Some of you have preconceptions about what a bike should be or is. You crunched the numbers, or read the reviews, and without having ever ridden the bike you’ve already formed a preconception.
Now pretend you aren’t a curmudgeon. Just throw away the stereotypes and focus. Focus on a bike that is attempting to push past long held industry conventions, because maybe a long travel wagon wheeled bicycle that doesn’t feel like a draft horse is possible….
Specialized claims the S-Works Enduro sits at 27.6 lbs. Our model, equipped with 330 gram Straitline Amp pedals, tipped the scale at 27.9 lbs. For comparison, a size medium Santa Cruz LTc with 135mm of travel and a similarly high end build (full XTR, Reverb, and alloy wheels) tipped our scale at 26.875 lbs last year.
Hit play to listen to an interview with Specialized Global Marketing Manager Sean Estes for an in-depth overview, or skip down for some good old fashioned words.
The Enduro comes stock with a 150/120 34mm Fox Talas CTD fork. It’s a smart choice considering the bikes relaxed 67.5 degree headtube angle.
While some of you may be tempted to throw something like a lowered Manitou Dorado on the front of this bike, Specialized strongly advises against it.
The new bike comes equipped with an updated dropper post. The Command IR features the same mechanical reliability and three positions (full extension, 1″ drop, and full drop) that have made it a staff favorite. The updated dropper also offers internal routing (yay!), an easier to access air pressure valve for adjusting return speeds, and new saddle clamp design.
On the lust inducing S-Works model, suspension duties are handled in the rear by the excellent Cane Creek Double Barrel Air. The Enduro and Comp models will utilize a custom tuned fox shock with the companies industry exclusive auto sag feature.
Specialized and Cane Creek worked together to develop a on the fly (but removable via a small allen) adjustment lever for the low speed compression. Normally, the Double Barrel requires a special adjustment tool, and while that tool also doubles as an excellent bottle opener, we’re much happier flicking the easy switch in anticipation of a long grueling climbs.
On our demo unit we did notice that in some scenarios the lever rubbed against the frame when we tried to flip it all the way around, but between the rain and the shredding, we never had the chance to fully experiment with it.
This new Enduro 29r has more super powers than your average avenger, but the one that stoked us out the most was the super short chainstays. At 16.9″ they’re shorter than those found on many modern 26″ trail bikes.
The big design obstacle that bicycle designers face with 29ers is front derailleur clearance. Some companies have curved seat tubes while others (like the Kona Honzo) completely forgo that ability.
While drivetrains like XX1 allow riders the freedom to leave traditional 2x/3x setups in the past, those systems still have a warm and fuzzy place in our hearts. So Specialized engineered the Taco Blade. An easily removable appendage which allows them to spec a 2×10 groupo on their entry level rigs.
If you haven’t worked on a Specialized bike in a while you might not be aware of their dual purpose “internal routing” / chain guide protector.
When internal routing became popular, mechanics learned very quickly what a pain a poorly designed system could be. The chain protector Specialized has developed actually clips on and around the derailleur cable and chain stay. This neat device kills two birds with one stone (note, no birds where harmed during the usage of this idoim) by offering the clean look of internal routing, without the hassle, while protecting your frame from unsightly wear.
The all new Roval Traverse SL Carbon wheelset drops 300 grams off the aluminum set, is compatible with 15 and 20mm axles, and supports tires up to 2.5″ wide.
One of the issues you sometimes run into with bikes with short rear ends is tire clearance. So we asked if we could knock the wind out of their shock and check on the breathing room.
Before, with the shock uncompressed.
After, with the shock completely depressed.
First Ride Impressions
I met with Specialized at the bottom of my local trail head on a dreary day that threatened to pour. It had rained the night before and the dirt was perfect. The kind of hero dirt that you discuss afterwards in reverent tones over pints of mead.
The climb up the winding single track to the good stuff isn’t overly technical or steep, which didn’t provided the best opportunity to test the bikes uphill prowess, but I can envision the 150/120 Fox Talas coming in handy. On our ride, the front end never really started to wander, but at my height, I was never able to get far enough over the front wheel for comfort with the stock 70mm stem.
The Specialized Enduro 29r is only available in a medium, large, and x-large, because they couldn’t distill their magic formula into a size small. There is still a size small offered in the 26 version (and in the future they will only offer XL riders a 29r option.) At 5’7, I’m frequently on the cusp of a small or medium frame and the 23.5” top tube on the Enduro suited me perfectly. Although, for a long term review, I would move the saddle rails forward and swap out the stem for something shorter.
Once we hit the top of the mountain, it was time to duck back into the woods for some fast and tight single track loops. At just under 28 lbs, the $9,000 USD S-Works Enduro isn’t much lighter than my 26” aluminum trail bike, but it’s noticeably faster. Especially when I activated the low speed compression switch on the CCDB Air. Between the big wheels, stiff frame, and carbon hoops, this bike likes to get up to speed and stay there.
After several loops, we’d exhausted our meager supply of nutrition bars, and headed towards one of my favorite downhill trails. It’s got a few short root sections, a couple small kickers, and dozens of turns. It should come as no surprise that the big wheels bulldozed the roots, but what really impressed me was the bike’s pop. The Enduro reminds me of a big St. Bernard who doesn’t realize it’s not a puppy. It may be big, but it just wants to have fun.
During the descent, I was incapable of riding the bike hard enough. Between the tacky loam and the big wheels, it always wanted to be pushed faster. It’s so good you can completely forget your riding a bike with big wheels. It’s only when you lay it into a corner at speeds that would normally have your real wheel pitched that you start to appreciate just how good it is. Once you ride one, you will wonder why you ever doubted it was possible to build this bike, and why no one has done it before.
Interested? Check this article for different price points, 2014 color schemes, and specs. Frames and completes should be popping up at your local bike shop by mid March.