a Weekend Warrior
from Sterling Heights, Michigan
Date Reviewed: August 18, 2011
Strengths: Strengths: The frame rocks, I probably have several thousand miles on it by now and it's a great platform. The suspension design works well and does it's job staying active and supple in the downhills and keeping pedal bob to a minimum on the uphills. Now if I could still find a linkage bearing kit, that would really improve things! Actually BETD has some in stock still apparently, but the price is pretty high with shipping from England.Admittedly many of the stock components have served me well also. When I purchased the bike I wasn't expecting the stock components to last very long. 12 years later some of the stock components are starting to wear down. That's pretty good.
Weaknesses: Weaknesses: I suppose if I had to give it a weakness, it would be the initial suspension setup. The rock shox deluxe was really holding this bike back. The Manitou it came with was also not that great as it was elastomer sprung (unheard of today for a good reason IMO) and had no damping.
So I bought the bike in 1998 just before a trip out west to Moab. At the time I was upgrading from a 1995 Schwinn Moab elite hardtail. The difference was huge and of course I enjoyed the bike thoroughly. I rode the bike pretty much completely stock for about 4 years. The only real upgrade I did was sell the stock Manitou to a friend and replaced it with a Manitou SX-TI I already had, and swapped the handlebar for a riser bar. I moved in 2002 and unfamiliar trails caused me to take about 2 years off from biking. When I moved back, I started riding again, but I really wanted a new bike. So I bought a new bike in 2005 and rode that for a year. In 2006 I started realizing that I really liked the way that this bike rode for the XC trails in Michigan (the bike I bought - the Weyless XP is more suited to freeride). So I overhauled the drivetrain with a new casette, chain, and some cables. I also replaced the stock v-brakes with some Avid arch supremes. The bike handled really well until about 2008 when the seals on the manitou blew and I couldn't find replacements. So I bought a new fork, and out of necessity had to replace the front brake and front wheel. I also replaced the crappy rock shox deluxe for a Cane Creek AD-5 at this time. Since then the bike has been kicking so much butt. I have yet to cause any damage to this frame even after pretty consistent weekly rides, multiple crashes, frequent drop offs, and trips to the skills park. It's 2011 now and I just bent the derailleur hanger. These are still available, but I deceided to stick it in a vise and bend it back. I'll probably be getting a new rear wheel here in the next few weeks. I have never replaced the frame bushings, and only grease them every 2-3 years, yet the linkage is still pretty tight.
Bottom line, if you can find this frame (preferrably the higher end version though (elite) - as I believe it comes with better linkage bearings) then don't hesitate. Check it for abuse and as long as there aren't any big dents or cracks you've found a great platform for a good all-around trail bike. It's better than most all full suspension designs I've ridden on the uphills, and quite stable on the downhills with a slightly wider handlebar. It's really neat to keep a bike going for so long. It's true that in newer bikes many of the designs are improved, and using more advanced materials usually results in a lighter, better performing bike, however, today's bikes are getting really expensive. An older bike can be just as enjoyable as long as it's maintained carefully and not abused. Compared to a buddy's newer stumpjumper with significantly better componentry, this thing rocks IMO.
Similar Products Used: Full suspension bikes (from 1998 until 2011) from trek, gary fisher, giant, schwinn, and specialized.
Bike Setup: Frame Modifications:
Cane Creek AD-5 air shock
Rock Shox Recon Race (100mm) air sprung suspension fork
Front Wheel - upgraded because my new fork didn't have brake bosses
Rear wheel - about ready to replace, the freehub is shot and some spokes are bent Mavic 138 rim is still rollin' though...
Front derailleur - stock STX-RC
Rear derailleur - stock LX
Chain - IG50 (not original)
Cranks - stock strongarm w/original chanrings
Bottom bracket - stock, but about to be replaced, it's dry and gritty and has probably been that way for a while.
Casette - not original
Headset - original aheadset - easy to clean and service
Pedals - scott (I still use the Ritchey's on another bike though)
Handlebar - Titec hell bent (the red one looked awesome with the front SX-Ti)
Seatpost - Original
Shifters - Grip Sh*t 8 speed. They still work, but the rubber is almost gone so rapidfire shifters will be the next upgrade
Grips - Yeti logo
Bar ends - Coda
Stem - original (with some stickers on it)
Seat - WTB speed-V (just replaced the original one in 2010)
a Cross Country Rider
from Bradford uk
Date Reviewed: June 17, 2011
Strengths: Durable (look at the date of this review it's 2011!), easy to maintain, stiff, no pedal bob.
Weaknesses: Cramped cockpit (maybe i needed a bigger sized frame?)
