2007 Specialized SX Trail
Potential not realised
The obvious choice when looking for a Santa Cruz Bullit replacement was a SX Trail. I had been putting this off hoping something else would come along as I previously owned a Specialized FSR and didn't really like it. Of course a great deal came around and a box of bike appeared.
I bought the whole bike knowing I was going to replace a few parts but I ended up replacing most of it and then getting it painted. Some of the Specialized paint schemes were horrible.
So after a few months of refitting, it was ready to ride. It felt firm and with the WTB wheelset it was a lot lighter than the Bullit making it faster all round. The suspension was a stiff but I thought it just needed bedding in.
The first proper ride was in Chamonix on the valleys many trails. It became apparent both the Fox DHX shock and Fox VAN fork could do with lighter springs, they didn't soak up small bumps at all. When you reached a certain speed and on the rockier trails it came together.
Then it started to go a bit wrong. On the ride up to the Petit Balcon Sud one morning it creaked incessantly and a fox crossing the trail stopped and looked at what was causing all the noise.
I noted at the time;
The SX Trail continues to emit a mysterious creak from the swingarm, regardless of my bolt tightening. Today in frustration I dropped over a big rock in the trail and landed as heavily as possible. The creak went. An hour later it was back. Perhaps it’s the foehn wind that has been cursing the Chamonix valley that’s causing this madness.
It turned out it had developed the mother of all creaks. When I got the frame back from the paintshop they had pressed the original bearings back in. Clue. I rebuilt the bike and it seemed fine. After a couple of easy road rides I noticed a creak and found the cranks to be a little loose. Still creaked. The saddle was tightened. Still creaked and not the saddle. I stripped the cranks and swingarm off and refitted. The creak came back so I repeated the crank/swingarm refit. On the next ride it creaked really badly and then I couldn’t get the nut off the bolt to remove the swingarm. The nut is very flat and very difficult to get at. Almost designed to stop you touching it. So I went down my last resort of taking it to a bike shop.
Chamonix has a Specialized dealer, Zero G, so I was hopeful. My previous encounters with bike shops have not been that great. On the first visit they stripped and greased the swingarm but it made no difference. On the second visit all possibilities were investigated from the shock to the seatpost. Then a bearing was replaced and voila! - peace was brought unto the trails.
Of course the creak came back. It didn't seem to make much difference how much you replaced or greased or didn't grease or tighten or whatever. I sought advice from Specialized UK but eventually gave up and sold it.
I'd like to thank Fox Racing Shox, and WTB for supplying great components for this bike.