Specialized Enduro 29er, Official Weight, Tech Breakdown, and First Ride Review

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….

Weight

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.

Tech Breakdown

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.

Clearance

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.

 

Comments

Ploutre - 02/28/13 - 7:59am

The Talas an excellent fork ? No thanks. Tried about 4 of them, from 2009 ones to 2012 kashima-haha ones, they were plain crap.

Without mentionning the frictions, nor the air curve (hopefully for 2013 they’ll have fixed that ?) just the compression setting on the CTD … it was horrible .. either it was a dodgy piece of wood (C), or just waaaaaaaaaaaay too soft (D). First corner on the D setting, got down to 10mm of travel, and only had 20mm of travel for the rest of the downhill. Rebound was faster than most people use so it’s not a problem of “it couldn’t return to its full travel”. Then did the same trail using the C setting for the downhill, it was better, but this time it felt like an uncontrolled LSC … bumping around, no proper HSC setting.

Anyway, I’m not saying the Enduro 29 is a bad bike (it just looks as bad as the 26 version :D), just their choice of that specific component is stupid.

The rest (CCDBA, XX1, Roval, …) is good and works pretty good, but no way the Talas matches the CCDB.

anon - 02/28/13 - 8:32am

After reading a few different reviews on this bike, it is clear that Specialized has really nailed it with this one. But, but… the 26″ wheeled version is 2 pounds lighter, and even with carbon rims, those wagon wheels are still going to behave like 2 huge gyroscopes. Probably the 29 version will be a faster bike in most terrain, but 26″ bikes are still more fun to jump than 29ers.

Pete - 02/28/13 - 8:35am

Like a sith lord, I can feel the hate out there for this bike.

That being said, I owned the previous generation Enduro pro and was extremely unimpressed with it’s climbing ability. I tried the current generation Enduro and was equally unimpressed. The fact that they had to add a ‘propedal’ valve to their shock on this bike does not bode well. Ride one of these if you want and then try a bike with a VPP or a dw-link and see if that extra 10 or 20 mm of travel is really worth it.

anon - 02/28/13 - 8:49am

@pete:

http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/358zt8/

Alex - 02/28/13 - 9:11am

When was the last time anyone wrote a bad review of a bike. it’s boring.
You can write one review and change the name of the bike on top.
It’s time to get real and not kiss ass of those who gave you their products to test.

ben - 02/28/13 - 9:14am

It looks like a sick bike. Gotta try to demo it. There are so many new bikes with new technologies like wheel size, adjustability, carbon, internal cabling, etc., it is making so many options.

Derek - 02/28/13 - 9:45am

Why would you talk about tire clearance at full suspension compression and then show a picture of the tire next to the seat stay bridge? That doesn’t move relative to the tire ever. How close does it get to the seat tube?

Ck - 02/28/13 - 9:51am

If I needed a bike with this much travel, it would be on my short list of bikes to consider buying. I’m actually kind of sad I don’t need it for my local trails.

David - 02/28/13 - 10:33am

When they put those short chainstays on the 2014 fsr 29er I’ll be all over it.

Jugi - 02/28/13 - 11:42am

@Alex:

But what if every high end bike is that good compared to what we are used to? I’m with you on the fact that it’s much easier to write a positive product review than a negative one, but I think at least in this case we have something revolutionary which 1-2 years back we thought would not be possible to design and therefore it would not exist.

Well, now it’s here. I think the fact SRAM brought XX1 to the market is starting to make an impact right now. To think a front derailleur hanger is just an after thought and a “normal” MTB frame is meant to be driven without one, is very much a step forward.

satisFACTORYrider - 02/28/13 - 12:00pm

if their line adopts these short stays it will make the 29 stumpy fsr evo disappear

gbike13 - 02/28/13 - 12:04pm

Rear travel? I only read the “good old fashioned words”.

rinconryder - 02/28/13 - 12:54pm

If you have to choose between the Tallboy LTc and the Enduro 29er, which would you choose?

David - 02/28/13 - 6:50pm

The stump fsr evo is bound to disappear with the new Enduro anyways. I know if I was looking at the evo I’d be re-directing funds into the Enduro instead.
I think the current stump fsr would be mint with shorter stays. Tighten up the wheelbase and keep the head angle as is.
I’d pick the Enduro over the Tallboy.

Chuck Scheene - 02/28/13 - 7:21pm

People please. Hating on a Fox 34, bar none best fork I’ve ever ridden. We should all be thrilled to have the limits continually pushed. Yeah others will have to catch up, and they are the big red machine, 29, hate,bla bla bla. Pleeeeaaase can we have some real action video of this thing!

greg - 02/28/13 - 8:46pm

@Derek,
that’s odd. the pic at full compression has the seat tube in full view. what are you talking about?

