The bumper-crop of entry-level, plus-size hardtails that's hit the market in the past couple years is great news for riders getting into mountain biking. Those bikes offer solid on-trail performance in a wide variety of conditions and can be found in the $1,000 range.
But let's not forget that some riders—especially high schoolers with access to NICA leagues—get into mountain biking through racing. Others have been riding trail bikes for years and decide to start racing, and want a simple, fast hardtail that'll leave them with some cash for entry fees. The new Specialized Chisel is aimed at both of those demographics.
What is the Specialized Chisel?
You can think of the Chisel like an aluminum version of the Epic. It has nearly identical geometry to the carbon Epic, with a 69.8-degree hardtail, 430 millimeter chainstays, a 74-degree seat tube angle and a 441-millimeter reach on the size large. It's also based around 29-inch wheels, of course.
Unlike the carbon Epic, it gets a standard threaded bottom bracket—something aspiring wrenches will appreciate when they start tinkering with their own race steeds. The rear end is 148×12 spaced and works with a post-mount brake caliper and 160 millimeter rotor. Cable routing is internal, including a path for a dropper-post.
How about the build options?
There are currently five ways to buy a Specialized Chisel. There's a $750 frameset, and four complete builds: two women's versions, and two men's. The women's and men's versions have the same geometry, but different sizing runs. The women's covering extra small through large, and the men's going small through extra large. Saddles are the only spec differences between the women's and men's versions.
Specialized Chisel Expert
The Expert build will run you $1,850 and includes a RockShox Reba RL 29 fork, a SRAM GX/NX drivetrain, SRAM Level TL brakes and a house brand wheelset with 25-millimeter internal width rims.
Specialized Chisel Comp
The entry-level Comp build goes for $1,500. That money gets you RockShox's resurrected Judy 29 fork up front, a Shimano Deore and XT 2×11 drivetrain (with alloy Specialized cranks), Shimano MT500 Deore brakes and the same Specialized wheelset that comes on the Expert build.