2011 SX Trail 2 – Reviewed (Video)
Our new bike review process is done by three different riders, all coming from different types and styles of riding. We have one comprehensive review supported by the two other riders’ inputs and outlooks on the reviewed bike. Take a look at our first review done in this format – the 2011 SX Trail 2 from Specialized.
Tester: Brandon Watts
My name is Brandon Watts and I’m addicted to bikes. That’s right, I like to pedal, jump, climb, float and soar through the air on any and all of my bikes. Some say it’s a problem, but most people that I know, say it’s a lifestyle. If you were to track me down on any particular day in the woods, most likely I’d be in the back of a truck headed up for another lap, or on the saddle putting one pedal over the other. I love to climb, but with a bike like the SX Trail, you’ll most likely find me on Freeride or DH trails, smiling from ear to ear.
That above statement just so happens to be the world we live in and it is a fun one! This world that we speak of becomes even more fun if you can get away with having one bike that can handle the job of two. Specialized has come up with their solution to do just that — from the gnarly rock gardens and flowy latter drops, to every all-mountain pedal in between. After 2 months of riding the Specialized SX Trail 2, it would be an understatement to say that we didn’t know it pretty well. Over the course of these two months, we put it through a great deal of abuse and the bike did well!
We were excited from the moment that we opened the box, pulling out a bright green frame with a Fox 36 Van RC2 180, DHX RC4, XO carbon Codes, DT Swiss F550 Wheels, Thomson Seat Post, and a good looking set of TruVativ Descendant Cranks, all sitting on the new Butcher rubber from Specialized. With all this excitement, we set up the bike and headed to our local park to test it on a mini shred… pedal, pedal, drift… pedal, pedal, drift, and the rest was smiles. After our mini shred the night of assembly, we decided it was time to truly test this green machine, so riding we went.
Our first full day on the bike was spent on Galbraith MTN, a place where you earn your turns, and the turns are good! We pedaled three laps, some single track, some logging roads, and some jump trails, all of which were pretty nicely handled by the SX’s ability to transform from a downhill machine into a respectable climber. Weighing in at 36.08 lbs, the SX can be manipulated into thinking it’s a climber, but really has the girth of being a full Freeride or DH ripper. Our following week on the SX was exactly that, full of fast loam and rock, on steep terrain.
Steeps are fun and a bike with low stand (LG-740mm) over and a 65.5 degree head angle like the SX makes for a more stable and faster traveling bike. This slacker geometry, bedded with it’s ~14” bottom bracket height make for a fun bike in corners, and even in those steep gnarly sections of rock and roots. The 180 mm of front and rear travel, combined with its lower bike weight created a fun and snappy feel throughout the majority of our rides. Some rides required a bit more adjustment in the suspension than others which was nicely accommodated with the fork and shock adjustment supplied on these top of the line components. This bike truly shone on the trails that had a little bit of everything, from short and flowy pedal sections, to steep and gnarly tech sections, and the miscellaneous stunts in between.
To be a good bike, you need to ride well and last long. This is crucial to keeping us riders happy, which at the end of the day is why we get on these expensive and complex machines. The SX trail did exceptionally well with the amount of abuse that our testers threw at it. There were a few good falls, some not –so-smooth transitions, and those sharp rocks and stumps that like bottom brackets. When it was all said and done, after our 2 months on the SX, we were pretty surprised at the lack of repairs needed over the course of our test period. This made us happy, and proved the quality of product supplied by Specialized.
After our successful run with the SX Trail 2, we looked deeper into why this lighter, all around bike could handle the daily abuse that we showed it. Strength starts with the frame, which has recently been increased with M5 Hydroform manipulated alloy; this decreases weight while maintaining strength. This frame technology, butted up against a tapered and forged head tube, with bigger pivot and shock yoke cartridge bearings creates a stable and durable skeleton to ride on. Aside from the added strength of these crucial areas, Specialized has also prolonged frame and bike life by adding a derailleur guard and replaceable derailleur hanger built around the 142mm dropouts. All of these innovations added to a fun and long riding session associated with the SX Trail 2. The most wear that we saw over the course of our test was in the paint job which seemed to flake from the suspension swing arm and rub off the frame from shuttles and foot wear. When addressing this issue, we later found out that it was only an issue with the first round test frames and not the full production frames… after all we were riding bike SN#0000000001!
