Bike Love: Specialized Fate
On my recent foray to Colorado I had the opportunity to ride the Specialized Fate Comp Carbon, a women's specific hardtail with 29 inch wheels. After spending a couple of days cruising a variety of terrain on it I can truly say that I loved the bike and want to buy one to add to my quiver.
The Fate has a zippy feel when riding. The geometry of the bike was designed to be a performance oriented cross country bike, and the carbon frame makes the pedaling feel efficient and the ride feel smooth. I'll put it this way: this little bike climbs like a champ and still feels comfortable and stable on descents. It comes stock with a 2x10 drivetrain, which I really prefer over having 3 chairings in the front. Not only is it lighter weight and requires less maintenance, but, in my experience, its also much easier to find just the perfect gear. The fork has 80mm of travel, which I found was enough to make it feel comfy over terrain. It also has a lockout for climbing or riding on groomed trail. Our approach to the trailhead was an 11 mile gravel ascent. I kept the fork locked out during the climb and was glad for the extra efficiency.
I've always been of the opinion that at a mere 5 foot tall, I would never be able to comfortably ride a 29 inch wheel. Without any real basis, I worried that I would have toe overlap or the geometry would have to be all crazy in order to make the larger wheel work with such a small frame. This bike completely changed my opinion about that. Being so short, I always worry about toe overlap, where the front wheel runs into my toes when I try to pedal and corner at the same time. This can be a real problem when climbing steep switchbacks. I had absolutely no problems on this bike. I stayed clipped in for all my climbs and had plenty of clearance to turn the wheel. I was also pleasantly surprised at the feel of the 29 inch wheel. The larger size wheel rolls smoothly (and quickly!) over the trail. I'm not an extremely technical rider and I found that there were times that I could just roll right over the top of roots and rockgardens that I would normally have to pick my way through.
I guess its time again to start saving my pennies, because after spending a couple days on this bike, I know that I've got to have one. Its lovely to find a women's specific, true cross country bike with nice components that rides well and looks good. Specialized definitely hit the nail on the head with this one.