Updated: 1st August 2017
With 29” wheels and 100mm forks, the Chisel is poised to slot right into the XC market as an affordable and capable race bike. It’ll keep up with the carbon featherweights, as even though it has an alloy frame, it’s plenty light and the modern geometry puts it square in line with competitive race bikes. There are two models available, the Comp and the Elite.
Specialized has brought their unique welding and frame shaping techniques to their new alloy framed Chisel cross country hardtail. It features a lightweight M5 aluminium frame with Smartweld technologies to remove any excess weight, while maintaining strength. We review the Specialized Chisel bike range, seeing how it contends as an XC wippet.
Specialized wanted to provide a more accessible entry point into the XC race world. By using their Smartweld technology, they were able to offer a lightweight M5 alloy frame for the Chisel at a fraction of the price of a carbon one. Smartwelding consists of using fluidin a hydroforming technique to shape the tubes in a specific way. This process creates the tubes with more material in certain areas to optimise the strength, while reducing it in areas where it isn’t necessary, reducing the weight. Specialized claimed that the Chisel frame weighs in at only 1,350g!
The frames feature internal cable routing which includes the means to fit a dropper post. Boost 12x148mm spacing in the rear maintains stiffness for greater power efficiency as well as giving extra space for mud clearance. A threaded bottom bracket shell isn’t something you see often in a bike of this nature, yet it avoids creaks and wear like some Pressfit bottom brackets develop.
The new M5 alloy frame has Smartweld technology that helps reduce the weight while maintaining strength.
The RockShox forks on the Chisel make sure you can maintain control on the descents, allowing you to focus on the trail ahead.
Both the Comp and Elite Chisel models get RockShox forks up front with 15mm thru-axles. They have 100mm travel on all sizes, except the small which gets 90mm. This is done to ensure the geometry is consistent across all frame sizes, delivering the same riding experience for riders of all heights.
The Chisel Comp gets the new RockShox Judy RL Solo Air fork. The Judy has rebound and lockout controls, as well as OneLoc compatibility should you want to add a remote to lockout the forks at a later stage. A RockShox Reba is found on the Elite Chisel. It has 32mm stanchions as opposed to the Judy’s 30mm stanchions, making them stiffer and allowing for more direct steering on the trails.
1x and 2x drivetrains give gearing options that can conquer any climb, big or small.
In the Chisel range, you’ll find both 1x and 2x drivetrains. The Comp has a Shimano 2x10 speed drivetrain with a combination of XT and Deore parts. This gives a large range of gears to tackle near any ascent. Shimano MT500 disc brakes with 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors offer solid all-weather stopping power.
For the Elite, you get a SRAM GX 1x11 speed drivetrain with 10-42t cassette. This setup simplifies your gearing, allowing you to focus on only one shifter. You lose a little bit of the gearing of the 2x on the Comp, but save some weight in the process. The SRAM Level TL disc brakes have tooled reach adjust so you can get the right fit, and with 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors, you get significant power in the wet or dry.
The Chisel range is built around 29” wheels. This size wheel has proven its mettle at the International XC racing level. They are fast rolling and maintain their speed better than any other size, as well as allowing easier roll-over for bigger objects and trail features.
Both the Elite and Comp get Specialized wheels with sealed cartridge bearing hubs to protect the bearings from mud and water. The rims have a wide internal width, giving the tyres a big platform for a stable ride. Specialized Fast Track tyres are equipped on both models, front and back, and come in 2.3” size. They feature the Gripton Compound for greater traction and 2Bliss Ready technology so the conversion to tubeless can be easy.
Wide rims and sealed bearing hubs give the wheels longevity in challenging conditions.
The Specialized Chisel is for those who want to enter the world of cross country riding and racing, but don’t want to re-mortgage their house in order to do so. The lightweight alloy frame is a unique piece of technology, being so light and yet maintaining strength enough to be raced on.
The Chisel would do well as a trail bike too, as the geometry has been thoroughly modernised with a slacker head angle and longer reach giving greater stability. The featherlight weight transforms it into a rocket up hills, making it easy and enjoyable to clock the miles on.