As someone who has everything he needs in a touring bike, I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive to spend a weekend on the new Specialized Edition AWOL Transcontinental touring bike (due out in late February). Honestly, it just didn’t seem like my kind of rig. I like cantis, the feel of a traditional drivetrain and the look of a 110mm stem.
Now, from what I had seen of the AWOL, it was the exact opposite and that bothered me. A lot. First of which was the riding position. The bars were level, or even higher than the saddle, due to the massive head tube and positive rise, 80mm stem. It looked like a MTB, not a touring or rando bike with its compact geometry.
Next up, a Gates Carbon Belt Drive and an 8 speed Alfine hub – there’s no way that gear range would be wide enough! The bike relied on TRP’s Hylex single speed hydraulic disc brakes. Up until this point, every hydro disc system I’ve ridden on drop bars has felt horrible, especially when compared to my XT and XTR setups on my mountain bikes. Even my SLX on the fatbike felt better…
My opinions aside, the bike still intrigued me and one thing I’ve been trying to work on is separating my somewhat arrogant opinions and being more open minded about product reviews.
When Erik told me that he really wanted to do a ride that was mostly dirt on the AWOL, I figured what the hell? Up to this point, the AWOL has been showed on road, not off-road. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe some of my opinions would change and I’d have to pull my foot from mouth.
That’s exactly what happened. Check out more below!