Specialized AWOL Evo 2016

The New 2016 Specialized AWOL Touring Bikes

For the last few years, Specialized has been delighting us with some quality touring bike options. The AWOL has been built in so many different ways, from belt-driven road tourer to 1×11 off-road machine. With a steel frameset, clearance for 29×2.2 tyres, rack/fender mounts and dynamo light options, 2016 Specialized AWOL is certainly versatile.

The frames have changed little over the last couple of years. They started off with Reynolds steel tube sets, but have recently switched to Cro-Mo (not necessarily a bad thing). There’s a little more fork trail across the board which makes them handle a bit more ‘touring’ rather than a ‘gravel’. There’s a new XS size and there have been some recent mods to the dropouts.

The biggest limitation for using these bikes as heavily-laiden off-road tourers is the lack of low gears. A gear of around 20 gear inches has been a life saver for me so many times; I’d hate to not have that as an option. Competing bikes such as Surly, Salsa and Kona use triple cranksets (Shimano Deore, Andel RSC6, Sugino XD2) to achieve these low gears.

2016 Specialized AWOL Evo

2016 specialized awol
The Specialized AWOL Evo.
2016 specialized awol
The dynamo light/charging switch is a neat addition to the Specialized AWOL Evo.

The AWOL Evo comes with a few features that make this bike totally awesome. My favourite feature without doubt is the dynamo light-to-USB-charger switch, which is integrated into the barend plug (image by Cycling-Ex.com). That is a collaboration piece made by Supernova for their E3 lights and The Plug III USB charger – it’s unfortunately not available aftermarket. All dynamo cable wiring is internal in the fork which is super clean. Another excellent part choice is the Specialized CG-R carbon seatpost, which offers huge amounts of vibration and big hit dissipation.

Gear range: 24-119 gear inches. RRP: US $2499.

2016 Specialized AWOL Comp

2016 specialized awol
The Specialized AWOL Comp.

The AWOL Comp is the off-road ready machine, employing a SRAM 1×11 drivetrain and 29er mountain bike tyres. Despite the lack of a double or triple crankset, it has a surprisingly low gear of 25 gear inches. Monstercross!

Gear range: 25-104 gear inches. RRP: US $2000.

2016 Specialized AWOL Elite

2016 specialized awol
The Specialized AWOL Elite.

The AWOL Elite would make an exceptional road touring bike, coming with front and rear racks, cable disc brakes and mudguards. The US $200 upgrade over the AWOL gets you 10spd Shimano Tiagra parts, a Tubus rack and some mudguards.

Gear range: 28-116 gear inches. RRP: US $1550

2016 Specialized AWOL

2016 specialized awol
The Specialized AWOL.

The AWOL uses a Shimano Sora 3×9 drivetrain which provides the widest gear range here. It would’ve been great if this bike came with barend shifters and a Shimano Deore crankset to compete more closely with the Surly Disc Trucker, Salsa Marrakesh and Kona Sutra. 

Gear range: 26-127 gear inches. RRP: US $1350

2016 Specialized AWOL Frameset

2016 specialized awol
The Specialized AWOL Expert Frameset.

If you’re thinking of doing a custom build with an internal geared hub, this could be a great frameset option given how versatile the swinger dropouts make the bike. The “swinger” dropouts are adjustable by 15mm. This means you’re able to run 1×11, 2×10, 3×10, belt drive, internal gear, or single speed drivetrains with ease. The recent modifications to the swinger makes the AWOL Rohloff compatible with a OEM2 axle plate. Belt-Rohloff touring bike anyone?

At US $700, it’s a bit of a steal for a Rohloff/belt compatible touring frame with all the braze-ons.

Want To Compare These Touring Bikes With Dozens of Others?

Check out The Touring Bicycle Buyer’s Guide which compares touring bike steering, sizing, gear ratios, specification, pricing and more. The Bikepacking Bike Buyer’s Guide does the same thing, however, with a focus on lighter bikes and models with more off-road capability. Both of these guides are updated annually with the latest models at no extra cost!

Helpful Resources

All About Touring Bike Brakes
Frame Materials for Bicycle Touring
How to Select Touring Bike Gearing
Understand Bicycle Frame Geometry
What’s the Difference between Cyclocross and Touring Bikes?

