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Last fall Specialized released the new Enduro, replacing what was to some, the first “real” twenty-niner. The X-wing design on the previous incarnation was groundbreaking as it was one of the first wagon-wheelers to “not feel like a 29er.” That bike was a pretty astounding mix of pedaling performance, playfulness, and downhill brawn. But the design and geo had grown a bit outdated.
Enter the new Enduro. Released with what will go down as one of the more bizarre hype videos we’ve seen, the keyboard warriors immediately took to the interwebz to chastise the low-shock placement’s aesthetic resemblance to that of the new Santa Cruz bikes. While those who actually rode the bike lauded the performance characteristics that, believe it or not, appeared to live up to the hype.
Shortly after its release, we had a chance to test out the new Enduro on it’s home turf in Morgan Hill, California. As with many other bikes of this ilk, the promise of XC-like uphill performance coupled with DH-bike downhill capabilities was alluring, if not a bit tired. C’mon, we’ve heard it before…right?
Our test loop involved a long and steep fire road climb, followed by a rocky and loose descent. Admittedly not the most enticing of trails, but it gets the job done. Sidebar: it was a very dry 105 degrees, which to any Vermonter, feels like eating hot coals when slogging up a wide-open hillside in California. But I digress.
The ascent: this bike doesn’t simply climb well for a 170mm twenty-niner with a sub-64 degree headtube angle. It just plain climbs well. Like really well. I test rode the Enduro back to back with an S-Works Stumpy 29 and my time was faster on the Enduro by a fair margin. I was not wrestling to keep the front wheel from wandering, I was not repositioning to find a balance point in order to get power to the rear wheel. I was just climbing. Efficiently. And it was awesome.
The descent: unfortunately, our test loop was a bit like taking a ferrari for a test drive in a suburban Connecticut neighborhood. Just not the right arena to unleash the hellcat within this beast. That said, the few spots where the trail turned appropriately gnarly, the Enduro came to life. I fully anticipated a wallowy DH-bike feel but was pleasantly surprised at the pop and agility with which this bruiser threw down. The size S4 Enduro Expert I rode (I’m a gangly 5’11”) was supremely stable but not at the cost of liveliness; confidence inspiring would be an understatement. Just plain fun would be the most appropriate superlative.
So here’s where I can hear you saying, “this dude’s just another kool-aid drinker,” and you might be right. But facts is facts: this bike so far exceeded my expectations that I walked away with an entirely new impression of what a mountain bike could be. That might sound like hyperbole but it’s the truth.
I’m looking forward to putting the screws to this bike on VT soil, and logging some laps at places like Cochran’s and Perry Hill where the up / down capabilities can truly be brought to light. In the meantime, I’ll ponder what changes this paradigm shift might bring to other bikes in the Specialized lineup. Time will tell…
Pictured: Specialized Enduro Comp Carbon 29″
FRAME FACT 11m carbon chassis and rear-end, 29 S3 Enduro Race Geometry, SWAT™ Door integration, threaded BB, internal cable routing, 12x148mm dropouts, sealed cartridge bearing pivots, replaceable derailleur hanger, 170mm of travel
SEAT BINDER Specialized bolt-type, alloy, 38.6mm
REAR SHOCK Rock Shox Super Deluxe Select Plus
FORK RockShox Lyrik Select, DebonAir, Charger RC damper with rebound adjust, and low-speed compression to lockout, tapered steerer, 42mm offset, 15mm Maxle® Stealth thru-axle, 15x110mm Boost™, 170mm of travel
STEM Specialized Trail, forged alloy, 4-bolt, 5mm rise, 40mm
HANDLEBARS Specialized, 7050 alloy, 6-degree upsweep, 8-degree backsweep, 27mm rise, 800mm width
GRIPS Specialized Sip grip, half-waffle, S/M: regular thickness, L/XL: XL thickness
SADDLE Bridge Comp, Hollow Cr-mo rails, 155/143mm
SEATPOST X-Fusion Manic, infinite adjustable, two-bolt head, bottom mount cable routing, remote SRL LE lever, S2/S3 150mm, S4/S5 170mm of travel
FRONT BRAKE SRAM Code R, 4-piston caliper, hydraulic disc, 200mm
REAR BRAKE SRAM Code R, 4-piston caliper, hydraulic disc, 180mm
REAR DERAILLEUR SRAM NX Eagle, 12-speed
SHIFT LEVERS SRAM NX Eagle, trigger, 12-speed
CASSETTE SRAM NX Eagle, 12-speed, 11-50t
CHAIN SRAM NX Eagle, 12-speed
CRANKSET SRAM NX Eagle, DUB, 170mm
CHAINRINGS Steel, 30T
BOTTOM BRACKET SRAM DUB, BSA 73mm, Threaded
RIMS Roval Traverse 29, hookless alloy, 30mm inner width, tubeless ready
FRONT HUB Specialized, sealed cartridge bearings, 15x110mm thru-axle, 24h
REAR HUB Specialized, sealed cartridge bearings, 12x148mm thru-axle, 28h
SPOKES DT Swiss Industry
FRONT TIRE Butcher, GRID TRAIL casing, GRIPTON® compound, 29×2.3″
REAR TIRE Butcher, GRID TRAIL casing, GRIPTON® compound, 2Bliss Ready, 29×2.3″
INNER TUBES Standard, Presta valve
More on this bike can be found at Specialized.com