Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 review

Specialized has totally overhauled the Enduro for 2020 and it’s now faster than ever

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Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £8,999.00 RRP | USD $9,750.00 | AUD $15,000.00
Specialized S-Works Enduro

Our review

The new Enduro is a chaos calming beast of a bike when the terrain gets ugly. This S-Works model is eye-wateringly expensive, though
Pros: Great, stretched out confidence-inspiring geometry; super supple suspension that helps iron out seriously rough trails with relative ease; climbs pretty well for such a big travel big hitter
Cons: Works best when ridden in anger; super expensive spec not without issue; 50mm stem is too long
Skip to view product specifications

It’s the first time in many years that we’ve seen the Enduro change to the extent of this 2020 model, but it’s for good reason. While the last few iterations have seen refinement after refinement, Specialized has decided to go back to the drawing board to design this latest Enduro from scratch.

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Specialized S-Works Enduro frame

The new Enduro takes much of its inspiration from Specialized’s World Cup winning downhill bike, the Demo and, according to Specialized, it’s designed to be even faster than the old bike.

The new suspension layout (which is still a Horst Link design) positions its main pivot further forward and raises the bike’s centre, all in a bid to create a more rearward axle path. Specialized says this should better maintain momentum when battering through square-edged hits.

Anti-squat also gets increased by a claimed 40 per cent in an effort to improve pedalling efficiency and ensure you can still get this big wheeled, big travel beast back to the top of the hill.

There’s more travel on tap compared to the previous Enduro too. The latest model sports a massive 170mm of bounce which, in this case, is controlled via a trunnion-mounted Fox Float X2 shock. The leverage curve has also been tweaked to improve initial sensitivity and increase progressivity at the end of the stroke.

The only real downside I can see here is just how many bearings (14 in all) you’ll need to replace when the time finally comes, which isn’t going to be cheap.

Then, of course, there’s the sizing. Specialized offers four sizes (S2 to S5) with reach figures ranging from 437mm to 511mm. My S3 test bike has a generous reach of 464mm (low setting) and a super-slack head angle of 63.7 degrees.

The bottom bracket isn’t the lowest out there at 345mm when measured in the low setting. You can of course alter the bottom bracket height and add an extra 7mm if you feel it’s a little too low, thanks to the reversible chip at the base of the X2 rear shock. It also means you can steepen the head angle by 0.4 degrees.

A 442mm chainstay length helps to balance rider position and ensures the Enduro doesn’t lose its playful potential.

Aside from the new Enduro using 29in wheels only, it’s also only available in carbon with no alloy option. The S-Works frame seen here also gets all carbon top, middle and lower links to save a claimed 250g over the standard Enduro frame. All Enduros models get Specialized’s in-frame SWAT storage.

Specialized S-Works Enduro
Specialized’s re-worked S-Works Enduro in carbon and 29in only options.
Laurence Crossman-Emms

Specialized S-Works Enduro kit

This shockingly expensive S-Works model is, unsurprisingly, the most expensive in the four-bike line-up and touts a seriously drool-worthy spec list.

Along with the Fox Factory dampers, there’s the new Shimano XTR 12-speed transmission and four piston brakes, as well as the new RockShox wireless Reverb AXS dropper post. Roval Traverse SL carbon wheels and carbon bars add to the bling factor and price too.

It seems odd to include the Reverb AXS but not the gearing, nevertheless, the XTR transmission is seriously hard to fault and worked well throughout testing.

I would have preferred to see SRAM’s Code RSC brakes bolted in place over the XTR numbers featured here. While the XTRs are decent enough, the Codes trump them in terms of power and control when things get really steep. I also suffered a wandering bite point on the rear brake, which was a little frustrating.

Specialized S-Works Enduro ride impressions

As soon as you get moving it’s hard to ignore just how supple the rear suspension is. The lightest touch gets the Enduro sinking into the initial part of the 170mm of travel and ensures the rear tyre stays glued to the trail.

This did mean I found myself reaching for the low speed compression lever on the rear shock when faced with extended climbs, but it’s by no means a slouch when going up and getting the power, which is especially impressive when you consider what a heavy hitter this machine is.

Its weight of just 14.67kg and the 76-degree seat angle are certainly contributing factors when it comes to climbing efficiency too.

Specialized S-Works Enduro
Longer bikes always feel confident in fast corners, and the Enduro is no different.
Harookz

On mellower trails, that supple suspension can sap rider energy somewhat when you’re trying to pump and push through the undulations in a bid to boost speed. I ended up adding more air pressure to the rear shock, settling on 190psi for my 68kg weight (which seems pretty high and something bigger riders may want to take into account) and upping the low speed compression damping by a few clicks too.

