Overview: The Specialised Chisel is way more than an entry stage hardtail


Reasonably priced, raceable, and succesful — a uncommon mixture within the trendy world of bikes.  However the brand new, up to date model of the Specialised Chisel achieves all that and extra. And for the cherry on high, the 2021 Specialised Chisel is race-ready beneath $2K. 

Cross-country racing is altering, and so are the bikes that got down to conquer these new options and tracks. The bike must be snappy for laborious efforts and forgiving sufficient to experience longer occasions and rides. Specialised hit each necessities with its Epic HT — updating the geometry and staying true to the racing pedigree. The 2021 Chisel takes all its cues from the Epic HT within the geometry division and the Allez Dash for body development. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Front headtube

In keeping with Specialised, the brand new Chisel body is available in at or beneath 1400g (together with the thru-axle) and is stiffer than its predecessor. After miles and miles of testing these claims, we are inclined to agree. The Chisel is crafted from the identical M5 aluminum because the Allez —the primary Specialised mountain bike to make use of D’Aluisio Smartwelding.

You possibly can learn extra concerning the D’Aluisio Smartweld system and the discharge of the Chisel 2021 right here.

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review welds

Chisel Body Particulars

The 2020 Chisel Comp body is clear, the welds are tidy, and the paint is strikingly just like that of the brand new 2021 Epic Full Suspension bike. The hydroformed alloy body employs slick inside cable routing, with one port on the drive facet for shifting and two on the non-drive for the rear brake and dropper publish. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Welds

All cables and hoses exit by way of a down tube backside bracket junction — held neatly by a cap and clamp, with designated ports for every cable. This setup made routing a dropper publish easy and safe, with completely no chattering within the body. The underside bracket is a threaded English model, which has been regaining recognition lately. Favoring a wrench to a hammer after I work on my bikes, I discover it a lot simpler to work on.

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Bottom Bracket

The rear triangle is dropped sufficient to offer some compliance however stiff sufficient to make it clear you’re on a race hardtail. The area for maximal tire width is ample and might match as much as 2.50”, however 2.40” is my favourite tire width for this bike.

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Seat tube welds


Specialized Chisel Geo 2021

The Chisel is on the market in XS, S, M (examined), L, and XL sizes.

  • Efficient High Tube: 603mm
  • Head Tube Angle: 68°
  • Seat Tube Angle: 74°
  • Chainstay Size: 432
  • Wheelbase: 1124mm
  • Backside Bracket Drop: 63mm
  • Head Tube: 95mm
  • Standover: 792mm
  • Stack: 605mm
  • Attain: 430mm
  • Weight: 33.00 (w/o pedals)
  • Worth: $1900.00

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Shimano Deore Brakeset Rotor and dropout

Chisel Specs

  • Fork: RockShox Judy Gold, Movement Management damper, Solo Air, 42mm offset, 15x110mm thru-axle, 100mm of journey 
  • Wheels: Specialised Stout Alloy, Offset Design, Tubeless – 25mm inside width – laced to Shimano MT410 15x110mm entrance 12x148mm rear
  • Tires: Quick Trak, Management casing, GRIPTON compound, 60 TPI, 2Bliss Prepared, 29×2.3″
  • Shifter/Derailleurs: Shimano SLX, 12-speed
  • Cassette: Shimano M6100, 12-speed, 10-51T
  • Crankset: Shimano MT511 175mm 32T ring, threaded BB 
  • Brakeset: Shimano Deore M6100 2-piston
  • Handlebar: Specialised Stout XC, 8-degree again sweep, 6-degree upsweep, 10mm rise, 31.8mm 760mm
  • Stem: Specialised XC 3D, 75mm 6-deg
  • Seat Submit: Specialised Alloy, Single bolt 30.9

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Shimano Deore Brakeset

Shimano Workhorse Race Setup

Specialised went all-in with Shimano on the Chisel builds and didn’t skimp on the standard. Out there in two fashions, Base and Comp, each are outfitted with a RockShox Judy 110mm fork (Gold for Comp, Silver for base), 12-speed shifting (Deore or SLX), and Shimano Deore brakes. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Shimano Crankset

The Shimano SLX/Deore that arrived on my Chisel Comp impresses me every day. The brakes are far superior to what might be deemed entry-level. The brake lever and really feel are just like the XT/XTR; it’s laborious to inform the distinction. Although missing in a few of the fast changes and weight-saving measures of the higher-end brakes — the Deores cease, modulate, and price far lower than their race-ready brethren. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Shimano shifting

Shifting-wise, I often experience Sram, however my arms shortly tailored to the Shimano paddles and located a snug dwelling. The shifting is exact and simply tunable. I set the cable rigidity on the primary construct and haven’t adjusted it since (even with some crashing within the combine). 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Rear side