Limited saddle height adjustment
No disc brake mount for rear :-(
I bought the frame off ebay for £70 in about 2005 - swapped out the stock shock for a fox float that a friend gave me. Got a good deal from a friend at Pace for the forks. I was worried they would be too long for the geometry of the frame but they work better set up with a good inch of sag so they complement the bike amazingly well.
How does it ride, well it's the 1st full suspension bike I have owned, my previous bikes being a Rockhopper Comp then a Marin Indian Fire Trail, but I have to say really love it. I had big reservations about it being heavy and sapping my energy but Horst style Specialized setup works very well. Even out of the seat sprinting is great, I lock out the forks and the back takes care of itslef and it goes like a hardtail. Reliability-wise I have just serviced the suspension bearings for the 1st time since I built the bike up in 2006. The only wear was the link bushes which I made in 2006 so I just turned a couple more and its as tight as ever!.
My only gripes are
A) The lack of disc momunts - however back in '98 discs were only just emerging. I'm not saying the braking is bad because it isn't. I have a 180mm Hope Mono up front which does a great job and Avid single digit Ti v-brakes on the back are as good as v-brakes get. It's just that irritating, sappping grating you get once you get your rims muddy that does my head in! I have acquired an A-Z disc adapter which I might try out in the coming weeks.
B) The cockpit seems a little cramped at times. I think I'll get a longer stem and maybe a Thompson laid back seat pin to give me a more slung-out racey feel.
For a frame that's 13 years old you can't knock it. It does everything I ask of it and has proved so reliable. Yes an upgraded BET-D link and an adjustable shock would be lovely but unless I come across them second hand I cant justify the price.
Similar Products Used: Various borrowed full sussers
Bike Setup: FSR Frame & Fox float shock
Pace RC41 Xcam forks (like dt swiss carbon)
Original specialized crankset!!
Hope mono front brake
Mavic rims on Deore hubs
XT 9 speed transmission
Easton bars & Stem
Avid Single digit Ti hardware rear v-brake
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: October 28, 2001
Strengths: Very plush and solid frame, a few simple modifcations and it can be used for free-ride or cross country
Weaknesses: The bloody seatpost!!!!!!!The reason i got rid of this bike was because i ended uop having to carry a longer seatpost with me on rides as i couldnt find a comfortable medium for jumping/mileage
It is a very capable bike and is well worth the money, only however if you can put up with a severe lack of seatpost adjustment
Similar Products Used: MOst full sus konas and gts
Bike Setup: Specialized frame hs33's marzochi z1s downhill bits and bobs
from Fresno, CA
Date Reviewed: April 1, 2000
Strengths: That beefy (strong) frame. Tried and true suspension design. Good customer service. Easily upgradable.
Weaknesses: That beefy (heavy) frame. Original fork, orignal rear shock, original crankset.
Two things stand out now two years after I bought the bike. The first is the Marzocchi fork was the single best thing I ever did to upgrade the bike. The original fork was TERRIBLE! Just a spring with seven inches of plastic beneath it. Anyway, this is not a Marzocchi review. Just say it made my bike so much better. The second best thing I did was replace the original bushings in the rear pivots with MRP's needle bearing kit. This made the ride so much more supple than initially and feel as close to an Intense as you could get without shelling out the cash for one. It almost feels as if you're floating over the trail instead of riding on it. It's nice to see Specialized finally went with a bearing system for their 2000 FSRs. It's such a performance upgrade it's almost unbelievable. It's one of those things you see almost immediately. If you are thinking of getting a '98 or '99 that's left over (I've seen some), think about spending the extra $160 and get the bearing kit. It's worth it. If you can talk the shop into changing out the shock for you, you might want to think about that, too. All unadjustable shocks suck, period. Still, two years later, despite having replaced almost every single item on the bike (except for the rear shock and headset, and the shock is next, I have nothing but good things to say. Parts are just what you hang on the frame. And after upgrading the frame with the bearings, I see the inherant qualities in the Specialized design. It's supple, active, stiff. Too bad the frame weighs so much, but then again, too bad I weigh so much. The FSR in it's '98/'99 form is the best fat-guy bike out there. It'll take whatever you throw at it without a whimper. I don't think you could break that big frame without a sledgehammer. Even with this weight, you can get the weight down with a judicious change of components. I've got mine down to between 26 and 27 pounds and can drop it more with air on both ends, but we'll see about it. I give five stars for its potential, three for the orignal form it came in. Split the difference and call it four. The bike is still cheaper with what I've done to it that an Intense ever would've been. Nice value.
Similar Products Used: It's my first full suspension bike. But I've tried my friend's ones.
