Specialized Carve Expert 29 29er Hardtail

4.87/5 (15 Reviews)
MSRP : $1650.00

Product Description

Equipped with an 80mm-travel RockShox Silver TK fork, the aluminum Carve Expert 29 is ready for action and features Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and versatile Specialized The Captain 2.0-inch tires.

  • Fully butted, smooth-welded M4SL alloy frame is superlight, stiff, and efficient, with 29er XC geometry, integrated, tapered head tube for front-end stiffness, plus bridge-less seatstays for compliance over bumps
  • 80mm-travel RockShox Recon Silver 29" air-sprung fork with alloy, tapered steerer, external rebound adjust, and lockout delivers light weight plus more versatility and tunability over varying terrain
  • Light and stiff, double-walled alloy rims for added stiffness; front hub has cartridge bearings and oversized dropout interface for front-end rigidity
  • Light and efficient 29" Specialized The Captain Control tires are 2Bliss Ready with aramid bead for fast and predictable speed and control on the trail
  • Shimano forged alloy, 10-speed triple crankset with Hollowtech arms and Octalink-splined BB interface is stiff and light for precision shifting performance
  • Shimano hydraulic disc brakes use 180mm front rotor for increased leverage on 29" wheels, while 160mm rear rotor keeps weight low
  • Shimano Deore XT Shadow 10-speed rear derailleur for lightweight, pro-level shifting, and improved clearance

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Reviews 1 - 15 (15 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Mick a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: September 8, 2013

Strengths:    Quality frame, good geometry, excellent front shock REBA, reasonably light.

Weaknesses:    Stock seat

Bottom Line:   
I have only owned my 2013 Carve Expert for two months and am very impressed. My first 29er. Changed the handlebars to Jones alu H loops, put my old Thudbuster post and Brooks Swift on it. Also bought a second pair of wheels fitted with cyclocross tyres for gravel and fire trail rides. Bike is nimble and fast. The remote lockout is a bonus. Stout wheels seem good although only time will tell. Noticeable difference between my Cannondale Rush and this on the fire trails, although I prefer the Rush on single track. Very happy with this bike.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   2 months

Price Paid:    $1499.00

Purchased At:   Cyclery

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Keith Goeben a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: August 23, 2013

Strengths:    Frame (integrity and lightness)
29er, but still flickable

Weaknesses:    None so far

Bottom Line:   
AWESOME bike. Didn't really have the cash to go full suspension, but I found that at the same price point, you obviously get better componentry on a hardtail. I actually work at a bike shop and did a fair amount of research before purchasing. I would probably still consider myself somewhere between an amateur and an intermediate level rider, but this bike is sweet for the money. It's a bike that's really designed for a more cross-country riding style, but after hammering on it through technically trails in my area, it's still held up extremely well. The only things I've upgraded are the grips and pedals, although I will be doing a new fork soon. (going from stock recon silver to a reba RLT)
This bike is awesome for anyone looking to do riding from cross-country to more aggressive trail riding. I would advise it be used for the former, as it is what it's made for. If you beat on it on trails like I do, you really can't complain if something wears quicker or breaks. That said, I HAVE beat on this bike, and it has been more than good to me. Highly recommend if you want a quality mountain bike with a budget between $1,500 and $1,800.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Anything at Nassahegan (Burlington, CT)

Duration Product Used:   Over a year

Purchased At:   Benidorm Bikes

Bike Setup:   Race Face Good n' Evil grips
DMR Vault pedals
Rockshox Reba RLT fork (will be put on the bike in the next couple days)

Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Stephan a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: February 18, 2013

Strengths:    Great for a beginner. Confidence builder.

Weaknesses:    Trouble with chain coming off switching to smallest ring. Appears fixed after two trips to shop and regular cleans and lube. No other issues.

Bottom Line:   
Coming from a Trek 4300 the Carve Expert is incredible. Decided to try mountain biking and learned my level of Trek was not a "real" bike for trails or anything off road. The shifting is smooth and places you in the right gear for what you need. I did change saddle, just a pesonal preference then upgraded grips. Tossed stock pedals for shimano 530 pedals and although being a newbie to that style it is a good fit to the bike. 29er is the way to go and I was on a budget so this was near max I could spend for now and now 3 months later I can't see spending more except to get into a FSR someday. This bike does flip through corners with ease. Climbing is easy with plethera of gears to choose from although 2013 went to 2x10 set up. With about 125 miles since mid November 2012 on various Fort Ord trails i'm sold on this model.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   So far anything on Fort Ord.