Among the exact shifting credit score goes to the cassette. The jumps are intuitive and don’t really feel pressured — they’re complete and maintain the pedaling cadence easy. The cassette’s high finish is a 51T and offers a bit extra climbing freedom to those who spin over mash on the assents — pairing properly with the 32T entrance ring. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Rear

The wheel and tire pairing are Specialised, and whereas the mix performs properly on and off the path, the tubeless setup was not a stroll within the park. The Specialised 2Bliss Prepared rim strip offered didn’t seal successfully and would lose air quickly. Specialised has acknowledged this may be a difficulty. The rim strip offered doesn’t use tape to stick to the rim, so the rim strip can crease or fold over through the set up course of. After messing with it for a bit, I opted for trusty Stan’s No Tubes tape. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Shimano Deore Brakeset Rotor

Specialised went with its Quick Observe Management 2.3″ — a 60 TPI tire providing glorious rolling velocity and flat safety. I additionally like that these tires cowl sufficient floor for varied path circumstances and arrange shortly with the newly put in rim tape. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Shimano Hub

Contemplating the worth level, the wheel construct is implausible. The wheelset is Shimano MT410 hubs laced to Specialised Stout rims with a 25mm inside width rim. This Shimano hub is a well-liked one for 2021, and its efficiency, engagement, and general bomb-proof construct make it a wonderful alternative for this bike. The engagement is quick, and the hub construct is normal Shimano — simple to service and ideal for coaching and racing. 

The Experience

Essentially the most thrilling factor concerning the Chisel for me is that it’s an inexpensive race hardtail. The geometry isn’t “sporty” — it’s the very same setup as the corporate’s highest providing and serves as an amazing place to begin for racing. Specialised crammed as a lot race readiness into this construct as doable. Nothing is toned down. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Head tube welds

On the open path, the Chisel is similar to the Epic HT, however the sloping high tube provides it a extra informal really feel. Coming from a carbon hardtail, I assumed the alloy body could be extra noticeable, nevertheless it wasn’t. The body is stiff however compliant within the rear, and the skinny seat stays, and voluminous 2.3″ tires assist. I can’t consider we rode rocky trails with 1.8″ tires again within the day and thought that was sooner (head palm). 

The RockShox Judy Gold took a short time to get used to. Coming from a RockShox SID, I used to be used to the tremendous easy, above-the-bike feeling of Charger Cartridge. The Movement Management damper is OK, although it dives a bit greater than the premiere forks. And after a number of lengthy rides, I used to be adjusted and didn’t discover the distinction. The fork locks out stiff and doesn’t budge. You possibly can dial within the journey a bit relying on how carefully you flip the lock-out knob to full lock. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Side

Climbs and flowy pedal-heavy sections of the path are the Chisel’s bread and butter. The 74° seat tube angle is correct on the cash for energy and effectivity. Just like the Epic HT, the Chisel seems like a street bike on quick, flowy path sections. The body is elegant and effortlessly floats out and in of turns. On punchy, steep sections of path, you are feeling the body’s stiffness and the benefit of monitoring.  

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Race Weight 20.4lbs

After a full month on the Chisel inventory model, I made some updates and upgrades to see how the bike felt. I added some carbon bits, an FSA Move Tron dropper publish, and the SID fork from my race bike (similar offset), conserving the shifting/braking elements the identical. 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review 20.4 lbs

With the dropper publish’s addition, this bike turned way more succesful (and sendable). The fork subtracted some weight and felt higher after I was out of the saddle — however didn’t change the bike’s general really feel.  

In the course of the check interval, most of my using was on native trails with some technical bits the place I’d often desire a full suspension bike. After including the dropper and a few 2.4″ tires, I despatched the Chisel off rocks, drops, and jumps — pleasantly shocked that it was greater than as much as the duty.

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Rotor

After months of using, warmth, snow, drops, and intervals, the Chisel’s paint remains to be as shiny because the day it arrived — a real testomony that it’s way more than a worth level alloy hardtail. This bike is a implausible possibility for these able to race however not able to spend their life financial savings on a carbon bike. Though fact be instructed, it’s shortly changing into my favourite bike within the storage (race bikes and all). 

Specialized Chisel XC Bike Review Rear Wheels

It’s laborious to beat the Specialised Chisel Comp’s efficiency and worth. This bike is ideal for the NICA and highschool race crowd —race-ready out of the field however infinitely upgradeable. Should you’re trying to craft one from the bottom up, you possibly can all the time snag a frameset for $1000 or one of many just lately introduced, limited-edition colorways for $1500. 



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