Specialized introduce a new long travel uplift killer for 2018
Most great ideas start with a simple two-word question, “what if?”
The new Specialized Turbo Kenevo is how they answer the question, “What if we could have our own personal uplift?”. One look at the yellow Öhlins sprung rear, Lyric fork and aggressive lines show that Specialized has designed the Kenevo for some serious riding. Whereas the Turbo Levo is more for trail riding, this time it’s all about gravity. In short, it looks like an e-bike you really, really want to ride.
Need to know
- Based on the Enduro frame platform.
- 180mm of travel front and rear from a Rockshox Lyric RCT3 fork and Öhlins TTX2M coil shock.
- Uses the new, updated and App-controllable Turbo 1.3 motor system.
- SRAM Code brakes with 200mm rotors.
- Designed around a 27.5×2.6” tyre size.
- Comes with Specialized’s new WU dropper seatpost.
- Only one version will be available currently, in two different colour options.
- Price is going to be £5,500.
The lines of the Kenevo’s frame should be recognisable to anyone familiar with Specialized’s Enduro range. The M5 aluminium tubing has been shaped to accommodate the integrated battery and motor system, yet it still retains the Enduro’s identifiable X-wing top tube. Geometry figures are similar to the new revised 2018 Enduro with a 65 degree head angle and 350mm bottom bracket height.
The Kenevo makes use of Specialized’s new Turbo 1.3 Trail Tuned motor and control interface. Silent and powerful is how it comes across. We went through the improvements during our coverage of the recently launched Carbon Levo, so you can read about that here.
First ride impressions
There’s a very simple way of communicating just how the Kenevo rides. If the original Turbo Levo could be likened to a general-purpose claw hammer, the Turbo Kenevo is more like a sledgehammer. Riding the Kenevo in its natural environment, the bike park, it literally smashes through anything in its path, pummeling rock gardens and pounding roots with ease. It’s unashamedly a juggernaut of a bike and one that we could go on and on with the clichés. But without doubt, and this is the same for anyone that has ridden the Kenevo, the cliché that best describes the experience is ‘grin enducing’. It’s infectious just how much fun this bike is, no matter the terrain you point it towards.
The refinements to the Turbo 1.3 motor system make the 24 kilogram weight relatively easy to live with. And like most of the e-bikes we have tested recently, the extra power of the motor system makes it the easiest behemoth to man-handle up even the steepest of gradients. Take some time to customise the motor settings using the new App-based system and the Kenevo can provide enough extra boost for a full day on the trails. The battery, switching between Turbo and the lower setting, provided enough juice for nine laps of the bike park. When you take into account this included a climb that would take 25 minutes on a normal bike, the range is pretty impressive. Tune the system to run at more economical levels and this will stretch further. In fact, the Kenevo applies power so rapidly in turbo mode that on most technical, twisty trails it rides better in a lower power setting.
But it’s when the trail points down that the Kenevo properly comes alive. Rather than being a lumbering beast that requires the strength of Olympus to hang on to, it is an e-bike that makes you forget you’re riding an e-bike. The low centre of mass provided by the motor and battery position makes for a bike that’s stable and confident regardless of the gradient. Similar to how heavy DH bikes can stay on line, the Kenevo refuses to be pushed off its chosen course (The downside to this stability and mass is that in tight singletrack the Kenevo needs a bit more man-handling to change direction quickly). Fortunately the suspension choices are well up to the job of preventing this point and shoot principle to get you out of shape too quickly. Rockshox’s Lyric RCT3 is butter smooth and controlled throughout its travel and the decision to put an Öhlins coil rear shock is the right one. For such a heavy bike, air time was a complete giggle, the Kenevo can be thrown around like a much smaller bike. In fact the added squirt of the motor made clearing long tables and doubles an easy process and it pushes your confidence to go bigger and faster more than most other e-bikes.
Expect to see them making Kenevo shaped holes in the sides of bike shops pretty soon.