Bike Setup: Decathlon 520 (a Shimano STX rigid bike) and a Giant super sierra a deore XT rigid bike(Don't buy a giant it's the worst bikes: I broke mine!! (mail me for more information))
a Weekend Warrior
from Van Nuys ca
Date Reviewed: August 19, 1999
Strengths: The suspension works great!I weigh 160# and the suspension doesn't seem to pogoat all for me.Haven't yet had any problems with brakes yet.I think that it's greatest strength is definately downhilling.
Weaknesses: None i have experienced and i have been rididng it hard..even on bmx tracks.
I highly recommend this bike to annyone or any riding style.The quality and durability has been outstanding so far.I have ridden much more expensive bikes on downhills that didn't feel nearly as good as the FSR,it reminds me of my moto cross bike.I have yet to bottom the suspension hard so far. even off of bmx doubles!I truly love this bike and for the life of me can't see how someone could give it just one chilie.
Similar Products Used: Before i had rode the FSR i was trying to decide between the cannondale and the proflex but neither one seemed to fit me well.i decided to try another shop and finnaly saw the FSR,just the looks alone was hard to believe that it is a $1000 bike!I rode it for five minutes then took it home.
Bike Setup: My bike came with the judy c fork and LX components. No changes yet.
a Cross-Country Rider
from Derbyshire, England
Date Reviewed: July 3, 1999
Strengths: the suspension works amazingly well, i use it on a reguarly used motoX track and being the only mtber with full suspension im the only one who can get round the whole track. The specialized team comp tyres grip on anything and the Diacompe V brakes stop you better than most, but the pads wore down quite quickly.looks amazing, and the 24 speed drivetrain took me to 56 mph on a nearby hill.
Weaknesses: rear derailleur broke twice and have now upgraded to sachs centera. the brake pads didnt last long, and the saddle is uncomfortable, but the suspension makes up for that.
i love this bike. the suspension is readily adjustable and the bike is great for climbing, and going downhill.it is the best looking bike that exists in my opinion and it is very light for the price range.
Similar Products Used: Trek:i could break the frame on the first fall
Bike Setup: i manly use Rock Shokes
a Cross-Country Rider
Date Reviewed: March 18, 1999
Strengths: great for downhill!!!
This is a great bike! I have ridden it more in the first three months than I rode my old bike in a year. It is great on downhill. I love the bounce. If I could give it more chillies I would!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bike Setup: Brakes and shifters no grip shift for me!
a Weekend Warrior
from Coquitlam, BC
Date Reviewed: March 17, 1999
Strengths: Value, Frame strength, Tires.
Weaknesses: Heavy, Pogo stick front end noisy (no top out bumper).
I began the hunt for a new steed three months ago...my trusty M2 had finally tired, (7yrs old, manitou 1 fork etc...) I thought about full suspension, but still really loved the stiffness of the matrix hardtail. As I tried out some rides priced between $1200 and $2100 (Canadian) I was les and less sure about a FS bike...that is until I put my leg over the FSR...it just felt right...the geometry, the fit, the suspension, everything. I knew this bike was new but the model was a year old and so was able to work out an amazing deal with Hillside Mountain Bikes in West Vancouver...I'm sure they lost money on this deal, I'm not too proud of that fact, but...you know, I am! I have thouroughly enjoyed this bike, if you have never tried full suspension...like you think you are a purist or something, get off it, try a FS bike. This bike has sped up every aspect of my ride, except for the long climb. It is getting better, as I learn to smooth out my energy on the climb...it will never climb as well as my M2, no matter how smooth I am. Since I have been winter riding out on the west coast, the bike has been very dirty, very muddy, very layered in pine needles, rotted plant matter and the like...the only complaint so far is the shifting in these adverse conditions, otherwise the bike has worked very well. The only other beef is with the Manitou LT fork, I spoke with the Manitou rep, and he said that Specialized wanted the Top out bumper removed in order to increase travel to 70mm, I would gladly sacrifice a bit of travel for a quieter, smoother fork! All in all, I am very pleased with my purchase, and I eagerly anticipate dryer, warmer weather to try the bike out at greater speeds.
