The Enduro 29 practically invented the long-travel 29er back in 2013, being one of the first to combine long travel with big wheels in a package that handled well. The Enduro has benefitted from a couple of redesigns since then, getting longer and slacker. But the basic premise remains the same — it’s designed to be capable and fast, yet versatile and fun.
With balance being key, the Enduro Elite 29’s suspension is well-matched front to rear and it’s easy to ride without being dull, but it does come up short in some areas.
Enduro Elite 29 frame and kit
The Enduro Elite 29 has a carbon fibre front triangle and alloy rear end. You also get a handy SWAT door in the down tube to stash a small pump, tube and snacks. The Horst-link suspension design is said to deliver 160mm of rear wheel travel.
The Fox 36 Rhythm fork is slightly less sensitive than some of its pricier enduro 29er counterparts, and the stock tyres are prone to squirming and burping when riding aggressively.
The wheels flex a little too, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it boosts cornering traction.
Specialized’s Command dropper post was occasionally reluctant to engage the uppermost of its 16 notches, but otherwise works great.
The other own-brand finishing kit I got on with brilliantly, especially the cockpit, and the bottle cage with integrated mini-tool is a nice touch.
Enduro Elite 29 ride impressions
While Specialized’s website states that the Enduro has 160mm of travel, we measured the vertical rear wheel travel at 148mm.
Set the shock sag to 30 percent, inflate the fork to the recommended pressure, dial in the rebound and you’re good to go. The Enduro rides well just like this, with no need for part swaps or excessive fettling.
While the 50mm stem is longer than I’d normally use on an enduro bike, the 800mm bar sweeps back a long way from the stem clamp so your hand position relative to the steering axis is spot-on.
The 74.4-degree effective seat angle (measured at pedalling height) put my hips further behind the cranks than I’d have liked when attacking steep climbs, but the rear suspension never wallows. There is a little pedal bob, but the suspension is settled and supportive as you move around the bike, making it a so-so climber.
The Enduro Elite rides nice and competently on natural tracks with tight turns and bombholes. When pushing into a compression or a corner, the suspension compresses at a similar rate in both the fork and shock, and there’s plenty of support to push against too, so the bike reacts predictably to weight shifts and responds to pumping the trail.
But for my 6ft 3in height, the XL just felt a little too short in the wheelbase. Meanwhile, the long seat tube (520mm) prevents shorter riders sizing up to get more length. This makes the bike prone to tripping up over large stones or sudden G-outs, which occasionally forced my weight onto the handlebar.
When riding fast over technical terrain, the Enduro is less stable and settled than longer 29er bikes I’ve tested.
SWAT stands for ‘storage, water, air and tools’. A bottle cage houses a small multi-tool and a door allows access to the down tube for stashing snacks.
Faced with larger obstacles, the rear wheel hangs up rather than moving smoothly out of the way. The shock comes set up quite progressively, but I did occasionally bottom it out with a loud clang, so I didn’t want to fit a smaller volume spacer.
The shock and fork both feel firmly damped on compression, which drains momentum over large roots and rocks. You can feel and hear the shock’s damping reacting reluctantly to bigger impacts.
Although the Enduro felt settled and supportive through rough terrain, the suspension seemed to sap speed over relentless rocky bumps, and I felt less confident going flat-out on the fastest straights.
While Specialized’s website says the Enduro has 160mm of rear travel, when pushed, the brand told me it should have 156mm with this shock. I measured it at 148mm. This could be due to a slightly-too-short shock, which would explain why my bike had a lower bottom bracket and slacker head angle than on the geometry chart.
Ironically, this ‘defect’ probably makes the Enduro ride better on the steep, natural trails where it excels, but on rough terrain it falls behind the competition.
Specialized Enduro Elite 29 geometry (XL)
Seat angle: 74.4 degrees
Head angle: 65.1 degrees
Chainstay: 17.13in / 43.5cm
Seat tube: 20.47in / 52cm
Top tube: 25.08in / 63.7cm
Bottom bracket height: 13.39in / 34cm
Wheelbase: 49.21in / 1,250mm
Reach: 18.5in / 47cm