Specialized Sequoia Elite Road Bike 2009 – An Average Joe Cyclist Product Review

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Specialized Sequoia Elite 2009 – one of the greatest bikes ever!

My Specialized Sequoia Elite - possibly my MOST favorite bike ever
My Specialized Sequoia Elite – possibly my MOST favorite bike ever

First Impressions – Comfort

The minute I got on my Specialized Sequoia Elite 2009 I knew I was going to buy it! I had already tried a whole range of other road bikes, but I instantly knew this was the one. It was just so comfortable. I was used to  hybrid bikes, and most of the road bikes I tried made me feel like I was lying on my stomach. I wasn’t sure if that made me feel too aggressive or too vulnerable. Some of them felt too light and unstable. But the Sequoia managed to hit all the right notes – I was far enough forward to really put my whole body into pushing the pedals, but not so far I felt like I was about to do a face plant. Also, at the same time as it felt light enough to take flight, it also felt solidly in touch with the ground. What a magical combination!

My first impression of comfort was borne out when I took the bike out on the road. I found it very comfortable on the pitted, pothole-rich roads that are typically deemed “bike routes”, thanks to the carbon forks and the Zertz inserts. The manufacturer’s claims that the Zertz inserts on the fork’s Specialized FACT carbon legs absorb vibrations are actually true!

I also took the bike off pavement. To my surprise, I was able to use the thin tires on the roughest trails without getting a puncture. However, the tires are definitely at their best on pavement.

Related: Review of one of the greatest value-for-money road bikes, the Specialized Allez Elite 2014

Second Impressions – Speed

My Specialized Sequoia Elite 2009 is incredibly responsive – it feels more like an extension of my body than a separate entity. The acceleration is so aggressively fast it took my breath away at first. As Maggie said, it feels as if the bike wants to run away with you. I had such a good time looping around Stanley Park, chasing down much younger cyclists and leaving them in the dust! Climbing up to Signal Hill was also way easier than on my hybrid.


The Sequoia Elite is equipped with the elite, smooth Shimano 105 10-speed STI brake/shift levers. These are good enough to render this bike race-ready – for race newbies, anyway. I had a little trouble with the gears at first, but that was quickly fixed with a minor adjustment.

Safety in Traffic

The Sequoia Elite’s double set of brakes (it has an extra set on top of the handlebars) was one of my favorite things. It enabled me to shift into an upright position with my hands on the top brakes in traffic, so that I could keep an eye on cars, ready to stop on a dime if a motorist cut me off.

Quibbles and upgrades

I do have a couple of quibbles. One day I got what looked like a piece of iron filing stuck in my brake pad. I got it out, but when it happened again I stopped at the first bike shop to get an opinion. In their opinion, the foreign element was actually a piece of brake pad sheared off. They said the stock brake pads were garbage, and equipped me with much better pads. Also, I was not impressed by the stock pedals with toe clip and straps – I replaced these when I purchased the bike, with a decent pair of Shimano clipless pedals.

Bottom Line:

Great, race-ready bike for a cyclist who wants a comfortable way to get into racing, or just to raise their riding to a higher, faster level than is possible on a hybrid. This is also an ideal bike for long bike tours or cycling events, due to the fact that it’s just so comfortable – plus the fact that the extra set of brakes effectively gives you three different body positions: hands in the drops, hands on the lower brakes, hands on the upper brakes. This ability to change position would definitely make it easier to complete a long distance, such as a century, or a multi-day event.

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Manufacturer’s specs:

  • Made with Specialized A1 Premium Aluminum, the compact Sequoia frame is ergonomically designed for maximum comfort over the long haul.
  • The Zertz inserts on the fork’s Specialized FACT carbon legs absorb vibrations to keep you feeling fresh.
  • The Body Geometry Sonoma saddle is designed to be kind to your soft parts.
  • The Specialized Pro handlebar features a short-reach drop and a special ergonomic shape for long-term comfort.
  • The Shimano 105 10-speed STI brake/shift levers give crisp shifts and effortless braking.
  • The 4-position-adjustable Specialized Comp-Set stem is easily adjusted to match your bar-position needs.

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  1. says

    Joe, I have to say I’m a bit jealous. I would love to try riding an actual road bike again—it has been nearly twenty years since my last one—but I think I might get into a bit of trouble at home if I bought a third bike. (In theory, my second bike is supposed to live in a bike locker at the SkyTrain station, but it seems to spend more than half its time in our spare room.)

