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A rugged steel adventure bike full of natty details

This Sequoia Expert that’s just arrived for testing is part of Specialized’s Adventure Bike range, and while it comes from the same family as the Diverge that we reviewed recently it’s a chunkier and more rugged beast all together, but designed to be lighter and nippier than their sibling AWOL. The £2,500 Expert is the top model in the three strong Sequoia range.

Specialized Sequoia Expert - Sequoia Badge.jpg

The Sequoia is meant to blur the lines of convention, according to the blurb on the website, finding itself equally well versed on the road, in the dirt, and 200 kilometres deep into a bike tour. Promising to change what you’d expect from a "road" bike forever, the Sequoia combines road and adventure in a single, genre-shattering bike. It’s a bold claim.

Specialized Sequoia Expert - Head Tube Front.jpg

The Sequoia starts on this meandering path with a ‘Premium Cr-Mo’ tubing steel frame. Specialized they chose steel because it’s coveted for its strength, respectable weight, tuned ride quality, and for the chance for people to say “steel is real” at any given opportunity (okay, they didn’t say that last bit), and all that realness brings this 56 sized Sequoia Expert in at 23lbs 14oz (1086g). The tubes are specific to each frame size ensuring that every frame across the six sizes is tuned to ride exactly as Specialized intended and the straight steel pipes give it a comforting classic look in today’s fat and swoopy biked market. Look closely and you’ll notice the tapered headtube fat chainstays and skinny seatstays meeting up in elegantly executed bolt-thru dropouts.

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The Sequoia has a dedicated Adventure geometry, numbers that are supposed to skew the line between a traditional road bike and a dedicated touring rig. That means a 71.5 degree head angle and 73.5 seat angle, with a roomy 1053mm wheelbase on this 56cm we have here. The top-tube is longish for the bike’s size with the excess compensated for with a shorter stem, but the headtube is refreshingly short so you can get low and racey if you want, although that’s canceled out a bit by the high-rise bars, more on them later.

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The frame is kitted out with a wide range of bosses and eyelets for full adventureering, with room for 5 water-bottles if you want; two in the traditional down and seat-tube positions, one underneath the down-tube by the bottom-bracket and one on each of the fork tines. Hardcore bikepackerists might use the triple bosses on the down tube for a Specialized SWAT cage, the bottom-bracket one for a tool pod and the fork mounts for extra gear in cargo cages.

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There are holes front and back for both mudguards and racks, but if the latter are too traditional for you can always strap Sepcialized’s range of Burra Burra bikepacking bags to the Sequoia to keep it on trend.

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The rear brake and gear cables are organised neatly under the downtube through bolt on guides making it easy to remove the gear cable and replace it with an internal Di2 wire that the frame is ready for.

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The Sequoia Expert comes with up-to-date thru axles front and rear, 142x12mm for the back and 100x12mm for the fork, don’t forget your tools though as the axles don’t have levers to undo them, it’s a 5mm allen key job.

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The FACT carbon fork comes with a tapered steerer, internal routing for the brake hose and holes for internally running a dynamo light cable. There are rack and mudguard mounts, the bottle/cargo bosses on each leg, and a trim flat-mount disc brake tab. There’s room to fit a bigger tyre than the 700x42 Sawtooth in there should you wish.

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SRAM Force Hydraulic Disc levers deal with the braking and shifting, the geary bits of that matched to a SRAM Force rear derailleur and somewhat surprisingly an off-brand Shimano Deore XT 11-speed wide range 11-42t cassette. A KMC chain with a reusable MissingLink connects it up to a 42 tooth Megatooth chainring bolted onto a FSA SL-K Light crankset. While one-by gearing systems are all the thing these days we’ll have to see if that gear spread is enough for luggage hauling off-road as bemusingly the next rung down Sequoia Elite comes with a wider range 48/32 double chainset and 11-36 cassette. That FSA crankset spins on a threaded bottom-bracket, phew.

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The Cruzero rims are a very old school looking wide box section, with a 25mm internal width they give the 700x42mm Sawtooth tyres a nicer profile. The handbuilt wheels make things spares simple for the real rugged rider by lacing the wheels with the same length spokes on both the drive and non-drive sides, on both the front and rear wheels.

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The Sawtooth tyres live up to their name by having a zig-zag tread down each side with a more solid strip down the middle, which should give speed on tarmac yet offer some grip on gravel surfaces and milder and dustier off-road territories. The whole system is tubeless ready.

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The handlebars are the interestingly shaped Specialized Adventure Gear Hover bar, a riser drop bar with a 10 degree flare to the shallow drop. They’re a conversation starter let’s say. The bars rise 15mm from the stem to help accommodate a wide fit range of riders, and for more comfort, apparently. The bars are wrapped in a padded canvas tape that matches the covering on the Phenom Comp saddle, and gives the bike a certain two-wheeled hobo chic vibe.

Specialized Sequoia Expert - Phenom Comp Saddle.jpg

While we’re on conversation starters and unconventional looks the seatpost is the Specialized CG-R that is designed in that unique way to give 18mm of vertical compliance without changing cockpit dimensions via a Zertz vibration damper and FACT carbon construction, adding comfort without weight.

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Straight out the box the Sequoia Expert looks like a well sorted and purposeful bike, subtle but sprinkled with lots of thoughtful details put there by someone that might have actually done some long distances over mixed terrain. So we’ll have to do the same just to check. We’re just going out, we might be some time.

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Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.