Duration Product Used:   3 months

Price Paid:    $1100.00

Purchased At:   Used from private se

Similar Products Used:   None

Bike Setup:   Ergon grips, WTB Pure V, Cateye wireless computer, Shimano 530 pedals.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by james

Date Reviewed: October 30, 2012

Strengths:    Recon Silver Fork, Shimano Deore XT/Deore component group, sub 30lb bike (28.1lbs)

Weaknesses:    Non series Shimano 3x10 crankset and Octospline V2 bottom bracket, would prefer a Hollowtech II external bearing system.

Bottom Line:   
I rode a stumpjumper test bike to help my decision into buying a 29r so I had a much better platform to compare to. Love the Carve Expert, and all that it comes with. I bought with some upgrades planned (2x10 36/24t conversion). A little bit heavier than the Stumpy 29r Comp (25.1lbs vs 28lbs) but wasnt very noticeable unless your timing yourself while climbing. Great bike overall!!

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by down2ride a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: August 2, 2012

Strengths:    Speed and geometry

Weaknesses:    2x10 instead of 3x10

Bottom Line:   
I went from a 2009 Cannondale Rush 7 (26er) to this bike. The first ride on the Carve I increased my average mph by 1.8!!!! This bike is insanely fast and well suited to fast singletrack. It also handles extremely well while cornering. I believe a lot of my speed is coming in the corners which I am clearly taking much faster.

For the price, you really can't beat this bike. I'll be making some upgrades soon. SRAM X9 Type 2 and 2x10 to start. However, this is a great platform to build on. I plan on having this bike for a while!

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   1 month

Price Paid:    $1150.00

Purchased At:   LBS

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by millertm a Weekend Warrior

Date Reviewed: July 26, 2012

Strengths:    Very smooth and crisp shifting. Feels lighter then it is while moving down the road. Good stiffness and netural turning. Clean shifting and good spread of gears (11-36T).

Weaknesses:    Geared a bit low and reduced top speed on the road. I expected more comming from a 26" bike with the same gearing.

Bottom Line:   
Quick climber and the fork lockout works great for climbing. I have the XXL frame and it does not feel to tall around corners and netural turn-in makes it easy to flick into corners. Great bike for riding to work and then hitting the trails at the end of the week. Good middle of the road setup for price vs value. I weigh over 100K and the air fork setup work well.

Expand full review >>

Duration Product Used:   < one month

Price Paid:    $1320.00

Purchased At:   LBS in Rio Rancho, N

Bike Setup:   Stock

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Neil

Date Reviewed: June 23, 2012

Strengths:    Fantastic frame geometry. Fast, nimble, and a strong climber. I have gone through 3 hardtails looking for a comfortable ride and this one is awesome!

Weaknesses:    Grips suck and I had hoped for Avid's over the Shimano disc breaks but overall a nice parts package.

Bottom Line:   
I have a Stumpy Comp 29er and was searching for a hardtail to compliment it. Stand over is low like the Stumpy and ride positioning is as close as I've found. After 2 days I ordered some ODI Ruffians and a riser bar. Stock ergo grips suck. They slide all over. This bike is light, fast, and easy to throw around. It's capable of bombing trails, cruising a city bike path, or dropping the seat and eating up a bike park. I LOVE IT! For the money, it's a sweet deal.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Stormc1oak a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: June 20, 2012

Strengths:    Roll resistance, weight,

Weaknesses:    None as of yet

Bottom Line:   
This is a great bike, The roll resistance is awesome on this bike although i'm coming off a 26" much lower quality bike, the brakes work great and I find the bike very comfortable, This bike is great uphill and on trails it also does well putting around town riding with my daughter, The only problem I found is my wife prefers this bike over her's and try's to steal it when we ride together. Oh yeah I don't like the plastic pedals and will upgrade them soon they work great I just don't like them, best bike I've had

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Short Hills

Price Paid:    $1580.00

Purchased At:   Liberty

Bike Setup:   Stock

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Bill Shelton a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: June 11, 2012

Strengths:    Frame, Recon Shox, Shimano compenent set

Weaknesses:    crankset

Bottom Line:   
I purchased this bike with upgrades in mind, particularly the rims/tires. The crankset should be upgraded at some point as well. The frame geometry is really dialed in, clearly Specialized did their homework on 29er frame problems in the past. This bike really feels like you are on a 26er, just wish some of the components were as good as the frame/fork.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Core Creek

