The Enduro, in its air-sprung guise at least, was absent from UK shores for 2012. Things look set to change for 2013 though. The bike’s had a massive overhaul and, according to Specialized, will now “climb higher and descend further”. We put the Expert Carbon to the test on the amazing trails of Snowbird, Utah.
Ride & handling: Downhill demon meets confident trail handler
From the first pedal stroke the changes made to the rear of the bike are blatantly obvious, and things certainly feel more efficient as the power gets put down. There’s more of a ‘trail bike’ feel now, without any loss of downhill handling ability. The lighter overall package combined with Fox’s CTD suspension means the Enduro is more pedallable than ever (and it was never bad before).
With the geometry remaining virtually untouched, there’s still that composure the Enduro was loved for as a descender. The short back end means lofting the front wheel is easy, and there’s enough flickability to keep things fun on the trail.
Things are sufficiently raked out up front to help keep your weight in the right position when things get steep, letting you really attack the trail with every bit of skill you can muster.
When it came to the 34 fork, we must admit that we’d have preferred the Float over the TALAS version. There’s plenty of promise with the 34, but we did find the TALAS version a little harsh on bigger, more repetitive hits. We found we needed to add a little more air than normal to compensate for its linear stroke, but this can be remedied by adding a little oil, which will help get things ramping up. We also found we never actually used the TALAS feature when climbing.
Fox’s 34 160mm suspension, with ctd adjustment: fox’s 34 160mm suspension, with ctd adjustment Dan Campbell / Specialized
The Enduro Expert Carbon’s 160mm Fox 34 Talas
Out back, the standard CTD shock (offering a fixed Trail position only) allows for an easy flick between Climb, Trail and Descend modes and helps take the sting out of the harshest climbs thanks to the flick of a lever. The suspension action is still nice and smooth and helps with keeping the rear tyre glued to the floor in loose turns.
Speed is carried well too, when the speed picks up. We did switch over to the new Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock (available on the S-Works Enduro) while we were testing, which shifted the bar that bit further with more grip and even more composure.
Pedalling uphill was a little harder without the Climb mode, but it’s a trade-off we’re willing to make for the enhanced downhill capability.
Frame & equipment: Tweaks add up to greater trail ability
The gravity-based staples are still present and correct, including the tapered head tube, ISCG 05 mounts, the 142x12mm rear axle and the suitably slack 66.5-degree head angle.
What’s significantly different, though, is the FSR layout, which has been tweaked to alter the suspension kinematics somewhat. Specialized have seen the growth in the gravity enduro market and wanted to the improve the Enduro’s pedal efficiency, making it more responsive to hammering and less prone to wallow than the previous version.
The lower shock mount now resembles that of the Stumpjumper FSR – the shock shuttle mounts directly to the lower of the shock and pivots on cartridge bearings. This means no more DU bushes to worry about and helps improve sensitivity.
Although the frame is still designed around a 160mm (6.3in) travel fork, the rear end has been bumped up to 165mm (6.5in) to help soak up the big hits. Geometry-wise, little changes on the X-Wing style frame, including the short 419mm chainstays to help keep that playful, flickable feel. The head tube is a little shorter though, and there’s internal routing for a dropping post too.
Although it may not be the top dog in the Enduro line-up, the Expert Carbon still offers the latest technology to help you get the most out of the trail. Both front and rear suspension is from Fox and, as we said above, offers the more basic of their CTD technology, shown below:
Fox’s ctd rear shock features specialized’s autosag feature: fox’s ctd rear shock features specialized’s autosag feature Dan Campbell / Specialized
Adjustments are easy to understand and effective on the trail. All Enduros (other than the S-Works) feature Specialized’s AutoSag technology on the rear shock, in a bid to get you on the trail quicker. That might not be necessary for the more experienced riders, but it’s good for those just starting out.
Specialized’s Command BlackLite height-adjustable seatpost is simple yet effective thanks to its three-position arrangement, and we like the minimal thumb remote a lot.
To top things off, grip comes courtesy of Specialized’s Butcher Control 2.3in tyres. The predictable grip that these tyres offer is quite incredible, and we’re massive fans.
Overall, we can see that Specialized’s lean towards the ever expanding gravity enduro style of racing has helped refine a bike that was already very capable.