It was only just over a year ago that Specialized gave the Enduro a total overhaul, but it clearly felt there was still room for improvement. With a number of geometry and spec refinements, could the 2018 model be the bike we’ve been waiting for?
Frame: ‘FACT 11m’ carbon fibre, 160mm (6.3in) travel
Fork: Öhlins RXF 36, 160mm (6.3in) travel
Shock: Öhlins STX w/ Autosag
Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle w/ Truvativ Descendant carbon cranks (1×12)
Wheelset: Roval Traverse Carbon rims on Specialized (f) and DT Swiss 350 (r) hubs
Tyres: Specialized Butcher GRID Gripton 29×2.3in
Brakes: SRAM Code R, 200mm/180mm rotors
Bar: Specialized DH, 800mm
Stem: Specialized Trail, 45mm
Seatpost: Specialized Command Post IRcc WU 150mm dropper
Saddle: Specialized Body Geometry Henge Comp
Weight: 14.77kg / 32.58lb, medium size with pedals
Specialized Enduro Pro 29 frame
One of the biggest changes is the ability to alter the Enduro’s geometry, courtesy of a small square washer that sits on the bolt attaching the rear shock to its yoke.
Sit the washer between the yoke and shock for the higher setting, or between the bolt head and yoke for the lower setting. This alters the head and seat angles by 0.5 degrees, but it’s the change in bottom-bracket height that makes the biggest difference on the trail, dropping the bike down by 8mm to 345mm.
It doesn’t take long to switch the washer position, but it can be quite fiddly, so it’s best done at home rather than at the trailside.
A stumpy head tube stops the 29in wheels and long-travel fork pushing the bar height too high Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The other significant change is that Specialized has stretched the bike’s reach by between 5mm and 19mm, depending on which frame and wheel size you plump for. My Medium 29er test bike had a 10mm longer reach than the 2017 model, at 440mm.
A full carbon frame is used on the S-Works, Pro and Coil bikes. The Horst Link back end dishes out 160mm of travel, controlled by an Öhlins STX shock.
Inside the front triangle sits Spesh’s SWAT storage compartment (Storage, Water, Air, Tools), which is handy for stashing essentials. The 2018 Enduro sticks with a threaded bottom bracket, and head tube lengths remain stumpy to prevent the handlebar from going too far skywards.
Specialized Enduro Pro 29 kit
Complementing the Öhlins rear shock is the Swedish brand’s RXF 36 fork, which delivers 160mm of travel and features its triple-chamber air-spring system.
A second valve at the base of the fork lets you adjust how the fork ramps up through its travel without having to open it up and add volume spacers. As you’d expect on a bike of this price, the gearing is of the latest 12-speed variety, in the shape of SRAM X01 Eagle.
The brakes come from SRAM too, but are Code Rs — perfectly capable, but not the top-tier numbers you might expect. A big talking point of the spec is the Specialized WU dropper post, which alters the saddle angle as it moves through its travel.
Specialized Enduro Pro 29 ride impressions
The added reach is very welcome on the trail and makes this bike easy to adapt to and feel comfortable at speed — something it picks up with very little effort.
Drop into a rowdy trail and there’s a calmness and balance to the bike that really encourages you to push things. It works in an almost stealth-like fashion and sustains pace incredibly well. Thanks in part to that lower bottom bracket, it feels more connected than previous Enduros when sliding through tricky turns where maintaining flow is essential.
There are some niggles, though. I struggled to get the Öhlins fork to rebound fast enough, even with the adjuster left fully open. Though it remained controlled and helped keep the front wheel planted, it didn’t offer the liveliness or feel I was after.
Specialized explains it now has an alternative rebound tune for lighter riders. When riding really steep trails, there were also times when I’d have appreciated being able to drop the saddle further out of the way.
Drop into a rowdy trail and there’s a calmness and balance to the bike that encourages you to push things Russell Burton / Immediate Media
As it is, the tall head of the WU post means it sits higher in the frame than a regular dropper. While I appreciated the adjustment in saddle angle, it does add extra complication and, to a degree, compromise.
Out back the travel is delivered in a well-composed manner and does a fine job of sucking up big impacts or landings and helping the deep-treaded Specialized Butcher tyre stay glued to the trail through loose corners.
In fact, I noticed just how well the Butcher coped in the muddy test conditions. It bit in better than expected yet still felt steadfast in root and rock sections.
Despite a couple of niggles, I’m seriously impressed by the new Enduro and just how well it carries itself.
Specialized Enduro Pro 29 early verdict
Fast, agile and seriously capable, the new Enduro is hard not to like.