With 29in wheels and 170mm travel the latest Specialized Enduro S-Works 29 is a scaled down version of the new Specialized Demo 29 DH bike
With 29in wheels and 170mm travel the latest Specialized Enduro S-Works 29 is a scaled down version of the new Specialized Demo 29 DH bike.
Specialized Enduro S-Works 29 need to know
- All carbon frame construction, where carbon links on the S-Works model save 250g in weight
- Revised suspension layout is tailored specifically to 29in wheels
- Specialized’s style-specific-sizing makes it easer to upsize, not that you’ll need to as the new bikes are much longer
- A flip-chip in the shock eyelet offers two geometry settings
- Prices start at £4,500 for the Enduro Comp Carbon 29
When Specialized launched the first Enduro 29 back in 2013, it was so far ahead of the curve it made the rest of the industry look like a bunch of flat earthers struggling to see beyond the wheelsize horizon.
In fact, it’s taken downhill racing, which is considered by many to be the cutting edge of our sport, the best part of six years to really embrace the benefits of 29in wheels. And some riders are still only halfway there.
So it’s somewhat ironic that the latest Enduro 29 takes its design cues from the new Demo 29 downhill bike – a wholesale change to the Enduro platform that sees Specialized move a way from the longstanding X-Wing top-tube and high shock position, to a low-slung design with the shock just above the BB.
The new Enduro will be available in four models, all with 29in wheels and carbon frames. There’s also a frame only option. And with 170mm travel front and rear, it’s the longest travel Enduro to date. And as anyone who has ridden a long travel 29er will attest, one issue with increased travel and bigger wheels is that the rear tyre can buzz your shorts on steep descents, especially when you’re hard on the anchors.
So when time came to redesign the suspension layout on the Demo and subsequently the Enduro, Specialized focused it efforts here first.
By reconfiguring the layout of the FSR suspension to increase the amount of anti-rise, the rear end of the new Enduro squats more under braking, helping to maintain favourable geometry so the rider can stay more centred on the bike. Or, to put it another way, the rear suspension doesn’t rise as much when you hit the anchors, so you don’t need to shift your weight rearward to counter the action of the suspension, which in turn means less tyre buzz.
Obviously Specialized could have increased the anti-rise by simply changing the angles of the links on the old design, but by switching to a scissor style shock linkage, it’s has been able to achieve a more consistent leverage rate. Yes, the new shock position also lowers the centre of gravity of the frame, but because the SWAT door has also moved up the downtube, fitting a 500ml water bottle will instantly negate that small advantage.
Arguably the biggest change to the Enduro has been in sizing. The S, M, L and XL nomenclature has been replaced by S2, S3, S4 and S5, where the latest version has shorter seat tubes and lower top tubes, making it easy to up or down-size depending on your preference. The reach measurement on the S4, which is equivalent to an old size L, is 487mm so it’s bang up-to-date. And to keep the bike balanced the rear end has also grown, where the chainstay length is 442mm on all four frame sizes.
Specialized Enduro S-Works 29: first ride review
Throwing a leg over the new Enduro 29 at North Star, California, I was instantly stuck by the sizing. This is one long bike, and you can tell that it has been designed to go fast.
It’s got stacks of travel too, but the suspension response is much tighter than the Enduro it replaces. This, combined with the steeper seat angle, longer rear end and more open cockpit, makes it efficient for long climbs and short sprints.
Point the Fox 36 fork down the mountain and the bike feels super composed. The front-end gives a really direct steering response when carving turns, without feeling nervous or deflecting in the more rowdy sections. Unfortunately the terrain at North Star wasn’t steep enough to get my bum on the rear tyre, so I left with clean shorts and very positive first impression of the bike.