Specialized Enduro 2017 - Dirt

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Trail and Enduro Bikes

Specialized Enduro 2017

More features and increased travel for the ground muncher

Words/Photos: S Jones

It was through unrefined real estate that they dragged the scrawny carcass of cross country hardware, rebuilding with more brawn, more travel. The Specialized Enduro of ’04 vintage was a blood pumping bike substantial in its 150mm travel frame and big Fox fork. Since then it has only grown bigger, and with the savage big wheel beast of 2013 harvest and beyond, the breed has always been a lawless one, weathering terrain previously the reserve of downhill.

 

specialized enduro 2017 – the review

 

And the tradition continues, for this new Enduro is a bear of a bike. Of the many caniforms running loose amongst the complex inlets the separate Vancouver Island from mainland British Columbia, the bike, a hint of ‘Rupert the Bear’ in its colourings, is all about tearing through the undergrowth, munching up root, hauntingly powerful. Appropriate then that the latest and greatest is spotted in the mighty Coast Gravity Park. Today we’re excited to be covering the Specialized Enduro 2017 edition.

Hanging a right off the Sunshine Coast Highway, up the long Dusty Road that leads to the iconic location the new bikes have an institution to preserve. Of course the old 650 Spesh was nothing …well…spesh or extraordinary, but the 29” wheel bike was mightily unique – bigger and badder than any other 29” wheel enduro bike. It was never perfect with a high bottom bracket and slightly small sizing but boy it could truck.

The new bike attempts to correct previous imperfections whilst keeping the look, the enduro appearance. In 2017 guise the bike is substantial in travel, significant in wheel options and extremely notable in damping. In short it’s a fat load of trouble and fun waiting to happen.

 

DIRT MOUNTAIN BIKE | BIKE REVIEWS

 

Sam the product manager is currently checking out of Vancouver General with considerable body damage sustained whilst attempting Coast’s biggest jumps. This probably wasn’t what the enduro was built for but by hell that’s what its capable of. It is a seriously capable piece of hardware.

So what’s new?

The new bike is available in 29” and 27.5” wheel versions. Of note however is that the 29” bike can be converted to 6 Fattie, something we have already experimented with on the current bike. The big message here is that the bike is designed not to be outdated and hence the chassis and frame will accommodate all current trends.

The frame continues with X wing shape but they have tidied up the cable routing considerably around the bottom bracket area to prevent cable rub, now internal. Material wise the Elite model gets carbon front/ali rear, Sworks and Pro full carbon, all with the SWAT box which can house no end of junk into the downtube of the bike. Joking aside, it’s a great feature. The Expert version comes in aluminium but without this feature.

Its all about the handling though of course, something the Enduro has nearly always been great at.

Enduro 650

This bike now has a 65 degree head angle, 425mm chainstay, and a bottom bracket which alternates between 345mm and 350mm depending on tyre size. It has a a longer reach too with a sizeable 170mm travel front and rear. The bike does not have Ohlins. Which is a shame.

Enduro 29

With 165mm rear and 160mm front travel the big wheel Sworks is the real flagship of the range, and the bike we spent most time on. With the new Ohlins 36 fork and damper taking care of the hits via the FSR suspension (now with just one universal bearing size) the bike has had some geometry changes whilst having one eye on the fact that they couldn’t go too radical with the bottom bracket as it would be even lower with the chunky 2.8-3.0 x 27.5” wheels bolted in. The main numbers are 432mm chainstay and 352mm bottom bracket with the 2.3x 29” tyres. Yes it’s a shade high but with a 27.5”x3.0 tyre the bb is just over the 330mm mark. Head angle is now slacker too, down to 66 degrees even with 29 rubber.

Componentry Highlights

The big news here is that the bottom bracket has returned to threaded 73mm standard.

Traverse 30mm wheels are on all bikes but the higher price bikes get the carbon versions. Rubber is Specialized’s own Butcher/Slaughter grid combo. All bikes have the excellent Guide brakes, own brand 780mm bar, the superb Command post (which were shimmed out to 34mm so news on the way there) and all 11 speed, a first for any Specialized bike.

2016 Specialized Enduro Launch
2016 Specialized Enduro Launch
2016 Specialized Enduro Launch

Impressions

The 29 sets its path on a collision with Trek’s impressive new Slash. The Specialized Enduro 2017 has more travel, the very, very good Ohlins and the SWAT box. More than anything though riders will be questioning what the Specialized can offer that direct sales bikes do not. A lifetime warranty is a good start to answering a question that’s not really relevant seeing as nobody does a 29” wheel bike with this much travel.

Out of the blocks the Specialized Enduro drives well, into the first pile of root and rock it keeps quiet, the rear suspension feeling a touch more progressive than previous with the Ohlins (although we’re not certain on this). The Ohlins fork certainly feels like it has a bit more to give than the Lyric, which is still a good performer, and as impressive as the STX damper is we’d like to see more resistance to create something closer to lock-out as there was slightly too much rear bias on climbs. 12 speed Sram Eagle allows it to conquer impressively steep climbs, its light weight aided this too.

2016 Specialized Enduro Launch

At first the bottom bracket figures seemed a touch high but in the deep rock that we found ourselves on the Sunshine Coast it allowed for good pedal clearance. The key point however is that the 29” wheel bike is super stable in rowdy ground. Bolt the big old 275×2.6″ wheels in and it becomes a different story with the low bottom bracket making it an absolute storm trooper through corners, engaging, dominating in root sections and giving cushion and grip at the same time.

Initial feelings then? Pretty much in the same vein as which the downhill Demo was launched…”Get Sick Soon” or rather…..get well soon Sam.

 

see also

CANYON SPECTRAL CF 9.0

CUBE FRITZZ 180 HPA SL

EVIL INSURGENT – BIKE TEST

MARIN HAWK HILL 2017

NORCO OPTIC

 

2016 Specialized Enduro Launch

UK OPTIONS

S-WORKS 29er/650+ & 650B – Rocket Red Hyper Green colour way only with the 650+ not being spec’d with 2’6’s – Offered as a frame set only option to.

PRO – 29er/650+ & 650B – Rocket Red / Baby Blue – 650+ not being spec’d with 2’6’s

ELITE – 29er/650+ & 650B – BLUE/RED – 650+ not being spec’d with 2’6’s

COMP 650B GREY / BLACK Not being spec’d with 2.6’s

COMP 29er Green only

 

All 29er/650+ bikes will ship with 29er wheelsets.

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