    Do you think something like the Sequoia would make a good commuting bike? How does the effectiveness of the brakes compare with discs?

    • says

      Hey Graeme. You have my sympathy … every bike I own has required negotiation. I sometimes have to get rid of one before I can get a new one. If it makes you feel better – the brakes are just fine, but not as great as discs. Still, they stop you, which is the point! As for commuting – no, I would not like to commute on this. First, adding racks and stands and fenders would make it a lot heavier, messing with the speed. Second, I (personally) prefer hybrids for commuting, because our roads are just so bumpy and full of pot holes. I once hit one so deep it messed up my back for ages – if I had been on a road bike, I think I might have fallen and really hurt myself. that was on a designated bike route in Burnaby! That said, I see lots of people commuting on roadies, so I guess it works for some.

  2. Ron Richigns says

    Hi Joe
    Glad that you found a bike that you are very comfortable on. However the reasons for you comfort may be a bit different from what you think. Getting the bars up high relative to the saddle is a long-established recipe for comfort, particular when the rider is ‘getting on’ (and I write as someone in this category) and not quite as flexible as they used to be. Your handlebars look to be maybe 3 to 4 inches above the seat. There are all sorts of stem and steerer tube extensions that can achieve the same end.
    I wouldn’t totally discount the zertz inserts, but the reduction in vibration may have more to do with the tires and particularly the gel-padded bar tape on the handlebars.
    The dowsnide of the carbon fibre forks is that they are relatively fragile, at least compared to steel, and particularly vulnerable to scratches and abrasion reducing the strength of the carbon fibre layup. Pay close attention to the warnings in the manual about what to do in the event of even minor damage to the forks.
    Beyond that, if you want real comfort you will have to come over to the dark side and try a recumbent. But that is a discussion for another time…

    Ron Richings

    • says

      Hi Ron. Good points. I tend to go totally on gut feel, without actually analyzing where impressions are coming from. But a recumbent? Mmm … they look incredibly comfortable, and by all accounts are no more at risk than regular bikes. I have no doubt there will come a time I will try one of these – but it is likely to be when there are more safe routes in the Lower Mainland. Because espite what recumbent riders say, I think I would feel too vulnerable that close to the ground.

  3. Art says

    I have a 2006 Sequoia Elite. It is THE bike for me. As the years have gone by, my cycling aspirations have been changing away from events. I have used my Sequoia for camping but we are planning on a two week tour next June. Does anybody have any idea of how robust the Sequoia Elite is for pulling a BOB or panniers?

  4. Tim D. Thome says

    Hey Joe,
    Nice write up on the Sequoia.
    I bought a 2009 Sequoia about 2 months ago (not sure if it is Elite as it does not say this on the frame). The bike had been on layaway but the person never finished paying and did not pick it up, so the bike shop placed it out for sale and I scooped it up that very same day.
    It has an XL frame and came with the standard equipment. My bar configuration was similar to yours, but I do not like the rams horn bars as I cannot get comfortable with them. My local bike shop (Wheel fast in Chatham IL) had a used set of straight (5 degree sweep) mountain bike bars in the back and I had them switch them for me. I take the sweep built into these bars and point it down. This is a super configuration as it is more in alignment with my arms and wrists. I find this very comfortable and far more ergonomic for the long haul. I replaced the shifters and brakes with the Shimano 9 speed shifter/derailer and added Crane Creek, Flat Top brake levers. Man does this help with the control and power applications needed when riding!
    I did add a Topeak rack and bag over the back tire as I bought this bike to commute to work. It is 17 miles one way. The terrain is mostly flat to rolling hills along the way. I ride a bike trail about 10 miles the rest is street. In the bikes current configuration it is really responsive and fast, only takes an hour to get to work. The ride home is a little longer as I am not under any time constraints and ride to enjoy myself.
    I really like the aluminum frame and love the carbon forks with the Zertz inserts; they really absorb the shock and vibrations of riding. I have ridden friends Cervelo’s and a few others such as Giants and Raleigh’s and they don’t compare in comfort or handling!! That is not to say they aren’t great bikes, they are, but I like mine better!
    I can say that after 632 miles so far, that if the bike does not disintegrate the only way I would part with this is if you pry it from my cold dead hands!!
    Can you tell I like this bike?


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