Preconceived notions of a bike’s performance have been the death knell of many a bike for many a rider. Thinking a bike is too steep or too short or too something, we automatically discount it as unworthy. Here at the MTBVT test laboratory, we try our best to undertake these reviews with as little bias or subjectivity as we can. But there’s a fine line between reviewing a bike’s geometry in the name of due diligence, and tampering with the witness, so to speak. So when the Specialized Status came along, and we had a chance to grab a few for ourselves, it was with a mix of trepidation (63.2 head angle?!) and excitement (63.2 head angle!) that we undertook our first rides. Read on to get the full rundown on one of the most fun bikes we’ve ever seen.
By now, you’ve likely heard about the Status, an uber-affordable mixed-wheel party wagon available from a handful of select shops around the US. A few things to know about the Status before we dig in. First, the geo is untraditional: it sports a 63.2 degree headtube angle in the the “low” setting and a 63.7 HTA in the “high” setting; chainstays clock in at a scant 426 mm; and with a surprisingly-long-considering-how-short-the-chainstays-are wheelbase, it’s tough to get a bead on how this bike will perform until you put tires to dirt. Second, the spec, given the price, is just about impossible to beat. At $2600 for a complete bike with, it’s really a helluva value.
The Status is available in two different travel configurations: 140 mm front and rear, and 160 mm front and rear. This review is for the 160 mm version which was tested in two different configurations: the stock, striaght-outta-the-box version, and a fully custom frame-up build.
Anyway, onto the test sessions. We started out with a few shakedowns on the stock 160 mm build in a size S3 (more about size later) in Stowe’s Cady Hill Forest. I was immediately taken aback at how capably the bike climbs. Let’s be clear here: this Status doesn’t necessarily climb well, but for a 35 pound bike with beefy tires, 160mm of travel, and a 63.7 degree headtube angle, the Status impressed on the ascent. When I came around to building my own Status, I undertook some pretty heavy rides peppered with a few technical climbs. Finding the balance point when headed uphill is not as easy as say a bike like the Ibis Ripmo, Yeti SB130 or Stumpy Evo, but again, for $2600 I’m happy to spend an extra ride or two figuring out how to make this pig squeal.
Believe it or not, I almost never use the compression switch on this bike. Maybe if I’m riding home on the road or something, but otherwise, she’s wide open all the time. Thanks in part to the 76 degree seat tube angle, I’ve found that the increased traction I get when wide open isn’t worth giving up for a bit more climbing efficiency with added compression.
A note on size: as you might’ve read in some of our other Specialized reviews, the S sizing is intuitive and actually makes a lot of sense in this age of longer-lower-slacker. I’m about 5’11 and change, and in all of my other bikes from Specialized I’ve owned, I’ve been spot-on in a large or an S4. But on this bike, the ~467 reach on the S3 just felt better to me, a sublime mix of nimble and capable. Could I ride an S4? Happily. And honestly if they release this bike in carbon at some point I very well may try the S4 just for grins. But I digress.
In the spirit of undertaking a little “bikesperiment” I thought I’d roll the dice and build up my own baller on a budget version of the Status and see how this unorthodox, and slightly portly, pony parties. My bike has not a shred of carbon on it, and despite some fancy wheels, an upgraded but still accessible drivetrain, she tips the scale at a not so svelte 34.5 pounds. #aintlight
I had the chance to put the screws to this bike on a spring road trip through Tennesee, North Carolina and Virginia. Mixing just about every terrain imaginable, I put the Status through its paces and came away duly impressed. The big takeaway? This bike is just so incredbly fun. It’s spritely and has that intuitive ability to react immediately while being uber confidence inspiring on the descents. It jumps well even beneath a ham-fisted punter like myself, and it carves and smashes berms and just parties its way down the trail unlike any bike I’ve ridden.
The mullet concept is not new but I’ll cop to being a convert after a few months aboard the Status. It works as advertised: the big wheel at the pointy end of the stick mows down obstacles and stay above the chunder, while the short rear end and small wheel allow for deft placement and quick direction changes.
If you’re on the hunt for a bike that’s as fun as it is affordable, I’d say look no further than the Status. And if you’ve got the coin in your pocket to trick one of these out, you won’t be disappointed…