The Specialized S-Works Turbo Kenevo SL works its magic in many different ways, but at the root of them all is its superb blend of stability and agility.
The new Specialized S-Works Turbo Kenevo SL proves the old adage that all good things come to those who wait. It feels like a lifetime ago that I first rode a Fazua-equipped Focus Raven2 hardtail and began to dream about how a similar level of assistance and weight could transform an enduro bike. With the Kenevo SL that fantasy has become a reality – a reality saturated in reverie.
This is a big bike. A really big bike, with a 1,284mm wheelbase and a 488mm reach, yet it never needs to be put into a headlock to change direction. Quite the opposite in fact; the Kenevo SL might be built like a breeze block, but it’s as malleable as putty.
Partly I put this down to the mass being low and central and partly because it puts you right at the heart of the bike – seated in the belly of the beast so to speak – giving total control over weighting the tyres and tuning the grip levels. Slam into a series of whoops, or a rocky gully, and the Kenevo SL chassis will remain rock-solid and level while the wheels flutter up and down, yet push deep into the copious travel around a berm or rut and it would spring out into the next turn or down the following straight.
There’s a depth and delicacy to the suspension that’s pure five star luxury. Specialized has softened the progression of the spring curve compared to the Specialized S-Works Enduro – probably as a result of moving the shock to accommodate the motor – but added in a jounce bumper (effectively a bottom-out bumper) to the Float X2 shock to cushion the end stroke. And this translates to a glider-like experience over rough terrain, but it doesn’t fall like a stone when you want to load it up into a compression, lip or berm.
True, the motor won’t win any drag races, and it certainly won’t be enough to lure away Specialized Turbo Levo customers from their power advantage, but if you’re coming from an analogue experience, the SL’s support is sufficient to dismiss most steady climbs as irrelevant, while the efficiency is enough to quell most range anxiety. There’s not enough torque to clamber up technical conundrums, but the flip side of this is an e-bike that blind taste tests like a regular enduro bike while also making you feel like you’ve taken a comprehensive jiffy bag of performance enhancing substances.
And hands up, the Kenevo SL has already turned me into a junkie.
Specialized has rolled out the red carpet with the spec of the Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL. It’s dripping in finery, from the Factory-spec Kashima-coated Fox 38 fork and Float X2 shock to the wireless SRAM XX1 AXS drivetrain and Reverb dropper post.
It also boasts carbon wheels, cranks and handlebars, a chunky Deity stem and mushroom grips, comfortable in-house saddle and concealed SWAT multi-tool in the head tube.
In a perfect world, I’d rather see some Maxxis tyres on there for security in the damp, but having said that, the Butcher/Eliminator tyre combo is definitely effective in dry conditions. And if it was my own bike, I’d prefer a slightly narrower 780mm bar, a slightly shorter 40mm stem and I’d probably switch to a 150mm dropper post to get the saddle further out of the way on descents.