Specialized Enduro S-Works
Words & Photos by Nic Hall
Going into Crankworx this year, my goal was to get as much time on as many bikes as possible. When Specialized asked us to meet them at their demo tent to take out the brand new Enduro, I eagerly jumped at the chance. The 2020 Enduro sees major changes that make it a much better riding bike than its already competent predecessor. Whistler is one of the best places to put a bike through the paces and replicate almost every type of condition a rider would experience back home. Unless of course you ride in the desert, which we’re hoping gives us some leverage to request one of these bikes for a long term test back home.
We recently published the official press release with all the specs and details. If you missed that check it out here. We’ll keep the tech short and briefly touch on some of the highlights before focusing on our first ride impressions. For 2020 Specialized has completely changed the Enduro’s linkage to a design similar to what’s found on the Demo. The axle path on this 170mm 29er has also been changed to a more rearward path while the progression curve has been flattened out with a more aggressive ramp at the end.
Along with changing the tune and characteristics of the Enduro’s suspension, frame stiffness has also been addressed. Specialized tunes each frame size to provide the right amount of stiffness and compliance for riders of varying size and weight. Knowing that size and weight aren’t the only places riders differ, Specialized worked hard to offer the Enduro at five price points starting at about $4,500. We spent our time in Whistler riding the top of the line S-Works model.
After dialing in our bikes for the day, we saddled up to follow Hannah Barnes, Curtis Keene, and the Specialized crew for a quick pumptrack session followed by morning yoga in the park. After a week of riding and reviewing, my body was appreciative of the time. Soon after we got to pedaling and hit the lower valley trails. I decided to run the bike completely open with 30% sag just to see what the pedaling would be like in race and ride situations. After climbing for around 1,500 feet, I was surprised at the level of platform and pedaling performance for a long travel bike.
Of course, out of the saddle efforts yielded a bit of rear end bob but the bike was surprisingly well mannered for a 170mm rig while fully open. After a few climbing sprints to reach the top of the hill, we found ourselves on some ripping singletrack with small features and tight berms. The Enduro was quick in all sections and once up to speed, felt equally at home on the straights as it did in the berms. If I ever needed more traction in a corner, all I had to do was lean forward, and there it was.
After a fun pedal, we grabbed some lunch, discussed our initial impressions and then jumped in the lift line for some Whistler Bike Park laps. I had been riding other bikes in the park all week and was excited to see how the Enduro compared. The first thing I found was how bottomless the rear end felt. That little bit of extra ramp Specialized added is very noticeable and not once did I find myself experiencing harsh bottom outs. The bike is supremely confidence inspiring and my times were similar to what I was putting down on full blown DH bikes. The change in axle path translated to very little hang up over square edge hits and propelled the bike forward at every opportunity, it really did feel faster and more capable than its predecessor. The reach changes also helped with steep descents, keeping my body weight centered on the bike, which meant a strong on board feeling and offers plenty of front tire traction.
THE WOLF’S FINAL THOUGHTS
The Specialized Enduro carries the name and image of an entire riding genre and does it well. From my limited time aboard the bike I was very impressed with the overall capabilities but especially loved the suspension feel in rough terrain. The bike handles every downhill section with supreme confidence yet it still manages to get up the hill in a respectable manner. With 170mm of travel, size-specific frame stiffness tuning and a refined suspension feel, Specialized have created a very capable big hit bike. It’s not perfect however and we’d love some more time to really get to know who the right buyer is for this big rig.
If you have to ask, did the Specialized Enduro meet my expectations? I would say yes. In the climbing department it does what it needs to do, but the bike completely blew me away on the descents. I could not believe how well the rear end tracked and how bottomless it felt. We are anxiously awaiting our own long-term tester to arrive so we can put the bike to work on our local test tracks, so stay tuned for a long term review in the coming months.
To learn more, visit Specialized.com