that aluminum is not the cheaper carbon. Nicolai has been showing that for years.
  • 1 0
 I think this is a good product and I like the content of this article.
Just, you should add a hyperlink to the specialized website Wink
  • 2 0
 That rear brake looks like it’s being used as a brace between the chainstay and seatstay...
  • 3 1
 any single speed option ?
  • 16 0
 Remove 11 cogs and you're right there.
  • 3 0
 @Muckal: or just don't shift.
  • 1 0
 @WE-NEED-MORE-ROOST: that's not how ss riding works. You will shift at some point because it's quite stupid to only use one gear. But it's good fun when riding suitable terrain.
  • 3 0
 @Muckal: I'm kidding around! Just being sarcastic/
  • 5 7
 Aluminium for the price of carbon. Yay! First, industry made aluminum cool again and then just priced it at carbon level. There are a lot of XC hardtails with carbon frames that are lighter at this price point. I have nothing against aluminum, but almost 2k to euros for an aluminium hardtail with low end fork and wheels is ridiculously overpriced.
  • 1 1
 The lowest spec epic is a trash spec and is $2500.
  • 1 0
 My kind of gravel bike. Stick on a 120 fork and a dropper and boom, downcountry. Soooooo trendy
  • 1 0
 Man I'd prob ride this. Fuck it.
  • 1 3
 should have SS sliders for $900!!! only way this bike will sell is in a complete

should have a version that is step cast fox 34 120mm, single speed and to ride it to the top of the podium

i like the NICA comments!
  • 1 1
 ha.. crazy i have 2 boys coming up; $900!!!!! for aluminum frame! its a second bike at best

hell no!!! im buying a honzo st $550$ with $1000 wheels instead and if they really don't want SS, ha cotic solaris or even a stanton sherpa!!!!!!!!!

the boys will have way more fun and blow the socks off ya because their doing SS during the winter with sweet ass wheel set and fork that can keep up!!!
  • 2 2
 Aluminium is new carbon #bespecialized
  • 1 1
 Anything lighter weight and lower cost is welcomed by consumers.
  • 1 2
 With a 120mm fork and/ or an Angleset, you'd have a reasonably tough trail hardtail.
  • 3 0
 ...Useful for all the Epic, massive downhill, mountainside descents we've got in Denmark. I'll have you know that just last year I managed to summit the Himmelbjerget with a team of only 12 sherpas and 4 support cars.
  • 2 1
 Better than plastic!
  • 3 4
 Too had that geo wasn't a little more modern.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. Epic Evo style geo, and this would be my wife's primary bike (which will double as my son's XC bike).
  • 1 4
 I just don't know who buys this bike when the Fuse exists. I say this as someone who works in a shop that sells the Big S. This is one of those "said nobody ever" situations.
  • 4 0
 I Would! The fuse is a great bike, but some people want a cheap (ish) second bike for getting the miles in and giving racing a go without going full XC money and spandex. This hits that's the spot for me!
  • 4 0
 People who want a cheaper Epic hardtail. The Chisel doesnt sell a lot but there is a market for budget xc race bikes.
  • 11 0
 Affordable XC race bike. Aimed for NICA stuff. When the kid grow every month, having a 1500$ bike to race on instead of spending 3-4 k and be over growing it in less than a year.
The fuse is a great bike, but it s a trail Hardtail, not a race bike.
  • 4 0
 Go to a NICA race and will see a lot of Chisels, it's a great way for the kids to get on a competive bike that doesn't break the bank.
  • 1 0
 there is no fuse in germany
  • 10 0
 I'm a NICA coach in Utah with 120+ kids on the team. The Chisel is one of the handful of entry level XC bikes we recommend to our riders, they're great bikes. The issue we have with the Chisel is the price point. After NICA discounts a carbon Scott Scale 940 only costs $50 more than the Chisel. We're seeing 10-15 carbon Scott Scale 940's for every one Chisel on our team.
  • 7 0
 The fuse is great but it's not an XC race bike, it's also very heavy and at the next level for more aggressive trail ridding. Believe it or not some people still want a crazy light and snappy handling XC race bike.
  • 2 0
 @cederfralon: Good on Scott for supporting NICA! Spez could certainly afford to step up to the plate and do the same.
  • 1 0
 @Sethimus: Sure, there are or better were are couple on sale yesterday, e.g. at bike24.
  • 1 0
 @eldiddo: rahmen die nicht auf der webseite verfügbar sind zähle ich erstmal als nicht verfügbar.

grad gegen gecheckt, wo willst du da bitte ein specialized fuse als verfügbar sehen? bitte mit link, danke...
  • 2 0
 @cederfralon: I'm coaching a NICA league in Montana and since we aren't racing this year all the kids want dual suspension trail bikes.
  • 2 0
 @Highlander406: makes sense, I wish the Nica racing was more trail riding oriented and Not only XC. But it would get more expensive and harder to host events. It is getting big enough that we may start seeing different disciplines options.
The equivalent of NICA in France has all of the different disciplines.
  • 1 0
 @SethimusBig Grin ie Rahmen waren innerhalb weniger Stunden am ersten Tag ausverkauft, wie immer beim Chisel Frameset. Deswegen kommt meins in L am Montag an und einige im IBC haben ihre Rahmen schon
  • 1 0
 @eldiddo: dicker ich red vom fuse rahmen? den gibt es nicht in europa, nur in den usa. was ich von anfang an klar gestellt habe. nicht so schwer zu verstehen... „there are no fuse in germany“ wie kommst du da bitte auf den trichter dass ich damit den chisel rahmen meinen könnte!?
  • 1 0
 @Murchman: Interesting, thanks for pointing that out. My experience is that pretty much all of our local bike shops who carry Scott offer a NICA discount on Scott bikes to our riders, not sure if that's just a local thing or if Scott works with their dealers nationally to offer the discount.
  • 1 2
 lol this new bike is basically identical to my 2012 crave expert

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