First Look | The 2020 Specialized Kenevo Is An Absolute Unit!

Launched back in 2017, the first generation Specialized Kenevo debuted as a burlier and longer travel version of the brand’s popular Turbo Levo e-MTB. Basically a self-shuttling downhill bike, the 180mm travel Kenevo won favour with aggressive riders who wanted to pack in as much gnarly descending as possible, without need for a chairlift or shuttle van. That included us.

specialized kenevo ohlins
The first generation Kenevo came out in 2017 – a long time before many other long travel e-MTBs.

Though it was hella radical, the original Kenevo wasn’t perfect though. The plus tyres were flimsy and prone to pinch-flats, the Öhlins coil shock was cool but totally proprietary, and the WU dropper post was just plain weird. More importantly, Specialized has since unveiled its new 2.1 motor system and M2 battery pack, which we’ve seen transform the latest Turbo Levo into one of our favourite electric mountain bikes on the market right now.

It was a sure bet that the 2.1 motor system would make it into Version 2.0 of the Kenevo, and we’re here to tell you that indeed it has. What we weren’t quite ready for though is just how many other changes there have been to the new Kenevo.

2020 specialized kenevo e-mtb electric mountain bike
In the search of big-hit perfection, the second generation Kenevo has been improved in every single way.

So What’s New With This 2020 Specialized Kenevo Then?

Let’s start with the few things that aren’t changing. Firstly, the 2020 Kenevo is sticking with a metal frameset (we’re told there are no current plans to produce a carbon frame), and it’s also sticking with 180mm of travel front and rear. The 27.5in wheelsize remains, though Specialized has shrunk the tyre width down from 2.8in to 2.6in, while adding in stiffer, more robust BLK DMND casings. For lovers of chubby rubber, there’s still clearance for a 27.5×3.0in wide tyre in the back though.

Despite still being made from alloy, the new frame itself is totally different. Using the striking Sidearm profile found on both the latest Stumpjumper and Turbo Levo models, the Kenevo employs a similar asymmetric construction that offsets the shock slightly to the non-drive side, while adding a structural brace between the middle of the top tube and seat tube. It looks clean, and Specialized’s engineers reckon it also offers chassis stiffness benefits by bracing the key pivot points for the rear suspension.

2020 specialized kenevo e-mtb electric mountain bike
The new Sidearm frame design comes from the latest Stumpjumper and Turbo Levo models.

More Juice, Less Weight

As well as the Sidearm frame design, the new Kenevo makes use of Specialized’s latest M2 battery pack. In the top-end Kenevo Expert, you get a humongous 700Wh battery, which offers 40% more range than the old Kenevo’s 460Wh unit. That’s heaps! Even the cheaper Kenevo Comp model gets a 500Wh battery, which offers an 8% improvement in range.

The internal battery now sits inside the downtube too. It isn’t as easy to remove as the old frame’s clip-on design, but moving away from the C-section downtube and its 3mm thick walls has allowed the engineers to use a fully enclosed tube with thinner-walled alloy to reduce weight. Along with a new stamped motor housing, Specialized says this new frame is one whole kilo lighter than the old frame. On top of that, the latest Specialized 2.1 motor is 15% smaller and 400g lighter than the previous version.

brose specialized motor 2.1
Old motor on the left, new motor on the right. A magnesium housing helps to drop 400g of weight, while making the whole thing 15% more compact.

Like the latest Levo, the Kenevo now puts the Turbo Connect Unit (TCU) into the top tube up near the stem. You’ve got a big on/off button, and an LED array to indicate remaining battery life. This combines with a low-profile switch next to the left-hand grip that features a couple of buttons to increase or decrease the level of assistance from the motor, while also offering a useful Walk mode too. You can still play around with all the various settings via the Mission Control app though, which is something we’ve experimented with on our Levo Expert long term test bike.

2020 specialized kenevo e-mtb electric mountain bike
The Turbo Connect Unit is simple and low-profile.

