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Specialized’s Enduro is built to go downhill, fast

Completely rebuilt from the ground up, with clear influence from the Demo DH bike

Specialized Enduro frame

Specialized has completely redesigned the Enduro for 2020. We’ll give you no points for guessing what kind of riding the bike is aimed at, and none for working out that the World Cup-winning Demo inspired the design of this new 170mm carbon 29er.


The Enduro first came on the scene in 1999 – 20 years ago now — and in many ways, it was a completely new approach to mountain bike design back then; designed to be capable on the descents, yet still happy getting you back up to the top.

While that’s the goal of pretty much any mountain bike these days, back then bikes that were good at climbing weren’t great at descending, and bikes with the travel to get back down fast were pigs uphill.

Enduro (and the Enduro) has evolved drastically over time though — race tracks are now touching downhill levels of gnarly-ness, often lasting longer too, but still with plenty of pedalling back to the top. As such, specialist bikes such as the Enduro have to keep pace.

Reflecting this, Specialized’s goal was to make a bike that’s as fast as possible through rough technical terrain and when being pedalled uphill. I had the chance to ride the 2020 Specialized Enduro on the Northstar Resort trails in California – you can read my first ride review here, otherwise read on for the full tech briefing.

Momentum matters

Specialized says that the new Enduro is a ‘momentum carrying’ bike that maintains speed at every opportunity. Massive cues have been taken from Specialized’s Demo DH bike, which is a clear departure from Enduros of old.

As a result, the suspension design has been changed to deliver that momentum-carrying ability via a more rearward axle path.

This means the rear wheel, when hitting a bump, spends more of its arc moving back and up and out of the way of the rock, rather than slamming up and into the impact, which steals momentum and creates a harsher, more tiring and ultimately slower bike, says Specialized.

specialized enduro cable routing
Very neat cable routing from Spesh.

Rearward axle paths aren’t revolutionary, especially these days, with bikes from the likes of Commencal, Deviate and Forbidden already using this theory, but they usually rely on a high pivot placement and an idler pulley to mitigate the chain growth issues that occur from higher pivots.

They are also prone to lengthening wheelbases along the suspension’s stroke, effectively altering the geometry as the bike cycles through its travel.

Specialized, however, has moved the main pivot further forward into the down tube to get a similar effect without needing an idler, and, it claims, without the other downsides of the high pivot.

Specialized says that it needed to find the right balance in the suspension’s design because there’s no point in chasing one attribute at the expense of others.

Specialized Enduro linkage
There’s an in-built fender for the rear .

All this means is that the rear wheel is less prone to hanging up on square-edged impacts, helping you maintain speed.

To measure the forces through the pedal when hitting technical terrain, Specialized mounted sensors in a pedal and claims that these forces are reduced with this suspension design giving a comfier, less fatiguing ride.

The new Specialized Enduro

Specialized Enduro head tube
There’s a fairly stubby head tube and, of course, cable routing for a dropper, if you’re not using an AXS Reverb.

The new Enduro is claimed to be a short travel downhill race bike that can be ridden all day. The bike is a 29er with 170mm travel front and rear.

All the bikes in the four-bike range have a carbon frame – there will be no alloy option going forward.

Ther top-level S-Works version is fitted with carbon linkages, saving 250g over the other models, but the main frame and rear triangle are the same throughout the whole lineup.

As previously mentioned, axle path was a huge driver with the design of the bike, but, like many bikes, Specialized has also worked on its leverage curve and suspension kinematics.

It wanted the Enduro to have improved sensitivity at the start of the stroke to give plenty of comfort and traction. However, it also wanted to increase progression – which, Specialized says, should deliver a bike that doesn’t feel super-long travel-wise, but has the travel when you really need it. It’s not a bike it expects you to be banging off the shock’s bumpstop on a regular basis.

Shock position on Specialized Enduro
Keeping the shock low positions it well for weight distribution.

While testing various prototypes it found that its anti-squat figures were pretty good, which was a happy coincidence of the other aspects that were being tested (anti-rise for better braking performance, and the axle path). Specialized was then able to work on this to get it even better, designing a bike that it claims you can hammer on the pedals without feeling like the suspension is sucking all your energy.

In terms of frame stiffness, Specialized says that the movement of the shock’s top mount into the down tube delivers better stiffness figures where needed. It was aiming for a ride that’s got enough stiffness for a precise and stable ride, but without rattling your teeth out.

This down tube entry position for the shock also allows for a lower standover height, lowers the centre of mass of the bike, and also means the SWAT in-frame storage system is easily accessible.

Specialized Enduro bottle
Yep, you can fit a bottle in the bike.

Specialized Enduro geometry

As with the Stumpjumper, launched in 2018, the Enduro uses Specialized’s ‘S’ sizing, ranging from S2 to S5. It wanted as many riders as possible to be able to ride as many sizes as possible, and recognised that some people prefer a ‘long’ bike and some not so much.

As such, seat tubes and head tubes have been kept relatively short, so someone at 5ft7in could, in theory, ride the longest S5 bike with a 511mm reach, apparently.

The bikes are shipped with six headset spacers, to get the front end at the right height, and two headset top caps – one flush and one conical (mainly for aesthetic reasons).

Rear of Specialized Enduro
Despite looking complex, this is still basically a four-bar FSR linkage.

As you’d expect, the head angle is pretty slack at 63.9 degrees, while there’s a geometry adjust chip, which makes it 0.4 degrees steeper, and the bottom bracket is 7mm higher.

I’m 182cm tall and rode an S4 sized Enduro. The key geometry figures for an S4 in its Low setting are below, but it is worth bearing in mind that I would have also fitted on an S3 and S5 if I’d wanted longer or shorter geometry.

Specialized Enduro S4 geometry

  • Reach: 487mm
  • Head angle: 63.9 degrees
  • Seat angle: 76 degrees
  • Head tube length: 110mm
  • Stack: 629mm
  • Bottom bracket height: 347mm
  • Bottom bracket drop: 21mm
  • Chainstay length: 442mm
  • Wheelbase: 1,274mm
  • Seat tube length: 440mm

Little touches

The frame comes built for a long 205mm shock with 60mm stroke. There’s plenty of room around the shock, and it is also compatible with a coil shock.

Specialized Enduro FSR linkage
The Float X2 shock sits deep in the FSR linkage.

The weight of the bike has remained consistent with the previous version, despite its longer travel and longer geometry. While the S-Works is the only frame to get the carbon linkages, they are in fact a ‘service part’, so your local shop should be able to get them in as spares if you want to drop 250g from the bike.

Roval, Specialized’s component brand has provided a new 35mm carbon bar, but this is the first set of models that won’t be using Specialized droppers. In fact, Specialized told us that it was going to be phasing out its own dropper posts and won’t be developing new models in the future.

Specialized Enduro 2020 models

We don’t have full details of the model specifications at this time but will update them when we have more information.

  • Specialized S-Works Enduro: £8,999 / $9,750 / €10,999
  • Specialized Enduro Expert: £6,250 / $6,550 / €6,999
  • Specialized Enduro Elite: £5,499 / $5,310 / €5,999
  • Specialized Enduro Comp: £4,499 / $4,510 / €4,999
  • Specialized S-Works frame only: £3,299 / $3,310 / €3,999