After spending months on this impressively lightweight machine, we have so many good things to say about it. It rides like a modern enduro bike: long and slack, but the weight of the motor being at the lowest center of gravity makes it handle very differently than its analog equivalent. The Kenevo SL has incredible cornering ability; superior even to that of the Specialized Enduro. The extra few pounds of the motor and battery help with the suppleness of the Fox X2 off the top and small bumps seem to nearly disappear. We’ve transitioned to spending most of our time aboard either full-powered eBikes or downhill bikes, so riding this eBike Light was a real treat and offered nearly downhill bike performance mixed with eMTB stability. While it has just enough weight to give it that plush suspension feel and enhanced traction we love, it is light enough to remain poppy and playful on smaller features on the sides of the trail. The types of features that the full-powered Kenevo might mute out.
Our favorite thing about the Kenevo SL is its handling in the air. As riders who grew up racing downhill bikes in the late 90’s and 2000s, a 42-pound bike would have been on the lighter side of what we were riding. It was plenty capable when it came time to get this thing off the ground and all of our testers had similarly impressive things to say. One tester commented “I am dumbfounded by this bike’s playful demeanor in the air. It’s a night and day comparison to a full powered E-bike, mainly in that it doesn’t feel like an eBike at all. Sure, it doesn’t feel like a 25-pound dirt jumper, but it handles the way a 170mm 29er should.”
In terms of pedal assistance, the Kenevo isn’t a powerhouse by any means. Its turbo mode has a little more pep than Eco or Trail mode on most full power eBikes. However, it’s not intended to ride like a full powered eMTB, it is designed to offer just enough assistance to take the sting out of the climbs and get riders the most natural feeling up and down the mountain. While some testers preferred less range and assistance as a tradeoff for playfulness, others feel the SL (both Levo SL and Kenevo SL) are neither bikes. What we mean by that is, technically it’s an eBike so we can’t ride them at trails that discriminate against pedal-assist, but when we go to an e-friendly trail network, SL riders are going to be the slowest ones to the top and the first to run out of battery.
For one tester, that isn’t an issue as he noted, “I don’t have any complaints about the amount of power or battery life of the Kenevo, but I’m no marathon rider. Two or three hours is my sweet spot for trail rides, and the only day that I found myself in need of the range extender was a six-lap day on a very steep pitch when I was chasing full power E-bikes in Turbo mode.” The Kenevo SL doesn’t have the sit and spin power of a Specialized Levo, Trek Rail or a Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay. This is not the type of eBike that’s going to do all the work for you, but chances are you’re not looking for that if you’re considering an SL. If you’re looking for the bike that is going to get you the world record for most vertical feet in a day, the Specialized Kenevo may be a better option.
The spec list on the Kenevo SL is decidedly solid, but the price tag is certainly a bitter pill to swallow. You may say it’s hard to put a price on fun, but in this case it’s clear exactly what that price is. Our Expert model came decked with great suspension, wheels, tires, and drivetrain. The one thing that we didn’t get on with were the Code RS brakes, which just didn’t cut it on an otherwise sorted spec. The Kenevo SLprobably comes spec’d with organic pads, which are notoriously less powerful than metallic. But for the price tag, it would be nice if Specialized could put some RSC’s on the Expert model to bump up the braking performance to a worthy level.
We also swapped out the Specialized bar and stem to our own 40mm rise bars and a 35mm reach stem. We found that the higher front end made the bike a bit more maneuverable and helped us stay in the back seat for manuals and other style elements. The S4 frame paired with the factory 50mm stem and 800mm wide bars made this bike feel a touch too big for our 5’11”- 6’1” testers; however, we tend to like smaller bikes in general, and thankfully swapping the stem and cutting down the bars had us in a much more comfortable place.
Longevity wise, the Kenevo SL has done really well in being a low maintenance, and reliable machine. Other than some chain lube and a brake bleed, the past few months and countless miles have been stress free (besides forgetting to plug it in to charge a time or two). The X01 Eagle derailleur and shifter have held up great along with the Praxis cranks. I haven’t serviced the suspension at this time, but haven’t seen or felt any signs of the fork or shock needing service. It’s clear that the price tag has gone into the quality of the construction, and the selection of durable and heavy hitting parts, for the most part, should ensure the Turbo Kenevo SL is built for the long haul.