Bike Setup: Manitou LT fork, Rock Shox deluxe rear (750x150). Shimano pedals, answer riser bar
a cross-country rider
from kennewick, washington
Date Reviewed: February 15, 1999
I HAVE THE 98 FSR IN AN EXTRA LARGE FRAME. I AM ON THE SECOND NEW FRAME BECAUSE THE UPPER BOLT ON THE REAR SHOCK KEEPS BREAKING AND TWEAKS THE FRAME. SPECIALIZED CLAIMS THAT THEY HAVEN'T HAD THIS PROBLEM WITH ANYBODY ELSE. SO, WE GOT A NEW FRAME AND ADJUSTED THE REAR SHOCK SO THERE IS ONLY 1/2 INCH OF SAG (PRETTY STIFF). THIS TIME THE BOLT LASTED ABOUT TEN RIDES AND HERE I AM AGAIN IN THE SAME PERDICIMENT. I HAVE LOST COMPLETE FAITH IN THE INTEGRITY OF THE SUSPENSION AND FRAME. I WEIGH 230 POUNDS AND AM NOT A RACER, AND THE BIKE CAN'T TAKE WHAT A RECREATIONAL RIDER DEALS IT. THIS IS THE FIRST MOUNTAIN I HAVE HAD AND AM CERTAINLY DISSAPOINTED IN THE DURABILITY OF THIS 1000.00 MACHINE. I AM GOING TO THE DEALER TOMMORROW TO SEE WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO. IF YOUR BIG AND DON'T BABY YOUR BIKE I WOULDN'T SUGGEST BUYING. IN THE 900 MILES I HAVE RIDDEN THE BIKE I HAVE HAD TO REPLACE THE FOLLOWING PARTS: FRAME, REAR SHOCK, BOTTOM BRACKET, CHAIN AND SMALL FRONT COG, AND FREE WHEEL ASSEMBLY. THIS REPLACEMENTS WERE NECCASARY. CERTAINLY FEEL THERE IS A QUALITY ISSUE WITH SPECIALIZED. OTHER THAN WHAT HAS BEEN MENTIONED ABOVE THE BIKE CLIMBS AND HANDLES GOOD. T
a cross-country rider
Date Reviewed: February 14, 1999
I've just bought a '99 FSR a week ago, and I've got to say it's the best bike around for the value and I love it already. I did a lot of research before handing over my hard-earned, and nothing else compares to the price (plus I got an even better deal from the shop!)or quality. The '99 spec comes stock with Judy C's (better than the '98 Manitous, I'd say), Rock Shox Deluxe Coil over rear, LX drivetrain (no STX-RC here), Avid/DiaCompe brakes and Mavic rims. OK, so they aren't the top-level components available. So what? It's an A grade frame, and the parts are fine for a non-competition rider like myself, and probably OK for entry comp. I'll upgrade them if and when they fail. The Judy's are a bit bouncy, and the damping is only adjustable via oil grade/volume, but I'll play with some different oil grades and springs to get it right. The drivetrain is good and getting better with fine adjustment. LX is as good as you'd want (for non-comp)unless you're a poser with money to burn on XTR or the like. And there are a lot of those. My last bike had STX, and it was more reliable than a friends XT - because I bothered to tune it right to start with, and regularly maintained it. The brakes on the FSR are probably the worst component, but they're more than ample. They still feel reassuring enough through mud and water, but I guess they're new and time will tell. I know they're a cheap item, so I'm not expecting disc-like performance. Brakes, especially levers, are a personal thing, so I'll upgrade when I need to and can afford to. But at least they're Avid. It gets me every time how people bag the shit out of the OEM forks or brakes on a low/mid-specification bike because they're not as plush or adjustable as the five-levels-higher-grade/price from the same company, or because of what Joe Gofast FIGJAM said about a particular brand/product being no good. If you spend most of your time busting downhill runs at 40mph, and dropping off 5 ledges, then of course you're going to break basic level components. So why did you buy a basic level bike? If you need to, upgrade at purchase, and save the hassle to yourself, and everyone else that has to read your whingeing reviews. I wonder how many of these ego-justified upgrades occur due to excess cash flow and the wish to say I've got Z-1's and they kick arse over the crap OEM shocks! No doubt they do, but are they really necessary? Nice luxury, but need/got-to-have necessary? The old adage rings especially true with most things MTB related - You get what you pay for.
a cross-country rider
Date Reviewed: February 14, 1999
I often frequent the Mount Wilson Fire Road and descend the technical Rim Trail or Mt. Wilson Trail(Trail information at mtbr trails-Los Angeles). These trails earn a extreme technical rating and have mini size boulders that immitate water bar drops which you have to often negotiate for approx 7-9 miles. All I can say, Specialized has the 1998 Specialized fsr comp dialed in correctly as far as components mix and value pricing. The greatest feature of this bike is the four bar linkage which gives it fully active suspension. You can really feel it on drops. The entry level shocks front & rear works excellent in the conditions I ride in. That is such a surprise. It serves it's entry level purpose. I'm very impressed and thankful for the performance of the Avid 2.0L braking system. Many times when I have negotiated technical sections, that I have to quickly brake to slow down and turn. It's so predictable that brake sliding does not occur. The rest of the components work well. I really love the Ritchey clipless pedals, XT & LX parts, the cranks. Thanks for building a great bike. Thanks for taking me home.