This helps create more of a lively ride and sits the back-end up a little higher into its travel, so weighting the front wheel in washy turns is a bit easier. That said, the Enduro doesn’t ever feel like it lacks support, so you can load the bike heavily through a turn and pop out the exit with speed.

I did ditch the original 50mm stem, replacing it with a 35mm number for an improved ride position and lighter feel through the bars, and the steering remained calm when it needed to thanks to that slack head angle and short offset fork.

It’s when the speeds pick up and the terrain gets more intimidating that the Enduro really shows what it’s capable of.

Sure, it’s still a fun bike to ride on more sedate terrain, but point it into a blown-out, bump-riddled track and this bike will more than come into its own, delivering confidence and traction by the bucketload.

The smooth suspension and balanced ride dynamic help to calm the chaos beneath the tyres, and while the Butchers might not be one of my go-to tyres for all-round traction, I was consistently surprised by just how much grip the Enduro could generate in some seriously dicey conditions.

Specialized S-Works Enduro
Chunky rock gardens proved no problem on the S-Works Enduro.
Dylan Dunkerton

Belt it into chunky wet root spreads and you’ll be surprised with the ease in which you can hold any line. And even though it’s capable of swallowing hits and smoothing terrain, there’s still enough feedback through the bike to remind you what’s happening under your tyre treads without things ever feeling vague.

In terms of geometry, the S3’s 464mm reach – a figure you’re likely to see on a number of brands’ size large frames – worked well for me at 5ft 8in. Once the suspension was set up and balanced to my liking, the Enduro never felt too stretched out or cumbersome when slinging the bike through tighter, technical sections of trail.

The head angle may well be slack, but I had no issues here either and never struggled through the turns. Could the bottom bracket be lower? Maybe. I didn’t suffer any pedal strikes though, as I have on the likes of Whyte’s G-170 29er (which is around 5mm lower), but would like to experiment to see how much lower the Enduro could sit. Still, I never felt perched or too high up when cornering.

Specialized S-Works Enduro full suspension mountain bike
Point it into a blown-out, bump-riddled track and this bike delivers confidence and traction by the bucketload.
Laurence Crossman-Emms

Specialized S-Works Enduro overall

Overall, even the wandering bite point on the rear XTR brake couldn’t detract from the confidence and composure this big hitter delivers. It’ll let you take outrageous line choices if you’re brave enough, and still climb back to the top of the hill without too much effort.

The geometry is great as well, helping to create a solid ride position from which to attack the trail.

While this S-Works Enduro is clearly a ton of cash, the promise the geometry and suspension show here make me even more excited about the far more affordable (it’s half the price) Comp model, which I can’t wait to hit the hills on soon.

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Specialized S-Works Enduro geometry (low BB)

  • Seat angle: 76 degrees
  • Head angle: 63.9 degrees
  • Chainstay: 44.2cm / 17.4in
  • Seat tube: 42cm / 16.54in
  • Top tube: 61.9cm / 24.37in
  • Head tube: 10cm / 3.94in
  • Fork offset: 4.6cm / 1.81in
  • Trail: 13.2cm / 5.2in
  • Bottom bracket height: 34.7cm / 13.66in
  • Bottom bracket drop: 2.8cm / 1.1in
  • Wheelbase: 1,246mm / 49.06in
  • Stack: 62cm / 24.41in
  • Reach: 46.4cm / 18.27in
Specialized S-Works Enduro
Specialized describes its new Enduro as a mini downhill bike.
Harookz

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $15000.00GBP £8999.00USD $9750.00
Weight 14.67kg (S3) – Without pedals
Brand Specialized

Features

Available sizes S2, S3, S4, S5
Brakes Shimano XTR (200mm front, 180mm rear rotors)
Cassette Shimano XTR M9100, 1x12
Cranks Race Face NEXT R carbon
Fork Fox 36 Float Factory GRIP2, 170mm travel
Frame Carbon, 170mm (6.7in) travel
Handlebar Roval Traverse SL carbon, 800mm
Rear derailleur Shimano XTR M9100, 1x12
Rear shock Fox Float Factory X2
Saddle Specialized Body Geometry Myth
Seatpost RockShox Reverb AXS, 150mm
Shifter Shimano XTR M9100, 1x12
Stem Deity Copperhead 35, 50mm
Tyres Specialized Butcher GRID Trail Gripton 29x2.6in (f) and 29x2.3in (r)
Wheels Roval Traverse SL carbon