We test Specialized's entry-level hybrid bike
If you’ve got a few colleagues who cycle into work and go around asking them what bikes they ride, I can almost guarantee that at least one of them will say a Specialized Sirrus, one of the most popular hybrid bikes on the market.
The standard Specialized Sirrus we’ve got here sits at the extensive eight-bike Sirrus range that extends all the way up to the £1,700 Sirrus Expert Carbon. Thankfully this bike isn’t anywhere near as expensive, coming in at a much more affordable £425.
For that price its no surprise that the Specialized Sirrus is a rather no-frills offering. The frame is aluminium and very well-made, while the fork is steel. However, the frame is equipped with everything you would want from a hybrid bike, with eyelets in place for equipping pannier racks and mudguards if you so choose.
As you would expect from a bike of this type, the geometry is very relaxed, giving you a very upright position. However I actually though it was a little too relaxed, forcing me to sit bolt upright and therefore slowing me down – not great for when you’re late for work and in a rush.
The Specialized Sirrus is equipped with Shimano Altus, Shimano’s 8-speed entry-level mountain bike groupset, that deals with all of the shifting. This comes with an 11-32t cassette and a triple 48/38/28t crankset, offering more than enough gearing to tackle some pretty steep gradients, both going up and going down.
For such a lowly groupset, the shifting is actually more than acceptable. Both the front and rear derailleurs are extremely reliable and precise, and I rarely needed to give more than a brief prod of the thumb shifter to get the chain moving.
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Unfortunately the braking isn’t quite as good. The Specialized Sirrus is equipped with Shimano V-brake linear pull brakes which I really didn’t get on with. They’re fine if you just need to scrub off a bit of speed while riding through traffic, but if you’re after some more dramatic stopping power (say you’re screaming downhill with a junction fast approaching) then the power isn’t quite there.
A little of the blame for this might lay on the wheels, unbranded aluminium rims with 32 spokes at both front an rear. These are then topped with 32mm Specialized Nimbus that offer excellent puncture protection and durability thanks to Specialized’s Flak Jacket technology, but are quite sluggish even when rolling along on smooth tarmac.
In fact there’s very little about the Specialized Sirrus that excites, and this very much a work horse for the daily cruise into work rather than going out and enjoy zipping along quiet lanes at the weekend.
Indeed if you frequently run late for work then there are better hybrid bikes out there. The incredibly high front end means you’re always slowed down by the wind, while the tyres also hold you back, so much so that holding any speed above 12-13mph is a real effort.
However, slightly more impressive is the comfort. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting much on this front due to the steel fork, but the Specialized Sirrus actually offers a relatively plush ride. You still feel potholes, but over your average rough British tarmac and things are very good. Of course a carbon fork would improve things further (indeed go further up the Sirrus range and you find carbon forks with Specialized’s Zertz vibration-dampening inserts) but this would take the price beyond the highly impressive sub-£500 price point.
For more details visit the Specialized website.
The Specialized Sirrus hybrid bike offers very good value at £425. Everything about it works without a fuss, with the frame equipped with mounts for mudguards and panniers, and I was particularly impressed by the Shimano Altus shifting. The only thing that lets this bike down is that it's incredibly hard to ride quickly when you're in a rush, due to the sluggish tyres and the incredibly upright position.