Specialized makes an awesome bike, it rides amazingly and can take an abundant amount of abuse. This combined with a stellar component line and build kit make for an exceptional bike for the price. If you are looking for one bike that can handle the daily all-mountain pedals with a Freeride and light DH capability, then the SX Trail 2 from Specialized is one bike that you should seriously consider. You can find more info on this bike and other amazing bikes from Specialized at a local dealer or on their website.
Tester: Mike Kazimer
Background: I’ve been riding for sixteen years, and wrenching for eleven. I like steep, loamy trails hidden deep in the woods.
Ride Impressions: UP
Most of my rides start with an uphill, typically on a steep logging road. I don’t mind pedaling big bikes uphill as long as there is a worthy reward after the climb. Luckily, I live in a town where this is usually the case. The SX Trail comes equipped with a front derailleur, along with a 22×34 granny gear which I had no qualms about using. Patience is the name of the game when climbing with this bike. It’s an able climber; it just takes a little longer to get to the top. The soft compound of the Specialized Butcher tires didn’t make things go any faster – the extra traction is great when going downhill, but not as beneficial when heading up. By increasing the low speed compression damping on the Fox DHX RC4 rear shock, I was able to climb with minimal pedal bob. I looked down a few times while climbing and was impressed with how little rear shock movement there was.
I ended up swapping the stock seatpost out for a Specialized Command Post in order to achieve proper leg extension. The bend in the seat tube meant that I could not get a non-telescoping post as high (or as low) as I wanted. The Command Post solved this issue, but some cable guides on the frame for this style of post would be a nice touch. Another issue that I had with the frame was that my heels rubbed the seatstays, especially on the drive side, since I ride left foot forward. It wasn’t noticeable when descending, but when climbing, I had to position my feet differently to avoid rubbing the frame. I wear a US size 10.5; those with bigger feet would probably experience even more rub.
Ride Impressions: DOWN
Once I lowered the seat, backed off the low speed compression damping and put my knee pads on, it was time to for the fun to begin. It certainly did – the SX Trail loves to go downhill, fast. A stiff chassis combined with short chainstays and a low center of gravity made cornering ridiculously fun. It felt like a mini-downhill bike, stable and low, but with the added maneuverability of a single crown fork. The SX Trail is no slouch in the air – it didn’t take much encouragement for it to take flight. I found myself popping off of roots and doubling up little features that I normally roll simply because the SX made it so easy. The low top tube was also helpful while logging air miles; it allowed me to move the bike around without feeling like a bowlegged cowboy. The SX Trail preferred higher speeds, but was still manageable on slower technical trails, or on the occasional skinny.
OVERALL: The SX Trail is the perfect bike for the gravity-oriented rider that still pedals to the top. Pedal during the week, ride lifts on the weekend? Sounds good to me!
Tester: Jon Angermeier
Exploration is what drives my riding. You are more likely to find me deep in the woods emptying loamy dirt out of my shoes, than you are to find me waiting in a lift line. With that being said, I also love to race, so lift lines aren’t completely out of the question in my riding. Needless to say the SX Trail 2 and I got along very well.
Now days, with roads and chair lifts that take us to the top of ripping descents, it’s easy to forget the feeling of getting lost deep in the woods. This magical place, where the road and lifts end amongst vast amounts of steep unridden terrain is where the SX Trail was born.
Designed as a highly capable freeride bike, the 2011 SX Trail 2 has a chassis that is decked out with high-end custom components helping give this bike its unique personality. With top end suspension from Fox, a custom build kit from SRAM, and other components from Gamut USA, Thomson, Specialized, and DT Swiss, this bike beckons to be taken off the map and onto the fresh and remote trails.
Geometry wise, the SX Trail 2 with a fine tuned rear wheel travel path, short chainstays, low top tube and bottom bracket height, and it’s slack headtube make a bike that is very agile and stable at high speeds and on steeper terrain. Specialized Incorporated key pedal friendly features into the SX design, such as a slightly longer seat tube and cockpit length that helps make those death slogs to the top of the mountain a bit more manageable. For riders looking to have a more agile and flickable alternative to a full DH rig, this bike can do so with just a little tweaking and minor adjustment. The SX Trail goes from an all-mountain / freeride bike to the perfect mini DH / park bike in minutes. These features combined with a simple frame design make for a high-performance bike that is durable and easily maintained.
The 2011 SX Trail 2 is part of a new breed in pedal friendly freeride bikes, which excel in taking on new and challenging terrain. If you’re looking for a bike to open up new possibilities, then the 2011 SX Trail 2 is a dependable performance oriented choice that will take you there.
Studio photos and video…
MSRP: $4800.00 USD
for more info: www.Specialized.com