Juan Pablo - 03/02/13 - 2:12am

so happy right now, all day since I read about this I have been smiling… Thank you Specialized! for sticking to it! I chose your brand in 04 (road and mtb) and you have not let me down, you just blow my mind every time …

bin judgin - 03/02/13 - 9:16am

tallboy ltc

Alex - 03/04/13 - 12:33pm

I ordered one in the alloy version, partly to test it out, partly because the carbon bikes aren’t expected until the fall. I looked at the Stump EVO 29 but didn’t really see it as a viable replacement for my 2010 Enduro; a great companion to, but not a replacement. So here we have a bike that’s got as much travel as my 26″ Enduro, but exactly the same wheelbase (XL) despite the 29″ wheels. Bam.

The only question now is how a 150mm Fox 34 will feel stiffness-wise to my 180mm Float. XC people says it’s pretty burly. Other Vancouver riders say it’s a bit underpowered. I guess we’ll just have to ride it and see.

Legless - 03/06/13 - 11:57pm

Can’t wait to check this bike out. As far as a Tallboy LT/Enduro comparison, it’s not a real fair comparison. The Enduro as always is more of a downhill rig while the Tallboy is meant for everything. My only complaint like the first comment is the Talas because it’s a fork that just doesn’t perform as well with the CTD. Fox’s one significant misstep recently, limited adjustability, don’t get me started on this.

I’m still probably choosing the Tallboy LT though.

bin judgin - 03/07/13 - 1:12am

the 180 float is a monster of a fork. This is a trail fork.

Pat - 04/23/13 - 8:52am

I work at a specialized store in Sydney and we received one of the Enduro Comp 29ers in today. I personally have owned 2 Enduros in the last year (currently on an Expert Carbon with a 1×10 set up) and love the 26… doubted the 29 when i first saw it though, but I managed to take the new one for a spin around the block and I am so impressed!! It feels almost exactly the same as the 26 only with a bigger balance point for pulling monstrous wheelies!!!!!!!!! haha

Kingdon Humann - 04/26/13 - 11:49pm

Got my Enduro 29er comp two days ago. Only one ride so far at dusk on my local trail in Santa Cruz Ca. Bike rides just like my 26 enduro with the exception of the trail seeming smoother. Did a few 3′ drops and all was the same. I am an old guy so take into account that any lack of snappyness might blend in with my slow reflexes. The one difference I did notice is that it is a full 3lbs heavier than my 09 enduro 26er. So, I weighed the wheel/tires, front and rear. Both were approx 2oz heavier on the 29er. Frame, with all parts but no wheels, came up 2 3/4 lb heavier. Now I have to say that the upper and lower seat stays both cracked at the welds on my 26er after a couple years riding, so perhaps the added weight is in places it is needed and this one will not crack. meanwhile I love those big wheels rolling over stuff. I will take it to the Demo Forest on Sunday for more evaluation.

MIKE SWASKI - 11/28/13 - 1:54am

I bought the aluminum version of this bike in August 2013. It was my first 29r so there was about a 2 month transition period before i felt comfortable bombing downhill. I tried to ride it like a 26 initially but kept ending up off the trail in the brush or worse. Now that I have my arms around the handling, I’d like to share my complaints and kudos for this bike.

Complaints:
Chain tensioner sucks. On hard hitting downhills the chain slips out of place and ends up under the tensioner instead of on top where it belongs. It also rubs against the rear tire if you lean the bike into a hard left turn and keep your body over the bike.
Crank arm bolts needed to be tighter after every ride. I ended up puttig lock-tite on it to resolve the problem.
Tires are light, but have paper thin sidewalls and will constantly pinch flat if you’re not riding 40psi or more. They are tubeless ready and I ended up converting. I get fewer flats but plenty of rim dings running at 30psi. Must run 35+psi to save your rims. But that compromises traction. So i’ll be changing out the tires for sure.
Derrailure and brake cables run under the bottom bracket. Who’s genius idea was that? I’ve had rocks kink and damage my rear shift line twice. When the cheap cable sheathing get compromised you have to swap them out because they create friction and slow the responsiveness of the rear derrailure. Be sure to replace with a high quality cable sheathing to minimize this problem.
Brake pads- You’ll blow through the stock set after about 300 miles.
Brake discs- They’re flimsy and noisey when you’re hitting some bumpy downhill and not braking. The brakes work fine. It just feels and sounds cheap though. Not a show stopper.
Keep an eye on the rear wheel quick release. It tends to loosen up. If that happens and you’re not paying attention, all hell will brake loose.

Kudos:
The Pike fork is amazing. It soaks up the tiny chatter bumps as well as the big hits very nicely. Amazing fork.
The auto sag features on front and rear shocks give a nice baseline, but it’s a bit on the soft side, so you’ll likely have to go a few pumps higher if you’re aggressive on the downhills.
Climbing- For a 30 pound bike with this amount of travel, it climbs very well. The pro-peddle completely eliminates the bobbing if you have a smooth cadence. If you’re an out-of-the saddle bouncy bouncy climber, this isn’t gonna work well for you.
The 6″ travel front and back is nice. It uses it all very well and helps keep the bike under control in the narliest of conditions.

I’m 180lbs, 5′ 10″ and the Large is a good comfortable fit.

I hope this was helpful. Happy Shopping!

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