5 months of the Specialized 2015 Crave Expert

With 5 months of riding, it is time for an update of the 2015 Specialized Crave Expert. A few hundred miles in, with about an even mix of road and off road riding, there are a few things to update.

I still hate the tires. I haven’t replaced them yet, but it will happen soon. They are a bit squirrely on hardpack, OK on loose/hard dirt, and awful in the mud. I am not a big mud rider, so this isn’t a bad thing per se, but I do ride a lot of hard pack. Will be changing them soon. The other thing is that the carcass of the tire aren’t very good at blocking thorns or sharp items. I have had A LOT of flats. Mr. Tuffy’s to the rescue.

The seat. I know some people rave about the Specialized seat, but I am not one of them. It rubs my crotch raw on ordinary rides (90 minutes or less). Time to upgrade to a better saddle. My Terry Fly Ti on my road bike is super comfortable for hours and hours of riding. I know it is a road saddle, but it will also be added to my mountain bike. Don’t tell anyone.

The brakes. Still super powerful, and smooth, but they have become noisy. Not a squeal, but an annoyance nonetheless. They are the organic pads, and the discs are not compatible with the better pads. I will probably swap for XTR discs, and better pads. When I have a couple hundred to spare. Until then, it is tolerable.

The fork. Rockshox Reba in the color scheme of the frame. This I really like. I bought a suspension pump, and got the air bladder set right for my portly weight, and it is great. The lockout is perfect for the tarmac milage between the dirt. I am sure there are better forks, but for my riding, I am happy with this set of silverware.

The wheels. Being the first disc brakes I have had on a bike, I am not as sensitive to being out of true as with a rim brake. However, every time I put the bike on the stand, the wheels are perfect. I know 5 months isn’t a long time, but I am happy so far. (Being a bit heavy my self, 235# plus, this is pretty good)

General impressions:

The 29″ wheels take some adjustment. It is not obvious what is different unless you ride 26 back to back with a 29, but it does roll over obstacles. One trail I ride has been abused by some heavy rainfall, and littered with some half buried babyheads. The Crave rolls right over them, even though there is a sphincter clench factor of 7. I know on a 26″ bike I would have gone over the bars.

The bike floats over some gnarly ruts as well. It takes some practice to just let it go (previously, I would brake hard, and paddle over some of these.)

Climbing is not its strength. I am not sure if it is the bike and the geometry, or just my confidence, but I used to just ride up and over roots and rocks that I just haven’t felt comfortable blasting up over them. The 2×9 gears are pretty sweet though, for smooth climbs it definitely rocks the dirt.

The frame geometry is pretty forgiving. You can carve a pretty tight line even with such large wheels, and do some amazing maneuvering. I like it.

Overall, the bike is a solid hardtail, with a good mix of capability and component quality. I am looking forward to many hundreds of dirt miles this year.

Wow, am I out of shape – Mountain Biking

On moving back to the San Jose area, I started fantasizing about getting back into mountain biking. When we moved to south San Jose, close to Santa Teresa Park, the urge grew.

My last mountain bike was a Specialized Stumpjumper Comp M2. I think I bought it in 1997, when I lived here before. A really nice bike when I bought, I rode the hell out of it, all over the bay area. Unfortunately, living in Arizona, I got out of the habit. Not that there wasn’t great riding, but I just didn’t get with it there.

When we moved from Tucson to Chandler, I hadn’t ridden the mountain bike in a few years, so it was sold at our moving sale. In Chandler, I got back into road riding, racking up lots of miles on my Lemond Buenos Aires.

I ended up buying a new bike. A Specialized “Crave” Expert model. A hardtail, 29’er bike. Not top of the line, but a high quality ride nonetheless.

Today I took it for a first ride. Santa Teresa park. The climb up Bernal road was brutal, but getting to the top, and veering onto the trails was bliss. The reflexes, and the skills are still there, a little dormant, but they come back.

I am embarrassed with how many times I had to stop to rest. I will get back into shape, but, it is going to be brutal.

A future post will give a review of the bike.