There have been a number of obstacles to creating mountain bikes that combine big wheels and big travel. Weight, wheelbase and proper components have all been stumbling blocks along the way. Specialized has found a way to cheat the ever-expanding chainstay length that generally accompanies long-travel 29ers. The result is the Enduro 29 — a 29er that handles like no other big-wheeled bike we’ve ridden.
The Enduro 29 is not the first long-travel 29er. Several companies have developed downhill bikes with 29-inch wheels and even more have produced long-travel trail and all-mountain bikes. What makes the Enduro 29 stand out is its astonishingly short rear end.
Some clever engineering allowed Specialized to eek every last millimeter of travel out of the rear end, while still keeping the chainstay length to a very compact 16.9in (430mm). For the sake of comparison, the Enduro 29’s chainstays are 18mm shorter than the company’s 29er cross-country race bike, the Epic. When compared to the 26-inch Enduro, the Enduro 29’s chainstays are 11mm longer; it also has a head angle that is 1 degree steeper, at 67.5 degrees, and a wheelbase that is 6mm longer (for a size medium).
Specialized worked with SRAM to develop a new front derailleur standard, dubbed mid-mount, along with a new mounting bracket known as the Taco Blade. It attaches to chainstays and allows the seat tube to be built free of the constraints of front derailleur placement.
The frame uses a carbon front end mated to an aluminum rear. The $9,000 S-Works Enduro 29’s price reflects its premium build kit and carbon construction. For 2013 the Enduro 29 will also be offered in more Expert and Comp models.
Our size medium S-Works model is spec’d with an assortment of top-shelf components including SRAM’s XX1 and XO Trail brakes, a 150mm Fox 34 TALAS fork, Cane Creek’s highly tunable Double Barrel Air shock, and Specialized’s lightweight Roval Traverse SL carbon wheels. The complete build tips the scales at 27.8lb (12.6kg) — not bad for a 29er with 155mm of suspension travel.
We only have two rides on this monster but it’s already clear the Enduro 29 handles like no other big-wheeled mountain bike we’ve ridden. The short chainstays and long front center make for a bike that, when steered from the hips, much like a gravity bike, is surprisingly agile. It plows through rocky terrain with little regard for what’s in the way and, when pointed downhill, picks up speed with haste.
Check back soon for a full review of the Specialized S-Works Enduro 29.