Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL is assisted version of popular and capable Enduro and gets the lightweight SL motor, which pumps out 240W with a 320Wh battery.

With the new Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL, Specialized has blended its highly praised Specialized Enduro with the motor and battery from the Turbo Levo SL to build the bike plenty of e-bikers have been waiting for.

Go straight to the review: Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL first ride

Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL need to know

  • £12.5k S-Works Kenevo SL weighs 18.8kg, splitting the difference between a Kenevo and an Enduro
  • 170mm travel with 29in wheels and four frame sizes from S2 to S5
  • Range extender battery fits in the bottle cage and adds 160Wh
  • Two model range starts at £8,750 Expert and tops out with £12,500 S-Works
  • Frame-only option for £6,500

Turbo Kenevo SL Expert

What are the ingredients of a perfect enduro bike? Long travel, big wheels and stable geometry for descending? Light weight, efficient pedalling and a comfortable seated position for uphill liaisons and mid-stage sprints? How about a motor for getting you to the top with less effort, so that you can save more energy for the descents? So far, so sign me up. But with powerful motors and large capacity batteries comes more flab, less agility and arguably less versatility – their punchy motors and 25kph speed limit optimised for shorter rides on steeper terrain, where you lap the same zone over and over again. So what if you could have an enduro bike that splits the difference, giving you a helping hand to fall back on up the climbs and none of the excess baggage of a full-fat model, unlocking the opportunity to get as loose and creative as you want on the descents? If that sounds like the best of both worlds to you, then Specialized’s new Kenevo SL may just be the bike you’ve been waiting for. I know I have.

Read more: Best electric mountain bikes – MBR’s E-Bike of the Year

Turbo Kenevo SL Expert

Lightweight e-bikes – a brief history

My journey with these lightweight, half-fat e-bikes started in autumn 2017 when I tried a Focus Raven2 hardtail fitted with a Fazua motor. It was a strange bike – an XC race hardtail that you couldn’t actually race – but it got me pondering the potential of putting something smaller and lighter in a more capable trail bike or enduro chassis. Then along came the Lapierre eZesty a year later, and while it wasn’t perfect, it gave further insight into just how effective this power-to-weight ratio could be on the right platform. Next Specialized joined the party with the Specialized Turbo Levo SL, based on the venerable Specialized Stumpjumper, and the game moved on again, with a better range and more resolved integration. This time, the geometry was the limiting factor – using the more conservative angles and sizing of the old Stumpjumper made it more of a traditional upright, uptight trail bike than a laid back slash-and-turn shredder.

Now, here’s Specialized with the ebike I’ve been waiting three and a half years to ride: the Kenevo SL.

specialized turbo kenevo sl

Firstly praise has to go to the Morgan Hill and Cham-based engineering teams, who have done an amazing job of packaging the battery and motor into this new Kenevo SL platform. It’s so subtle and seamless that the only real giveaway that this is an e-bike, and not a regular Enduro, is the TCU display on the top tube and the charging port on the seat tube. Only Orbea, with the lightweight Orbea Rise, has come close to this effective a disguise, but in my opinion Specialized has taken its packaging to a new level. If there’s one down side to this digital camouflage, it’s that you can’t take the battery out to charge the bike. Well you can, but only if you remove the motor first. And who can be bothered to do that?

specialized turbo kenevo sl

Sub 20kg weight

So we have an e-bike that, at five paces, looks exactly like its analogue cousin. But what about the weight? Well, our top-of-the-range S-Works model tipped the scales at 18.7kg in size S4, that’s 4.2kg more than the S-Works Enduro, and 5.97kg less than the S4 Turbo Kenevo Expert we tested last year. It also compares favourably with the Lapierre eZesty (18.9kg) and the Turbo Levo SL Expert we had through the door recently.

Two times your power

If the new Kenevo SL splits the difference between analogue and electric in terms of weight, it’s not far off in terms of power either. The Specialized 2.2 motor (made by Brose) found in the new Turbo Levo kicks out 565W max power and 90Nm of torque. Compare that to the 1.1 motor in the Kenevo SL and you have less than half the power (240W) and a lot less than half the torque (35Nm). And while it’s easy to throw around numbers, what that means in terms of ride feel will soon become obvious on steeper climbs; technical ascents you can just about clean on the Turbo Levo will overwhelm the Kenevo SL.