Price Paid:    $1600.00

Purchased At:   Yardley Firehouse cy

Similar Products Used:   KHS Alite 3000, GT Zaskar LE, GT Avalanche

Bike Setup:   Replaced: crankset with Shimano SLX, clipless Shimano XT pedals, carbon fiber post, Easton EA70 bars, Specialized Renegade S-Works tires(tubeless) and Mavic C29ssmax

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by DALLAS

Date Reviewed: May 14, 2012

Strengths:    Geometry, Power transfer, Rigidity, Air fork.

Weaknesses:    Triple chainring

Bottom Line:   
Previous bike: 2004 Giant NRS2

(5'9, 17.5 frame) This thing is unreal. First thing I noticed was how fast it wanted to go. Its great to be on a bike that you can't outride.........yet. I have only been out on it for a few hours, but it has impressed me THOROUGHLY. The 29er's crawl through the rock garden, laughing all the way. I converted to tubeless right away, and was pleasantly surprised to discover 24mm wide rims. I can lay it right down in the corners without fear of washout, and the climbing and acceleration are spectacular. My only complaint is that they could have done without the triple chainring. I love this bike and will enjoy it for years.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by papag69 a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: May 8, 2012

Strengths:    I am super happy with the drivetrain components, brakes are excellent, tires are great, and the geometry is unbelievable!

Weaknesses:    I would like to see better wheels & hubs. The drivetrain could be 2x10 instead of 3x10.

Bottom Line:   
I am putting about 75 to 90 miles a week out on the trails on my new Carve Expert. I have finally gotten used to the larger wheels and adjusting to the hardtail after riding a GT LTS 1 for the last 6 years or so. I have had it for about 3 months now and have not had any problems with it. Shifting is nice, crisp and predictable. I am 6' tall and got the 17.5", it has a nice standover height with plenty of room for comfort. The 19" was ok but the top tube was a little close for comfort to me. I am still running tubes but it is ready for tubeless. Overall I am super happy with the bike, how it handles & the quality of components it came with. I would buy this bike again and I would definitely recommend this bike to anyone.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   River Legacy Park & Cedar Hill

Purchased At:   Bikes Inc. Hurst, TX

Bike Setup:   So far off the shelf. XT and Deore drivetrain and brake components. Specialized The Captain tires. Looking to upgrade wheels & hubs, saddle, stem and crankset soon.

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Mayhemradio a Cross Country Rider

Date Reviewed: May 1, 2012

Strengths:    Geometry, Forks

Weaknesses:    Hard to fault other than high rolling resistance, which is down to tyre choice

Bottom Line:   
I had a Scott Scale 29 Team until it was stolen (my review of that is just slightly less positive than of this bike). I really wanted a straight replacement but there were no Scale 29 Teams coming into the UK, so I plumped for the Specialized Expert. Had to pay a bit more to upgrade, but wasn't happy with the Comp.

My first reaction was that the frame is beautifully made. Not quite as elegant in shape as, say, the Scott but the welding and lines are very nice indeed. I took it out for first ride and was thrown first by the rolling resistance, which is much higher with the Captain Controls (please please change that awful name, reminds me of Bleach) than with the Rocket Rons I was used to.

I took the bike off-road and it hit me that this setup is committed to off-road, and that riding on tarmac is a secondary priority. It absolutely rocks off-road. It's like being a kid again with a BMX - it's possible to throw around much more than my other bikes, and it doesn't make a single squeak or sound.

I'm tall at 6'5" and it has been a long while since I had this much fun on a bike.

Drivetrain, brakes both work wonderfully and shifting has got over its initial grumps and is solid as heck - even shifting out of the saddle now, something I had tried before and thought 'nope'. The wheels are stiff and there is no hint of frailty in the wheelset at all - great for a 29er.

The saddle from my previous bike went straight in the bin it was so uncomfortable, but this is OK. It can live for the time being.

The tyres give lots of traction in mud, and have not had a single iffy moment even at high speed.

In short, I think Carve is a great name for this bike - the geometry plus the lower 80mm air shock (compared to the Scott Scale 29 Team 100m coil) means the bike tears through corners, losing the wobbly feeling from the Scott. Lots of fun! Hit those chicanes at speed and it just does what you imagine!