More Momentum, Less Hang-Up

Inspired by the latest Demo downhill bike and the 2020 Enduro, the Kenevo gets reworked pivot points that are designed to provide a more rearward axle path. This is to allow the rear wheel to get out of the way of square-edge hits more cleanly, in order to maintain momentum on rough, choppy high-speed terrain.

The Kenevo still uses an FSR suspension design though, which is a little more traditional than the low-slung gravity linkage found on the new Enduro. Having a motor and battery in the frame does put some restrictions on suspension design, which is why the Kenevo doesn’t look like the Enduro. Despite this, Specialized has reworked the kinematics and pushed the main pivot up a little higher though, and that means the rear axle will move backwards a touch more as it goes through its travel.

Speaking of suspension, it’s worth noting that just like the new Stumpys, Levos and Enduros, the Kenevo has moved to a standard Metric shock size, which should make things a helluva lot easier for those who want to change shocks in the future.

2020 specialized kenevo e-mtb electric mountain bike
The 2020 Kenevo Expert gets a huge 700Wh battery inside the downtube, along with that badass dual-crown Boxxer fork. Beefy!

Geometry & Sizing

Also like the latest Stumpjumper EVO and Enduro models, the Kenevo moves over to Specialized’s latest ‘S-Sizing’ system. This sees the four sizes split into S2, S3, S4 & S5, rather than the traditional ‘Small, Medium, Large and X-Large’. The theory? Allow riders to choose their frame size based on preferred reach rather than their leg length. To that end, the Kenevo gets short seat tube lengths that offer more flexibility for up-sizing.

Other geo numbers that stand out include the very-slack, nearly Demo-like 64° head angle, and the steep 77° seat angle. The latter of which is particularly important for an e-MTB that’s designed to climb up the sort of stuff that a 180mm travel mountain bike wouldn’t normally climb up.

2020 specialized kenevo geometry
2020 Specialized Kenevo frame geometry.

One Frame, Two Spec Options

Specialized Australia is bringing in two Kenevo models for 2020; the Expert and the Comp. Both models use the same M5 alloy frameset and the new 2.1 motor system, along with a coil rear shock and SRAM Code R brakes with 200mm rotors front and rear. Both models will come with 800mm wide bars and 45mm long stems on all sizes, along with shorter 165mm crank arms.

The main upgrades on the Kenevo Expert? You’re getting a bigger 700Wh battery, a DT Swiss rear hub, SRAM GX shifting, and the imposing Boxxer dual-crown fork.

In terms of weight, Specialized claims the Kenevo Expert comes in at 24.58kg, while the Kenevo Comp weighs in at 23.63kg. These weights are actually about the same as the previous version, even though the frame has dropped a full kilo. This is because Specialized has put the weight back on with burlier parts, such as the BLK DMND tyres.


2020 specialized kenevo levo e-mtb electric mountain bike brose boxxer
With a dual crown fork and coil shock, the 2020 Specialized Kenevo Expert isn’t exactly playing things conservatively.

2020 Specialized Kenevo Expert


2020 specialized kenevo comp levo turbo ebike emtb electric mountain bike brose
The Kenevo Comp gets the same M5 alloy frame and 2.1 motor as the Expert model, but moves to a smaller 500Wh battery and a cheaper build kit.

2020 Specialized Kenevo Comp

2020 specialized kenevo e-mtb electric mountain bike
Take flight Kenevo!
2020 specialized kenevo e-mtb electric mountain bike
With more range, a smoother and lighter motor system, and tougher components, the new Kenevo takes a huge leap forward from the original model.

As for availability, Specialized Australia currently has the 2020 Kenevo Expert in stock, with Kenevo Comps arriving in mid-October. You can head to the Specialized website, or see your nearest dealer for more information. And as always, we’d love to hear your opinion on the 2020 Specialized Kenevo – make sure you tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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