Specialized Enduro Elite Review
Words & Photos by Nic Hall
If you saw our first ride report on the S-Works Specialized Enduro, you know we were impressed with the completely redesigned bike right off the bat. What was once a glorified XC bike two-decades ago is now much closer to a short-travel Specialized Demo DH bike. We’ve been riding the Enduro Elite for several months in preparation of this review. We’ve slugged it up brutal climbs all around the Pacific Northwest just for the sake of shredding it down the gnarliest trails we could find. We’ve ridden the new Enduro long enough to get past the honeymoon phase and are ready to discuss the strengths, weaknesses and who the ideal consumer for this bike is.
In our first ride review and release articles we went over the leverage curves along with the build philosophy of the new Enduro. Specialized had one mission in mind when creating the Enduro – more speed. Specialized Bikes increased travel, stiffness, and completely changed the linkage to make this bike a truly capable descender. Hoping to offset the Enduro’s downhill bias, Specialized increased anti-squat by 40%, but this bike is definitely not a climber’s best friend.
The 170mm Enduro 29 was built around the Demo linkage design, Specialized’s dedicated downhill race machine. If you guessed that it rides like a 170mm Demo that you can still pedal to the top of your local hill, you’d be right. Specialized continues to use the tried and true Horst Link suspension design, although it rides quite a bit differently than previous Enduros. By moving the shock lower on the frame and placing a pivot on the chainstay below the rear axle, Specialized is able to make several big changes to the Enduro’s suspension characteristics.
The leverage curve on the new Enduro is more progressive and doesn’t flatten out at the end of the travel. If you were struggling to find volume reducers to throw in your shock last year, you’ll be pleasantly surprised as how this bike handles big hits.
Another change at the rear end of the Enduro comes in the form of frame stiffness. Specialized claims the new design yields a 12% increase in stiffness over the previous Enduro while the front triangle maintains the same level of stiffness as testing and rider feedback confirmed that the front end was plenty stiff.
As you may expect, the new Specialized Enduro is long and slack. Specialized is using their “S” sizing system, so customers will be best served by measuring their existing bikes and comparing dimensions to better know which size will fit them best.
We ran the bike in High mode, which gives the bike a 64.3-degree head tube angle, while Low puts the bike at 63.9 degrees. The wheelbase on our S4 is 1,274mm with a reach of 487mm, and a seat tube angle of 76 degrees. The chainstays on all bikes are 442mm long and mate up to the 354mm high bottom bracket (Low).
Specialized offers four complete bikes from $4,510 up to the $9,750 S-Works model. A frame is also available for $3,310. The Elite is equipped with a full SRAM kit. Code R brakes, an Eagle GX derailleur with NX Eagle shifter, and a Rock Shox Lyrik Select + fork works with a Rock Shox Super Deluxe rear shock. Roval’s alloy Traverse wheels and Butcher tires round of the build.
Much like a painful ride, let’s get the climbing out of the way first. Specialized may have made adjustments to the anti-squat and steepened the seat tube angle to 76 degrees, but this bike is not built to climb. The long wheelbase and slack head angle will be noticeable on tighter climbs, and we found the front end wandered a bit on steep climbs. That being said, if you’re not an Enduro racer looking at the clock trying to make it to your next Special, then it may not be a big issue. This bike places downhill performance at the top of its priority sheet, and there’s nothing wrong with that – for the right customer that is…
When it comes to downhill performance, Specialized hit the nail on the head. Their quest for speed has been achieved. The Enduro continually impressed us and had us fighting our nerves to keep off the brakes. The new leverage curve, with increased ramp at the very end of the stroke keeps the rear feeling as close to a coil as possible, while still supporting the largest of hits.
There are not many 170mm bikes out there that are more capable at going downhill fast. The Enduro really handles downhill tracks as well as some downhill bikes we’ve tested. We were continually looking for steeper and faster terrain. Many of our testers felt that they still hadn’t met the limit of what the bike could handle. The rear end soaks up the biggest hits and asks for more and the frame is so stiff in the right places it remains planted and poised. It is truly amazing what Specialized has done with this bike.
The Wolf’s Last Word
We had no issues with durability or components during the several months of our testing. The aluminum wheels and well protected carbon frame had little wear after a few months of hammering. The downtube is protected by a clear frame protector that covers the areas that don’t have rubber molding and even that held up to some serious shuttle time. Specialized offers a fine product in the Enduro. Whether we’re looking at the bike’s downhill prowess, the fit and finish of the frame or the creature comforts like the SWAT Box and on-board tools, this bike is worth a look if you’re a rider focused on going downhill fast.
Price: $5,310 ($4,646.99 on sale);
Weight: 32.6lbs (w/ Pedals)
Frame: Full-Carbon S4, 170mm Travel
Fork: Rock Shox Lyrik Select Plus, DebonAir, 170mm
Shock: Rock Shox Super Deluxe Select
Handlebar: Specialized, 7050 alloy, 800mm
Stem: Specialized Trail, 40mm
Headset: FSA No. 57 Sealed Cartridge
Shifter: SRAM NX Eagle, trigger, 12-speed
Brakes: SRAM Code R, 200/180mm
Saddle: Body Geometry Henge 143
Seatpost: X-Fusion Manic, infinite adjustable, 170mm
Hubs: Roval Traverse
Rims: Roval Traverse 29
Front Tire: Butcher, GRID TRAIL casing, GRIPTON compound, 29×2.6″
Rear Tire: Butcher, GRID TRAIL casing, GRIPTON compound, 29×2.3″
Bottom Bracket: SRAM DUB, threaded BB
Cassette: SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed, 10-50t
Cranks: SRAM Descendant, Boost™, DUB, 170mm
Derailleur: SRAM GX Eagle, 12-speed
Confident and Stable
SWAT Box and Tool Storage
Not the Best Climber
Slack Seat Tube Angle
Small Rear Rotor
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