Touring & Bikepacking Bike Overview

2016 Advocate Lorax
2018 All City Gorilla Monsoon
2016 Basso Ulisse
2016 Bianchi Volpe and Lupo 2016
2016 Bombtrack Beyond
2017 Bombtrack Beyond
2018 Bombtrack Beyond
2018 Bombtrack Arise Tour
2019 Bombtrack Beyond
2016 Brodie Elan Vital
2016 Cannondale Touring
2019 Cannondale Topstone
2020 Cannondale Topstone
2016 Cinelli Hobootleg Geo
2018 Co-Op ADV 4.2
2017 Curve Grovel V2
2017 Diamondback Haanjo EXP Carbon
2016 Fuji Touring
2017 Fuji Touring
2018 Fuji Touring
2018 Fuji Touring Disc
2016 Genesis Tour de Fer
2016 Giant ToughRoad
2017 Giant ToughRoad
2018 Giant ToughRoad and ToughRoad GX
2016 Jamis Aurora and Aurora Elite
2019 Jones Plus SWB
2020 KOGA WorldTraveller-S
2016 Kona Big Rove
2016 Kona Roadhouse and Sutra LTD
2016 Kona Sutra
2017 Kona Sutra
2018 Kona Sutra
2018 Kona Sutra LTD
2019 Kona Sutra and Sutra LTD
2020 Kona Sutra and Sutra LTD
2020 Kona Unit X
2016 Marin Four Corners
2017 Marin Four Corners
2018 Marin Four Corners
2016 Masi Giramondo
2018 Masi Giramondo
2016 Niner RLT9
2016 Rawland Ulv and Ravn
2016 Salsa Deadwood
2017 Salsa Fargo
2018 Salsa Fargo Ti Frameset
2018 Salsa Journeyman
2016 Salsa Marrakesh
2017 Salsa Marrakesh
2018 Salsa Marrakesh
2020 Salsa Marrakesh
2017 Salsa Vaya
2019 Salsa Warbird
2016 Specialized AWOL
2017 Specialized AWOL
2017 Specialized Diverge
2018 Specialized Diverge
2019 Specialized Diverge
2017 Specialized Sequoia
2018 Specialized Sequoia
2019 Specialized Sequoia
2018 Surly Bridge Club
2017 Surly Troll
2016 Traitor Wander
2019 Trek 520
2016 Trek 920, 720, 520 & CrossRip
2017 Trek CrossRip
2018 Trek 920
2018 Trek 1120

  1. Really like the evo also. One small thing that bug me is that you either charge your cell/gps or you use the light not both. I have a luxos u with a battery cache built into it. It has a daylight mode that I always use. The light work and charge at the same time. The cache empty itself but it not charging for about 5 min then it start to charge again. On day that are rainny the light is a life saver and not be able to charge at the same time would be a bummer. But the switch on the evo is really nice !

  2. In order to achieve that, you could easily just remove the switch and splice the charging and light cables together! That said, I’ve found that charging is VERY slow when I have my lights on too; I rarely do it.

  3. Yes I guess you could do that but that would render the switch useless. As far as charging goes with the light on ,one time I left the house with my garmin edge 800 at less then 15% of charge. Less then 3 hours later it was at 100%. Didn’t really check with my cell though.

  4. I really like this for adventure touring NZ South Island, lots of road but will want lower gears for the back road camping too. How would I do this on the base model AWOL – a new triple AND cassette do you think would work with all the other existing bits? What about if I go for the Comp for the nicer steel, I guess lots more is involved to change the range? Finally, also looking at the Fuji as it seems like totally ready to roll and great value, would put on some 38c gravel tyres. Relative merits. Thanks this site has been so great getting ready for my first big tour.

  5. Thanks for the kind words, Callum!

    There’s only really one way to get proper touring gears on bikes that use STI integrated shift/brake systems, and that is to swap the crankset out for a “compact plus” design. You’ll then be able to use a crankset like the Sugino OX601D in order to achieve gears as low as 20″ with a 26t front chainring. The AWOL Elite would be the perfect candidate for this upgrade.

  6. Thank you for the quick reply Alee. The Sugino looks really nice. So my understanding its just the crankset I need to order with 26 t, and then it’s a matter of getting the existing derailleur positioned. The shifters will still work ok? Have been riding single speed too long haha.
    Someone suggested put a 26t on the sora, bit my Spidey senses were tingling.

  7. You CAN technically swap out the 30t for a 26t on a road triple crankset, however it will exceed the capacity of the derailleurs. What this means is that if you were using the front 26t and the small cogs on your cassette, the rear derailleur would not have any tension on it. Manufacturers would never recommend it, but assuming you were always aware of the problem and skipped those gears, you could make it work! I recommend using a ‘chain keeper’ if you were planning on running this option.

    The reason that I like to recommend compact plus cranks is that they offer a better chain line. You can also use every single combination of gears without needing to think about it.

    You will be able to use the existing derailleurs, shifters, chain and cassette with either option.

  8. These are pretty cool. When you say “There’s a little more fork trail across the board” do you mean more rake (fork offset) or do you mean more trail? Forks have rake, but trail’s interaction of the wheel outer diameter, headtube angle and fork rake.

  9. I guess that before you answer, can you stop writing “fork trail”? Forks have rake, and “trail, or caster, is the horizontal distance from where the steering axis intersects the ground to where the front wheel touches the ground.” Do you mean that the forks have more rake? Or less rake?

  10. I feel that “trail” alone is a much too broad term without the context and prior knowledge of bike geometry. I prefer to specify that I’m talking about the front end of a bike, so I call it fork trail. Sorry about the confusion.


  12. Junk BB. When it seizes to your frame and the dealer (that didn’t apply grease on install) “needs” to special order a $50 P.O.S. FSA BB-4000 and tries to charge you (with labor) nearly the cost of a 105 groupset to “fix it.”

  13. Hi Alee
    Thanks for your good work. I have the same issue (and also live in hilly NZ), Do you think that a standard 10spd XT or SLX crank with 38/26 would work with the BB and STI arrangement on the 2016 Elite?
    Cheers , Mike

  14. Hi Alee, how would I go about achieving a lower gear on the AWOL Elite? Would it be possible/easy to swap out the double crankset for a triple to do this or would that require changing the other parts too?

  15. Ah ok that makes sense. Using Sheldon Brown’s calculator gives a low gear of 23 inches. Sound about right?

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