I think the feature I wished was there was the Poploc remote, but as a £50 upgrade, that's OK - at least it is possible. Next upgrade is going to be a forgiving carbon seatpost. I love the hardtail feel, and the micro suspension tricks work well - I think I can live with a hard saddle with just a little more help.

Wish there was less branding on it though. Electrical tape does the job temporarily.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Grizedale

Price Paid:    $1250.00

Purchased At:   Wheelies

Similar Products Used:   Scott Scale 29 Team

Bike Setup:   Specialized Carve Expert, Shimano MX30

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by SPRaiderFan a Weekend Warrior from Belmont, NC

Date Reviewed: October 15, 2011

Strengths:    Comfortable geometry and components.

Weaknesses:    None to speak of at the moment.

Bottom Line:   
First 29er. I can push a bigger gear with this bike and it takes off in about three pedal strokes. Climbs better than my previous bike. The wider handlebars are nice with the geometry, it makes for a more comfortable ride. I have easily knocked off several minutes at my local trails.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Warrior Creek

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Purchased At:   Bike Source

Similar Products Used:   Gary Fisher Tassajara

Bike Setup:   Stock

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by barrjesu a Cross Country Rider from Laredo, Tx

Date Reviewed: September 28, 2011

Strengths:    Component Package-XT Rear D, Deore Front D, Deore Shifters, Nice Shimano Hydraulic Brakes, RockShox Recon Silver front Shock

Weaknesses:    Foot rubs front tire on tight turns

Bottom Line:   
This is an excellent quality bike. Definitely worth the price. The component package works great together, and the front shock is very responsive. This is my first time on a 29er, and I don't think I'm ever going back. My 26er had me riding my everyday trail in just over 30 minutes, and I could not break this mark no matter how hard I tried. My 2nd try on the Carve put me at 27:20, and the 3rd at 27:10; a 10% improvement just by changing bikes! This bike just powers over sand as if it was not even there, prior to this I was fishtailing from side to side. Small bumps are also much less noticeable thanks to the large tires. The only issue I've encountered, probably due to the frame being the small 15.5" is that my shoe rubs against the front tire on very tight turns. This however, has not been a big issue, since the rubbing is minor and seldom happens. Anyone hoping to get into the 29er world should definitely try this bike, the angles on the bike make the rider feel comfortable, and the bike is easy to maneuver on tight switchbacks and tight sections of single track. The bike is an excellent climber and feels solid on the downhills.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Shiloh Trail

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $1500.00

Purchased At:   ProBike

Similar Products Used:   2012 Rockhopper 26er

Bike Setup:   Stock...for now

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Larry Gerszewski a Weekend Warrior from Sunnyvale, CA

Date Reviewed: August 25, 2011

Strengths:    Excellent ergonomics, comfortable, quick steering, great quiet brakes, superb handling, stable at speed, climbs well. Fast bike when you want to go fast! Responds to input instantly.

Weaknesses:    None so far.

Bottom Line:   
Excellent 29er! Well balanced, comfortable, fits me perfectly, hard to believe I'm on a hardtail. Easy to go fast. I am 5'9" tall and weigh 165 and have the medium or 17.5" frame. The large or 19" frame was too big for me when I tested it.

Expand full review >>

Favorite Trail:   Bay Trail

Duration Product Used:   Less than 1 month

Price Paid:    $1430.00

Purchased At:   Mikes Bikes

Similar Products Used:   Specialized Hardrock, Specialized Rockhopper, Cannondale F5, Cannondale SL4 29er.

Bike Setup:   Stock plus Avenir "Comfy Road" seat,ODI grips and HT pedals.

Reviews 1 - 15 (15 Reviews Total)

Review Options:  Sorted by Latest Review | Sort by Best Rating

Carve Expert 29 or Rockhopper Comp 29?

I am new to this, and I just can't decide. Sounds like the Expert will give me better quality parts...but is it worth $600+ over the Rockhopper?Read More »

2011 Rockhopper LTD 29 or 2012 Carve Expert 29?

I'm looking to add a 29er HT to go with my Stumpjumper FSR 26. I can get the 2011 Rockhopper LTD or the Carve Expert for the same price. I'm just not sure which to go with. The LTD is spec'd slightly better, but the Carve has a tapered headset and I heard it is a bit more slacker. I've rode both bik ... Read More »

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