When 29’ers first hit the mountain bike market, there was a common misconception that the larger wheel size would be best suited for taller riders. “They’re great, as long as you can fit one” was a phrase batted around frequently when discussing the bikes. Part of this was due to the novelty of what was then a new category of mountain bike and some of it was a basic misunderstanding that the only variable to grow in size was the wheels, not the frame.
This line of thinking has been going by the wayside over the last few years as riders of all stature have enjoyed the benefits of the larger hoops and more and more women have been turning to the 29’er as their mountain bike of choice. Willow Koerber’s success on the international racing circuit over the last few seasons aboard 29 inch wheels with her five foot frame cemented the viability of the bikes for riders of all statures.
Moving into the 2012 season, California bike manufacturer Specialized has announced the first female-specific line of full carbon 29’ers. Dubbed the “Fate,” Specialized takes lessons learned from the mid level Myka range released last year and dials up the technology and performance. Made from Specialized’s blend of FACT carbon fiber using the company’s proprietary IS construction, the Fate delivers a sub-1200 gram frame that is designed for use with a 90mm fork.
The frame has an internally routed cable for the front derailer offering protection from contamination, an oversized bottom bracket shell and the now standard 1 1/8” to 1 ½” tapered head tube. Geometry on the frame is more aggressive than the Myka with a shorter head tube and a longer top tube for a more stretched out riding position. Shorter chainstays and a shorter wheelbase make for tighter, more responsive handling than its predecessor. All of these advances in performance are packaged with women specific geometry on a carbon frame with a custom layup specifically designed with lighter riders in mind. An aggressive gusset at the top tube seat tube junction ensures maximum stand over clearance for riders of all heights.
Although the Fate is brand new, Specialized Factory rider Lene Byberg raced it at the recent Offenburg World Cup to a stand out fifth place while teammate Lea Davidson rode her Fate to victory in the Santa Ynez Triple Crown finals, confirming the performance of the new model at the highest level of the sport. Offenburg is one of the more demanding circuits on the calendar and the Fate’s performance at the venue suggests a high level of capability for riders of all abilities.
The Fate will be available later this year and will be offered in a Comp model with a Rock Shox Reba fork and a Sram X7/X9 build and a higher end Expert model with a Rock Shox Sid with a Sram X0 build featuring Roval Controlle 29 wheels. Prices are to be announced, but look for the new Fate to hit stores soon.