Take my impression with a grain of salt because Specialized’s new Dolce Evo is a bike that was built just for me. No, not just for me, specifically, but for someone exactly like me—a person most comfortable on women’s, endurance-oriented geometry, who likes long, meandering rides at no particular pace.
Sure, I like a fast, lightweight carbon bike as much as the next sentient human, but I’ve spent years touring on a beat-up Surly Crosscheck, and I’m less concerned with setting QOMs than I am with seeing where a bike can take me. Many of my rides are devoted to finding new ways to reach places anyone with common sense and a car would just drive to—whether that’s a cross-town trip to the store or a cross-country trip to visit my family. Throw in a little dirt or gravel, and that’s exactly what the new Dolce Evo was purpose-built to do: take you places you wouldn’t normally consider going on a road bike.
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The Specialized Dolce Evo in New England
EXPLORING NEW ENGLAND’S GRAVEL ROADS ON THE SPECIALIZED DOLCE EVO.Photograph By Christopher Lee
Conceptually based on the versatile Diverge, this is the first “women’s adventure bike” that we know of, and every aspect of the Dolce Evo’s setup has been carefully considered to make it equally capable on mixed terrain. Compared to Specialized’s women’s race bike, the Amira, the Dolce Evo has a longer wheelbase for added stability that, combined with the 32mm Specialized Roubaix Pro tires and disc brakes, makes the bike significantly less terrifying to take down a 35mph gravel descent—and the upright position the frame puts you in means long days in the saddle come with minimal back pain. A 48/32 chainring and 11-32 cassette combo help to keep unpaved climbs—even the kind with 1,000 feet of elevation gain in under two miles—manageable, even with the weight of loaded panniers and frame bags.
With a team of four other women, I put the bike to the test on a five-day, 345-mile tour from Montpelier, Vermont to Bar Harbor, Maine on back roads, gravel trails, and narrow ruts of dirt that might have once been roads 100 years ago but have since turned into comically unrideable sand traps. (You can read about my New England adventure here.) The Dolce Evo crushed obstacles I would have never expected a traditional road bike on skinny tires to handle, like rocky, rutted singletrack and gravel roads masquerading as swamps in the driving rain.
With Specialized’s Plug n’ Play fender mounts and plenty of clearance for a rack or bikepacking seatpost bags, the Dolce Evo is built ready to explore, and attainably priced at $1,450 to $2,100 (with a Shimano Tiagra or 105 group, respectively). While I wasn’t able to weigh the bike I rode, it has a light, responsive feel for a touring bike and a sturdy aluminum frame that stands up to the most jarring bumps in the road. Cool extra features include a comfortable women’s Myth comp saddle, a hidden multitool, and the SWAT Box—an extra storage space with Co2, a spare tube, and levers. Just don’t buy it because of how fast you can go on it–buy it because it’s going to take you somewhere you’ll never forget.