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2018 Specialized Chisel vs 2018 Trek Superfly Alloy

Both Trek and Specialized have recently released new budget minded XC race bikes. These bikes are hardtails than retail for under $2000 (with the exception of the Procaliber 8). All of these bikes would make a great choice as your first race bike. Today we’re going to take a look at the spec sheets and try to determine, on paper at least, which bike is the best value. Check out the table at the bottom to compare all of the specs for yourself!

Analysis

Both the Specialized and the Trek are 29ers in most sizes. The Trek does come with the option of 27.5 wheels in its smallest size. 29ers are the standard for XC racing today, so anything else would be unexpected. In regards to the frames themselves the Specialized features a D’Aluisio Smartweld M5 welded frame. While those welds may be fancy the Trek arguably has more tricks up it’s sleeve in regards to frame construction with its IsoSpeed decoupler that allows the seattube to rotate independently from the toptube.  This feature, borrowed from Trek’s higher end hardtails, should provide greater compliance and a smoother ride.

Both bikes feature boost spacing and internal cable routing, while the Procaliber adds internal dropper post routing and a larger 31.6mm seat tube which opens up many more dropper post options than the Chisel’s 27.2mm post. The Chisel however does have a leg up with a more reliable and easy to maintain threaded bottom bracket.

In my personal opinion the Specialize Chisel Expert offers the best drivetrain with its combination of SRAM GX and NX components. All of the other bikes feature lower end Shimano 2x groupsets. While some still love their 2x drivetrains, I think most beginning racers / riders are much better served with a 1x setup. The simplicity of only having one shifter to manage allows the rider to focus on handling the bike instead of operating the transmission.

In regards to front suspension the Chisel Expert and the Procaliber 8 both offer a RockShox Reba RL. However the Chisel retails for $350 less and offers an arguably superior drive train as well.

All in all, unless the IsoSpeed decoupler is a feature you are looking for the Chisel Expert seems to be the best value of these 4 bikes. It checks all the boxes of a modern XC hardtail at a price that is hard to beat.

