More travel and no extra weight. 29in or 27.5 Plus.
Revised geometry, sizing and travel take the Enduro 29 to the next level, but has Specialized gone far enough?
Need to know
- Specialized irons out the geometry bugs on the Enduro 29 by making it a little longer and a touch slacker
- Travel jumps from 155mm to 165mm on the rear
- Öhlins takes care of suspension duties with the 36 RXF fork and STX shock
- Full carbon rear end, SWAT Door and BSA bottom bracket added for 2017
- A size small has been introduced, so shorter riders can get in on the 29er action
Specialized Enduro S-Works 29/6Fattie
If there’s one bike that I really know like the back of my hand, it’s the Specialized Enduro 29. It’s been my go-to ride for the past three years and, just like any good relationship, we’ve fallen in and out of love more times than I care to remember.
Five punctures at the Enduro World Series round in Finale, Italy, was an all-time low, but winning a local mini-DH race, on what’s essentially a long-legged trail bike, proved beyond a shadow of doubt the underlying speed of the Enduro 29.
Unlocking its potential was hard fought, however. It started with a shortened RockShox Monarch Plus shock to lower the lofty 351mm bottom bracket height and slacken the steep 67.5° head angle — two numbers you wouldn’t normally equate with a 155mm travel enduro bike.
Unfortunately, the shorter shock didn’t bring about the dramatic change I’d hoped for, so Burgtec offset shock hardware was also fitted. Then came the shorter shock yoke that Specialized uses on the 27.5in Enduro to lower the bike further. I even ran a 27.5in rear wheel for a while to benefit from the greater choice of DH casing tyres.
Why go to all this trouble? Simple, it’s one of the fastest bikes I’ve ever ridden, and I wanted to find its limits, and those of 29in wheels.
So when Specialized announced that it was launching a new Enduro 29, I had a long checklist of improvements that I wanted to see. Obviously it needed to be lower and slacker. The reach measurement also needed to be stretched and the stem’s length shrunk.
It needed to be Boost, as this has rapidly established itself as the new dropout standard, and while it lets you run fatter tyres, increased wheel strength and stiffness are the real benefits here. I also wanted more travel at the rear, because once I had the geometry sorted, this seemed to be the only limiting factor.
Has Specialized delivered? Yes and no.
The reach measurements have crept up by 5mm, but the stems on the L and XL sizes are still too long. In fact, there was a bunfight at the launch in Canada as journalists scrambled to find 40mm and 50mm stems. And while it’s easy to point the finger at Specialized for being too conservative with its sizing, the size large Enduro 29 is 5mm longer than the equivalent Trek Slash 29, and 2mm shorter than the Evil Wreckoning.
On the plus side, the head angle has been slackened to 66°. But what Specialized has given with one hand, it has taken away with the other. That’s because the fork offset increases from 46mm to 51mm, which has the same effect on the trail measurement as steepening the head angle.
Still, it’s a massive step in the right direction, and combined with the extra reach and a small increase in chainstay length, the wheelbase on the Enduro 29 has grown by 19mm.
The big change, however, is that the travel has gone up to 165mm, with no loss in pedalling efficiency. If anything, the rear suspension feels tighter and more progressive than before. And, even though the BB height on the new bike hasn’t gone down, the resulting ride height is lower due to the increased travel.
There’s room for Specialized to go lower though, and the easiest way to do that is it with the 6Fattie option and 2.8in Plus tyres. We’ll be testing both in the coming months, so watch this space.