More travel and no extra weight. 29in or 27.5 Plus.
It’s evolution, not revolution for the 2017 Specialized Enduro 29.
Sticking with its proven X-Wing frame construction — which sees the shock attach just below the intersection point of the criss-cross top tube — the latest Enduro 29 platform has been refined, rather than redesigned.
It’s a totally different animal though. Travel has been taken up a notch to 165mm, so you no longer have to pay a suspension penalty for choosing bigger wheels.
This has been made possible by the oversized ManFu rocker-link, that does away with the need for a seatstay bridge. An added bonus being that there’s tons of tyre clearance.
Another first for the 2017 Enduro is the carbon rear end. And while we doubt this offers much of a weight saving, it’s the way most brands are going on their top-end bikes.
The rear end is now Boost 148 and the Enduro 29 is the only bike in this test that’s actively promoted as Plus compatible; hence the 6Fattie tag.
Specialized has also revised the geometry. The head angle has been slackened to 66° and the seat angle steepened by a full degree to put the rider in a better position for climbing.
Other nips and tucks include a shorter head tube, to keep the handlebar height in check, and a reduced seat tube length that makes it much easier to fit a longer dropper post.
At present, Specialized is sticking with its 125mm Command Post IRcc but the seat tube diameter has been increased from 30.9mm to 31.6mm, so we suspect Specialized has something new up its sleeve.
Öhlins is relatively new to mountain bike suspension, but its partnership with Specialized has allowed it to hit the trail rolling.
The 160mm RXF 36 fork has a clever triple air-spring that lets you adjust the progressivity of the fork by adjusting the air pressure in the third chamber, rather than using volume reducers.
And thanks to its one-piece crown/steerer assembly, the fork is also super-stiff. Öhlins has been a little heavy handed with the damping however, so even with the rebound fully open, the fork feels sluggish.
Recommended pressure settings are well off the mark too.
The damping adjusters on the Öhlins STX rear shock mirror the fork, so you have separate dials for low-speed rebound and compression, and a lever for high-speed compression. As such, the shock doesn’t sport anything resembling a lockout.
While there’s no faulting the contact points on the Enduro 29, Specialized is out of touch with the 60mm stems on the L and XL sizes.
The semi-slick Slaughter rear tyre isn’t much of an all-rounder either, even if it’s the perfect choice for dry, hardpack conditions.
Carbon Roval Traverse SL wheels give the Enduro unmatched rolling speed in this test, but if you’re serious about racing, alloy rims are probably the way to go just for peace of mind.
One of our main bugbears with the original Enduro 29 was that the bottom bracket was too high, and it’s the one thing that Specialized hasn’t really addressed on the latest version.
Sure, increasing the amount of rear wheel travel has lowered the dynamic ride height of the bike, but 351mm is still a little high when compared to the best 27.5in bikes.
Why did Specialized not go lower? We suspect it’s because the bike would then be too low with the Plus size wheels fitted.
It’s a compromise, for sure, and one that could quite easily have been avoided by simply offering some form of geometry adjustment.
We’re really nit-picking though, as it’s still a great bike.
It has pace that’s hard to match, the strongarm approach of Öhlins’s damping keeps the bike very stable at all times, and it’s the only bike on test with a saddle position that’s conducive to climbing.
It’s also the lightest bike on test, and that’s with a multi-tool on the bottom of the bottle cage, a chain breaker stowed under the headset top cap, and a door on the down tube for storing spares and food. Bonus.
Bar the recent price hike, all of the revisions to the 2017 S-Works Enduro 29 are positive. It’s still not perfect though. The stem is too long, the rear tyre is too condition- dependant, and the BB height could be 10mm lower. We’d also like a 150mm dropper and the option to adjust the geometry for different terrain and tyre sizes. Are we being too demanding? Possibly, as the Enduro 29 is still a seriously good bike. It’s fast and direct, the carbon is well damped and it’s the best-pedalling Enduro to date. But when you’re dropping £7,400 on a new ride, the one thing you can afford to be, is fussy.