When the latest iteration of the Specialized Enduro dropped, we were both impressed and intrigued. Having owned several iterations of the Enduro as well as several models of the Demo DH bikes, the latest generation looks to have finally fulfilled its promise: the do-it-all unicorn bike that can descend with the capabilities of a downhill bike while still being able to climb to the tops of mountains and keep up with trail bikes.
Bikes and geometry have come a long way since those old enduros with their burly frames and 26″ wheels. Carbon is now primary material used for the chassis, and aimed at top level enduro riding, its only available in carbon. In addition, 29″ wheels are standard on the Enduro with no other wheel option. The bike is made for going fast and being stable.
It’s taken a while but I finally got to log some legitimate saddle time on the go-fast 29er. Having ridden it, I’d have to say that the Enduro is exactly as promised. It descends trails with a solid, planted feeling of stability, and oozes confidence. It’s easy to go fast and push limits, all while easily pedaling to the tops of mountains.
How does the Enduro climb?
I’ll be forthright and admit I haven’t spent a lot of time on the current crop of longer travel 29″ enduro class rigs. I honestly haven’t had the inclination this year, being more interested in testing and finding that perfect 27″ trail-capable play bike. As I own a downhill bike for lift-assisted riding and shuttling, my 29″ sled gets utilized as more of an all-mountain steed. As I’m not competing in enduro, having less travel makes it a bit more suitable for my local trails, and longer trail rides.
Marketing copy from Specialized says the Enduro “climbs quickly” and though that is debatable and certainly relative, I pedaled it to the top of a mountain without a problem. Climbing prowess is measured through the lens of comparison, and I’m sure that compared to most 29″ Enduro class bikes with 170mm of suspension travel it performs very well. That said, my personal 29″ bike is a 2018 Transition Sentinel. Featuring less rear wheel travel, in comparison, it pedals considerably more “quickly”.
Considering the Enduro could easily keep up — or even be faster — than my downhill bike with the proper tires, it climbs really damn well. The Sentinel descends well in comparison to “enduro-class” bikes, but the Enduro is next-level.
On to what we really care about — how the bike descends. It handles the gnar better than any trail bike I’ve ridden, taking everything to the next level. Stable, planted, confidence-inspiring; these are all descriptors you’ll likely read or hear from the lips of anyone that’s ridden this bike.
Riding the Enduro down the double-black rated trail “No Joke” at the Mountain of the Rogue, I felt very comfortable negotiating the trail and following my brother down, though it was only my second time on the trail. No Joke is quite technical, with a lot of elevation drop as well as exposure — let’s just say that this is not the trail you want to crash on, and that many riders choose to run a full face helmet here.
I’m generally a cautious rider until I get to know a trail, but I had a blast descending this trail on the bike and didn’t come anywhere to testing the capability of the bike. In fact, I opened up the throttle on a few sections, something I probably wouldn’t do this early in getting to know the trail on my personal bike.
Versatile — provided you have the terrain
With a second set of wheels dedicated to bike park, the Enduro could easily replace a DH bike for many riders, short of those competing in DH. Unless you’re going ‘freeride festival’ big, it can likely handle anything you take it on.
All this while being able to nimbly handle smaller roller doubles, tight turns and more technical trails. If I lived closed to a lift-assisted bike park, and could only own one bike.. the Enduro makes a very strong case to be that bike.
For some context, I’ve been running an alloy Stumpjumper EVO with 27.5 wheels for the last few months, and while the two bikes share similar DNA and even some similar angles, the different size wheels give significantly different personalities. The EVO with 27.5 wheels is a bit more nimble in the air and feels considerably more nimble, especially at slower speeds. In comparison, the Enduro needs momentum to truly come alive.
The Enduro vs Stumpjumper EVO 27.5
Enduro (S3, low settings)
Rear travel: 170mm
Head angle: 64.3º
Seat angle: 76º
Bottom bracket height: 347mm
BB Drop: 21
Stumpjumper 2020 EVO 27.5 S2, low settings
Rear travel: 150mm
Head angle: 63.5º
Seat angle: 76º
Bottom bracket height: 324mm
BB Drop: 33
The Enduro vs: Sentinel, Norco Sight 27.5
Transition Sentinel (M)
Rear travel: 140mm
Head angle: 64º
Seat angle: 76.3º
Bottom bracket height: 345mm
BB Drop: 30
Norco Sight (27.5, Large)
Rear travel: 150mm
Head angle: 63.5º
Seat angle: 77.7º
Bottom bracket height:
The model I rode was the size S3. With a reach of 464, it was quite comfortable. If I was to get one, I’d have to also consider the S4 with the 487mm reach. It’s tough to say though, as the seat angle is only 76º. If it was 77 or closer to 78º (based on my time riding the Norco Sight is the size large) I’d definitely size up for the go-fast stability.
The last Specialized I owned with 170mm of rear travel was a Demo 7. The Enduro isn’t even in the same class. The Enduro is so capable and versatile, that if I got one, I’d have to rethink my entire quiver. It wouldn’t make sense for me to own a downhill bike. Or an all-mountain trail bike. It can handle both applications and excel.
I came away from my time on the Enduro quite impressed, and if for some reason I had to replace all the bikes I own with an all-new quiver, it’s highly likely I’d make the Enduro (in any of its available configuration) the first purchase I made. For a rider seriously looking at the Enduro, that’s the highest praise and endorsement I could give.
Learn more at Specialized.com