For us, the former Enduro was a bit short and high for our liking, so the customary “longer, lower, slacker” moniker has come as a welcome change for us. The cable routing has also been cleaned up, especially around the bottom bracket area to prevent cable rub.
Perhaps the most noticeable visual change is the SWAT box that’s been machined into the downtube. It’s easy to joke about rotten banana skins and being “full enduro” but use it and you’ll see how useful a feature it really is.
The componentry is really solid here. This is Specialized’s first bike to feature the Eagle drivetrain and it really compliments the churn-up-pin-down nature of the beast, it’s also the first Specialized model range for all the bikes to have 1x (at least) 11. 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 was shimmed out to 34mm so news on the way there).
“Tearing through the undergrowth, munching up root, this hauntingly capable bike has to be ridden to be believed.”
So, why have we picked the 29 when the 650b is slacker, lower and has more travel? For starters, you can’t get the Ohlins suspension with the smaller wheels. For us the Ohlins fork is suppler than the Lyrik and the STX damper offers more progression than its RockShox equivalent. It seems a shame it’s not included on both bikes as it’s a real selling point for us. Our one criticism is that we’d like a firmer setting for climbing on the shock. There was slightly too much rear bias on long grinds for us.