Specialized AWOL x POLER

The new adventure bike is truly up for anything.


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If our sources are right, adventure bikes will be the talk of Interbike, the U.S.’s biggest bike show, which starts next week in Las Vegas.

We’ll have a few editors wandering the aisles to see if the new bikes live up to the hype (last year we were promised lots of cool e-bikes at the show but came away disappointed). In the meantime, the fact that this limited-edition bike, a collaboration between Specialized and Poler, the Portland-based makers of some of our favorite outdoorsy and adventure travel gear, just popped up in our inbox is a promising sign.

The AWOL x POLER bike, which will retail for about $1,960 and comes ready to roll with a pannier rack and two Poler panniers, will be available September 6 in limited numbers through Specialized dealers. The company is having a launch party in Portland Friday evening and recently created a cool little Tumblr site—what they call an “inspirational platform”—dedicated to the collaboration that features a three-day, 368-mile ride across Oregon.

It’s not a brand-new bike—Specialized first debuted their AWOL line of adventure bikes a year and a half ago—so why all the hoopla now? “I just really like the bike,” says Erik Nohlin, the lead designer for urban and adventure touring bikes and mastermind behind the Specialized Lab program, “and I wanted to have some more fun with it. So I basically took command and decided to become the ambassador.”

We’re glad he did. We’ve ridden early versions of the AWOL series and love them for everything from riding around town to rallying up the dirt roads in the foothills outside of town. We’re also happy to see a big, traditionally high-performance oriented company like Specialized invest more R&D into adventure bikes (and let their hair down a bit and chill out with the scruffy dudes over at Poler).

Ultralight carbon fiber road bikes are great, and we love all the new ripping, full-suspension 27.5 mountain bikes with dropper seat posts we’ve been testing lately, but nothing is better than a rugged and versatile bike that’s comfortable enough to ride all day on pavement but can also handle light off-roading. You can race cyclo-cross on one, enter a gravel grinder, or load up the panniers and go bike-camping for the night.

As Nohlin put it, they’re the ideal bike for “doing real shit.” We couldn’t agree more.


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