The Specialized Status is a mullet-wheeled, budget specced, long travel machine that promises plenty of bang for your buck.

Joe spent the summer with Specialized’s first mullet offering since the Big Hit back in the early naughties to find out what this gravity sled could and couldn’t do.

Photos by Dave Price.

Key features:

  • Fox Float 36 Rhythm GRIP 160mm fork
  • Fox Float DPX2 Performance shock
  • SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed drive
  • SRAM Code R brakes
  • Roval Traverse alloy wheels
  • X Fusion Manic dropper
  • £2,399.99 RRP
  • Specialized.com

Specialized were one of the first brands to sell a mixed wheel size bike back in about 2001, with the 26” front / 24” rear Big Hit. It was an interesting concept that didn’t really take off… Fast forward nearly 20 years and the mixed wheel ‘mullet’ bike is making a comeback in a big way, winning at World Cup DH and EWS.

Specialized are again one of the first to release a dedicated mixed wheel bike, but this time I think it is here to stay. The Status is a hard charging enduro/park bike at a bargain price.

Frame and Build Kit

The frame is made from Specialized’s M5 alloy tubing, with neat internal cable routing and decent chain slap protection on the chain stays. It’s a pretty understated bike, with the satin grey paint, minimal graphics and black components all round, and is available in only one build spec, so if you are looking for in your face colours or a high end build then you are out of luck.

The suspension platform uses Specialized’s tried and tested 4 bar Horst link with a yoke driving the shock. At the yoke end of the shock is a flip chip which allows you to adjust the head angle between 63.2 & 63.7 deg and the BB drop between -8.5mm & -17.5mm.

Specialized sizes their frames from S1-S5, with reach ranging from 417mm – 512mm and geometry is on the wild side, long, slack and low, with ultra short 426mm chain stays. The test bike is an S4 with a reach of 487mm in the low setting. Raising it to the high setting will push the bars forward and increase the reach slightly, pushing it past the 490mm mark.

The componentry is specced really well for a big brand bike. In fact, the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO alloy comp has more or less the exact same spec yet costs £3400 so that gives you an idea of what great value the bike is.

Suspension is handled by the budget end of Fox’s range, with a 170mm 36 Rhythm fork and a DPX2 performance shock. Gears are SRAM NX eagle 12 speed, brakes SRAM Code R, and the seatpost is an X-Fusion Manic with 170mm travel. The rest of the build is Specialized’s own brand components.

It’s all good solid stuff, the only complaint being the Butcher Grid tyres. There is room for improvement here. The sidewalls are quite thin and I punctured the rear on the first ride, and the compound is a little on the hard side, making them pretty sketchy on wet roots and rocks. It’s a shame as they are the only thing on the bike that I think needs changing.

Climbing

Firstly, I need to make it clear that the bike I was sent was a size S4, with a reach of 487mm. This made for a very stretched out seated position for my 178cm (5’10”) height, so I found climbing on the Status a bit of an uncomfortable slog. If I had ridden a S3 with 462mm reach I think it would have been a lot better.

On steady fire road climbs it wasn’t too bad though with the shock locked out, but on more technical climbs it was hard work. I also found I was catching pedals more than usual and I ended up running the bike in the high/steep shock position just to try and get a bit more ground clearance.

On paper the BB height is not unusually low, so maybe it’s a combination of the shock lacking in mid range support as well. Either way, it was not ideal. But then this bike’s main intentions are not about getting to the top in first. It’s about what happens on the way back down.

Merida Big.Trailtea

Down Hills

This is what the Status is all about, I think… The true intentions of the Status are not all that clear. With the press release delayed, and very limited information available on the bike online, it’s still not that clear what exactly it is being marketed as. But going by the DH bike inspired geometry and burly build kit, it seemed fitting to give it a run down at Dyfi and Revolution bike parks, both uplifted, with a day of pedalling in between.