Two 2018 Budget XC Race Machines Compared By The Numbers

 2018 Specialized Chisel Comp2018 Specialized Chisel Expert2018 Trek Procaliber 62018 Trek Procaliber 8
PRICE$1,500.00$1,850.00$1,889.99$2,199.99
LINKSpecialized Chisel CompSpecialized Chisel ProTrek Procaliber 6Trek Procaliber 6
FRAMESpecialized D'Aluisio Smartweld M5 Alloy, XC Geometry, internal cable routing, BSA BB, 12x148mm rear end, triangulated post-mount 160mm brakeSpecialized D'Aluisio Smartweld M5 Alloy, XC Geometry, internal cable routing, BSA BB, 12x148mm rear end, triangulated post-mount 160mm brakAlpha Platinum Aluminum, IsoSpeed, E2 tapered head tube, internal derailleur routing, balanced post mount brake, PF92, Boost148, G2 Geometry on 29ersAlpha Platinum Aluminum, IsoSpeed, E2 tapered head tube, internal derailleur routing, balanced post mount brake, PF92, Boost148, G2 Geometry on 29ers
FORKRockShox Judy 29, Solo Air, 51mm offset, 15x110mm thru-axle (S: 90mm, M-XL: 100mm of travel)RockShox Reba RL 29, Solo Air, 51mm offset, 15x110mm thru-axle (S: 90mm, M-XL: 100mm of travel)RockShox Recon Gold RL, Solo Air, remote lockout, fast black uppers, E2 tapered steerer, G2 Geometry w/51mm offset on 29ers, Boost110, 100mm travel (13.5: 80mm travel)
RockShox Reba RL, Solo Air spring, Motion Control remote lockout, E2 tapered steerer, G2 Geometry w/51mm offset on 29ers, Boost110, 100mm travel (13.5: 80mm travel)
FRONT HUBFront hub, disc, 15x110mm spacing, torque caps, 32hFront hub, disc, 15x110mm spacing, torque caps, 32hBontrager sealed bearing, alloy axle, centerlock, Boost110
Boost110 front
REAR HUBSpecialized disc, alloy, sealed cartridge bearings, 12x148mm thru-axle, 32hSpecialized disc, alloy, sealed cartridge bearings, 12x148mm thru-axle, 32hBontrager sealed bearing, centerlock, Boost148
Boost148 rear
RIMSSpecialized Alloy 29, 25mm internal widthSpecialized Alloy 29, 25mm internal widthBontrager Duster Elite Tubeless Ready 28-hole, tubeless strips and valves sold separately
Bontrager Duster Elite 23,tubeless strips included, valves sold separately
FRONT TIREFast Trak, GRIPTON compound, 29x2.3", 60 TPI, Aramid folding bead, 2Bliss ReadyFast Trak, GRIPTON compound, 29x2.3", 60 TPI, Aramid folding bead, 2Bliss ReadyBontrager XR2 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, 120 tpi, aramid bead, 29x2.20˝ (13.5 & 15.5: 27.5x2.20˝)
Bontrager XR2 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, 120 tpi, aramid bead, 29x2.20˝ (13.5 & 15.5: 27.5x2.20˝)
REAR TIREFast Trak, 2Bliss Ready, 29x2.3"Fast Trak, 2Bliss Ready, 29x2.3"Bontrager XR2 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, 120 tpi, aramid bead, 29x2.20˝ (13.5 & 15.5: 27.5x2.20˝)
Bontrager XR2 Team Issue, Tubeless Ready, 120 tpi, aramid bead, 29x2.20˝ (13.5 & 15.5: 27.5x2.20˝)
CRANKSETStout XC Alloy Boost, Stout 36/22TRace Face Aeffect, Steel, 30TRace Face Aeffect, 36/26
Race Face Next R, 36/26
BOTTOM BRACKETThreaded BSARace Face Threaded BSAPF92
PF92
SHIFT LEVERSShimano Deore, i-spec clamp, 11-speedSRAM GX, trigger, 11-speedShimano SLX M7000, 11 speed
Shimano SLX M7000, 11 speed
FRONT DERAILLEURShimano Deore down swing, 2x10NAShimano SLX M7020
Shimano SLX M7020
REAR DERAILLEURShimano XT, Shadow Plus, GS cage, 10-speedSRAM GX, long cage, 11-speedShimano Deore XT M8000, Shadow Plus
Shimano Deore XT M8000, Shadow Plus
CASSETTEShimano Deore, 10-speed, 11-36tSRAM NX, 11-speed, 10-42tShimano SLX M7000, 11-42, 11 speed
Shimano SLX M7000, 11-42, 11 speed
CHAINKMC X10, 10-speed w/ Missing Link™KMC X11, 11-speed w/ Missing Link™KMC X11-1
KMC X11-1
BRAKESShimano MT500 Deore, hydraulic disc, 180/160mm rotorSRAM Level TL, hydraulic disc, organic pads, 160/180mm rotorShimano M425 hydraulic disc
Shimano MT500 hydraulic disc
HANDLEBARSSpecialized Mini-rise, 6000 alloy, 8-degree backsweep, 6-degree upsweep, 10mm rise, 720mm width, 31.8mm clampSpecialized Mini-rise, 6000 alloy, 8-degree backsweep, 6-degree upsweep, 10mm rise, 720mm width, 31.8mm clampBontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise, 720mm width
Bontrager Race Lite, 31.8mm, 5mm rise, 720mm width
GRIPSSpecialized Sip Grip, half-waffle, S/M: regular thickness, L/XL: XL thicknessSpecialized Sip Grip, half-waffle, S/M: regular thickness, L/XL: XL thicknessBontrager Race Lite, lock-on
Bontrager Race Lite, lock-on
STEMSpecialized Alloy, 3D forged, 4-bolt, 6-degreeSpecialized Alloy, 3D forged, 4-bolt, 6-degreeBontrager alloy, 2-bolt head, 31.6mm, 8mm offset
Bontrager Elite, 31.8mm, 7 degree
SADDLEBody Geometry Phenom Comp, Adaptive Edge design, Hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mmBody Geometry Phenom Comp, Adaptive Edge design, Hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mmBontrager Evoke 2, chromoly rails
Bontrager Montrose Comp, chromoly rails
SEATPOSTSpecialized, alloy, 2-bolt, 27.2mmSpecialized, alloy, single bolt, 27.2mmBontrager alloy, 2-bolt head, 31.6mm, 8mm offset
Bontrager Pro, OCLV Carbon, 31.6mm, 5mm offset

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