Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert isn't just slapping on a 180mm-travel RockShox Boxxer fork and calling it a day though. It's a completely redesigned frame.
It’s easy to assume that big brands are slow to react but when Specialized saw riders fitting dual-crown forks to the original Kenevo, it quickly followed suit with the Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert in summer 2020.
Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert review
The original Kenevo was boxy and tall; the new version is long and low. It comes in four frame sizes, S2 to S5, and with reach numbers ranging from 445mm on the smallest to 520mm on the largest, it’s a big bike in every sense of the word. But it wasn’t just the geometry and sizing that changed, Specialized also switched to the Sidearm frame design that allows it to maintain the desired frame stiffness across the full range of sizes. It’s also pretty handy for getting the shock out, which we’ll get to in a minute. The shock also gets asymmetric hardware at one end that lets you choose between two geometry settings, and in this case the options are definitely low and even lower.
One of the best features on the Kenevo, and Turbo Levo e-bike, is the way the 700Wh battery pops out of the down tube. Disconnect the magnetic power cable and remove the solitary Allen key bolt and the battery slides straight out. For ultimate convenience, Specialized even supplies the tool for the job at the bottom of the SWAT bottle cage.
And it’s not just the size of the battery that’s impressive on the Kenevo, the 90Nm torque Brose motor will get you up anything, even with the close-ratio 11-42t cassette – the Kenevo’s climbing ability enhanced further by the steep 77.9° seat angle, and that’s in the lowest geometry setting.
With 180mm of travel on the rear, the Kenevo is essentially a downhill bike. So it’s fitting that it comes with a coil-sprung RockShox Super Deluxe shock. Our S4 test bike came equipped with a 500lb spring, which is a little too firm for an 80kg rider. Thanks to the Sidearm frame design mentioned earlier, swapping to a 450lb spring was super easy and sag gradients on the shock shaft make dialling in the spring preload a breeze.
The air-sprung Boxxer fork also delivers 180mm travel, and even though it’s the entry-level version, like on the Cannondale Moterra Neo SE, we were instantly struck by how precise we could be when choosing lines. Granted, the damping isn’t as sophisticated as the Ultimate fork with the RC2 Charger damper, but that’s an easy upgrade for under £300.
Just as Specialized drops its dropper post programme it gets it right, the 160mm Command Post IRcc proving 100 per cent reliable. In fact, in over four months of riding, which is equivalent to eight months on a regular bike, we’ve not had a single issue with any of the components on the Kenevo. We’ve also been really lucky with the motor, as it’s still going strong. Which is definitely the exception, rather than the rule.
There’s no question that the Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert has the geometry, sizing and travel for hard charging. It can even turn its hand to technical, trials-like climbing thanks to the rapid engagement and smooth power delivery of the motor. Once we’d stuffed some packing foam in the top tube around the cables for the power button/battery level indicator, the Kenevo offered a stealthy ride.
We love the minimalist cockpit with its simple remote switch next to the grip.
It’s a hell of a lot of bike to chuck around though so it’s worth taking a more conservative approach to sizing. And given that the weight and sizing of the bike make it so stable, we think it could be even better if the RockShox shock had a lighter compression shock tune, just so you could push through the travel more easily and use the spring force to get the bike off the ground.
Specialized has raised the bar with the latest Kenevo Expert. Not only is the sizing progressive, it proves that you don’t need to resort to carbon manufacturing to make a fluid looking frame. It’s not quite perfect though. Yes, the geometry and build kit are both perfectly focused on making the most of the descents, but we feel that the shock tune could be lightened up to make the bike more lively and manoeuverable. That; our you could just seek out the roughest, steepest trails and let raw speed bring the Kenevo Expert to life.