Specialized Enduro Pro 29 first ride review£6,500.00

Spesh’s big-travel trail bike gets refined for 2018

It was only just over a year ago that Specialized gave the Enduro a total overhaul, but it clearly felt there was still room for improvement. With a number of geometry and spec refinements, could the 2018 model be the bike we’ve been waiting for?

Specialized Enduro Pro 29 specifications

  • Frame: ‘FACT 11m’ carbon fibre, 160mm (6.3in) travel
  • Fork: Öhlins RXF 36, 160mm (6.3in) travel
  • Shock: Öhlins STX w/ Autosag
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle w/ Truvativ Descendant carbon cranks (1x12)
  • Wheelset: Roval Traverse Carbon rims on Specialized (f) and DT Swiss 350 (r) hubs
  • Tyres: Specialized Butcher GRID Gripton 29x2.3in
  • Brakes: SRAM Code R, 200mm/180mm rotors
  • Bar: Specialized DH, 800mm
  • Stem: Specialized Trail, 45mm
  • Seatpost: Specialized Command Post IRcc WU 150mm dropper
  • Saddle: Specialized Body Geometry Henge Comp
  • Weight: 14.77kg / 32.58lb, medium size with pedals

Specialized Enduro Pro 29 frame

One of the biggest changes is the ability to alter the Enduro’s geometry, courtesy of a small square washer that sits on the bolt attaching the rear shock to its yoke.

Sit the washer between the yoke and shock for the higher setting, or between the bolt head and yoke for the lower setting. This alters the head and seat angles by 0.5 degrees, but it’s the change in bottom-bracket height that makes the biggest difference on the trail, dropping the bike down by 8mm to 345mm.

It doesn’t take long to switch the washer position, but it can be quite fiddly, so it’s best done at home rather than at the trailside.

A stumpy head tube stops the 29in wheels and long-travel fork pushing the bar height too high
A stumpy head tube stops the 29in wheels and long-travel fork pushing the bar height too high

The other significant change is that Specialized has stretched the bike’s reach by between 5mm and 19mm, depending on which frame and wheel size you plump for. My Medium 29er test bike had a 10mm longer reach than the 2017 model, at 440mm.

A full carbon frame is used on the S-Works, Pro and Coil bikes. The Horst Link back end dishes out 160mm of travel, controlled by an Öhlins STX shock.

Inside the front triangle sits Spesh’s SWAT storage compartment (Storage, Water, Air, Tools), which is handy for stashing essentials. The 2018 Enduro sticks with a threaded bottom bracket, and head tube lengths remain stumpy to prevent the handlebar from going too far skywards.

Specialized Enduro Pro 29 kit

Complementing the Öhlins rear shock is the Swedish brand’s RXF 36 fork, which delivers 160mm of travel and features its triple-chamber air-spring system.

A second valve at the base of the fork lets you adjust how the fork ramps up through its travel without having to open it up and add volume spacers. As you’d expect on a bike of this price, the gearing is of the latest 12-speed variety, in the shape of SRAM X01 Eagle.

The brakes come from SRAM too, but are Code Rs — perfectly capable, but not the top-tier numbers you might expect. A big talking point of the spec is the Specialized WU dropper post, which alters the saddle angle as it moves through its travel.

Specialized Enduro Pro 29 ride impressions

The added reach is very welcome on the trail and makes this bike easy to adapt to and feel comfortable at speed — something it picks up with very little effort.

Drop into a rowdy trail and there’s a calmness and balance to the bike that really encourages you to push things. It works in an almost stealth-like fashion and sustains pace incredibly well. Thanks in part to that lower bottom bracket, it feels more connected than previous Enduros when sliding through tricky turns where maintaining flow is essential.

There are some niggles, though. I struggled to get the Öhlins fork to rebound fast enough, even with the adjuster left fully open. Though it remained controlled and helped keep the front wheel planted, it didn’t offer the liveliness or feel I was after.

Specialized explains it now has an alternative rebound tune for lighter riders. When riding really steep trails, there were also times when I’d have appreciated being able to drop the saddle further out of the way.

Drop into a rowdy trail and there’s a calmness and balance to the bike that encourages you to push things
Drop into a rowdy trail and there’s a calmness and balance to the bike that encourages you to push things

As it is, the tall head of the WU post means it sits higher in the frame than a regular dropper. While I appreciated the adjustment in saddle angle, it does add extra complication and, to a degree, compromise.

Out back the travel is delivered in a well-composed manner and does a fine job of sucking up big impacts or landings and helping the deep-treaded Specialized Butcher tyre stay glued to the trail through loose corners.

In fact, I noticed just how well the Butcher coped in the muddy test conditions. It bit in better than expected yet still felt steadfast in root and rock sections.

Despite a couple of niggles, I'm seriously impressed by the new Enduro and just how well it carries itself.

Specialized Enduro Pro 29 early verdict

Fast, agile and seriously capable, the new Enduro is hard not to like.

Rob Weaver

Technical Editor-in-Chief, UK
Rob started riding mountain bikes seriously in 1993 racing cross-country, though he quickly moved to downhill where he competed all over the world. He now spends most of his time riding trail bikes up and down hills. Occasionally he'll jump into an enduro race.
  • Age: 34
  • Height: 172cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Natural trails where the loam fills my shoes on each and every turn
  • Beer of Choice: Guinness

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