WORDS: Ron Koch

Thirty-five years ago Specialized introduced its first bicycle, the Sequoia. The bike was made for touring, but over the years the model lost its identity and became a value-oriented road bike. Now it's back as the star of Specialized's new Adventure line that also includes bags, apparel, tyres and wheels.

The multipurpose Sequoia fills a gap in the Specialized family - handling dirt, gravel, and bikepacking better than the road-focused Diverge while being faster, lighter, and more pavement-friendly than the off-road-touring AWOL. The Sequoia's steel frame is made with a tubeset designed by and made just for Specialized. The carbon fork has rack and fender mounts and a pair of side-mounted bottle bosses, allowing for multiple configurations.

Three days of riding the Sequoia in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest, DuPont Forest, and on the surrounding roads, revealed a bike that seeks fun, adventure, and swimming holes. I was happy that Specialized chose steel for this bike because it's a material you can trust to get you home when you're miles from anywhere, it rides great, and it keeps the bike affordable. The geometry feels stable, yet the bike doesn't require much coaxing when you want to carve a sharp turn on pavement.

The real stars of the show are the tubeless-ready Sawtooth tyres. Specialized analyzed 100 tread patterns before deciding on the shallow, sawtooth-shaped tread, and paired it with a high volume, 42mm-wide reinforced casing. (Specialized will also offer aftermarket 650b wheels with 47mm-wide Sawtooth tyres to make this bike even more dirtworthy.) The tyres ride with the smoothness you'd expect from a 42mm tire, and the tread and rubber compound enabled them to predictably grip a spectrum of surfaces like dirt, gravel, rocks, and roots without feeling sluggish on pavement. Mud might pose a problem, as the shallow tread could pack up and essentially turn the tire into a slick, but in the dry there are not many places the Sequoia won't go. I climbed and descended trails that would make some riders on mountain bikes walk, then glided down the pavement.

Complementing the Sequoia is a bag line named after a trail near Specialized's headquarters, called Burra Burra, where the gear was tested during development. Designed to fit any bike, the line includes a seat bag, frame bag, handlebar bag, fork bag, and a large, square Pizza Bag for a front rack. The seat and handlebar bags are made with twice-heat-treated aluminium stabilizing brackets that prevent them from swaying (and affecting handling) when loaded.

SPECIALIZED SEQUOIA  
RRP $4,500
WEIGHT (as tested) 10.65kg
MANUFACTURER specialized.com