Transform your Specialized FSR into a DH machine|
Saturday, July 15, 2000
As I was looking around for a bike to get into the downhill scene, I took note of what some of the top pros were riding. A good number where on the Intense M-1. Some of the pro's had their bikes painted up as if they were riding their sponsor's bikes but there was no disguising the M-1.
As I looked into the M-1, I soon found out the price was a whopping $2750.00 for frame alone. Add wheels, tires, saddle, brakes, handlebars, etc. and this would all add up to a sum much larger than my unsponsored wallet would allow. After a heart to heart conversation with my bank account I realized the Specialized FSR would be a more realistic option. The bike would need more upgrades to become a true DH rig but this would get me into the world of downhilling.
As downhill courses evolve with steeper runs, bigger drops, larger jumps, and faster turns, so must the bike. The trend of more travel and larger tires are now common place. At a local downhill race, I ran into Bruce Szember who also had an FSR. Bruce had a set of big beefy tires with cool machined rear stays that allowed him add the king sized tires. Bruce, a Machist and Quality Assurance Manager by trade at MacKay Manufacturing, had stayed late at work to develop the Szember Swingarm. No only did this allow a larger tire but add stiffness and travel to the rear end.
Bruce was kind enough to send me a prototype of his chain stays. First thing I noticed is the fine machine work creating art from a solid aluminum billet block. No welds and a red anodize finish offered all around good looks to the piece. The piece is heavier and beefier than the original chain stays. But here's the key, the Szember adds 2.5 inches of travel which allowed my previously stock FSR to get over 6 inches of rear travel.
There are two models, one for bushings and one for sealed bearings. My old '98 FSR has bushings and with the Szember in place, everything fit nice and solid. I did have some troubles with the single chainring hitting the stays. A little file work relieved this issue. Bruce has assured me that the newer Szembers have been redesigned to a void this problem. Once in place, I could throw on a wider rear tire.
The Szember has a nice solid feel when punished hard in the dirt. The drops and jumps can be taken with more confidence and control. These stays stand and deliver. The only negative a have with the Szember is the cool red anodize finish becomes marked and chipped in time and the stay showed its wear. I would have preferred stays with a polished aluminum finish to minimize the visibility of the dings and scratches. Another recommendation is adding protection to the right stay so that you with not hear the ting of the chain slap.
To date Bruce has produced about 15 of the Szember Swingarms. Since the prototype was tested Bruce has added features which allow easy integration with the MRP chain guide system and more tire clearance. The Szember has brutalized in testing by the Team MacKay wrecking crew and has yet to fail. Additionally, the part works superubly if the user opts for the 6" travel upgrade that MRP offers. The added stiffness and torsional rigidity makes the rear end bulletproof.
Bottom line, the Szember will breath new life into your old Specialized FSR. You'll also have a bike that is a solid downhill or free-ride machine for gravity fed adrenaline junkies out there. If you'd like to resessitate that ol' beast in the garage, contact Bruce. The Szember Swingarm retails for $225.00 each with quantity discounts available. See you at the next big drop.
Contact: Bruce Szember, 509-926-9312 or email: email@example.com
Who's It For:
The big drop junkie looking to spice up their stock Specialized FSR
Who Isn't It For:
Do you own an FSR? If not, you'll have to wait until Bruce's next creation