Has the attitude and riding position to capitalize on its 165mm travel
With its recently revised geometry the 2018 Specialized Enduro Pro 29 now has the attitude and riding position to capitalize on its 165mm travel.
It’s pretty much unheard of for a frame, especially a carbon one, to get updated after just one year of production. But that’s exactly what Specialized has done with the Enduro.
Yes, the full carbon X-Wing frame layout and 165mm travel on the 2018 Enduro Pro 29 are the same as last year, but the reach measurement has been stretched and the stems shortened on all four frame sizes.
Specialized Enduro Pro 29
By far the biggest change however, is that the BB height has dropped by 15mm to 336mm. That makes it lower even than the Evil Wreckoning and probably too low to run 27.5 x 2.8in Plus wheels in the latest version.
Which is why Specialized has added an “adjustable shock extension” to the ManFu link. It sounds more sophisticated than it really is though, as it’s just a thick square washer than that goes between the end of the shock and the link raise the BB height. One obvious downside is that Specialized’s custom keyed shock eyelet doesn’t sit as neatly in the link in the high setting. In fact, for a brand with such amazing engineering knowhow, it looks like a bit of bodge job.
Öhlins is best known for its low-pressure Twin Tube damper design; it’s what puts the TT in the TTX model name. The 160mm travel Öhlins 36 RXF suspension fork on the Enduro Pro 29 however, gets a less sophisticated single tube damper design. It still retains the 36 chassis and the bolt-thru lowers that don’t slide load the hub bearings and offer better fork alignment for a smoother action, but it feels like it’s been dumbed down. Even when run fully open the rebound damping is seriously sluggish and the compression adjuster doesn’t seem to have much impact. Not that we want more damping, if anything it probably needs less hydraulic control as the fork really lacks small bump sensitivity.
On the rear, the Öhlins STX shock is also operating with a single-tube damper design, but Specialized has got this dialled. With the high speed adjuster set in the mid position of three, the 165mm travel swallows big hits with ease while offering good grip for climbing and ample support for smashing turns.
Last year, when Specialized switched the Enduro frame to a 34.9mm seat tube diameter, with a shim to accommodate a regular 30.9mm Command Post, we figured something was up. But who would have guessed that Specialized would release a dropper seat post that changes the angle of the saddle as it goes up and down? Set your saddle flat at full height, then the rear of the saddle tips down as you lower it. Alternatively, have the nose of the saddle pointing down at full extension to take the pressure off your private parts when climbing.
Given that it only has 115mm of actual drop, the other 35mm is accounted for by the 14 degrees of tilt, not once did we feel that the saddle wasn’t low enough. Yes, the stack height of the post makes it more difficult to go up a frame size, and the head of the post has an annoying rattle, but concept is sound.
There were moments on every ride when the Enduro Pro 29 felt like the best bike we have ever ridden. Like slamming smooth bermed corners, dropping into eye-popping g-outs or simply sticking a high line as you traverse an off camber trail.
It’s one solid bike, and now that’s it’s a little longer, a little slacker and a lot lower, it gives you the confidence to really hammer home the 165mm of travel. Not least, because Specialized has finally nailed the tune on the Öhlins STX shock, giving the full carbon frame a damped, composed ride that few can rival.
The same, however, can’t be said of the Öhlins 36 RXF single tube fork. Combined with the carbon wheels, it’s just too harsh and over damped. On the plus side it’s got stacks of support, but it desperately needs a softer initial touch, so you can loosen your grip on the reigns and really let this bike run.
*UPDATE: we’ve since found out that it was undersized bushings causing the Öhlins fork to feel so sticky.
With its recently revised geometry the 2018 Enduro Pro 29 now has the attitude and riding position to capitalize on its 165mm travel. Unfortunately, the Öhlins 36 RXF fork can’t quite keep up, its distinct lack of small bump sensitivity chipping away at rolling speed and the rider’s ability to hold on when the going gets rough. It’s the only real sticking point on an otherwise amazing bike. Now that Specialized has rolled out its “build your own” program in the UK (see link above) where you can spec an Enduro up with your choice of wheel size, drivetrain and most importantly suspension components. With Fox Factory level suspension, the Enduro 29 could be THE one.