Specialized Merz Sequoia: A Purist's Road Bike

It’s been a while since we’ve received a press release for a bike launch that doesn’t talk about weight, aerodynamics or electronic gearing, but the Specialized Merz Sequoia isn’t a bike that sets out to impress you with its stats. This steel bike isn’t about going as fast as you can, it’s about enjoying the ride, and it would be hard to do anything else on such a beautiful machine.

The Merz edition Sequoia is an homage to Jim Merz, the legendary frame builder who built the bikes that launched the Specialized brand in its early days. Merz also made bikes under his own name and, by his own admission, “made the best racks in the world” in his younger years. The Merz name is still a mark of the highest quality in the touring community and this limited run of bikes does nothing to taint that legacy. Specialized took advantage of Merz’ decades of experience building bespoke, one-off bikes by having him modify their existing Sequoia platform for a limited edition bike that would carry both the Merz and Specialized logos. 

The Merz edition Sequoia rides with the stability and predictability — it also looks every bit as desirable as the heirloom bikes that Merz has hanging on the walls of his Big Sur home, where we tested his latest creation. This bike isn’t one for hanging on the wall though; with disc brakes, massive tire clearance, and SRAM’s excellent Force 1x groupset, it rips downhill with a confidence inspiring sure-footedness that overcame our urge to stand still and admire the gorgeous “Valencia Orange” paint job. Even the custom saddle and bar tape lend a sense of quality to the build. This is a beautiful bike, but it’s one that’ll only look better once you load it down with bags and cover it in dust.

Each of the 200 limited edition bikes will be numbered, sold with a hand signed certificate of authenticity, and built from size-specific cro-moly and stainless-steel tubes to maintain ride quality throughout the size run. All the Merz edition bikes will roll on hand built wheels (which use the same spokes all around to make mid-adventure repairs easier) and come with a custom tool roll from Seattle’s Swift Industries. This stock set up, along with Specialized’s Burra Burra bags, was enough to carry us on a three night bikepacking trip to visit Merz last month. The 700x42 tires provided plenty of grip on the dusty trails we used to bushwack back to Merz's home. 

This bike might not have as much carbon or suspension as something else you could get for the $3,750 price tag, but you’ll struggle to find something as unique or head turning. This is a bike that is totally at home riding to work and the shops a few times a week and hitting the trails on the weekend, but it won’t let you down on the 100-mile off-road bikepacking trip we took it on either. Sure, a steel bike like this isn’t as light as a road bike, but it’s way more versatile. It might be a bit too sluggish for fast road group rides, but it’ll take you on adventures that a race bike never could. When it comes down to it, a big part of having a new bike is posting up at the coffee shop, posting a photo on Instagram and lavishing in the compliments of your friends, and with a bike this unique, you’ll be making lots of new friends. $3750, specialized.com