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.

Product Overview

Specialized S-Works Kenevo SL

Pros:

  • Can hang with the best enduro bikes on the descents and leave them for dead on the climbs. Unobtrusive motor accentuates the positives.

Cons:

  • Battery can’t be removed easily. Seat tube lacks insertion depth. It’s a decent deposit on a house.

Product:

Specialized S-Works Turbo Kenevo SL first ride: 18.79kg and £12.5k

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£12,500.00

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.

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

 

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.

Components

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.

specialized kenevo sl

Details

Frame:FACT 11m carbon, 170mm travel (166mm measured)
Shock:Fox Float X2 Factory
Fork:Fox Float 38 Factory, 170mm travel
Motor:Specialized Turbo SL 2.2, 240W
Battery:Specialized 320Wh
Control unit:Specialized MasterMind TCU
Wheels:Traverse SL Carbon wheels, Butcher T9/Eliminator T7 Grid, Gripton 29x2.6in tyres
Drivetrain:Praxis Carbon M30 cranks, 160mm, SRAM X01 Eagle AXS 12-speed shifter and r-mech
Brakes:SRAM Code RSC four-piston, 220/200mm
Components:Specialized Trail Carbon bar 800mm, Deity Copperhead 50mm stem, RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post 170mm, Bridge Ti saddle
Weight:18.79kg (41.42lb)
Sizes:S2, S3, S4, S5
Size tested:S4 (mid-high geometry)
Head angle:63.2°
Actual seat angle:67.8°
Effective seat angle:77°
BB height:344mm
Chain stay:443mm
Front centre:841mm
Wheelbase:1,284mm
Top tube:634mm
Reach:488mm
Down tube:760mm
Contact:specialized.com