Long before the EWS, open-face helmets with goggles or matchy-matchy kit, there was the Specialized Enduro. This was a bike that defined the category before there even was a category to define. The chicken and egg of the bike world, or something like that. And just like the sport of Enduro has been evolving, so to has the Specialized Enduro. Its latest incarnation is this stunning piece of work you see before you today.
This bike’s reputation is superb, for many years it has exemplified the versatile mix of insane downhill speed and steady climbing efficiency that the sport of Enduro demands. With Jared Graves on board Specialized now, the brand’s commitment to the sport of Enduro racing is more apparent than ever, and we find it hard to imagine a better weapon for doing battle on the EWS than the new Enduro.
We were lucky enough to get some time on the Enduro on some of our local trails ahead of the official launch, and we’ll be following this initial report up with a full review ASAP. For now, let’s take a look at what the Big S have created!
Options in all wheel sizes
Boost hub spacing
More robust and sensible construction
Expansion of Öhlins suspension partnership
650B and 29er/6Fattie options:
Time to delve into everyone’s favourite topic: wheel sizes! Specialized are covering all bases with the Enduro, so no matter what hoops you prefer, they have you sorted. For our test ride, we had a 650B with 2.6″ tyres, and 29er with 2.3″ tyres.
If you thought that 650B had won the day in the long-travel and Enduro racing world, that’s not the case. If anything, 29″ wheels are making a stronger push than ever into this realm. Take a look at the recent EWS Colorado podium if you want proof, where all three podium spots were taken out by 29ers! While we’re yet to see Plus sized wheels really blossom at the upper end of Enduro racing, it’s only a matter of time we feel.
Either way, Specialized have taken a very sensible approach with the new Enduro, offering the bike in a dedicated 650B version and a 29er version that can accommodate also accept 6Fattie (or 27.5+) wheels.
This approach makes a tonne of sense – why produce three different frames for the various wheel sizes, when you can produce two instead? Having said that, Specialized aren’t actually speccing any Enduro models with 6Fattie wheels right out of the box. If you want 6Fatties then it’s a swap you’ll need to negotiate with your dealer, but at least it is a possibility.
Interestingly, unlike some other frames which are designed to run either 27.5+ or 29er wheels (for instance the Pivot Switchblade or Santa Cruz High Tower) the new Enduro doesn’t use any headset cups or other geometry adjustments if you’re switching between wheel sizes.
You do need to be aware that swapping wheels will have an impact on the bike’s bottom bracket height – a 29er wheel with 2.3″ tyres gives you a BB height of 352mm, swap this for a 27.5 x 3.0″ 6Fattie setup and you get a BB height of 345mm (or 339mm if you use 2.8″ tyres).
Looking at wheel/tyre clearance, the 29er/6Fattie frame will accommodate 29×2.5″ tyres or up to 3.0″ with a 6Fattie setup. The 650B Enduro can accept up to a 2.6″ tyre without a worry, which is what we ran on our test bike.
Even more aggressive geometry:
The Enduro was already slacker than a fruit picking backpacker with a Bundy hangover, but things get more laid back once again. On the 650B bike you’re looking at a 65.5-degree head angle, while the 29er frame is half a degree sharper at 66-degrees.
Those short chain stays that have always given the Enduro such a playful ride remain. On the 650B frame they’re just 425mm, while on the 29/6Fattie frame they’re are a tad longer at 432mm (which is super given it’ll take a 3.0″ tyre). The move to Boost rear hub spacing is key in getting the rear end so short with such big rubber.
More bounce, more robust:
In both 650B and 29er formats, the Enduro gets a little more travel, pushing up into some truly downhill territory. There’s now 170mm at both ends on the 650B, while the 29er has 165mm rear and 160mm out front.
Practicality gets a couple of big wins: the Enduro has a regular 73mm threaded bottom bracket shell AND every single bearing in the suspension is now exactly the same size, making servicing at lot less complex.
The incredibly clean lines are enhanced by the move to internal cable routing. It’s done properly too, with carbon sleeves guiding the brake and gear lines through the frame, so you’re not left swearing and trying to coax a brake line through the guts of the bike. Both gear and brake lines are now routed over the top of the bottom bracket shell, which reduces the amount of movement in the lines as the suspension cycle, for less chance of cable rub or snagging on debris.
Front derailleurs are banished:
You won’t find a front mech on any bike in the new Enduro range. Actually, you have to look damn hard to find a front derailleur just about anywhere in Specialized’s 2017 line up! All new Enduros are 1x specific, with no option to run a front derailleur. The top dog S-Works models we rode had the amazing SRAM Eagle drivetrain, which with a 500% range makes a front mech redundant anyhow.
When we first saw Specialised’s SWAT Door down tube storage, we cringed. But it took just one ride to realise that it makes a huge amount of sense, and we’re big fans now. It’s great to see the SWAT Door making its way onto the new Enduro, letting you stuff all your spares inside the frame where they’re secure, protected and never left behind.
Take one look at the trends in Enduro racing, and you’ll quickly see fewer and fewer backpacks as riders look to lighten the load. Having the SWAT Door makes this just a little easier, and means no more floppy pockets or taping crap to your bike.
Öhlins Suspension Partnership:
Specialized’s association with those premium Swedish suspension gurus, Öhlins, continues. This prestigious partnership sees the Pro and S-Works models equipped with the amazing STX22 rear shock. We’re happy to see that Specialized has moved away from Cane Creek on their high-end Enduros – our experience with the Cane Creek was less than perfect. We’re very impressed by the simple but highly effective adjustability of the STX22. Because the shock is engineered for this bike specifically, it doesn’t need a huge range of rebound or compression adjustability as it’s valved appropriately from the get-go.
On the S-Works 29er Enduro you’ll also find the Öhlins RXF 36 fork too. We reviewed the RXF 34 not long ago (check out the review here) and it’s damn impressive. We think the benefits of the Öhlins damping will be even more apparent in this longer travel scenario too. For now, the 650B version misses out on an Öhlins fork, but we’re sure there’s a 650B incarnation on the way.