When looking for an XC race bike, it's easy to be swept into thinking you need to spend a fortune on a high end carbon rig. And you could certainly be forgiven for thinking that way: the alternatives are limited. Enter the Specialized Chisel. The Chisel takes its XC racing intentions seriously and where cost savings have been realised using an alloy frame over a carbon equivalent, those savings clearly show in the bike’s high quality components. Furthermore, the alloy frame isn’t a second class choice by any stretch. The Chisel employs high end aluminium and some very advanced welding techniques to provide an extremely light, stiff and responsive frame.
In fact, the alloy frame is the centrepiece of the Specialized Chisel and deserves further comment. The Chisel’s frame joints are wider and flatter than a standard weld, a difference that is easily observed when comparing a Chisel frame with any other aluminium welded frame. As expected, Specialized have a fancy name for the technology: D'Aluisio (DSW). The claim here is that the wider joint distributes force more evenly which reduces failure (joint cracks). This process also allows for a lighter joint which is always a plus when building an XC orientated bike. Beyond the fancy welding, the Specialized Chisel has what we would consider a ‘modern' XC geometry. A relatively slack head angle and longer top tube combined with a shorter stem delivers both technical confidence and snappy steering.
The Chisel comes in Comp and Expert models with women’s versions available depending on where you are in the world. Both models come with quality Rockshox suspension, the Comp decked out with a Judy and the Expert with a Reba RL fork. While the Reba is a fantastic fork and almost worth the extra money alone, we think it’s the 1x11 SRAM GX drive train that will encourage folks to shell out for the Expert. Overall, the Specialized Chisel is a great choice for anyone looking for an extremely capable XC machine that won’t need an upgrade after half a riding season. It’s a pleasant bonus that the Chisel is also so reasonably priced.
Riding typeCross Country
Drive trainSRAM GX
Gear ratios1x11 Mountain
Frame buildAlloy Pro