As mentioned before, the tyres are a bit light and skittish on wet roots and rocks, so to ensure I could realise the bikes true capability I fitted some Maxx grip Maxxis DH rubber for the bike parks days. Now here is where I run the risk of contradicting myself. I had an awesome two days riding at the bike parks and the bike did really impress me, but I was hoping for more. I so wanted it to ride well.

Before I had even swung a leg over the bike I had my reservations about how it would ride. Why? The short chain stays. Just when a lot of brands are sensibly designing bikes with chain stay length of around 440-450mm or even lengths that vary with frame size, Specialized release the Status with a reach (487mm on this size S4) and 426mm chain stays across the entire size range.

Unfortunately it just makes the bike feel unbalanced, particularly in corners where you need to work to weight the front wheel. Ok, so it pops into a manual easily, and whips round tight berms if you ride off the back, but I think Specialized have taken it too far with the long reach v short chain stays. The size S5 with a 512 reach, paired with the short chainstays would be even worse. Maybe the smallest two sizes would be ok, but personally I think chainstays need to be longer to help centralise rider weight on the bike.

That aside, it was still a blast to ride on the fast and rough Dyfi bike park tracks, and the long front centre, a combination of the long reach and slack head angle meant it was very stable at speed. When it came to the more technical, rutted out and rooty trails of Lake Vynwry I found it hard work and just couldn’t get a flow going.

I was getting dropped by Ben and that doesn’t usually happen, Part of this was down to the Butcher tyres (I put them back on for the pedally day) as they felt really quite skittish on the damp roots and rocks, but the length and slackness of the bike just made it difficult to manoeuvre on the steep and tight stuff. I should also mention that I ran the bike in the steep/high setting, if you can call it that. A head angle of 63.7 is still pretty slack in my book and when I did run it in the low setting when I first got it, I found my weight was too far towards the rear of the bike.

The suspension performed very well, munching up rough terrain. In particular the forks impressed me; being the bottom of the range Fox 36 Rhythm I wasn’t expecting great things but they were really impressive, much better than lower end forks from Rockshox on similar specced bikes that I have ridden. The SRAM Code R brakes offered as much stopping power as you could possibly need and really are a stand out feature of a bike of this price.

The NX gears worked great until a small knock to the rear mech sent them out of alignment and left them jumping around for the rest of the weekend. The mech clutch stopped working after one day of riding which is very disappointing, but seems to be fairly common place with SRAM Eagle mechs from my experience. Up to this point the bike had been nice and quiet, with no rattles from the internally routed cables or any significant chain slap. Once the clutch stops working and the chain loses tension it was bouncing around and rattling on the chainstays.

Reliability

The only issues were a slashed rear tyre on the first ride, and the NX eagle mech clutch failing after a couple of rides. The clutch problem just seems to be a common problem which we see time and time again, which is disappointing to say the least. The tyre on the other hand can be blamed partly on the thin side wall, partly on my bad line choice and a pointy rock.

What do we think?

As I said, I ran the risk of contradicting myself… this has been a difficult bike to write up. It impressed me so much but at the same time it missed the mark in such a fundamental way.

With the test bike being too long for me, I can only report on what I found, but I truly believe that with a longer chainstay to balance things out this bike would be one of the bikes of the year. It is still a flipping great fun bike to ride on bike park type trails, but as an all rounder the geometry is a bit too extreme. And as for value for money, apart from direct sales brands, nothing gets close.

One more thing to note, the smaller sizes with the 417 & 437mm reach may just be a perfect size bike for smaller riders who want the benefit of a 29” front wheel, but who need the bum clearance that the 27.5” rear wheel gives. The bike would likely feel more balanced in the smaller sizes as well, but obviously I can’t give a subjective view on that myself. Basically, try one before you buy, if possible.

We Love:

  • The price
  • Good solid build spec
  • Great fun as a big-hitting park bike

Could Do Better:

  • Extreme geometry gives an unbalanced feel
  • Tyres not up to the job

The Specialized Status is available from Specialized’s dealers. Find where your local dealer is here.

Read all our other bike tests on our Bike Reviews page here.