a cross-country rider
from Fresno, CA
Date Reviewed: February 6, 1999
I bought this bike in June of '98 after riding perhaps a dozen others when my Trek hardtail was ready to be retired. I was this close (finger and thumb a quarter inch apart) from buying a '97 Pro-Flex and just as close to buying a Specialized Rockhopper. I am so immensely glad I bought the FSR. As I've seen with so many others, a few upgrades were in order, and the Manitou SX (yeah, right) was history within two months, replaced by a Marzocchi Z.2 Atom Bomb. I also got rid of the stock seat (now a Bontrager FS +10 with Kevlar), the seat post (now a Ritchey) and added some bar ends. Recently I changed out the 120mm stem for a 100mm Bontrager to shorten up the cockpit for better control, but some of the best changes I've made (besides the Marzocchi) are getting XTR brakes and levers and an XTR rear derailleur. Shifting is so much smoother, crisp and tight now, and my brakes have super power.But, so much for what I've done to the bike. What the bike does for me is more important. At the price point the FSR was being offered in '98, there was nothing out there to compare to it. There were no bikes with a four-bar linkage and the component spec at $1000 anywhere. No GT STS or LTS and no Diamondback V-6 could match the value of the FSR. Even one of the other bikes I was so close to getting, a Klein Mantra, was $300 more with no more better spec. Of course, as I've heard before, now that I've spent $1600 on my FSR all together, why didn't I just get another bike with better spec or an FSR Extreme? Well, to be honest, I liked the way the basic FSR looked. The Comp and Extreme are just ugly and after riding the FSR (or any of the FSR line), I couldn't force myself to buy another brand.Nearly eight months later, I am as delighted with my FSR as I was the first day. I ride it every day, and put a minimum of forty miles a week on it, so I have become very in tune to everything the bike does. It's stiff and stable. Because of this, it climbs and descends very well. I've bombed one and a half mile steep fire roads on it and climbed with it at 7000 feet, so I have become very intimate with the suspension, and it's one of the finest out there in my opinion, even for being a cookie-cut type of bike. The travel is quite adequate and surprisingly supple with the low-end Rock Shox in the rear. Of course, the Marzocchi up front makes a world of difference, as does the XTR equipment, but still, I'd challenge anyone to find a full suspension bike with similar spec at $1600 (the orignal $1000 plus my upgrades).The only remaining gripes I have with the bike are the crankset and bottom bracket (heavier than sin, and if I get rid of these I can get the weight down to about 26 pounds, I figure) and the rims. I have now discovered after eight months of daily riding that the Mavic 138s are an enormous part of my braking difficulties. I have heard many times the complaint that the stock DiaCompe brakes squeal or that XTRs or XTs squeal, and everyone blames it on the brakes, but it's not the case. XTR and XT brakes (at least the pads) are made for machined rims, and the 138s are not machined, merely polished. They're Mavic's low-end rims, and perform as such. If you can afford it, switch rims and you'll see an enormous difference, I'm sure, or try switching pads.Basically, though, for anyone looking for a decent weight full suspension that can hang with the best of them, look to Specialized's FSRs. They're the ones that have set the standard for freeride bikes, and have everyone (like Trek for instance) scrambling and changing designs to keep up, or own the patents that companies like AMP, McMahon, Intense, GT, Diamondback and others use for their full suspensions. There's a reason why so many companies will pay Specialized money to use the four-bar Horst link for their rides. It's the best.
a weekend warrior
Date Reviewed: January 28, 1999
Why are people complaining about the Manitou so much? I've had my FSR for almost a year and the Manitou is fine. Ever tried squeezng the front brakes on other shocks and seeing the bosses flex like crazy? The Manitou is STIFF. The travel is buttery smooth with no stiction at all. Even though there isn't any dampening, the MCU's are fine and if your standards for a nice bike was so high that even the FSR couldn't satisfy it, you should hae spent another thousand to one with better components. If you really need better performance, install some 99' Enlund Total Air Cartridges. The brakes don't suck, it's the brake levers that do. Swap'm out for some XT's and you'll notice the difference. What's with that hater that gave the bike one chili anyway? Just cuz the shock isn't that great doesn't mean you give it a one. This bike kicks ass on the sprints and downhills. Can't imagine going at the speeds I do with a hardtail and hitting a huge pothole or bump at full speed. This bike definately gives you the winning edge.