Read more: E-bike motors – Shimano v Bosch v Fazua v Panasonic v Giant v Brose

specialized turbo kenevo sl

Small battery: Big range

With less power being drawn from the motor, and less weight to get moving, the battery on the Kenevo SL can be significantly smaller, and therefore much lighter. We’re talking 320Wh versus the 700Wh found in the full-fat Turbo Levo and Kenevo, which translates into around a 2kg weight saving on its own. And yet the range is as good, if not better than bikes with a bigger capacity, because you don’t need to rely on the motor quite so heavily. It’s always difficult to put a number on that in terms of range, but during testing half a battery in Trail mode would average out at 20km and 700m of climbing on the Kenevo SL. Manage the power levels conservatively and I’ve achieved over 80km and 1,800m of climbing from the same motor and battery on a similar Turbo Levo SL.

If that’s not enough, Specialized also offers its range extender – a thermos-sized battery pack with 160Wh of extra juice that fits in a standard bottle cage and effectively adds another 50 per cent to the range.

MasterMind display offers total control

With the new MasterMind TCU display that’s integrated into the top tube, matching your power consumption to your ride couldn’t be easier. Not only does it give you an easy-to-read percentage for your battery remaining, you can also tweak the level of assistance in 10 per cent increments by selecting the MicroTune function. This gives you more freedom to optimise the support depending on riding partners or terrain without resorting to delving into the comprehensive Mission Control app. Just hold down the + button on the remote control to enter MicroTune and use the + and – to modify the support.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as tuning is concerned, with the MasterMind TCU allowing you to customise the data shown on the display screen as well as adjust settings such as the clock and the units of measurement.

Frame layout and sizing

With so much going on in terms of motor, battery and firmware, it’s easy to lose sight of the chassis it’s all built around. Let’s not forget that the Enduro is one of the finest hard hitting analogue bikes on the market; one that we described as “the most impressive long-travel 29er we’ve ridden” when we tested it last year. The Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL shares the same FACT 11M carbon frame and four-bar suspension design with additional tension links driving a belly-mounted shock as the Enduro. Obviously the engineers have had to move things around a little to accommodate the extra height of the motor, but broadly speaking it shares similar end goals: lowering the centre of gravity; reducing side loading on the shock; managing anti-squat, anti-rise, progression and axle path. There is a down side however; because the shock pierces the seat tube, dropper post insertion is minimal. Our S4 test bike (there are four frame sizes from S2 to S5) comes with a 170mm dropper post, but there was 30mm of fixed post sticking out of the frame when fully inserted. And when fully extended the seat was too high. So if you’re of average height and want to ride an S4, you may need to ask your bike shop nicely to swap the post for a 150mm version.

It’s an issue that undermines Specialized’s democratically configured S size range, particularly if you’re 5ft 9in or shorter. Rather than giving riders the opportunity to up and down size according to riding style and terrain, it restricts them to whatever frame they can run with a decent size dropper post. Every mm counts when you’re trying to hustle a 170mm travel 29er on the steepest and gnarliest tracks you can find, so it’s frustrating that the Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL doesn’t let you get that saddle completely out of the way.

Pick your geometry

While your freedom to drop the saddle may be limited, the scope for adjusting the Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL geometry is generous. First introduced on the Stumpjumper Evo and carried across to the latest Turbo Levo, the new Kenevo SL gets angle adjust headset cups and Horst link flip chips. All told you can set it up in six different configurations, with three different head angles and two bottom bracket heights. Raising and lowering the BB also has an impact on the chainstay length, head angle and reach. If that’s enough to make your head spin, Specialized should have a handy online geometry tool live by the time you read this, allowing you to set up the bike to your preferred measurements, or simply prioritise a terrain or handling trait and it will tell you which setting to use.

Specialized’s figures are pretty accurate too, as our S4 test bike measured almost bang on the geo chart, save for the BB height, which was 12mm lower than claimed.

Rival ‘diet’ e-bikes

Model specs

S-Works Turbo Kenevo SL:

Turbo Kenevo SL Expert:

S-Works Turbo Kenevo SL frameset:

Specialized Enduro S-Works 29

Comparisons with the Specialized Enduro

Enduro weight: 14.59kg
Kenevo SL weight: 18.8kg

Enduro suspension travel: 170mm
Kenevo SL suspension travel: 170mm

Enduro fork: Fox Float 36 Factory GRIP2
Kenevo SL fork: Fox Float 38 Factory GRIP2

Enduro rear shock: Fox Float DHX2 Factory
Kenevo SL rear shock: Fox Float X2 Factory

Enduro wheelset: Roval Traverse SL Carbon
Kenevo SL wheelset: Roval Traverse SL Carbon

Now read the review: Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL first ride

Enduro price: £8,999
Kenevo SL price: £12,500